Britain’s best Christmas guide! TV, movies and on-demand entertainment not to miss over fortnight 

Motsi Mabuse (pictured) takes her place on the judging panel and Ed Sheeran makes a guest appearance on Strictly Come Dancing

1. Strictly Come Dancing

Saturday 18, 7pm, bbc1 ★★★★★

Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman host, Motsi Mabuse takes her place on the judging panel and Ed Sheeran makes a guest appearance as the three finalists each perform three routines in a bid to be crowned the Strictly Champion and claim the coveted Glitterball trophy. On Christmas Day (5.10pm), broadcasters Moira Stuart and Adrian Chiles, singer Anne-Marie, presenter Mel Giedroyc, The Repair Shop’s Jay Blades and First Dates star Fred Sirieix will take to the floor in the annual celebrity special.

2. BBC Sports Personality Of The Year 

Sunday 19, 6.45pm, bbc1 ★★★★★

Gary Lineker, Gabby Logan, Clare Balding and Alex Scott look back at a thrilling year in sport, and celebrate some great British achievement. From teenage tennis sensation Emma Raducanu winning the US Open and the England men’s football team reaching the Euro 2020 final to boxer Tyson Fury’s thumping heavyweight triumph and more golden success at the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, there will be plenty of competition for the main award.

3. The Girl Before 

Sunday 19, 9pm, bbc1 ★★★★★

M.R. James would have been proud of this dark tale, which provides chilling viewing. Set over split timelines, this four-part drama steadily builds the tension over consecutive nights. It follows two women, Jane (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Emma (Jessica Plummer), who get the chance to move into a beautiful, minimalist house designed by enigmatic architect Edward Monkford (David Oyelowo). But is this dream home about to turn into a nightmare?

Weekend magazine has rounded up a selection of the best programmes and films (pictured) airing during the festive fortnight

Weekend magazine has rounded up a selection of the best programmes and films (pictured) airing during the festive fortnight 

4. Ghosts 

Thursday 23, 8.30pm, bbc1 ★★★★

Ghosts is already one of the funniest shows on television, so imagine if you threw comedy great Jennifer Saunders (above) into the mix. Well, that’s exactly what happens in this Christmas special when the Absolutely Fabulous actress arrives to play Fanny’s mum as we find out more about the sad back story of the late Lady Button.

5. Shaun The Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas 

Christmas Eve, 6pm, bbc1 ★★★★★

Shaun and his flock at Mossy Bottom Farm try to get his little cousin Timmy back from the Christmas market in this year's 30-minute film airing on Christmas Eve. Pictured: The flock have a feast

Shaun and his flock at Mossy Bottom Farm try to get his little cousin Timmy back from the Christmas market in this year’s 30-minute film airing on Christmas Eve. Pictured: The flock have a feast

There’s something for everyone, young and old, as everyone’s favourite woolly hero stars in his first Christmas adventure since 2015. As we head back to Mossy Bottom Farm, it’s Christmas Eve, and little lamb Timmy has gone missing. So, it’s time for Shaun to launch a rescue mission to find his friend.

6. The Repair Shop At Christmas 

Christmas eve, 7pm, bbc1 ★★★★★

Not in the Christmas spirit yet? Then make sure you don’t miss this wonderful seasonal special that would soften even the hardest heart. Items with links to much-missed loved ones are brought back to life with skill and care, and everyone – including viewers – leaves with a tear in their eye and a warming smile on their face.

7. Top Gear: Driving Home For Christmas 

Christmas Eve, 8.30pm, BBC1 ★★★★

Paddy McGuinness, Chris Harris and Freddie Flintoff (pictured) embark on a road trip across Britain in Top Gear: Driving Home For Christmas

Paddy McGuinness, Chris Harris and Freddie Flintoff (pictured) embark on a road trip across Britain in Top Gear: Driving Home For Christmas

Inspired by singer Chris Rea’s annual pilgrimage, Freddie Flintoff, Chris Harris and Paddy McGuinness embark on a road trip across Britain, transporting a giant Christmas tree to Top Gear’s very own winter wonderland.

8. All Creatures Great And Small 

Christmas Eve, 9pm, Ch5 ★★★★

There’s snow, festive cheer and plenty of mistletoe in this cracker of an episode. There’s also a dilemma for James (above) and Helen, who find themselves double-booked, with their presence expected at both Skeldale and Heston Grange for Christmas lunch. How are they going to get out of that one?

9. Spitting Image: Christmas Special 

Christmas eve, 10pm, ITV ★★★★

It may be Christmas, but don’t expect the Spitting Image puppeteers to go easy on our public figures in this scathing half-hour of satire. In a year dominated, yet again, by Covid-19, expect government figures to get a particularly rough ride. Wonder if Boris Johnson will be laughing along?

Leonie Elliott stars as Lucille (pictured) in Call The Midwife

Leonie Elliott stars as Lucille (pictured) in Call The Midwife 

10. Superworm 

Christmas Day, 2.30pm, bbc1 ★★★★★

‘Superworm is super-long. Superworm is super-strong.’ This ninth adaptation of a Julia Donaldson story, beautifully illustrated by Axel Scheffler, is the story of a worm with amazing powers, who is kidnapped by the evil Wizard Lizard and must rely on his friends to dig him out of a hole. The all-star cast is led by Matt Smith as Superworm, Olivia Colman as the narrator and Rob Brydon as the nasty Crow.

11. Terry Pratchett’s The Abominable Snow baby 

Christmas Day, 7.30pm, ch4 ★★★★★

Based on a short story by the late author, this touching animated tale is narrated by the actor David Harewood. It tells the story of what happens when a small English town is hit by unprecedented snowfall and the appearance of a rather large – although very cute – snow baby. There’s a thinly veiled message about the folly of mistrusting outsiders as, at first, the creature terrifies the townsfolk, until a little old lady (voiced by Julie Walters) shows the community that they have nothing to fear.

12. Call The Midwife 

Christmas day, 8pm, BBC1 ★★★★★

There’s no rest for the nuns and nurses of Nonnatus House as they are faced with an ‘avalanche of babies’ from neighbouring St Cuthbert’s. But alongside all the worries over expectant mums, the real meat of the story is the preparations for Lucille’s wedding, which take a turn for the worse after she overdoes it on the punch at her hen do and ends up needing treatment herself. Can her colleagues patch up Lucille (Leonie Elliott) and get her to the church on time?

13. The Great Christmas Bake Off 2021 

Christmas Day, 8pm, Ch4 ★★★★★

Four of the stars from the award-winning drama It’s A Sin – Shaun Dooley, Olly Alexander, Nathaniel Curtis and Lydia West – compete for the coveted title of Christmas Star Baker under the watchful eyes of judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith and presenters Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding. The show ends with a joyful performance of All I Want For Christmas by the London Community Gospel Choir.

14. The Larkins

Christmas Day, 9pm, itv ★★★★

If there’s one family you would expect to embrace the spirit of Christmas, it’s the Larkins, and they don’t disappoint in this feature-length special. In the village, all the talk is of the pantomime, while Pop and Ma are excited to welcome home daughter Mariette (Sabrina Bartlett) – and prepare to welcome Charley’s parents for a visit. And if you think a power cut is going to ruin everything, then think again.

15. Around The World In 80 Days 

Boxing day, 5.50pm, BBC1 ★★★★

David Tennant is the latest actor to step into the shoes of Phileas Fogg in this spectacular eight-part adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic novel. The Victorian adventurer has made a foolish bet at his gentlemen’s club that he can circle the globe in just 80 days, but with new French valet Passepartout (Ibrahim Koma) and feisty journalist Abigail Fix (Leonie Benesch) by his side, he’s out to prove his doubters wrong.

Neville, played by Ralf Little (pictured), investigates a billionaire's death in the first Christmas special of Death in Paradise

Neville, played by Ralf Little (pictured), investigates a billionaire’s death in the first Christmas special of Death in Paradise 

16. Death in Paradise 

Boxing day, 7.30pm, bbc1 ★★★★★

The sunny crime drama gets its very first Christmas special – and about time, too. There’s not a flake of snow in sight as Neville (Ralf Little, above) investigates when a billionaire shipping magnate is found dead at a party – and it definitely wasn’t the eggnog. Look out, too, for the return of Danny John-Jules, who’s back as Dwayne Myers.

17. A Very British Scandal 

Boxing Day, 9pm, BBC1 ★★★★

Those of a certain age will remember the scandalous divorce case involving the Duke and Duchess of Argyll in 1963. Paul Bettany and Claire Foy play the couple in this handsome three-part dramatisation (showing over consecutive nights) of their relationship, which reveals there was much more behind the racy headlines of the day.

18. Billy Connolly: My Absolute Pleasure 

Boxing Day, 9.30pm, ITV ★★★★

The comedy great is about to launch his first autobiography, and to celebrate the Big Yin invites us to spend time with him in his Florida Keys home. There, he shares with us a personal selection of his most-loved stand-up routines, captured during his legendary live tours.

19. Travel Man: 96 Hours In Iceland 

Monday 27, 8pm, ch4 ★★★★

 Joe Lycett takes over from Richard Ayoade as host of the celebrity travel show, and it’s a much more fun affair. His first travelling companion is Bill Bailey, and together the pair watch the magnificent northern lights, visit a punk museum located in a converted toilet and go husky-sledding.

20. Attenborough And The Mammoth Graveyard 

Thursday 30, 8pm, BBC1 ★★★★

 Sir David Attenborough joins an archaeological dig on the outskirts of Swindon, uncovering Britain’s biggest mammoth discovery in nearly 20 years. The team hope to learn why the mammoths were here and how they died – could the Neanderthals have been responsible?

21. Wogan: Now You’re Talking 

Thursday 30, 9pm, ch5 ★★★★

 A 90-minute tribute to the broadcasting legend, who died in 2016. This affectionate profile features an abundance of jolly archive clips from his time as host of Eurovision, Children In Need and his self-titled chat show, which saw him interviewing some of the biggest names in showbusiness.

22. Jools’ Annual Hootenanny 

New Year’s Eve, 11.25pm, BBC2 ★★★★

 Jools Holland welcomes in 2022 with his 29th New Year’s Eve party. Ed Sheeran, Gregory Porter, Lulu, Rag’n’Bone Man and Ruby Turner are among the stars belting out the music, while the Pipes and Drums of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards will make their customary appearance.

23. Doctor Who 

New Year’s Day, 7pm, bbc1 ★★★★

 The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) kicks off the new year with a Groundhog Day-inspired adventure that sees our time-travellers experiencing the same events over and over again while trapped in a self-storage facility. And there’s also the small matter of the Daleks to contend with…

24. The Masked Singer 

New Year’s Day, 7pm, ITV ★★★★

 ‘Take it off! Take it off!’ After a one-off special on Christmas Day (6pm), the hugely fun panel show returns for a third series. Joel Dommett (above) is host, while Jonathan Ross, Mo Gilligan, Davina McCall and Rita Ora will be trying to guess which celebrity singers are behind the elaborate costumes. So, can you guess the identity of Doughnuts or Chandelier before they are unmasked?

25. The Tourist 

New Year’s Day, 9pm, BBC1 ★★★★★

This mind-bending six-part thriller is from the same team behind the hit BBC dramas Baptiste and The Missing, and looks like being addictive viewing. Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades Of Grey) stars as the British man caught up in a deadly game of cat and mouse in the unforgiving Australian outback. But it’s when he wakes in a local hospital suffering with amnesia that things really start to get interesting. Continues on Sunday January 2.

Christmas movies you can’t miss 

Crazy Rich Asians (2018) 12  

Wednesday 22, 10.35pm, BBC1 ★★★★

Nick and Rachel (Henry Golding and Constance Wu) are blissfully in love and all set for a happy ever after. But first, on a trip to Singapore, Rachel has to pass muster with Nick’s eye-poppingly wealthy family, headed by his fearsome mother. In this blockbuster romcom, Rachel holds her own as the humble girl in a nest of high-society vipers.

Last Christmas (2019) 12 

Thursday 23, 9pm, BBC2 ★★★

Emilia Clarke stars in this heart-tugging romantic comedy as Kate, a depressed young woman who is struggling to find her Christmas cheer. Into her life comes Tom (Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding), a handsome, mysterious stranger who shows her how to live again. Clarke’s rendition of the Wham! hit that inspired the film is sure to bring a tear to the eye.

Abominable (2019) U 

Christmas Eve, 3.05pm, BBC1 ★★★

Abominable (pictured) is among the three animations featuring cute snow-coloured bundles for all the family to enjoy this festive season

Abominable (pictured) is among the three animations featuring cute snow-coloured bundles for all the family to enjoy this festive season 

It’s the year of the yeti, with three animations featuring cute snow-coloured bundles for all the family to enjoy. First, there’s this adorable comedy adventure, followed by Terry Pratchett’s The Abominable Snow Baby (Christmas Day, 7.30pm, Ch4) and Smallfoot (New Year’s Eve, 12.30pm, ITV).

The Secret Life Of Pets 2 (2019) U 

Christmas Day, 1.10pm, BBC1 ★★★★

Emily Blunt is perfectly delightful as the magical Ms Poppins (pictured) in Mary Poppins Returns

Emily Blunt is perfectly delightful as the magical Ms Poppins (pictured) in Mary Poppins Returns 

Loyal Max and his pampered pet pals are back for a new adventure, with Max on high alert when his owner has a baby. Once Max gets over a humiliating visit to the vet (right), the family go on a trip to a farm, where Max befriends a wise old sheepdog (voiced by Harrison Ford).

Sugar & Spice

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) U 

Christmas Day, 3.10pm, BBC1 ★★★★

The Banks children, Michael and Jane, are all grown up in this sequel to the superb 1964 original. When trouble looms for widower Michael and his three youngsters, guess who stops by with spoonfuls of wisdom and joy? Emily Blunt is perfectly delightful as the magical Ms Poppins, with Ben Whishaw as Michael and Emily Mortimer as Jane.




Maleficent (2014) PG 

2.30pm, bbc1 ★★★★

Angelina Jolie is the fairy whose wings are clipped in this twist on Sleeping Beauty, from the point of view of the not so wicked witch.

Last Train To Christmas (2021) PG 

8pm, sky premiere ★★★

Michael Sheen is the 1980s nightclub owner (think Peter Stringfellow, complete with mullet) taking a time-travelling and life-changing train trip with his fiancee (Nathalie Emmanuel).

The Equalizer 2 (2018) 15 

9pm, ch4 ★★★ 

Denzel Washington reprises his avenging angel role, inspired by the 1980s TV series – and this time, it’s personal. With Pedro Pascal.

The Full Monty (1997) 15 

9pm, ch5 ★★★★

Smash-hit British comedy starring Robert Carlyle, leading a troupe of unemployed Sheffield steelworkers who get a shot of self-esteem.

The Lady In The Van (2015) 12 

9.05pm, bbc4 ★★★★

Maggie Smith stars as the eccentric OAP who made the leafy London driveway of writer Alan Bennett her home for 15 years.

Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) 15 

10.05pm, bbc2 ★★★★

Madonna’s finest acting hour as a free-spirited urbanite showing a mousy housewife (Rosanna Arquette, right, with Madonna) how to have a good time.


The Croods (2013) U 

12.30pm, itv2 ★★★

Eep is the primitive teen dealing with the trials of Stone-Age life. It’s an old idea, updated with charm – with the voices of Ryan Reynolds as Guy and Emma Stone as Eep (right).

Eddie The Eagle (2016) PG 

4.35pm, ch4 ★★★

Taron Egerton stars as ‘Eddie the Eagle’ Edwards, the British ski jump underdog who won our hearts during the 1988 Winter Olympics.

White Christmas (1954) U 

5.40pm, more4 ★★★★★

Toe-tapping classic, with Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby as the double act meeting their matches in Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney.

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) 12 

7pm, bbc2 ★★★

Charming post-war drama starring Lily James as the writer visiting the literary club of the title on the formerly occupied Channel Island.

Catch Me If You Can (2002) 12 

10pm, CH4 ★★★★

Energetic biopic of con man Frank Abagnale Jr (Leonardo DiCaprio), and how he paid to live the high life.

The Invisible Woman (2013) 12 

11.45pm, bbc2 ★★★

Biographical drama of Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones), the secret and far younger lover of Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes).


Carousel (1956) U 

1.45pm, bbc2 ★★★★

Spectacular adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical. Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae star as the couple struggling to find happiness and an easy ride through life. There’s more Rodgers and Hammerstein in sunny South Pacific, which follows at 3.50pm.

The Grinch (2018) U 

1.45pm, itv ★★★

Benedict Cumberbatch gives voice to Dr Seuss’s famous green curmudgeon in this animation as the Grinch prepares to put paid to Chrimbo once and for all.

Moana (2016) PG 

3.05pm, bbc1 ★★★★

Set in the stunning Polynesian islands, this vibrant musical animation features a plucky heroine embarking on a marvellous mythical quest.

Instant Family (2018) 12 

11pm, CH4 ★★★

Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne play a couple taking a giant leap into the world of foster parenting.

My Week With Marilyn (2011) 12 

12.50am, bbc2 ★★★

Michelle Williams is alluring as the Hollywood star in this true-ish story of Monroe’s time in the UK in 1956.



Gnomeo & Juliet (2011) U 

11.50am, CH5 ★★★

A sweet animated take on Romeo And Juliet, with James McAvoy and Emily Blunt providing the voices for Gnomeo and his mate – the garish garden-dwellers on opposite sides of the fence.

Doctor Zhivago (1965) PG 

1.50pm, bbc2 ★★★★★

David Lean’s indelible romantic classic stars Julie Christie and Omar Sharif as Lara Antipova and Yuri Zhivago, the lovers caught up in the Russian Revolution and war. It won five Oscars, but not for Lean, nor for its lead performers.

Saving Mr Banks (2013) PG 

2.45pm, bbc1 ★★★

Tom Hanks stars as Walt Disney in this mellow dramatisation of the charm offensive he directed at P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson). Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins, was a particularly tough nut for ‘Uncle Walt’ to crack.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) PG 

6.45pm, itv2 ★★★

Cher joins Lily James and the rest of the gang for this upbeat sequel, the movie equivalent of kleftiko, namely a comforting dish made from simple ingredients.

Mr & Mrs Smith (2005) 15 

12 midnight, ch4 ★★★

Comedy actioner starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as a couple who, in between discussing soft furnishings, work secretly as professional assassins.


Gulliver’s Travels (2010) PG 

10.15am, itv2 ★★★

A modern makeover of Jonathan Swift’s 18th-century satirical classic. Jack Black goofs his way through proceedings, and there are plenty of British stars to look out for, including Billy Connolly, Catherine Tate and James Corden.

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) U 

11.30am, itv ★★★★★

Steven Spielberg’s timeless and endearing family classic stars Henry Thomas as Elliott, the young boy who befriends a gentle alien visitor. The children know just what do, while the adults make a terrible hash of things.

Kiss Me Kate (1953) U 

1.55pm, bbc2 ★★★★

This Cole Porter musical within a musical is based on The Taming Of The Shrew, Shakespeare’s play within a play. Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson star. In Guys And Dolls, which follows at 3.40pm, Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra take the lead.

Pete’s Dragon (2016) PG 

3.05pm, bbc1 ★★★

Oakes Fegley stars as Pete in this update of the 1977 film – without the songs. Can Pete and his new human pals save his unusual friend from evil trophy-hunters?

Great Expectations (2012) 12 

11.45pm, bbc2 ★★★

Even if you find this Dickens story overfamiliar, it is still a corker. In this version, Ralph Fiennes is Magwitch, with Helena Bonham Carter as the bitter Miss Havisham.


Sing (2016) U 

1.50pm, itv ★★★

This exuberant comedy – think The X Factor, with added fur – finds impresario koala Buster Moon staging a singing contest to raise funds to save his theatre.

The Battle Of The River Plate (1956) U 

2pm, bbc2 ★★★★

Dramatisation of a Second World War battle that became even more famous thanks to this film. It’s a gripping tale starring Anthony Quayle and Peter Finch.

Cinderella (2015) U 

3.15pm, bbc1 ★★★★

Kenneth Branagh’s live-action update of the 1950 animation stars Lily James as the put-upon heroine, with Cate Blanchett superb as the wicked stepmother.


The Heroes Of Telemark (1965) PG 

3.55pm, bbc2 ★★★★

Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris star in Anthony Mann’s classic about Allied efforts to sabotage the Nazis’ nuclear programme in Norway.

The Girl On The Train (2016) 15 

9pm, e4 ★★★

Emily Blunt stars in this thriller as a depressed, jobless alcoholic, who suspects foul play when her old neighbour goes missing.

Office Christmas Party (2016) 15 

11pm, ch4 ★★★

Frantic farce about a slacker manager who hopes to save his office from closure by staging a flashy Christmas party and impressing an important client.


Galaxy Quest (1999) PG 

12.30pm, itv4 ★★★★

Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver are among the fading TV sci-fi stars boldly going into the unknown when aliens mistake their corny show for the real thing. A gloriously silly parody that is full of knowing nods for Star Trek fans.

Frozen (2013) PG 

1.30pm, bbc1 ★★★★

This musical fairytale became Disney’s biggest-ever animated hit. For a story set in such a frosty climate, it feels warm and toasty.

To Catch A Thief (1955) PG 

1.35pm, bbc2 ★★★★

Thrilling double bill of classic Hitchcock suspensers, both starring Cary Grant. First, he’s under the spell of Grace Kelly, before peril beckons in North By Northwest at 3.20pm.

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) U 

2pm, CH4 ★★★★★

Frank Capra’s classic stars James Stewart as George Bailey, the good guy who has his spirits lifted one fateful Christmas Eve.

Dolittle (2020) PG 

4.30pm, bbc1 ★★★

Colourful comedy starring Robert Downey Jr as the reclusive doctor (with a slightly off-putting Welsh accent) who reluctantly flies into action when Queen Victoria is poisoned.


Casablanca (1942) U 

11.10am, bbc2 ★★★★★

Michael Curtiz’s wartime story became one of the greatest romances of all time. Ingrid Bergman is the dame who’s caught between a rock and a hard place – and Humphrey Bogart.

Meet Me In St Louis (1944) U 

12.50pm, bbc2 ★★★★★

Judy Garland stars in this delightful MGM musical. Follow the story of Judy’s later career in the premiere of Judy (Thursday 30, 9pm, BBC2).

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) U 

3.10pm, ch5 ★★★★

Would Christmas be complete without a showing of this magical children’s classic, starring Dick Van Dyke and his famous flying car?

Peter Rabbit 2 (2020) U 

6pm, sky premiere ★★★

Scampering back on to the screen, tail bobbing, is the James Corden-voiced version of Beatrix Potter’s cheeky rabbit. This time, Peter questions his future in the cottage garden, and falls in with a bad crowd.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008) 15 

12.20am, ch4 ★★★★

Danny Boyle’s gritty Oscar-winner stars Dev Patel as the street child using his brains to fight his way out of the Mumbai slums.


Singin’ In The Rain (1952) U 

12.40pm, bbc1 ★★★★★

Feelgood Tinseltown musical starring Gene Kelly as the silent-movie star updating his act, with Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds lighting the spark.

Beauty And The Beast (2017) PG 

2.20pm, bbc1 ★★★★

This live-action makeover follows Belle (Emma Watson), the young woman casting a spell over a tormented prince (Dan Stevens).

Some Like It Hot (1959) U 

2.20pm, bbc2 ★★★★★

With Billy Wilder’s clever direction and Marilyn Monroe at her adorable best, this comedy – about two musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) on the run in drag – is a hoot.

Paddington (2014) PG 

4.20pm, bbc1 ★★★★

Michael Bond’s marmalade-loving bear arrives in London and finds a new family. An absolute charmer.

Hobbs & Shaw (2019) 12 

8pm, itv2 ★★★

Jason Statham is increasing his comedy credentials (see The Meg, Tuesday 28, 9pm, Ch5) and here, he’s teamed with everyone’s favourite Rock, Dwayne Johnson – a winning combo. An enjoyably OTT Fast & Furious spin-off, with Idris Elba as a villain.


A Star Is Born (1954) U 

10.05am, bbc2 ★★★★★

Judy Garland and James Mason star in this second version of the tale. After Barbra Streisand in 1976, Lady Gaga got in on the act (Wednesday 29, 9pm, BBC2).

Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans (2019) PG 

3pm, bbc1 ★★★

Set in Roman Britain, this spin-off from CBBC’s comedy series follows a teenaged centurion who is captured by the Celts.

West Side Story (1961) PG 

4.35pm, bbc2 ★★★★★

Original screen version of the stage musical, remade by Steven Spielberg to rave reviews (in cinemas now).

King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword (2017) 12 

8pm, ch5 ★★★

Director Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes) injects his energetic style into this new twist on the story of the legendary King. Charlie Hunnam is Arthur, a young man with a sword but, as yet, no crown.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) 15 

9pm, bbc2 ★★★★

The Dune director Denis Villeneuve sure has vision, and his revisit – starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford – to the 1982 film is visually resplendent.

New Year’s Highlights 

Renee Zellweger portrays Judy Garland (pictured) in Judy

Renee Zellweger portrays Judy Garland (pictured) in Judy 

The Meg (2018) 12 

Tuesday 28, 9pm, Ch5 ★★★

Megalodon, or meg for short, is a very, very big shark, a prehistoric creature who, in this upbeat sci-fi romp, emerges from the deep. Jason Statham heads the cast of human shark bait facing the bigger, scarier ancestor of Jaws. 

Ready Player One (2018) 12 

Thursday 30, 10.35pm, BBC1 ★★★

Steven Spielberg transports us into a virtual reality world that Tye Sheridan’s Wade Watts (above) immerses himself in to escape a depressing, dystopian real world. A thrilling ride. 

Judy (2019) 12 

Thursday 30, 9pm, BBC2 ★★★★★

Renee Zellweger was garlanded with praise for her portrayal of Judy Garland in this drama that follows the star’s swan song 1969 residency at a London nightclub. Past her best she may be, but the Garland here is the one who had weathered so much in her life and career, and who wears her trials not only in her voice, but also in her heart and soul. Superb.



Evil Under The Sun (1982) PG 

2.50pm, bbc2 ★★★

Peter Ustinov’s Hercule Poirot exercises his little grey cells in two Agatha Christie mysteries, with Death On The Nile following at 4.45pm. Over on Ch4 at 9pm, Kenneth Branagh takes over as the Belgian sleuth for his version of Murder On The Orient Express.

The BFG (2016) PG 

3.25pm, bbc1 ★★★★

Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant reaches into the life of lonely orphan Sophie in this splendid adaptation from Steven Spielberg.

Skyfall (2012) 12 

8pm, itv2 ★★★★★

Daniel Craig bowed out as 007 in this year’s No Time To Die, and now it’s time to revisit what is widely considered his best film – and one of the best Bonds of all time.

Misery (1990) 18 

11.15pm, ch4 ★★★★

Chilling adaptation of a Stephen King novel. James Caan is the author who, after a car accident, falls under the care of his unhinged number one fan, Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates).

Into The Woods (2014) PG 

11.20pm, bbc4 ★★★

Based on Stephen Sondheim’s stage musical, this fairytale stars Meryl Streep as a cobwebby witch with plans for a baker and his wife.


Bringing Up Baby (1938) U 

8.40am, bbc2 ★★★★

Screwball classic, with Katharine Hepburn as a dotty socialite and Cary Grant as a palaeontologist who has lost his (back) bone.

The Nun’s Story (1959) PG 

10.20am, bbc2 ★★★★

Audrey Hepburn stars as the nursing sister tending to patients in the Congo, but having her obedience to her religious service tested by Peter Finch’s agnostic doctor.

The Great Train Robbery (1978) 12 

3.10pm, bbc2 ★★★

Crime caper starring Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland as two members of a Victorian-era gang going full steam ahead to pull off a daring train heist.

A Dog’s Journey (2019) PG 

3.30pm, bbc1 ★★★

Proof that you can’t keep a good dog down, this sequel follows Bailey through several reincarnations (beagle, English mastiff, Yorkshire terrier…) as he finds his way back to the family to which his loyal soul belongs.

A Star Is Born (2018) 15 

9pm, bbc2 ★★★★

Hats off to Bradley Cooper, as director and star – and to Lady Gaga, whose performance as the singer on the rise is a knockout. An oft-told story that still packs an emotional punch.


Missing Link (2019) PG 

10.45am, bbc1 ★★★

Stop-motion animation, with Hugh Jackman as the voice of a Victorian explorer helping Mr Link, a Bigfoot, to find his yeti kin.

Zootropolis (2016) PG 

1.45pm, bbc1 ★★★★

Lively animated animal antics as a plucky bunny cop and a wily con artist fox team up to expose a devious plan. Smart, fast and fun.

Shadowlands (1993) U 

2.45pm, bbc2 ★★★★

Double bill of period dramas starring Anthony Hopkins, starting with a biographical drama in which he plays academic and writer C.S. Lewis. The Remains Of The Day at 4.50pm is a strong adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, co-starring Emma Thompson.

The King And I (1956) U 

2.50pm, ch5 ★★★★

Marvellous musical starring Deborah Kerr as the British governess putting the imperious, egotistical King of Siam (Yul Brynner) in his place.

The Jungle Book (2016) PG 

3.35pm, bbc1 ★★★★

Disney’s pacey and fun live-action/ CGI update of the 1967 classic, with Bill Murray voicing Baloo and Christopher Walken as King Louie.

Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981) PG 

6.45pm, ch4 ★★★★★

Steven Spielberg’s splendid nod to the adventure serials of the 1930s stars rugged Harrison Ford as our snake-averse hero.


Shane (1953) PG 

9.55am, more4 ★★★★

In this influential western, Alan Ladd stars as the mystery gunslinger coming to the aid of a beleaguered town. But there’s more to Shane than the hackneyed gunfighter stereotype.

Smallfoot (2018) PG 

12.30pm, itv ★★★

With a big voice cast, including James Corden and Channing Tatum, this jolly musical animation follows the adventures of a tribe of lovable yetis who discover that humans do exist.

Coco (2017) PG 

2.40pm, bbc1 ★★★★

Fuelled by the traditions of Mexico’s famous Day of the Dead celebrations, this Pixar animation offers much more than a few jolly dancing skeletons. It’s an incredibly warm and heartfelt story, beautifully written and animated.

The Great Escape (1963) PG

3.15pm, ch4 ★★★★

Saddle up once again for one of cinema’s most exhilarating wartime rides. Steve McQueen leads the plucky PoWs taking off from the Stalag Luft III camp.

The Aftermath (2019) 15 

9pm, bbc2 ★★★

This elegant if melancholy drama, set in Hamburg in the murky post-war years, follows a forbidden romance in the house of a German architect. Keira Knightley, Alexander Skarsgard and Jason Clarke star.


She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949) PG 

12.40pm, bbc2 ★★★★

John Ford directs John Wayne as the cavalry man leading one last patrol before he retires, to prevent an attack by Native Americans.

Ferdinand (2017) U 

1.05pm, ch4 ★★★

In this charming animation, Ferdinand is the bull so gentle that he’d be safe in a china shop – if he weren’t quite so clumsy.

The Sound Of Music (1965) U 

2.20pm, bbc1 ★★★★★

Julie Andrews is the novice nun helping out a widowed captain and his children. Soaring Alpine musical based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage hit.

Wonder Woman (2017) 12 

5.45pm, itv2 ★★★★

Gal Gadot’s Amazonian warrior leaves her island home – in the name of peace and love – with Chris Pine’s hunky American pilot.

Downton Abbey (2019) PG 

8.30pm, itv ★★★★

After ending their incredible run on TV, the upstairs and downstairs residents of the Crawley family estate made a comeback for this film (a sequel will follow). The year is 1927, and the house is a-flutter at the news that King George V and Queen Mary will be paying Downton a visit as part of their royal tour of Yorkshire. Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern return as the lord and lady of the house.

TV on demand: Robin Wiggs’s guide to the best TV and movies on iPlayer, Netflix and more… 


The Goes Wrong Show: The Nativity

BBC iPlayer ★★★★

Bryony Corrigan, Nancy Zamit and Jonathan Sayer (pictured) bring chaos in The Goes Wrong Show: The Nativity

Bryony Corrigan, Nancy Zamit and Jonathan Sayer (pictured) bring chaos in The Goes Wrong Show: The Nativity 

There will be no Christmas special this year, so enjoy last year’s chaos (starring Bryony Corrigan, Nancy Zamit and Jonathan Sayer) while you can. Until Wednesday 22.



Alex Rider 

all 4 ★★★★

The first season of this cracking teen spy drama comes to All 4. Otto Farrant stars as Alex in a story of tension and twists that concludes with two great action set pieces. You can find the slower second season for free on IMDb TV, via Amazon. From Sunday 19, 9pm.

Black Narcissus

BBC iPlayer ★★★★

The BBC’s stunning three-parter based on the 1939 novel, shot on location in Nepal. Gemma Arterton stars as Sister Clodagh, who arrives with the troubled Sister Ruth to set up a convent. Until Wednesday 29.



all 4 ★★★★

The Cheers spin-off follows Dr Crane from Boston to Seattle, and plays more like theatre than TV. Its characters are so flamboyant and fun, not least Frasier’s perma-tense brother, Niles.

New US drama

Pretty Little Liars: Ravenswood

bbc iPlayer ★★★

Caleb moves to a spooky town in this glossy, undemanding, spin-off series. From New Year’s Day.


Tipping Point: Lucky Stars Christmas Special 


This is the first of ITV’s Christmas specials that will be available on demand early, on ITV Hub from 7am on the day it airs on ITV. The same is true of Coronation Street, The Larkins and others. From Christmas Eve, 7am.

Walk The Line 

itv hub ★★★★

Musical talent show hosted by Maya Jama, in which acts have the option to cash out or compete further.


The Dog House At Christmas 

all 4 ★★★★

The drive to find homes for dogs doesn’t stop for Christmas at Wood Green, The Animals Charity.

Penguins: Meet The Family 

bbc iPlayer ★★★★

You can learn plenty of interesting penguin facts from this delightful one-off, including that there are 18 different species of the waddlers. Until Wednesday 29.

DON’T MISS THIS Gossip Girl 

bbc iPlayer ★★★★

This slick and scandalous drama about Manhattan’s secretive elite returns with new episodes. Will Julien (Jordan Alexander) maintain her queen bee status? From New Year’s Day.


MOVIE Being The Ricardos (2021) 15 ★★★★ 

Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem play Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (pictured) in Being The Ricardos

Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem play Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (pictured) in Being The Ricardos

Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem play Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in Aaron Sorkin’s feast of a film, which digs into their fiery relationship during one particularly tense week of filming on I Love Lucy – in which she was accused of being a Communist, and he of being unfaithful. There are clunky lines as it gets going, but the cast is so full of powerhouse performers, and Sorkin is such a master of behind-the-scenes drama (The Newsroom, The West Wing, etc), that you’re never less than riveted. A great spectacle from start to finish. From Tuesday 21.

NEW! Yearly Departed ★★★ 

The second in what could become a tradition from Amazon, in which female comic performers gather to eulogise the year just gone. This time, they include Jane Fonda and Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine). From Thursday 23.

MOVIE The Big Short (2015) 15 ★★★ 

Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling front a starry, offbeat dramatisation of the build-up to the financial crisis of 2007-08. From Thursday 23.

MOVIE The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) 15 ★★★ 

Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds star in an easy- to-watch buddy comedy about a sweary assassin and his unwilling bodyguard. From Tuesday 28.

MOVIE The Protege (2021) 15 ★★★ 

Maggie Q delivers some terrific fight scenes in this barmy action revenge movie, as an assassin pitched against Michael Keaton’s villain. From New Year’s Eve. 


NEW! Jimmy Carr: His Dark Material ★★★★ The comedian pulls no punches in this stand-up special, in which he tackles vaccines and mansplaining, and delivers jokes he describes as ‘career-enders’. Carr (left) spares no blushes with his language, either, so it would be wise to keep young ears out of the room. From Christmas Day.

NEW! Death To 2021 ★★★★ Hugh Grant (right), Diane Morgan and Tracey Ullman return for Charlie Brooker’s second star- filled satirical swipe at the year’s events. Lucy Liu and Stockard Channing are new additions for this year’s review. From Monday 27.


NEW! Girls5Eva (Season 1) ★★★★ 

Fame came and went for girl band Girls5Eva, whose reunion – 20 years on, minus one member – is the business of a rapid-fire US comedy with a poignant streak that makes it all the funnier. Crucially for a show like this, the songs are very amusing – and catchy, too.

NEW! Columbo ★★★★ 

Peter Falk’s cigar-chomping LAPD detective comes to on demand, along with two other US box sets – Bates Motel and Will & Grace. From Tuesday 21.

FAMILY The Very Small Creatures ★★★★ 

Sweet and short claymation series from Aardman (Wallace & Gromit).

NEW! Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts ★★★★ 

Stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson reflect on the magical film series for this warm one-off. From New Year’s Day.


NEW! Anxious People (All six parts) ★★★★ 

Appealing and clever Swedish mix of comedy, drama and mystery that unpicks the consequences of a hostage situation gone wrong. From Wednesday 29.

NEW! Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer ★★★

The gritty true-crime show profiles convicted US serial killer Richard Cottingham, who is known to have killed 11 people between 1967 and 1980 – but claims to have murdered up to 100. From Wednesday 29.

NEW! Kitz (Season 1) ★★★

Scandal and secrets rule in this glamorous German drama following the antics of an elite crowd in the ski resort of Kitzbuhel. From Thursday 30.

NEW! Queer Eye (Season 6) ★★★ The life makeover gurus bring their heartfelt advice to the state of Texas for this new series. Expect tears of joy and sadness from those they help and, probably, plenty of cowboy attire on the boys – it is Texas, after all. From New Year’s Eve.

NEW! Stay Close (All eight parts) ★★★ 

Seemingly happy people with dark pasts are a mainstay of Harlan Coben thrillers, and this latest example is no exception. Cush Jumbo stars as a working mum with a secret, James Nesbitt is a detective after a missing man, and Richard Armitage is a photographer with unsettling images. Strap in for the twists. From New Year’s Eve.

NEW! Cobra Kai (Season 4) ★★★★ 

The Karate Kid sequel series returns on its best form yet as Johnny (William Zabka, above centre) and Daniel work together against their mutual enemy. That enemy could be about to multiply, though, because mad-eyed villain Terry Silver – last seen in Karate Kid Part III – is about to re-enter the mix. From New Year’s Eve.

LAST CHANCE Modern Family/New Girl/Sons Of Anarchy ★★★ 

These popular US shows are all leaving Netflix. Until New Year’s Eve.

The Lost Daughter (2021) 15 ★★★★★ 

Meryl Steep is US President (pictured) in Don't Look Up

Meryl Steep is US President (pictured) in Don’t Look Up

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s writer-director debut is dark and sublime, and a big Oscar hope for Netflix. Olivia Colman stars as a prickly mum with a sad past; Jessie Buckley plays her in the flashbacks that explain why, and does so seamlessly – despite looking little like Colman. From New Year’s Eve.

Don’t Look Up (2021) 15 ★★★★ 

A comedy about how people will do anything to ignore bad news, in which two scientists (Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, looking as drab as is possible) try to tell everyone that the end is nigh. Meryl Streep’s US President is one unwilling ear. From Christmas Eve.  

Emily In Paris Netflix ★★★★

This breezy US drama about an American abroad is sneered at by some, but it’s also hugely popular, and makes for cosy viewing. In the new season, Emily (Lily Collins) makes more of an effort to understand the French – and French – and has a new love interest. From Wednesday 22.


The Wonder Years (Episode 1) ★★★★

Elisha Williams (pictured) takes the Fred Savage role in coming-of-age drama The Wonder Years

Elisha Williams (pictured) takes the Fred Savage role in coming-of-age drama The Wonder Years

Elisha Williams takes the Fred Savage role in a coming-of-age drama set in the same era as the original, but told from the perspective of a black family in Alabama. It’s more fertile storytelling territory as a result, and this opener balances the harshness of the time – including the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr – with warmth, humour and great characters. Dean’s dad, played by The West Wing’s Dule Hill, is a music professor and funk musician whose go-to phrase in any situation is ‘be cool’. Weekly, from Wednesday 22.

Encanto (2021) PG ★★★ 

There are no baddies in Disney’s warm hug of animation, about a girl without special powers in a family who all have them. The songs come from Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, currently the hardest-working man in show business. From Christmas Eve.

There are no baddies in Disney’s warm hug of animation Encanto (pictured), about a girl who doesn't have special powers in a family who all have them

There are no baddies in Disney’s warm hug of animation Encanto (pictured), about a girl who doesn’t have special powers in a family who all have them

Far From The Tree ★★★ 

Sweet, dialogue-free Disney short that was shown with Encanto in cinemas, and tells a tale of parenting through a raccoon’s fortunes. From Christmas Eve.

The Book Of Boba Fett (Episode 1) ★★★★ 

When the bounty hunter Boba Fett fell into the sarlacc pit in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi, we all assumed he died. The sarlacc burped, after all. Yet Fett survived, and is the star of this exciting Mandalorian spin-off that follows his takeover of Jabba the Hutt’s criminal empire. Like The Mandalorian, this is a fun modern twist on the western, with a huge budget. Weekly, from Wednesday 29.


Spencer (2021) 12 

(BT Film Store, Sky Store, Virgin) ★★★★ 

Kristen Stewart is superb as Princess Diana  in this highly stylised, fictionalised and borderline horrific portrait of a Windsor family Christmas at Sandringham in 1991. It’s from the director of Jackie, and hinges around Diana’s decision to leave the royal family. From Monday 20.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (pictured) stars in creepy movie Candyman

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (pictured) stars in creepy movie Candyman 

Candyman (2021) 15 

(BT Film Store, Sky Store, Virgin) ★★★ 

Christmas is traditionally a time for creepy stories and this stylish, stand-alone sequel to the urban legend movies is certainly unsettling. Jordan Peele (Get Out) produces a socially conscious take on the horror of a man who murders people after they repeat his name in a mirror. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II stars. From Monday 27.

Malignant (2021) 18 

(BT Film Store, Sky Store, Virgin) ★★★ 

Two-thirds boring and one-third bonkers, this slow-burning tale about a woman experiencing visions of grisly murders is worth seeing through to the end. From Monday 27.

Mothering Sunday (2021) 15 

(BT Film Store, Sky Store, Virgin) ★★★★ 

Rich and romantic drama about a writer’s awakening, based on Graham Swift’s novel set in the 1920s. The cast, led by Odessa Young and including Olivia Colman and Colin Firth, is top-drawer. From Monday 27.

How It Ends (2021) 15 

(BT Film Store, Sky Store, Virgin) ★★★ 

‘Seize the day’ is the theme of this quirky US comedy about the final 24 hours on a doomed Earth. From New Year’s Eve.


Johnny v Amber (discovery+) ★★★ 

Disturbing two-part film that presents evidence from the bitter court battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, to tell both sides of the story. From Saturday 18.

Paris In Love (hayu) ★★★ 

Fascinating for its sheer lack of depth, this cheerful ‘real-life’ series follows the wedding preparations of Paris Hilton. Weekly, on Fridays.

The Great (Starzplay) ★★★★

The remaining episodes of season two of this punchy drama set in Imperial Russia arrive at once. Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult (left) are warring rulers Catherine and Peter. From Boxing Day.

Spy City (BritBox) ★★★★ 

Dominic Cooper stars in a lean and exciting 1960s-set Berlin spy tale. From Thursday 23