Wednesday 14 December 2016 11:00 am

Here's when and where the best 2016 Christmas TV programmes are being shown

Gathering around the television with the family is now one of the great Christmas traditions. It's the perfect time of year to snuggle up with a mince pie or four and indulge in some of the best British TV. Use our list to plan your viewing.

Our top picks:

The Great British Bake-Off

BBC1: Christmas Day, 4.45pm and Boxing Day, 7pm

It’s the end of an era, and the last time Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, Mel Giedroyc, and Sue Perkins will all be together in the tent.

The two-part Christmas special features some of our favourite former contestants from past series whipping up yuletide treats, while Mary and Paul wear some cracking Christmas jumpers.


BBC1: Christmas Eve, 8.25pm and Christmas Day, 9.30pm

The soap is on at 7.30pm or 8pm throughout the week, but for Christmas weekend there will be a 35-minute episode on Christmas Eve and an hour-long special on Christmas Day. Tune in to see what will happen to Lee Carter as his depression worsens.


BBC1: New Year’s Day, 8.30pm

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are set to return as our favourite detective duo, but we don’t yet know much about what’s in store for them.

We do know the episode title: The Six Thatchers. And judging by the trailer, there could well be a return from Andrew Scott as Moriarty.

Doctor Who

BBC1: Christmas Day, 5.45pm

Matt Lucas, Justin Chatwin, and Charity Wakefield all co-star in Peter Capaldi’s latest appearance as the Twelfth Doctor.

The Return of Doctor Mysterio is set in New York and, fulfilling the dreams of many fans, sees the Doctor team up with a superhero.

The best of the rest:


Sky 1: Christmas Eve, 6.30pm

This family-friendly series with as many jokes for parents as for children will be back for its Christmas special, Yonder Yuletide.

The end of series 3 saw the dubiously named Cuddly Dick (played by Stephen Fry) liberated from a brain-altering parasitical wig. And knowing Yonderland, things are only likely to get weirder.

We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

Channel 4: Christmas Eve, 7.30pm

Here’s another one to watch with the kids. This one-off animation is based on Michael Rosen’s beloved children’s book of the same name.

Featuring the voices Olivia Colman, Mark Williams and Pam Ferris, and made by the team behind The Snowman, this promises to be a nostalgic treat.


ITV: Christmas Eve, 9pm

What could be more festive than a spot of murder? James Norton will be on your TVs again as the world’s most attractive crime-fighting vicar.

As well as the prerequisite mystery, there will be a decent helping of personal drama on the side. Robson Green and Morven Christie co-star.

The Alternative Christmas Message

Channel 4: Christmas Day, 2.05pm

Often funny, but sometimes deadly serious, the Alternative Christmas Message is given by a different person each year.

The last person to give the address was the father of Alan Kurdi, who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea last September. There is no word yet on who will speak this year.

The Queen’s Christmas Message

BBC1, ITV, Sky 1 and Sky News: Christmas Day, 3pm

It is one of the few times when the monarch speaks publicly without the advice of her ministers, and last year it was the most-watched Christmas day programme.

After all the turbulence of 2016, we will be keen to hear what Her Majesty thinks of it all.

Strictly Come Dancing

BBC1: Christmas Day, 6.45pm

In an appropriately flamboyant send-off, Len Goodman will make his final appearance as a Strictly judge in this annual festive special.

Six former contestants will be paying a return visit to the dancefloor: Denise Lewis, Frankie Bridge, Melvin Odoom, Ainsley Harriott, Gethin Jones, and Pamela Stephenson.

Call the Midwife

BBC1: Christmas Day, 8pm

Series 6 airs in January, but before then we will be treated to a Christmas episode of everyone’s favourite cosy medical drama.

Miranda Hart will sadly not be in the special due to scheduling conflicts. But rest assured, regulars Jenny Agutter and Linda Basset lead a familiar cast along with newcomer Sinéad Cusack.

Jonathan Creek

BBC1: 28 December, 9pm

Alan Davies’s magician-detective has a big task on his hands in this 90-minute special. Along with his wife Polly (Sarah Alexander), Creek will dig up secrets about a Victorian sorcerer and a modern-day horror film director.

Expect the usual spooky brand of comedy drama, and guest appearances from Warwick Davis and Rosalind March.

Charlie Brooker’s 2016 Wipe

BBC2: 29 December, 9pm

Charlier Brooker's imagination, whether expressed through his hit Netflix series Black Mirror or his misanthropic take on current events, can be oddly prescient.

This year's Wipe, he admits, has been "increasingly resembling a vertical cliff face with no footholds." It might be difficult to make comedy out of some of the year's events, but Brooker's incisive satire is always worth a watch.

Cunk on Christmas

BBC2: 29 December, 10pm

Diane Morgan’s genius comic creation Philomena Cunk presents another Brian Cox style documentary.

Originally dreamt up for Charlie Brooker’s Screen Wipe, the character is now a fan favourite in her own right. She’ll be bringing us awkward interviews and made-up facts in her signature dead-pan delivery.