If a TV channel could win at doing Christmas properly, then BBC One are the runaway winners this year with a top line-up of festive telly.
This year, the line-up includes the return of great dramas Sherlock, Call The Midwife, Doctor Who and Luther as well as new dramas Billionaire Boy, And Then There Were None and Dickensian and Harry Hill returns for another episode of The Further Adventures Of Professor Branestawm.
Mrs Brown’s Boys, Not Going Out, Boomers, Citizen Khan, Catherine Tate’s Nan and Still Open All Hours all return for some festive fun alongside new comedy Walliams And Friend. Not to mention the festive staples, EastEnders, Strictly Come Dancing and Top Of The Pops.
Catering for the stand-up fans, Michael McIntyre and John Bishop each return with their own Christmas show and the BBC celebrate Peter Kay’s 20 years in comedy with new documentary, Peter Kay 20 Years Of Funny.
There’s also some new animation this Christmas with Stick Man and Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer’s Llamas.
With so much to watch on BBC One, I’ve picked the 12 shows that you are not going to want to miss (in no particular order)…
Luther, Tuesday 15th & 22nd December
We thought we’d seen the last of Luther when the third series came to an end, but luckily the series is back for two brand new episodes.
On a leave of absence from the police force, Luther is laying low in a rundown cottage on the edge of England. But a visit from his old colleagues at the Met brings a shocking piece of news that draws him back to London in search of the truth.
Meanwhile, a gruesome serial killer has struck the city. With a trail of clues leading from one crime scene to the next, Schenk and his team must work out the twisted logic that connects each victim. But this murdering mastermind is more than a match for the police, outsmarting them at every step.
It’s not long before Luther is back in the Bullpen, determined to steal a march on the killer before it’s too late.
Still Open All Hours
Following on from a hugely successful first series, Still Open All Hours returns for a second series on BBC One, kicking of with a Christmas special in which Granville (Sir David Jason) bags himself a bargain Christmas tree, which gives him more problems than he wanted.
Eric (Johnny Vegas) and Cyril (Kulvinder Ghir) embark on a new fitness regime and as the holidays approach, Granville and Leroy (James Baxter) try to entice Madge (Brigit Forsyth) to their festive party.
EastEnders, Christmas Day
No Christmas Day would be complete without tucking in to a bit of EastEnders. This year, families at war will lead to tragedy and the worlds of some Walford residents will come crashing down around them.
The Beales and the Mitchells reach breaking point, which leads to life-changing consequences and the Carters’ wedding finally arrives, but will it be a happy new year?
Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special, Christmas Day
Whilst he no longer presents the main series Bruce Forsyth returns, alongside regular host Tess Daly for the 2015 Christmas Special of Strictly Come Dancing.
This year the celebrities taking part are all previous contestants; Alison Hammond, Abbey Clancy, Harry Judd, Lisa Snowdon, Tom Chambers and The People’s Strictly champion Cassidy Little.
Billionaire Boy, New Year’s Day
Another Christmas, another adaptation a David Walliams children’s novel. This time it’s the turn of Billionaire Boy, which tells the story of 12-year-old Joe who has everything he could ever want from his billionaire father, except for a friend.
As always, Walliams himself stars alongside a fantastic cast which this year includes Catherine Tate (The Catherine Tate Show) John Thomson (Cold Feet) and Rebecca Front (The Thick Of It). Walliams plays dinner lady Mrs Trafe, Tate plays Sapphire Diamond, a 40-something hand model and Thomson plays Joe’s billionaire father Len.
This Christmas, the big new BBC One drama is Dickensian. Set within the fictional realms of Charles Dickens’ critically acclaimed novels, Dickensian brings together some of his most iconic characters, and stars Stephen Rea (The Honourable Woman), Pauline Collins OBE (Upstairs Downstairs), Caroline Quentin (Men Behaving Badly) and Peter Firth (Spooks).
These characters include Scrooge, Fagin and Miss Havisham, as their lives intertwine in 19th century London. The Old Curiosity Shop sits next door to The Three Cripples Pub, while Fagin’s Den is hidden down a murky alley off a bustling Victorian street.
With a wealth of back stories sourced from the novels, Dickensian delivers fast-paced storylines with surprising twists and turns in this 20-part series.
Catherine Tate’s Nan
Everyone’s favourite from The Catherine Tate Show, Joannie Taylor aka Nan is back in two specials.
In the first special, Nanger Management, Nan’s aggressive attitude to harmless pensioners finally gets her into trouble with the police and she’s forced to attend anger-management classes. However, her course leader is revealed to be struggling with some latent issues of his own, which are in danger of being brought bubbling back to the surface. Meanwhile, Jamie joins forces with Nan’s kindly new neighbour to raise funds for the local zoo, with unexpectedly dramatic results.
In the second special, Knees Up Wilmots-Brown, when the freehold on Nan’s block of flats in London’s newly fashionable East End is bought up by some ruthless property developers, all the residents join together to fight for their survival. All except Nan that is, who having bought her own flat in the 1980s finds herself holding a unique position of power over the developers and their oily representative, the unfortunate Charles Wilmott.
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, New Year’s Day
For this New Year’s Day special, Sherlock goes back in time to 1895.
We’ve been here before – but what if this wasn’t the modern day but the late Victorian period? What if the world’s most famous consulting detective and his best friend lived in a Baker Street of steam trains, hansom cabs, top hats and frock-coats?
Some things, though, remain reassuringly the same. Friendship, adventure and especially, MURDER… Why is Thomas Ricoletti a little surprised to see his wife dressed in her old wedding gown? Because, just a few hours before, she took her own life…
Mrs Ricoletti’s ghost now appears to be prowling the streets with an unslakeable thirst for revenge. From fog-shrouded Limehouse to the bowels of a ruined church, Holmes, Watson and their friends must use all their cunning to combat an enemy seemingly from beyond the grave and the final, shocking truth about… the Abominable Bride!
Not Going Out Christmas Special
After seemingly drawing a line under not Going Out last year, Lee Mack is back for a nail-biting Christmas special An action-packed episode at the end of last year saw Lee finally tie the knot with his long-suffering landlady and object of his affections, Lucy (Sally Bretton).
One year on, a heavily pregnant Lucy is three days overdue with their first baby when they find themselves mistakenly caught up in a robbery at the local department store along with Lee’s dad Frank (Bobby Ball) dressed as Santa’s elf, uber-ditzy friend Daisy (Katy Wix), and neighbours Toby (Hugh Dennis) and Anna (Abigail Cruttenden).
Locked in and faced with a dangerous robber wearing a Father Christmas latex mask, they need to come up with an escape plan before things take a turn for the worse. With plenty of screaming and hiding in Santa’s grotto, will Lee’s actions and usually ill-thought-out ideas get them into even more trouble?
Top Of The Pops, Christmas Day & New Year’s Day
Until the BBC finally decide to bring back Top Of The Pops for good we have to make do with two annual specials, one on Christmas Day and one on New Year’s Day.
Once again, Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates will present the two star-spangled shows, which this year will feature performances from Jess Glynne, OMI, Little Mix, James Bay, Sigma & Rita Ora, Ellie Goulding and of course the Christmas Day show will conclude with the all-important Christmas Number One.
The much-loved children’s picture book Stick Man will be brought to life this Christmas for BBC One. Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, this heart-warming animated special is voiced by a stellar cast of British acting talent.
Martin Freeman is Stick Man, Hugh Bonneville is Santa and Jennifer Saunders narrates, with Russell Tovey, Rob Brydon and Sally Hawkins completing the cast.
Join Stick Man on an incredible adventure across the seasons as he runs from a playful dog, gets thrown in a river, escapes from a swan’s nest and even ends up on top of a fire. But will he ever get back to his family in time for Christmas?
Walliams And Friend, Christmas Eve, 10:05pm
Not content with just one show on BBC One this Christmas, David Walliams returns to his sketch show roots in Walliams And Friend, a brand new forty-minute sketch spectacular, filmed in front of a live studio audience.
Walliams And Friend also stars Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous), Morgana Robinson (House of Fools) and Mike Wozniak (Man Down).