TV & Movies

All The Christmas TV You Need To Know About This Year

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

Sky UK Ltd
Updated: 
Originally Published: 

While Christmas might be looking a whole lot different this year, one thing we can depend on is an enchanting line-up of must-watch festive television. In 2020, our yuletide TV schedule is full to bursting with 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 2020, because you won't want to miss a second of what promises to be a great year for festive telly.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic putting a halt on TV filming this year, the good news is that the regular Christmas specials from Eastenders, Doctor Who, Call the Midwife, and more are on track for 2020. On top of that, we'll have a selection of brand new seasonal treats, including the BBC's highly-anticipated adaptation of Black Narcissus starring Gemma Arterton. Elsewhere, viewers can also look ahead to a festive-themed look back at Strictly Come Dancing's 16-year history; a one-off Britain's Got Talent spectacular; and not one but two visits to the iconic Great British Bake Off gazebo.

So, as many of us prepare for some socially-distanced Christmas celebrations, we can find solace in the fact that staying at home will be made a whole lot easier with a truly magical Christmas TV schedule at our fingertips.

Upstart Crow Christmas Special

BBC/Gary Moyes

David Mitchell and Gemma Whelan star in this special edition of the hit satirical sitcom, during which Shakespeare struggles for inspiration in quarantine during an outbreak of the plague.

The Upstart Crow Christmas Special airs on Dec. 21 at 9 p.m. on BBC Two.

Being Bridget Jones

Universal/Studio Canal/Miramax/Kobal/Shutterstock

Unbelievably it’s been 25 years since Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary first hit bookshelves, and the BBC are celebrating with an hour-long special featuring those who inspired the characters as well as the stars from the film adaptations. Yes, that includes the big three — Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant, and Colin Firth.

Being Bridget Jones airs on Dec. 22 at 9 p.m. on BBC Two.

Ghosts Christmas Special

BBC

This spookily funny sitcom from the makers of Horrible Histories is back with its first-ever Christmas special, during which viewers are treated to a fresh twist on a classic Charles Dickens tale.

The Ghosts Christmas Special airs on Dec. 23 at 8.30 p.m. on BBC One.

First Dates Christmas

Channel 4/Dave King

The First Dates team swap the bright lights of London for the idyllic British countryside, where singletons from across the UK meet in the hopes of securing some yuletide romance.

First Dates at Christmas airs on Dec. 23 at 9 p.m. on Channel 4.

Worzel Gummidge: Saucy Nancy

BBC/Leopard Pictures/Amanda Searle

Following on from last year’s Christmas special, this chapter in the Worzel Gummidge story sees the return of Saucy Nancy, a carved ship’s figurehead played by Shirley Henderson. In the original series, the character was portrayed by the late Barbara Windsor.

Worzel Gummidge: Saucy Nancy airs on Christmas Eve at 5.55 p.m. on BBC One.

The Great Christmas Bake Off

Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Matt Lucas and Bake Off: The Professionals host Tom Allen kick off yuletide celebrations in the iconic tent along with some of the greatest ever Bake Off contestants and the very special music guest, Alexandra Burke.

The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special airs on Christmas Eve at 7.40 p.m. on Channel 4.

Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse

Sky UK Ltd

Inspired by true events, Roald and Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse sees a young Roald Dahl (played by Harry Tayler) meet Beatrix Potter (Dawn French) for the first time, and explores how they inspired one another.

Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse airs on Christmas Eve at 8.15 p.m. on Sky One.

Birds of a Feather Christmas Special

ITV

After three years off the air, this classic ITV sitcom is back for a one-off Christmas special which follows Tracey, Dorien and Sharon as they hilariously try and cope in the coronavirus lockdown.

Birds of a Feather Christmas Special airs on Christmas Eve at 9.15 p.m. on ITV.

Bridgerton

Netflix

Netflix is releasing their first period drama, and what better time than Christmas? Written by Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy) and based on Julia Quinn’s book of the same name, Bridgerton is set during the Regency era in England and follows the eight children of the Bridgerton family as they branch off to find their significant others.

Bridgerton is available to stream on Christmas Day on Netflix.

Zog and the Flying Doctors

BBC

From the magical creations of The Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson, this brand new animated adventure follows the flying doctor trio Zog, Pearl and Gadabout as they set out on a rescue mission.

Zog and the Flying Doctors airs on Christmas Day at 2.35 p.m. on BBC One.

Strictly: The Christmas Countdown

BBC

Sadly, the Strictly Christmas special we've come to know and love won't be hitting the airwaves this year. But fear not, ballroom fans, because viewers will instead be treated to a festive run-down episode of the show's 25 most memorable dances — all of which have been selected by the voting public.

Strictly: The Christmas Countdown airs on Christmas Day at 4.45 p.m. on BBC One.

Call the Midwife Christmas Special

BBC

Set in December 1965, this festive Call the Midwife special follows the lead up to traditional Christmas celebrations at Nonnatus House. However, amid all the excitement, things soon begin to go awry.

Call The Midwife Christmas Special airs on Christmas Day at 7.40 p.m. on BBC One.

Quentin Blake’s Clown

Inspired by the classic children's book of the same name and narrated by Helena Bonham-Carter, this delightful animation follows the adventures of a toy clown who embarks on a journey to find a new home after being discarded with a bunch of old toys.

Quentin Blake’s Clown airs on Christmas Day at 7.40 p.m. on Channel 4.

Britain’s Got Talent Christmas Spectacular

ITV

Some of the biggest acts in Britain's Got Talent''s 14-year history return to perform in this festive ITV special hosted by Ant and Dec.

The Britain’s Got Talent Christmas Spectacular airs on Christmas Day at 8 p.m. on ITV.

Eastenders Christmas Special

BBC/Kieron McCarron/Matt Burlem/Amy Sharp

Christmas wouldn't be the same without some classic Walford Square drama, and this year is certainly no exception. As per the Radio Times, exact details of the soap's 2020 festive special have so far been kept tightly under wraps. However, there have been murmurings of a well-known character's return. Watch this space.

The Eastenders Christmas Special airs on Christmas Day at 9.10 p.m. on BBC One.

Victoria Wood: The Secret List

BBC/Phil McIntyre TV/Estate of Victoria Wood

Featuring more than 20 hilarious sketches, this tribute to the late comedic legend Victoria Wood takes a look back at some of her favourite career highlights, which were found in Wood's personal notebook following her death in 2016.

Victoria Wood: The Secret List airs on Christmas Day 9.10 p.m. on BBC One.

Mrs. Brown’s Boys Christmas Special

BBC Studios / Alan Peebles

Mrs Brown’s Boys' decade-long streak of Christmas specials will certainly not be coming to an end in 2020, because fans can look forward to not one, but two seasonal episodes this year — both of which see the Brown clan come to terms with the struggles of the pandemic.

Mrs. Brown’s Boys Christmas Special airs on Christmas Day at 10 p.m. on BBC One.

The Story of SM:TV Live

ITV

Ant, Dec and Cat Deeley take a look back at the show many of us grew up with through archival footage and brand new interviews with the SM:TV hosts themselves.

The Story of SM:TV Liveairs on Boxing Day at 9.25 a.m. on ITV, with a repeat on Dec. 27 at 8 p.m.

Black Narcissus

BBC

Based on Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel of the same name, this three-part BBC adaptation centres on a strict and faithful young nun who is tasked with establishing a convent in a remote Himalayan palace.

Black Narcissus begins on Dec. 27 at 9 p.m. on BBC One, and concludes on Dec. 29.

Meerkat: A Dynasties Special

BBC/Greg Hartman

Narrated by David Attenborough, this Dynasties special follows a small but formidable meerkat queen as she raises her pups in the Makgadikgadi salt pans in Botswana.

Meerkat: A Dynasties Special airs on Dec. 28 at 7.30 p.m. on BBC One.

The Vicar of Dibley in Lockdown

BBC

Dawn French is back as the hilarious Vicar of Dibley in three brand new shorts, each set within different stages of the coronavirus lockdown.

The third and final Vicar of Dibley in Lockdown airs on Dec. 28 at 8.50 p.m. on BBC One, and you can catch up with the rest on iPlayer.

Billy Connolly: It’s Been a Pleasure

Indigo Television/ITV

Following the announcement of his retirement earlier this year, stand-up comedian Billy Connolly reflects on his illustrious career with his favourite comedy moments, unseen performances, and much more.

Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure airs on Dec. 28 at 9.30 p.m. on ITV.

Pandemonium

BBC Studios / Josh Cole

This one-off sitcom follows the Jessop family as they grapple with lockdown and restrictions, eventually leading them to replace their cancelled vacation to California for a summer holiday to Margate in December.

Pandemonium airs on Dec. 30 at 9.45 p.m. on BBC One.

Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks

BBC

Jodie Whittaker reprises her role as the iconic Time Lord, who is forced to go up against the show's classic antagonists, the Daleks, along with her trusted companions in a bid to save humanity.

Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks airs on New Year’s Day at 7 p.m. on BBC One.

The Serpent

BBC/©Mammoth Screen

Based on the 1976 arrest of serial killer Charles Sobhraj and starring Jenna Coleman, Tahar Rahim, and Ellie Bamber, this new BBC crime drama is the perfect telly event to kickstart 2021.

The Serpent airs on New Year’s Day at 9 p.m. on BBC One.

Dancing on Thin Ice with Torvill and Dean

Wingspan Productions/ITV

Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean pack up their skates and head to chilly Alaska where they set out to discover the perfection location to perform their iconic Bolero routine. However, during their travels, the Dancing on Ice duo come face to face with the damaging effects of climate change.

Dancing on Thin Ice with Torvill and Dean airs on New Year’s Day at 9 p.m. on ITV.

The Great New Year Bake Off

Not to be confused with the show's Christmas special, this New Year's Eve Bake Off spectacular will see Noel, Matt, Prue and Paul reunite with notable contestants from years gone by as they battle it out to take home the Festive Star Baker title.

The Great New Year Bake Off airs on Jan. 3 at 7.45 p.m. on Channel 4.

Charlie Brooker’s Death To 2020

Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

Featuring big names like Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant, Lisa Kudrow, and Tracey Ullman, Charlie Brooker’s mockumentary about 2020 is one you don’t want to miss.

Airdate TBC.