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Miracle on Downing Street and How the Mogg stole Christmas: What to watch this festive season

Comedian MITCH BENN presents his recommendations of what to watch this Christmas. Featuring a few familiar faces...

Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise in December 1983. Photo: P. Shirley/ Getty.

BBC One 9am
CAROL SERVICE FROM KINGS COLLEGE

Featuring favourites such as I Saw Three Ships (Go Sailing Straight Past), In The Even Bleaker Than Usual Midwinter, God Help Ye Merry Gentlemen, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Zoom, O Come All Ye Double Vaccinated and many many more…

ITV 10am
THE NATIVITY

The timeless tale of how a child is born to a naive young woman and a powerful but somewhat emotionally distant father, just in time to give everyone a welcome, but in all likelihood illusory, burst of goodwill and optimism.

BBC One 11am
Wallace and Gromit in A COLD DAY OUT

The new award-winning short animation from Aardman Studios: a freezing Gromit stands in a food bank queue for 30 minutes, having been forced to sell Wallace’s house in order to pay for his social care.

Channel 4 11.30am
HOW THE MOGG STOLE CHRISTMAS
A grotesquely made-up Jim Carrey stars in the tale of a strange, gangly, sneering monster who hogs all the Christmas cheer for himself, while laughing at the poor ordinary folk he took it away from.

BBC One 1pm
TOP OF THE POPS

Festive hits from Ed Sheeran, Adele, Most Of Little Mix, Ed Sheeran, Clean Bandit, Elton John and Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran, George Ezra (or possibly James Ray), Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, Ariana Pequeña, Robo-ABBA, Ed Sheeran and Slipknot (feat. Ed Sheeran).

Channel 4 2pm
THE SNOWMAN


Raymond Briggs’s heartwarming story of an adorable animated snowman who helps Michael Fassbinder’s troubled Norwegian detective to track down a serial killer who taunts him with clues as to who his next victim will be (are you sure about this one? – Ed).

BBC One 3pm
THE QUEEN

We join Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace as she gives her thoughts on the events of the past year and expresses her hopes for the future (WARNING: VERY STRONG LANGUAGE THROUGHOUT).

ITV 3.30pm
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

An updated modern-day re-telling of Ian Fleming’s cold war classic in which James Bond 007 is sent to Moscow by the prime minister with a brown envelope full of cash and told to retrieve a can of film which he is NOT to look at under any circumstances.

Channel 4 5pm
SCROOGED

Bill Murray’s mean-hearted TV producer is pestered by annoying ghosts trying to persuade him to change his ways, having apparently forgotten that he has a bunch of friends who specialise in taking care of this sort of thing.

BBC two 6pm
MIRACLE ON DOWNING STREET

A bumbling, lovable, portly white-haired eccentric is forced to go to extraordinary lengths to convince an increasingly sceptical and hardhearted public that he is, in fact, real. Almost certainly starring Matt Lucas.

BBC One 6.30pm
DOCTOR WHO

Returning to Britain to stock up on custard creams, the Doctor is horrified to discover the nation in the grip of a strange, self-destructive mania. Can she save her adopted homeland before the Home Office have her deported as an undesirable alien?

BBC One 7.30pm
EASTENDERS
In an unprecedented twist, this year’s Yuletide visit to Albert Square turns out to be one of the LESS depressing things on TV this Christmas.

BBC 1 8pm
MORECAMBE AND WISE

The first-ever broadcast of the never-before-seen banned Christmas 1977 special, featuring guest stars Sid Vicious and Oliver Reed. Stay tuned to the end to see the incredible 15-minute parody of Taxi Driver what Little Ern wrote (“Are you talking to me? Is he talking to me, Ern?”). With music from Shirley Bassey and The Slits.

ITV 8pm
BRITAIN’S GOT LOONIES – CHRISTMAS SPECIAL


Simon Cowell and his fellow celebrity judges hold court as a series of patently severely psychologically damaged and/or dangerously mentally ill people are paraded for their – and our – amusement (© Caligula Productions)

Channel 4, 8.30pm
THE GREAT CHRISTMAS 2021 BAKE-OFF

Two teams of celebrity bakers battle it out to see who can create the fanciest and tastiest cake when the shops are out of eggs, flour and milk. And sugar.

ITV 9pm
DIE HARD/LOVE ACTUALLY

A Christmas Alan Rickman double bill: in one movie, the much-missed screen legend plays a cartoonishly caricatured villain in a bizarrely heightened and overwrought story featuring outlandish characters mouthing almost unperformable dialogue as they react in implausible ways to utterly ludicrous and unconvincing scenarios. The other one stars Bruce Willis.

BBC Two 12.30am
FRANKIE BOYLE’S REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2021

In a format change from previous years, comedian Frankie and his guest contributors refrain from cracking any gags about the last year’s news; rather they just gaze in slack-jawed horror as the events of 2021 are replayed before them (meanwhile, Charlie Brooker watches and thanks his lucky stars once more that he got out of this gig when he did).

See inside the It's a wonderful lie edition

A depiction of Mary and Jesus, flanked by gift-bringing kings, in the Byzantine Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Photo: Hadi Zaher/Getty.

Of course, you can wish a Muslim ‘Merry Christmas’

There’s much in the Qur’an that unites the Islamic faith with Christianity, including the birth of Jesus Christ.

A hand-tinted photo of British pilot Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia, an inspiration for Maggie Shipstead’s
Great Circle. Photo: SSPL/Getty.

The Books of 2021: Fiction and non-fiction’s high flyers

CHARLIE CONNELLY rounds up the best titles of 2021 and names one absolute favourite.

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