The Best Things to Watch on TV This Christmas

By Gerald Lynch on at

Christmas! Come in, and know me better man! But don't get in the way of the TV.

This year, for once, there's actually a bumper crop of decent shows and movies to watch as the Christmas dinner food coma kicks in. For one week only, your Netflix and LoveFilm subscriptions are to be made obsolete.

Save yourself an hour with the Radio Times and a highlighter pen and check out our pick of the 10 best programmes set to hit screens this yuletide season.



10.) Homeland finale

Homeland seemed to lose its momentum by the beginning of season 3 of the show, and it took a while to regain it. But now, in its home straight run towards this finale, it's as riveting again as those very first few episodes. Will Brody find redemption? Will Saul be able to pull off his suicide rescue mission? You'll be on the edge of your seat, so good job you've piled on a few extra Christmas pounds to keep you there.

December 22nd, 9pm, Channel 4



9.) The Tractate Middoth for a Christmas scare

There's nothing like a good Christmas ghost story, and who better than the League of Gentleman's Mark Gatiss (here making his directorial debut) to bring us a lavish adaptation  of MR Jame's chilling short story? Catch a few glimpses of the show in the BBC Christmas 2013 drama trailer embedded above.

Christmas Day, 9.30pm, BBC Two



8.) Machete brings the blood on Boxing Day

If it's all starting to feel a bit gooey for your liking come the close of Christmas Day, ring in Boxing Day with the brutal Machete, having its terrestrial premier on Channel 4. It's gooey alright -- gooey with blood, guts and entrails.

Boxing Day, 12.10am, Channel 4



7.) David Attenborough's Natural History Museum Alive

The inimitable David Attenborough is magical any time of the year, but this brand new show bringing to life the dinosaur specimens of the Natural History Museum (in 3D, no less, should your TV be adequately equipped), looks set to be a real treat.

New Year's Day, 6.30pm, Sky1/Sky3D



6.) Sherlock lives!

Dead? Of course not! With two bone fide Hollywood stars now under its belt in the shape of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, the return of Sherlock to our screens comes with a far greater weight of expectation than earlier seasons ever had to bear. Early reports suggest it should not disappoint though, so grab your thinking caps and try to keep up with Sherlock's mile-a-minute brainy banter.

New Year's Day, 9pm, BBC One



5.) The Toy Story triple whammy

Is there anything more Christmassy than living toys? The BBC has pulled off a real coup here, bagging all three Toy Story movies, including the premier showing of Toy Story 3 on Christmas Day, and playing them in sequence across three consecutive days.

December 23rd 3.15pm, Christmas Eve 3.40pm, Christmas Day 3.20pm, BBC One



4.) The Whale -- a new look at the Moby Dick tale

Telling the tale that inspired the classic novel Moby Dick, The Whale has an all-star cast and lavish period production values. Check out one of its celebrated stars, Martin Sheen, discuss filming the one-off special in the interview above.

December 22nd, 9pm, BBC One



3.) Danny "Faahhking" Dyer Joins EastEnders

Love him or loathe him, cockney wise-guy wannabe Danny Dyer was born to run Albert Square's Queen Vic pub. Expect a run-in with Phil Mitchell and some rhyming slang slagging as Dyer gets comfortable behind the bar. And a death of course -- it's not an EastEnders Christmas special without someone croaking.

Christmas Day, 8.30pm, BBC One



2.) The Muppets take on Lady Gaga

If you were on the hunt for a gang to out-barmy Gaga, The Muppets would be top of the list. Putting 'em in the same room together for an extended Christmas special? That's a recipe for a beautiful, laugh-filled disaster.

Christmas Eve, 8pm, Channel 5



1.) Doctor Who -- bye-bye Matt Smith, Hello Peter Capaldi

Here's a revelation -- I don't even like Doctor Who. But I do love Peter Capaldi, set to regenerate as the next incarnation of the Doctor as Matt Smith exits in this Christmas special. If Capaldi can bring a little of The Thick of It's foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker's lunacy to the role, it may even bag itself a convert in the shape of me.

Christmas Day, 7.30pm, BBC One

Image Credit: Santa Claus Watching TV from

This post has been re-published since its original publication on December 17th.