The Handbook
The Handbook

The magic of Christmas: sleeping in a single bed in your old room, being away from all your friends, shouting matches with your sister, breakups and granny being racist again. Yes, we all know that we’d be unable to last half an hour if we didn’t have Christmas telly to keep us motivated. “Just fifty more of aunt Moira’s sprouts and I’ll be able to watch the Gavin & Stacey special” quickly becomes your mantra. Maybe not too special for anyone sitting close to you once you’ve polished off 50 of Brussels’ best, but still, TV is all we’ve got to get from Christmas to New Years’ eves.

What’s On The Box?

Gavin & Stacey

I’ll tell you what’s occurin’ this Christmas day. It’s been a good few months since we first reported the news that Gavin & Stacey are making a comeback nearly a decade after we left them on that Barry Island beach back in 2010 and we’re starting to get excited. Since we last saw them, the world’s changed; we’ve had austerity, Brexit then not Brexit, Love Island’s become a thing, oh and James Corden has become the world’s least likely global megastar. And so it’s with genuinely baited breath that we wait for Gavin & Stacey to drop on Christmas day and hope with every sinew that they’ve not ballsed it up. It’s been 10 years in the making and sod the queen, THIS is the most important thing on telly all Christmas.

The best present you’ll receive this Christmas Day on BBC1 at 10:15pm

A Christmas Carol

The old ones are always the best. Unless we’re talking about Dickens remakes. One of the most treasured Christmas fables gets yet another makeover, this time from the BBC and it looks like they’ve gone in a far darker, more harrowing direction than the Muppets ever did. From the people behind Peaky Blinders, it’s looking surprisingly impressive given how ubiquitous the story now is.

The three part special starts on Sunday 22nd and concludes on Tuesday 24th December on BBC One

The Snail And The Whale

Children’s author and Gruffalo creator Julia Donaldson is behind what they clearly hope will be a modern-day Christmas classic in the form of The Snail and the Whale. Anyone with children will bear witness to the ear-worm-like nature of Donaldson’s songs, so expect to be humming from The Snail and the Whale well into February. And if you didn’t get your Rob Brydon fix from Gavin & Stacey, don’t worry, he’s clearly raking it in this Christmas because he’s in this one too.

BBC One, Christmas Day at 4:45pm

Jack Whitehall’s Christmas Special

Guy next door (if next door is a £5m Putney townhouse) Jack is back to milk his (admittedly hilarious) father-son relationship. Playing sort-of straight man to his father (who is, incidentally, the positive definition of straight) expect it to be far too hammy and yet nevertheless giggle-inducing. Billed as a Christmas variety special, the filming took place in September at the London Palladium, features celebrity guests and lots and lots of Michael Whitehall’s anecdotes. Interestingly, and according to the tabloids, a couple were thrown out of the theatre for having sex during the performance, which means it’s either very good or very bad; find out which, but maybe not with the family around…

Released on Netflix, so presumably you can watch it whenever. Maybe when Call The Midwife comes on?

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special

It turns out that all this time I’ve been pronouncing it wrong and if, like me, you put the stress on the word ‘come’ it apparently sounds all wrong. Personally there’s nothing sexy about it at all, but if you find this long-running show more than simply going through the motions then you’ll want to be avidly tuned into the Christmas special.

Catch it on Christmas Day on BBC1 at 5.30pm 

It’s Not the Robbie Williams Christmas Show

Does the world need a Robbie Williams Christmas special? I’m minded to say no. Does Robbie Williams need it? It sounds like it, the guy’s got an album coming out (featuring Tyson Fury – don’t ask!) and appears to be pulling out various stops to reinvent himself. This ITV production looks set to give him the leg-up he needs. And, to be fair, the former Take That star and Angels crooner might be rather entertaining in his own way. Also, apropos nothing, is Robbie looking just a little like Phil Schofield in that video?

Catch it on ITV on Tuesday 26th November

Call The Midwife

Call the midwife… and tell her that this show’s been running for WAAAAY too long. As if you cared (and, guaranteed, your mum does), everyone’s favourite nursey characters are back for some seasonal midwifery. Now in its umpteenth season (and apparently extended until at least 2022, buckle up), it seems they’ve killed off it’s only saving grace, Miranda Hart, since I last checked in, so that shows what close attention I’ve been paying, and will probably reflect yours too after a few glasses of Christmas port. To be fair Charlotte Richie can do no wrong, but otherwise put it on and fall asleep while your uncle remonstrates about how much better nurses dressed before the EU came along.

Michael McIntyre’s Big Show

Back once again with his special skill of noticing things, Michael McIntyre brings his ‘Big Show’ to the BBC this Christmas. Ploughing his considerable talent for picking up on the mundane humdrum that niggles you too, then parroting it back so that you feel that it’s your own clever joke, McIntyre will make us chuckle even if we hate ourselves for doing so. Look forward to an entirely unscripted (ahem) session texting a celebrity’s plumber, special guests and general funniness. Also, your Granny loves him because he’s relatively clean, except that joke about the pool cue, which she keeps obsessing over.

Christmas day on BBC One at 8pm

Cinderella: Happy Every After

This one really could go both ways. Sky have taken the classic fairy tale ‘happy ever after’ and explored what happens after happy ever after, which isn’t a terrible premise at all. We join Cinderella just after she’s married her prince (sorry, should’ve said ‘spoiler alert’). Starring the ever enigmatic David Walliams (who has a real hit-and-miss talent for choosing roles, zig zagging between clangers and bangers), alongside Car Share’s delightful Sian Gibson, this 60 minuter might just be what we’re looking for this Christmas. Or it might be truly awful we just can’t tell (cf Gavin & Stacey); the fact that it’s written by the comedy mastermind behind Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway doesn’t bode well, but we’re going to touch as much wood as possible and hope it’s decent.

The Trial of Christine Keeler

Finally, something half decent! In one of those historical dramas that feels like it could still be relevant today, The Trial of Christine Keeler tells the story of the infamous Profumo scandal. The political earthquake that involved a senior Tory minister, Russian spies, sex and scandal. Do we never learn? The six part mini-series stars Sophie Cookson, James Norton, Emilia Fox and Ben Miles and should be rather splendid. Finally something to put my slippered feet up with and enjoy!

Bah humbug. Back soon with updates…