We give an awful lot of love to cinema and streaming releases, but not enough love to the humble Freeview channels. Come Christmas time though, they are always stacked with cheesy comedy specials, gritty Christmas dramas and endless celebrity appearances, which is why we’ve rounded up the best of the lot arriving this 2021. From Doctor Who to the new Worzel Gummidge, here’s what to watch.

Around the World in 80 Days

For those wondering how to keep the in-laws entertained come Boxing Day night, look to BBC One’s new eight-part series, Around the World in 80 Days. Jules Verne’s loveable novel will once again be adapted, only this time it’s with David Tennant leading the way as Phileas Fogg. 

We all know how the story goes but follow this new series as we see Fogg head on the greatest adventure of a lifetime – travelling the world – with Passepartout (Ibrahim Koma) and Abigail Fix (Leonie Benesch).

When can I watch it? Sunday 26th December
Where can I watch? BBC One or iPlayer

www.bbc.co.uk

Doctor Who 

Doctor Who returns with a special New Year’s Day episode, starring Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor. And in true Doctor Who fashion, expect the Daleks to be making an arrival too! 

There is a teaser trailer released already but it gives very little away. We’ll be following the owner of ELF Storage, Sarah (Aisling Bea) and a customer, Nick (Adjani Salmon), on New Year’s Eve as they join together with the Doctor, Dan (John Bishop) and Yaz (Mandip Gill) to ward off the Daleks…

When can I watch it? Saturday 1st January
Where can I Watch it? BBC One or iPlayer

www.bbc.co.uk

Call the Midwife

Another classic Christmas Day special is, of course, Call the Midwife. Set in December 1966, we’ll follow Lucille and Cyril as they prepare for their magical Boxing Day wedding, only things don’t run as smoothly as planned.

Meanwhile, we see Nancy prepare for her final midwifery exams and the whole team draws together as they get ready for a busy Christmas Day of births.

When can I watch it? Christmas Day
Where can I Watch it? BBC One & iPlayer

www.bbc.co.uk

Terry Pratchett’s The Abominable Snow Baby

Another vital Christmas Day viewing is the adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s The Abominable Snow Baby. 

With the teaser trailer looking every bit as adorable and entertaining, you and your little ones can follow the story of Abominable Snow Baby, who unexpectedly arrives in a small town following a surge of snow. It’s only when a Granny (Julie Walters) and her grandson Albert (Hugh Darcy) take the Snow Baby under their wing that the people of the town begin accepting the giant as one of their own.

When can I watch it? Christmas Day
Where can I Watch it? Channel 4 & All 4

www.channel4.com

Superworm

From the creators of The Gruffalo and Zog, comes Superworm, a special short that follows a long, wriggly worm with extraordinary prowess. He’s the one who is always saving the day, until he gets too big for his boots and he gets taken by a bird. It’s his friends who must rise up and help out the worm in order to save the day… 

Based on the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, it’s set to be a family-favourite already. 

When can I watch it? Christmas Day
Where can I Watch it? BBC One & iplayer

www.bbc.co.uk

A Boy Called Christmas

Ever wondered how Christmas first began? Now’s your chance to uncover the secrets, mystery and elvish worlds in Sky Cinema’s A Boy Called Christmas. 

Witness how the magic of Christmas first began as you follow a young boy named Nikolas as he sets out in search of his father and the unknown village of elves. Setting out on this journey with his hilarious mouse friend and meeting a reindeer called Blitzen along the way, see how the young boy fairs on this treacherous journey.

When can I watch it? Sunday 26th December
Where can I Watch it? Sky Cinema or NOW

www.nowtv.com

Worzel Gummidge 

Fans of Worzel Gummidge and his scarecrow adventures can look forward to three new episodes arriving on the screen this Christmas season. 

Based on the books by Barbara Euphan Todd, these new episodes will star Mackenzie Crook as Worzel, and he’ll be joined by other familiar faces, Toby Jones, Thierry Wickens and India Brown. The first of the three episodes, Guy Forks, will follow Worzel as he switches professions for the Bonfire Night season – and you guessed it, we’ll see him sporting a Guy Faulkes look.

When can I watch it? Tuesday 28th December
Where can I Watch it? BBC One & iPlayer

www.bbc.co.uk

A Very British Scandal 

A new series to keep you busy over the festive period, A Very British Scandal, starring Claire Foy, will follow the rise and fall of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll as they struggle through their media blasted divorce. 

The first of the three part series will air on Boxing Day, and is packed with a wealth of drama, legal disputes and obviously, scandal.

When can I watch it? Sunday 26th December
Where can I Watch it? BBC One & iPlayer

www.bbc.co.uk

Spitting Image 

Here to make you laugh your way through the traumas of the last year is Spitting Image and their special Christmas edition. 

Available to catch it on ITV, the satirical puppets will guide you through a series of short skits, including a shocking Christmas surprise for Prince Andrew; an ever-heroic Tom Cruise stepping up to save Christmas for Santa; a hilarious take on The Queen’s annual Christmas message from the comedy queen, Phoebe Waller-Bridge; Keir Starmer finally springing into action for an oncoming Christmas lunch crisis with his (always law-abiding) vigilante alter-ego, Fox Man; while poor Rishi Sunak is visited by terrifying visions including of The Ghost of Tory Glory Past.

When can I watch it? Christmas Eve
Where can I Watch it? ITV

www.itv.com

Hansel & Gretel: After Ever After

We all know the beloved fairytale that follows the two young children to a marvellous gingerbread house, which turns out to be a trap by a wicked witch, but Sky’s new tale Hansel & Gretel: After Ever After looks at what happens afterwards. And things don’t look quite so bright for the two young sweet-addicted children… 

Somehow the witch survives being thrusted into a roaring oven and is wanting revenge. It’s up to Hansel and Gretel to save the day once and for all. Starring David Walliams, it’s set to be the family-favourite to watch this Christmas. 

When can I watch it? Thursday 23rd December
Where can I Watch it? Sky Max

www.sky.com

Death in Paradise

The first of its kind, Death in Paradise’s first ever Christmas special will land on your screen on Boxing Day. Expect it to be Christmas time on the fictional island of Saint Marie, and we see Neville desperately trying to go to Manchester to spend time with his family, but of course his plans are interrupted when a wildly rich shipping magnate dies unexpectedly…

When can I watch it? Sunday 26th December
Where can I Watch it? BBC One & iPlayer

www.bbc.co.uk


Want to receive more great articles like this every day: sign up here