WHAT TO WATCH 18-23 December

In the final week before Christmas, the best telly includes a triple helping of Romesh Ranganathan, several new comedy Christmas specials, a brand new BBC One drama and this year's Strictly champion will finally be crowned.


Here are 7 TV shows you can't miss this week...


1. The Weakest Link Strictly Special

Saturday 18th December at 6.10pm on BBC One


Earlier this year it was announced that Romesh Ranganathan was taking over from Anne Robinson as host of The Weakest Link and as the classic quizshow returns, what better way to kick off than with a Strictly special ahead of this year's grand final?


Bringing his own twist to one of the world’s most iconic quizzes, Romesh will be joined by eight celebrities all from the world of Strictly, who will have to work as a team to try to win up to £50,000 for their chosen charity.


Each round one player will be voted The Weakest Link by their fellow contestants and will leave with nothing. After a final head-to-head one Strictly star will be crowned The Strongest Link and will take the prize.


The celebrity Strictly contestants taking part are Anton Du Beke, Janette Manrara, Catherine Tyldesley, Dr Ranj, Emma Barton, Clara Amfo, HRVY and Ore Oduba.


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2. Strictly Come Dancing: The Final

Saturday 18th December at 7pm on BBC One


After 12 weeks of competition, it's time for the 2021 Strictly Grand Final as finalists John Whaite and Johannes Radebe and Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice perform three incredible routines each in the hope of lifting the Glitterball trophy.


Sadly, it was confirmed on Friday that AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington have had to withdraw from the competition due to AJ's injury and will not be able to compete in this year's final.


This means that the two remaining couples will join Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman on Saturday night to perform their favourite routine from the series, the routine the judges would like them to perform again in the hope of improvement and a brand new show dance.


As ever in the final, the judges' scores are for guidance only as the winner lies entirely in the audience's hands. Who will be crowned Strictly Come Dancing Champions 2021?


Also during Saturday's final. Ed Sheeran will be performing and the cast of 2021 return for one final spin on the Strictly dancefloor.


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3. The Girl Before

Sunday 19th to Wednesday 22nd December at 9pm on BBC One


BBC One's new drama The Girl Before tells the story of Jane, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who gets the chance to move into a beautiful, ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, played by David Oyelowo.


There’s just one catch. The occupants must abide by his list of exacting rules. At first One Folgate Street is a haven from a recent trauma she’d rather forget, but when she feels the house changing her in unexpected ways, Jane makes a shocking discovery about her predecessor, Emma, played by Jessica Plummer, and is forced to confront unnerving similarities in their stories.


As the two women’s timelines interweave, Jane begins to wonder if her fate will be the same as the girl before.


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4. Rob & Romesh Vs. Christmas

Sunday 19th December at 9pm on Sky Max


After Rob asked his Instagram followers what viewers would like him and Romesh to do next, Rob and Romesh are back for a special Christmas treat as they will be joining the circus!


They'll be teaming up with West End and Big Top show Zippo's to learn acrobatics, contortion and knife throwing, all ahead of their final Christmas performance at the world's best destination for festive fun, Winter Wonderland.


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5. The Ranganation Christmas Special

Sunday 19th December at 10pm on BBC Two


No stranger to this week's telly, Romesh Ranganathan, brings us a festive special of his superb BBC Two entertainment show The Ranganation.


He'll be chatting through all things yuletide with celebrity guests and his hand-picked focus group, the Ranganation, twenty loveable, outspoken characters who represent a cross-section of modern Britain.


In this festive special, the hilarious Josh Widdicombe and Scarlett Moffatt join Romesh in the studio and together, they take a humorous look at some of the biggest talking points of Christmas. Including the worst-ever presents, over-indulging and finding out the truth about Father Christmas.


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6. Two Doors Down Christmas Special

Monday 20th December at 9.30pm on BBC Two


For this year's Two Doors Down Christmas special, Michelle and Alan are back on home turf in Latimer Crescent, having been in the Highlands last Christmas. It's all merry and bright as they welcome the neighbours for a wee pre-Christmas get together, but the festive atmosphere soon turns a little fraught.


As Beth and Eric sit themselves down, they're given an on-the-spot invitation to spend Christmas with Gordon’s parents in Yorkshire, which in turn causes Christine to feel vulnerable. Gordon irritates Ian with all his fussing, and Cathy - as ever - is desperate to find the ‘real’ party, with poor Michelle then, in turn, struggling to keep the evening on track.


There are brief glimmers of harmony when the neighbours play a silly kazoo game and decide to do something special for Christine - but Alan’s attempt to de-stress Ian backfires when Gordon goes and ruins things for everyone.


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7. We Wish You A Mandy Christmas

Monday 20th December at 10pm on BBC Two


With a second series starting in January, Mandy returns for a Christmas special to answer the question, what is the true essence of Christmas?


Is it the glimmer in a schoolboy’s expectant eye as he opens his pillowcase on Christmas morning and tucks into a delicious walnut and a bruised tangerine? Is it the wide smile on a publican’s face as he welcomes merry revellers with a vat of warm mulled wine he’s made in a sort of electric keg he normally puts oxtail soup in? Is it the haunting harmony of a choir respecting the current Covid protocols?


Or, is it a Christmas episode of a TV show that is slightly longer than usual to make it appear 'special'? Find out the answer in this Christmas episode of Mandy, starring Diane Morgan as our eponymous heroine. It is slightly longer than usual.


Starring Johnny Vegas, Pearce Quigley, John Cooper Clarke, Jo Hartley and Michael Spicer.


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8. Ghosts Christmas Special

Thursday 23rd December at 8.30pm on BBC Two


With a fourth series already confirmed for next year, one of the highlights of last year's festive schedules, Ghosts is back for a Christmas special.


Kitty becomes convinced that Santa has made an early stop at Button House when Mike and Alison discover a man living in a tent on their grounds.


The ghosts’ advice on how to deal with him leaves much to be desired, but eventually, Mike and Alison learn that they have more to offer this Christmas than they realised. And Jennifer Saunders guest stars as Lady Button's mother!


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9. Not Going Out Christmas Special

Thursday 23rd December at 10pm on BBC One


In this year's Not Going Out Christmas special, a family Christmas party turns sour when Lucy announces that she has got tickets to see Jason Donovan in panto. But Lee loathes panto, especially given Jason Donovan was Lucy’s teenage crush.


That night, while Lee and Lucy turn their backs on each other in bed, Lee has an unsettling dream in which he is dressed as Buttons and his whole life has turned into a pantomime.


Lucy is Cinderella, Toby and Anna are the Ugly Sisters, Geoffrey is Baron Hardup, Wendy is the Fairy Godmother and Prince Charming, the handsome suitor who pursues Cinderella and asks for her hand in marriage, is played by Jason Donovan.


Can Buttons keep the fairytale couple apart?


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