15 Of The Best Christmas Specials Gracing Our TVs This Festive Season

Laura Rogan Laura Rogan


If there’s one thing we’ve found solace in the past two years, it’s the telly. In particular, recent shows such as The Great British Bake Off and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here have kept us more than occupied – with a little something to look forward to each night. And now, some of our night time saviours are getting a festive makeover, with a number of Christmas TV specials set to grace our screens this month. So grab your festive tipple of choice, turn on those Christmas tree lights and read on for our top picks for the 2021 festive season.

1. Call The Midwife

Talk show legend and Harry Potter actress Miriam Margolyes is back with a bang this year for the Call The Midwife Christmas special. The midwives of Nonnatus House tackle their ‘busiest Christmas Day ever’ and fan-faves Lucille (Leonie Elliot) and Cyril (Zephryn Taitte) focus on their upcoming winter wedding.

Showing on Christmas Day at 8pm on BBC One.

2. The Larkins

Originally featured in The Darling Buds of May, family favourites The Larkins are back with a bang and are celebrating Christmas this year in the Kent countryside. The excitement over the upcoming pantomime is sabotaged by a spate of burglaries and the anxiety is only heightened when a power cut hits the village too.

Showing on Christmas Day at 9pm on ITV.

3. Death in Paradise

The fictional Caribbean paradise of Saint Marie isn’t safe even at Christmas time, when DI Miller (Ralf Little) is tasked with finding the murderer of a wealthy shipping magante. The case gets even more curious when a postcard arrives in London giving a clue as to who it is. Famous DJ Sara Cox will also feature in the episode.

Showing on Boxing Day at 7.30pm on BBC One.

4. The Cockfields Christmas Special

Following on from series two, Simon (Joe Wilkinson) and her fiance Esther (Susannah Fielding) travel over to the Isle of Wight to visit his loving mother, stepfather and stepbrother. Fun-filled hilarity ensues when Simon has a reunion at a local pub and when his mum wants them to stay longer.

Showing on the 13 December at 10pm on Gold with repeats throughout the festive period.

5. Ghosts

Alison and Mike find a man living in a tent in the grounds of Button House, leading the jolly and naive Kitty to speculate that it is actually Father Christmas. Plenty of bickering and funny goings on then occur, and comedy legend Jennifer Saunders also guest stars.

Showing on the 23 December at 8.30pm on BBC One.

6. Not Going Out

Lee Mack’s beloved sitcom returns this Christmas for another festive special, this time with a playful pantomime theme. Lucy buys tickets for a local panto starring her crush Jason Donovan, which doesn’t make Lee that happy. He then has a dream that he’s starring in his own pantomime, with the big man Jason himself.

Showing on the 23 December at 10pm on BBC One.

7. Big Fat Quiz of the Year

Christmas specials

This golden favourite is back for another installment this year, with comedy legend Jimmy Carr taking the reins once more. Teams consist of Sarah Millican, James Acaster, Jonathan Ross, Judi Love and Guz Khan, and they’ll be answering all the questions they can with plenty of humour thrown in throughout the show.

Showing on Boxing Day at 9pm on Channel 4.

8. Strictly Come Dancing – The Real Full Monty

Ashley Banjo’s annual TV event is now in its fifth year, and this year sees a Strictly Come Dancing twist after last year’s Dancing On Ice. The celebrities this year include Olympian Colin Jackson, Loose Women’s Coleen Nolan, Blue singer Duncan James and Eastenders Laila Morse, better known as her onscreen alter-ego ‘Big Mo’. They’ll be taking their kit off as per usual as a way of raising awareness of cancer.

Showing on December 13 and December 14 on Channel 4 with repeats throughout the period.

9. The Great British Sewing Bee Celebrity Specials

Comedian Sara Pascoe takes over from Joe Lycett this year for the Great British Sewing Bee, where celebs including Anneka Rice, Antony Cotton and Drag Race superstar Lawrence Chaney try and wow the judges with their haberdashery skills. There’s a pre-Christmas showing on the 22nd and a New Year’s one on the 30th.

Showing on December 22 and December 30 at 8pm and 9pm on BBC One.

10. Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special

Christmas specials
Photo: BBC

Time to get out the sparkling sequins and pop the fizz! Strictly is back with a bang. Contestants this year include First Dates maître d’ Fred Siriex, Moira Stewart, Mel Giedroyc and singer Anne Marie, and all will be vying for that lovely glitterball trophy. Of course, Claudia and Tess will still be on hand to bring a bit of the razmataz in between dances.

Showing on Christmas Day at 5.10pm on BBC One.

11. The Great British Bake Off

Great British Bake Off
Photo: Channel 4

The stars of Russell T Davies’ It’s A Sin – Olly Alexander, Lydia West, Nathaniel Davies and Shaun Dooley – get their baking hats on and rustle up their best cakes and try to impress judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leath. Later in the month bakers of series gone past will be back in the tent to see who comes out on top.

Showing on Christmas Day at 8pm on Channel 4.

12. Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts

Christmas specials

Yep… this is a big one. It’s been a full 20 years since Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint first stepped into the magical world of Hogwarts, and they’re back for this very special reunion episode. Special guests will involve Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Gary Oldman and Robbie Coltrane, as well as all the kids of course. This will definitely be bringing all the magic you need this Christmas – like a warm hug.

Showing on New Year’s Day on Sky Max.

13. Escape to the Chateau at Christmas

The stunning 19th-century French chateau in which Dick Strawbridge and his partner Angel Adoree reside is certainly beautiful, and for the festive period, they’re pulling out all the stops with walnut wine on tap and a huge Christmas tree for their family and friends. Expect lots of Christmas cheer and lovely spreads of festive grub.

Showing on December 19 at 8pm on Channel 4.

14. Doctor Who

Doctor Who
Photo: BBC

Doctor Who returns for their annual Christmas special this year which sees Jodie Whittaker once again battling Daleks again along with Aisling Bea, Adjani Salmon, David Bradley, John Bishop and Pauline McLynn. Titled Eve of the Daleks, they will be doing their best to save the world – what more could you want for your New Year’s Eve?

Showing on New Year’s Eve on BBC One.

15. Jool’s Annual Hootenanny

Ringing in 2022 in style, Jools Holland’s annual Hootenanny sees Ed Sheeran, Rag’n’Bone Man, Vic Reeves, Gregory Porter, Lulu and Ruby Turner all join and help to get the party started.

Showing on New Year’s Eve at 11.25pm on BBC One.

Tags: christmas