TV & Movies

All The Christmas TV You Need To Know About This Year

When & where to watch the best shows this festive season.

Originally Published: 
Passepartout (IBRAHIM KOMA), Phileas Fogg (DAVID TENNANT), Abigail “Fix” Fortescue (LEONIE BENESCH)
Joe Alblas/BBC

Following some major Christmas disruptions brought on by lockdown in 2020, many of us will be looking forward to safely spending the festive season with our loved ones this year. Thankfully, the nation can also look forward to an enchanting line-up of must-watch Christmas television in 2021, which includes some one-off specials, brand new dramas, animated spectaculars, and much, much more.

To nudge you in the right direction of some of this year's seasonal highlights, here's your comprehensive guide to the best Christmas TV of 2021, because you won't want to miss a second of what promises to be a great year for festive telly.

This year, viewers can expect to enjoy the origin story of Santa Claus in Sky’s A Boy Called Christmas, festive specials from Call the Midwife, The Larkins, and Death in Paradise, a very British period drama starring The Crown’s Claire Foy, and the highly-anticipated Doctor Who New Year spectacular.

So, as many of us prepare for long-awaited Christmas celebrations with friends and family, you can discover the very best of this year’s seasonal TV schedule below.

Worzel Gummidge


The BBC’s reinvention of the classic Worzel Gummidge stories is returning to our screens this Christmas for not one, but two brand new episodes. Mackenzie Crook will reprise the title role as the talking scarecrow Gummidge, and reunite with fellow Detectorists' star Toby Jones in the new episodes of this critically acclaimed adaptation.

As it stands, the BBC are yet to confirm the airdate of Worzel Gummidge. Although, back in 2019 and 2020, the series aired between December 24 and 27, so it’s likely viewers can expect a similar schedule in 2021.

The Larkins at Christmas


Based on ​​the classic novel The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates, this ITV comedy-drama is back for a yuletide special following the show’s season finale that aired back in November.

This feature-length special will follow the Larkin family over the course of the festive season, during which Mariette (Sabrina Bartlett) and Charley (Tok Stephen) return to Kent for Christmas. However, things begin to go wrong when the entire village is left without lighting or heating during a power cut.

The Larkins at Christmas airs on ITV at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 25.

A Boy Called Christmas

Based on the bestselling book by Matt Haig, this Sky original festive flick stars the likes of Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Sally Hawkins, Kristen Wiig, Stephen Merchant, and more, and tells the magical story of a young boy named Nikolas who embarks on an adventure into the snowy north to track down his father, who is on a mission to discover the fabled village of elves, known as Elfhelm.

A Boy Called Christmas is now available on Sky and NOW.

Death in Paradise Christmas special


For the first time in the show’s history, this long-running BBC crime drama is getting a “celebratory” Christmas special. The festive 90-minute episode will follow on from the Season 10 cliffhanger, and “stretches from a grey damp drizzly London all the way to the warm sparkling beauty of idyllic Saint Marie.”

However, that’s not all, as the special will also see the return of Danny John-Jules as the beloved Officer Dwayne Myers, who will star alongside Ralf Little as DI Neville Parker.

It has been confirmed that the Death in Paradise Christmas special will air on BBC One. However, an exact release date is yet to be announced.

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special


Following the conclusion of the show’s current series, Strictly Come Dancing will welcome a string of brand new celebrities into the famous BBC ballroom for a very special festive episode. Per Metro, some of the names lined up to shimmy their way onto the dancefloor include The Repair Shop’s Jay Blades, Fred Siriex, Mel Giedroyc, Moira Stuart, Anne-Marie and Adrian Chiles among others.

The Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special airs Christmas Day on BBC One.

Last Train to Christmas

Set in the mid-1980s, this Christmas comedy stars Good Omen’s Michael Sheen and Game of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel, and centres on the nightclub manager Tony Towers, who travels to Nottingham for a Christmas family reunion with his fiancee Sue and brother Roger in tow.

However, Tony begins to notice something strange about their train journey, and realises that as he moves up and down the train carriages, he begins travelling back and forth throughout his life.

Last Train to Christmas is available on Sky and NOW from Dec. 18.

Joe Lycett: Mummy’s Big Christmas Do!

Channel 4

Comedian Joe Lycett’s “big queer Christmas house party” is coming to Channel 4 for the 2021 festive season. Airing live from his hometown of Birmingham, the 90-minute special will welcome an audience of LGBTQ+ icons and allies, as well as some local heroes.

Speaking of the Channel 4 special, Lycett teased, “This show combines three of my favourite things – LGBTQ+ culture, Birmingham and chaotic live television.”

Call the Midwife Christmas Special


To the delight of fans, this long-running BBC drama is kicking off its eleventh series with a Christmas special.

As noted in a BBC synopsis, the special is set in December 1966, and follows the Nonnatus team as they are faced with “their busiest Christmas Day ever.” Meanwhile, Lucille (Leonie Elliott) and Cyril (Zephryn Taitte) prepare for their upcoming winter wedding, and Mother Mildred, played by the one and only Miriam Margolyes, is on hand to support the team.

A release date for Call the Midwife is yet to be confirmed. However, judging by previous years, it is likely the yuletide special will air on Christmas Day.

All Star Musicals At Christmas


Fronted by John Barrowman and starring panellists Elaine Page, Samantha Barks and Trevor Dion Nicholas, this two-part ITV special will follow six celebrities who are put through their paces in the ultimate musical theatre masterclass.

The celebrity lineup of All Star Musicals at Christmas includes actor Ben Miller, broadcaster Gyles Brandreth, presenters Anita Rani and Fern Britton, Coronation Street’s Catherine Tyldesley, and sports reporter Radzi Chinyanganya.

All Star Musicals at Christmas will air during the festive season, although an exact release date is yet to be confirmed by ITV.

A Very British Scandal


Penned by Sarah Phelps (The Pale Horse, Dublin Murders), and starring Claire Foy and Paul Bettany, this very British period drama follows the bitter divorce of the Duke of Argyll and his former wife, whom the press nicknamed ‘The Dirty Duchess’. And if you want to know the story behind that moniker, you’ll need to tune in.

A Very British Scandal will air over three consecutive nights at 9 p.m. on BBC One between Dec. 26 and Dec. 28.

Doctor Who New Year Special


This highly-anticipated New Year special will see Jodie Whittaker reprise her role as the famous Timelord in her final ever festive special. During the episode, Whittaker will star alongside her companions Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill) and Dan Lewis (John Bishop), as they attempt to fend off an alien threat.

The trio will also appear alongside a string of special guests including the likes of Aisling Bea, Adjani Salmon, and Pauline McLynn, among others.

The Doctor Who New Year special will air on Jan. 1, 2022.

The Girl Before


Based on ​​JP Delaney’s book of the same name, this psychological thriller tells the story of a woman named Jane (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who gets the opportunity to move into a beautiful home designed by a renowned architect named Edward (David Oyelow). The catch, however, is that the house holds some deep, dark secrets about its previous occupant.

The Girl Before will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer over Christmas as part of their 2021 festive TV lineup. However, an exact date is yet to be announced.

Around the World in 80 Days


This BBC adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days sees David Tennant (Doctor Who, Broadchurch) take on the role of adventurer Phileas Fogg, who sets out on a mission to travel around the world in 80 days.

An official airdate for Around the World in 80 Days is yet to be confirmed by the BBC.

The Tourist

Jamie Dornan stars as a British tourist stranded in the harsh Australian outback in this hotly-anticipated BBC thriller. After being forced off the road in a strange road incident, Dornan’s character, known only as “The Man,” wakes up injured with zero recollection of who he is, why he’s in the Australian outback, and while being chased by figures from his past.

The Tourist airs on New Year’s Day on BBC One.

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