Every December one of the most exciting things I like to do is sit down, open up the bumper edition of the Radio Times and look through all of the different shows and film premieres on over the Christmas period. Of course, many of the seasonal specials end up being utter disappointments (the memory of last year’s Downton Abbey special still leaves a sour taste), but you can’t help being excited at the prospect of seeing all your favourite TV characters adorned with a Santa’s hat.
As ever, this year see’s all your favourites, including Downton Abbey, Call The Midwife and Mrs. Brown’s Boys, having another dose of festive treatment. However, the one likely to draw the biggest crowd this year will be the seasonal special of Doctor Who, which is broadcast on BBC1 at 19:30 on Christmas Day. This is the episode that will, of course, see the departure of fan favourite Matt Smith as the eponymous time traveller. His replacement, Peter Capaldi, was teased to the viewers just a few weeks ago in the 50th anniversary special, but this episode will give us our first real chance to see the new Doctor in all his glory. The story takes the Doctor and his companion Clara on a journey to Trenzalore, for a great battle with many of the Doctor’s greatest foes. Expect Daleks, Cybermen and members of The Silence to stand firm as Matt Smith’s Doctor has one final flourish.
Paying tribute to one of its greatest sitcoms, the BBC will be screening a one-off special of Open All Hours, appropriately titled Still Open All Hours, on Boxing Day at 19:45. This new 30-minute episode finds Sir David Jason’s Granville now running the shop with his son Leroy. Following Granville & son for a day in their current lives, the show is likely to be a beautiful trip down memory lane, and the standout sitcom of the season.
Meanwhile, for those costume drama lovers that have had their fill of Downton and Midwife, Death Comes To Pemberley may be just what you need. This year marks 200 years since Jane Austin’s sumptuous Pride and Prejudice was first published and what better way to celebrate than with a dramatization of P.D. James’ 2011 sequel to Austin’s literary classic. Anna Maxwell and Matthew Rhys take on the roles of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy 6 years after the events of Pride and Prejudice and follows the couple and their family as they cope with the repercussions from a murder within the grounds of their home and the secrets that are henceforth revealed. No one does lavish costume dramas with as much flair as the BBC and after their fantastic dramatization of Great Expectations a few years back, Death comes to Pemberley must be marked as one of this year’s must watch Xmas specials.
For those who missed it last year, there’s also another opportunity to see The Snowman and The Snowdog on Channel 4 this Christmas Eve at 19:30. Then, of course, there are the films that this year includes the premiere of Toy Story 3 on BBC1 at 15:20 of Christmas Day. Finally there are the classic repeats, with many opportunities to relive comic delights from Morecambe and Wise and The Two Ronnies, to name but a few.
Whatever you choose, I am in no doubt that you will find something to wet your televisual appetite… Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.