The festive season is here and, tucked away amongst the many repeats and dour world of soaps, there’s some good stuff on TV – here’s my picks of the best stuff on the box this Christmas.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Channel 4, 19:30, Christmas Eve)
We’ll start off with a charming family adventure – this animated version of Michael Rosen’s children’s favourite sees a family as they set off on a grand day out in the country. It features an all-star cast including Olivia Colman and Pam Ferris, and it will be a gentle way to start off the festivities.
Great Christmas Bake Off (BBC1, 16:45, Christmas Day/19:00, Boxing Day)
Not a fan of this programme myself, but it’s popular enough to warrant a mention, especially as this Christmas marks its last showing on the BBC. Mel and Sue get into the silliness of the season as several favourite past bakers return, hoping to impress Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry for the last time.
Doctor Who (BBC1, 17:45, Christmas Day)
I doubt you need telling to watch Doctor Who, but just in case, this special sees the Timelord team up with a masked superhero for an adventure, fighting brain-swapping aliens in Manhattan. Peter Capaldi is guaranteed to bring his curmudgeonly fun to a story that will be one of the highlights of the season.
Maigret’s Dead Man (ITV, 21:00, Christmas Day)
Rowan Atkinson returns as the legendary Parisian detective for a second feature-length story – this time, he is tasked with investigating murderous attacks on wealthy farms in Picardy and the killing of an anonymous Parisian. The first Maigret drama was superb, with Atkinson shining in his first solely dramatic role, so this is one to watch.
The Witness for the Prosecution (BBC1, 21:00, Boxing Day/27 December)
The customary Christie adaptation sees a lawyer (Toby Jones) trying to prove the innocence of his client, a dashing young man accused of murdering a wealthy older woman (Kim Cattrall). From the makers of last year’s acclaimed And Then There Were None, this promises to be quality drama.
The Entire Universe (BBC2, 21:30, Boxing Day)
Time for something that’s both supremely silly and highly educational – Brian Cox and Eric Idle team up to tell the story of the birth of the universe, but in a one hour musical. This all-singing, all-dancing spectacular also features performances from Warwick Davies, Noel Fielding and Hannah Waddingham.
Inside No 9 – The Devil of Christmas (BBC2, 22:00, 27 December)
The black comedy returns with a Christmas special that will bring a bit of darkness to the season. A horror film director looks back at the making of a grisly 1970s classic, but all is not as it seems. Expect it to be funny and frightening, and a nice antidote to the festivities.
Jonathan Creek (BBC1, 21:00, 28 December)
The magician’s assistant-turned-detective returns for what writer David Renwick describes as the ‘spookiest ever’ episode yet – Creek (Alan Davies) employs his sleuthing skills to solve mysterious goings-on ay Daemons’ Roost, the former home to a sorcerer who was believed to have a hotline to Hell itself…
Charlie Brooker’s 2016 Wipe (BBC2, 21:00, 29 December)
The acerbic host pops up for an angry and darkly humorous look back at the year that was and, with Brexit and Donald Trump certain to make a strong showing, expect it to be as funny and as biting as ever as Brooker skewers famous faces and events alike.