The best on the box this week
Published 27/12/2015 | 02:30
From Downton to Glenroe, it's a good week for staying in, says our expert.
St Stephen's Day
December 26, BBC1, 7pm
This ambitious 20-part series (right) from Tony Jordan mashes up Charles Dickens' most famous novels and characters to create a brand new drama. As Miss Havisham is buried, her son Arthur is out for revenge, and Ebenezer Scrooge's notorious moneylending partner Jacob Marley is still alive and up to his dirty tricks when East End villain Fagin introduces him to a young street girl called Nancy. A fine cast includes Stephen Rea, Tuppence Middleton and Ned Dennehy.
Inside Lego at Christmas
Channel 4, 8pm
More than half of all Lego's sales come in the months around Christmas, and this documentary goes behind the scenes at the family-owned superbrand as it prepares for the festive season. At Lego's headquarters in Denmark we see staff creating new lines and products for Christmas, and manage the multi-lingual customer helpline.
Fans of the period drama will weep, because after six series and lots of intrigue and tragedy, Downton Abbey ends tonight. It's been a massive success both here and in America, and its secret weapon has been Dame Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess Violet, who always gets the best jokes. In this final episode, Mary tries to make the peace but Edith's secret will eventually come out, and Henry settles into the unlikely role of husband. Hugh Bonneville stars.
And Then There Were None
Sam Neill, Charles Dance and Aidan Turner head the cast of this new three-part adaptation of Agatha Christie's classic crime novel. It's 1939, and as war looms 10 total strangers are anonymously invited to an island retreat off the Devon coast. When they get there they find their hosts are mysteriously absent, and after dinner each is accused of a terrible crime by a gramophone recording. Then, one by one, they start to disappear.
Panti Does 2015
It was a big year for Panti Bliss, as she became the face of the marriage equality campaign, so who better to look back at the peaks and troughs of a very eventful year. That marriage referendum is sure to feature strongly, but there'll be a lot more to discuss, from floods and storms to the water charges fiasco.
Thank GAA it's 2015
In this retrospective on the GAA season, Dan and Maurice Shanahan reflect on Waterford's hurling renaissance, Gweedore man Seamus Coleman recalls Donegal's disappointing championship campaign, Fermanagh's Sean Quigley discusses his eventful summer, and we get the chance to watch Marty Morrissey's range of emotions as he commentates on the All-Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Galway.
Play It By Year
Mike Murphy returns to our screens with this Christmas game show in which a long memory is the key to victory. Shown over four consecutive nights, Play It By Year will use RTÉ's extensive archives to quiz contestants on their knowledge of current affairs in the '80s, '90s and noughties. Three teams will battle it out, and at stake is a luxurious holiday in Las Vegas.
Well Holy God It's Glenroe
Glenroe may have ended almost 15 years ago, but the rural soap is still fondly remembered by millions. In this special retrospective, the show's cast and crew recall working on Wesley Burrowes' drama set in a small but fraught fictional Wicklow village, and Mary McEvoy, Emmet Bergin, Geraldine Plunkett, Mario Rosenstock and others will revisit their characters.
The Tommy Tiernan Show
Tommy Tiernan is a master of improvisation, and in this chat show with a twist his skills will be put to the test. The Tommy Tiernan Show will have all the elements of a classic talk show, but with one crucial difference - neither Tommy nor his audience will have any idea who the guests are until they walk out on the stage.
The world's most expensive food
Channel 4, 8pm
In this episode of the show in which retailers and buyers take luxury eating to extremes, New York businessman Jerry Toth comes to London to try and break into the British market with his To'ak chocolate. Each bar costs £195 and comes in a wooden box with a 100-page leaflet and a special pair of tasting tweezers. But will Harrods decide to sell it for him?
A Life on Screen
Stephen Fry recently announced that he'll be retiring from his role as presenter of the BBC comic quiz QI, but the actor, comedian and author has more than one string to his bow. This one-hour special celebrates his extraordinary career, which began at Cambridge University with his friend Hugh Laurie. Together they made the acclaimed TV comedy show A Bit of Fry and Laurie.
Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough
David Attenborough was just 30 years old when he first visited the Great Barrier Reef, and was bowled over by its colour, beauty and stunning diversity. Now, almost 60 years later, he returns to Australia's great natural treasure in this three-part series to explore the reef using the latest technology. This week David descends beneath the waves at night in a state-of-the-art Triton submersible to meet some of the tiny animals who built the reef.
The Year That's In It
Comedians including Fred Cooke, Ross Brown, Fergal D'Arcy, Jon Kenny, Alison Spittle, Dustin the Turkey and sketch troupe Foil Arms & Hogg present this salty look back at the stories and fads that caught the public imagination during 2015. They offer a month-by-month review of actual new stories as well as the kind of inconsequential nonsense that caught our eye while we were wasting precious time online.
New Year's Eve
Alan Carr's New Years Eve Specstacular
Channel 4, 9pm
Alan Carr (below) can safely promise you the liveliest and most frenetic of tonight's New Year's Eve shows as he, his guests and audience run riot around Channel 4's HQ and engage in some bizarre party games. There'll be plenty of music and comedy along the way, and his guests include music guru David Guetta, Danny Dyer, comedian Greg Davies and former Spice Girl Mel B.
Mrs Brown's Boys New Year Special
In the second of these festive specials, a dashing stranger has appeared in Foley's Pub, and everyone naturally assumes he's after Cathy. But when he reveals that he only has eyes for Agnes, the redoubtable Mrs B must steel herself to go out on her first date in years. Brendan O'Carroll and Jennifer Gibney star.
The Rubber Bandits' Guide to 1916
As an important anniversary in our nation's history begins, esteemed academics Blindboy Boatclub and Mr Chrome give us their learned assessment of the build-up to the 1916 Rising. Actually, it's a very long build-up, because the Rubber Bandits start with Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf and move swiftly through the Famine before reaching O'Connell Street, and the embattled GPO.
New Year's Eve Live
Join hosts Kathryn Thomas and Keith Walsh in the VIP room at Dublin's 3 Arena for live coverage of this special countdown concert. Among the acts performing will be Kila, Ryan Sheridan, Little Hours and Norman Cook's hit-making alter ego Fatboy Slim. Keith and Kathryn will also be joined during the evening by guest celebrities who'll reflect on the highs and lows of their year.
New Year's Day
David Walliams stars in this adaptation of his own comic children's novel. Joe Spud is an ordinary boy until his factory-worker father Len makes billions from inventing a new toilet roll that's dry on one side and wet on the other. They move to a huge mansion and the boy is sent to an exclusive private school, but Joe's not happy and hatches a cunning plan. James Fleet, Rebecca Front and Catherine Tate co-star.
Jamie and Jimmy's Friday Night Feast
Channel 4, 8pm
A new year for many means earnest resolutions to eat better, and in this new run of their cooking show, Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty may be of help. In the first episode, Jimmy looks at how a lot of the food products we buy in the supermarket can be made more cheaply and tastily at home, and the duo test the cooking skills of film actor Orlando Bloom (far right).
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
Holmes and Watson are back (above) where they belong, in late Victorian London, and the great detective is perplexed when a man called Ricoletti turns up in Baker Street claiming that his late wife is prowling the city streets on a murderous trail of vengeance. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman star.