Spend your viewing time wisely this Christmas – here’s how.

As a nation, we love to slump in front of the box at Christmastime. If recent figures are to be believed, a typical household will watch 62 hours of TV over the festive period. Munching on Quality Street, mince pies or chocolate coins from our stockings, the statistics say that we will watch six films, two full box sets and four festive specials. That may sound like a lot – but resistance is futile. Instead, make sure that what you watch is worth your while.

Here, with great excitement, we bring you the movies and shows we refuse to miss this Christmas.

A Very British Scandal


BBC One


Paul Bettany and Clare Foy play the Duke and Duchess of Argyll in the retelling of the aristocratic couple’s brutal and high-profile divorce, which rocked the nation in 1963. Airing on three consecutive nights, starting on Boxing Day, this divine period drama will be just what we all need as the festive merriment dies down.

A Boy Called Christmas


Sky Cinema


In this heart-warming new movie, based on the book by Matt Haig, a lonely boy follows his father on a snowy quest to find ‘hope’. Along the way, he encounters scary trolls, spooky forests, kindly elves, a heroic reindeer and a Truth Pixie. Our young but discerning reviewers found it: ‘cosy, fun, clever and so Christmassy’. A star turn from Maggie Smith is the icing on the cake.

Strictly Christmas Special


BBC One


The festive follow-up to Strictly Come Dancing is pre-recorded and broadcast on Christmas Day. In it, six new celebrities, including the news reader Moira Stewart and singer Anne Marie, join the Strictly pros in a battle for the star trophy. Stewart, who will be paired with Aljaz, says: “I’m really looking forward to the Strictly Christmas Special. I’ve loved dancing for as long as I can remember.” The glitz and the glitter will enliven your day.

Hansel & Gretel: After Ever After


Sky Max And Sky Showcase


This is the third time David Walliams has used his darkly comic flair to imagine what might happen after our time-honoured fairy-tales have ended. First, he gave Cinderella this treatment, then Jack and the Beanstalk and now he’s turned his hand to Hansel & Gretel. Sheridan Smith stars as the witch and Walliams himself plays a troll. Hitting the screens on December 23, this is sure to absorb the most over-excited children in your life.

Around The World In 80 Days


BBC One


This brand new eight-part series, the BBC’s take on Jules Verne’s classic adventure story, starts on Boxing Day and will see us through weeks of winter. Starring David Tennant as the gentleman-turned-adventurer, Phileas Fogg, and featuring music by Hans Zimmer, it promises great things. Tennant says: “It is very apt that Around the World in 80 Days is set for a Christmas transmission. It’s that kind of a show, it’s got that kind of scale and that kind of ambition and that kind of warmth. It’s a romp, but it’s got real heart to it, as well. It feels like a genuine piece of family entertainment, something that you can all, you know, grab a mince pie and enjoy together.”

Love Hard


Netflix


A girl meets a beautiful boy on a dating app. She travels thousands of miles to meet him – only to discover that he is not the beautiful boy, he is his geeky best friend who has “catfished” her. Cue loads of Christmassy capers, lots of knitwear and unfeasibly enormous, snow-covered US houses bedecked in fairy lights. This movie is for those of you who just need a bit of twinkly American schmaltz in your life at Christmas.

Call The Midwife


BBC One


If you love it, you love it. Last year, the Call the Midwife Christmas Special was the second most watched programme on TV (after the Queen’s Christmas Broadcast) on December 25. It is hard to believe that 5.4 million viewers can be wrong – so we say: give it a whirl. It is the one show that warms the cockles of the nation’s heart at Christmas. Best of all, Miriam Margolyes returns as Mother Mildred after a season-long absence.

Stay Close


Netflix


You’ll have to wait until New Year’s Eve to start this one – but it’s likely to be a corker.
Starring actress-of-the-moment Cush Jumbo, Richard Armitage and Eddie Izzard, the crime drama miniseries is another one of Netflix’s adaptations of Harlan Coben’s gripping novels. Secrets are kept, lies are told and the question posed is: how well can you ever really know somebody?

By Becky Ladenburg
December 2021

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Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

As the GWG's features editor, Becky has her discerning finger on the cultural pulse. She's also our go-to expert on the property market.

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