BBC Christmas TV: the highlights

Doctor Who, Blackadder, Wallace and Gromit and Shooting Stars lead the BBC Yuletide TV highlights…

David Morrissey in the Doctor Who Christmas special...

It really is that time of the year already. And while the Christmas TV schedules may not have quite the magic and wonderment to them that they once had, it’s always worth seeing what the BBC throw up to keep us entertained when we should, in all conscience, by listening to Auntie Doris’ stories of how Christmas wasn’t like this in her day.

The list of viewing, then, has just been revealed in Broadcast magazine, and while times and transmission dates aren’t yet in stone, here’s the edited-for-geek highlights of what you can expect on BBC One and Two over Christmas.

BBC ONE

Doctor Who: The Next Doctor Figured you might have heard about this one. David Tennant and David Morrissey, along with a pair of sonic screwdrivers, united to fight the Cybermen in Victorian England. Expect it on Christmas Day, around 7pm.

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Doctor Who at the Proms A special programme that shows highlights of the music of Doctor Who Prom earlier in the year.

A Matter Of Loaf And Death Can’t wait for this. This is the long-awaited television return of Wallace and Gromit, where, to quote the synopsis, “the pair have to do battle with the dreaded Cereal Killer in a classic “who-doughnut” mystery”. Also, BBC’s Christmas on-screen idents will, not for the first time, have a Nick Park/Wallace and Gromit feel to them.

Jonathan Creek We quite like this on its day, and it’s back for a Christmas episode. Presumably, he won’t be solving a case though about a popular comedian allegedly biting someone else’s ear. Alan Davies stars.

The 39 Steps A new drama based on the John Buchan novel, and starring Rupert Penry Jones.

Top Of The Pops Christmas and New Year specials Hurray! The traditional festive music programme is, after some reports to the contrary, going ahead. Boo! Fearne Cotton is hosting it. She’ll be joined by co-host Reggie Yates.

Blackadder Rides Again Now this is more like it. A special documentary special, bringing the cast and crew together again, to mark the 25 th birthday of Blackadder. Marvellous.

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Gavin and Stacey A one hour special of the popular comedy.

The Royle Family And another special episode for the Royles too, who come out of television retirement for a second time.

Around The World In 20 Days Michael Palin celebrates the 20 th anniversary of his first travelogue adventure by retracing some of the more memorable moments from his maiden voyage.

My Family Christmas Special The only way the makers of My Family could make Christmas special would be to stop making My Family.

BBC TWO

Shooting Stars Another show brought out of retirement again, but we’re glad it has been. Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer host, and Matt Lucas returns too. There’s also a documentary looking back at the show’s run, pulling out the best bits and talking to some of its guests over the years. Good, good.

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Rab C Nesbitt He’s back too, for the first time in donkeys, in a 45 minute one-off special.

Peter Serafinowicz A Christmas special for the hit and miss sketch show.

Lead Balloon Jack Dee’s cracking sitcom gets a 40-minute special episode.

The Hairy Biker’s Christmas Special Hairy bike riders do more cooking. Nigella’s on too if you prefer.

Top Gear The team have to cover the entirety of Vietnam in eight days.

TOTP2 Eight brand new episodes of the show, hosted by Steve Wright. A far better bet than TOTP1 on the other side.

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MOVIES

Granted, you’ve probably long ago watched your film of choice on cable/satellite/DVD/the big screen, but the bonus this year is that the BBC’s movies on this list are also being broadcast in high definition over Freesat. Here’s the list of highlights…

  • Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were Rabbit
  • Toy Story 2
  • Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
  • Starter For Ten
  • Casanova
  • Brothers Grimm
  • Shrek The Halls

Also in high-def will be the aforementioned Doctor Who Prom, Lead Balloon, The Royle Family and The 39 Steps.