Entertainment Television

Thursday 23 January 2020

Christmas television - which festive treats are in store on the box this week?

Catch Derry Girls stars Saoirse Monica Jackson and Dylan Llewellyn on RTÉ's Big Christmas Rewind
Catch Derry Girls stars Saoirse Monica Jackson and Dylan Llewellyn on RTÉ's Big Christmas Rewind

Paul Whitington

Your day-by-day guide to the festive season's essential viewing.

Saturday

Michael McIntyre's Big Show

BBC1, 8.15pm

Robbie's karaoke

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Robbie Williams joins Michael to delight karaoke fans with special renditions of some of his most famous songs, and sings 'Winter Wonderland'. Footballer Ian Wright will hand over his mobile to play Send to All, and three young brothers go through a trapdoor and find themselves on stage at the London Palladium.

The Witcher

Netflix, any time

Monster hunter Henry Cavill heads the cast of this big-budget drama based on the fantasy novels of Andrzej Sapkowski. He plays Geralt of Rivia, a solitary hunter who roves across a vast landscape teeming with elves, gnomes, witches and monsters. Lars Mikkelsen and MyAnna Buring co-star.

Sunday

Home Rescue

RTÉ One, 7.30pm DIY disaster

Since losing his wife, Ann, to cancer, retired Dublin builder Jim has let things slide in his Glasnevin home. DIY tools and materials can be found in every room, and while Jim would love to start entertaining again, he's embarrassed about the state of his house. Róisín, Peter and the team have a tight budget and just three days to help him out.

His Dark Materials

BBC1, 8pm

A shocking discovery As the BBC's acclaimed adaptation of Philip Pullman's epic fantasy novels reaches its climax, the magisterium is closing in on Lyra, who makes a major discovery about Asriel's rebellion. But her support of him will come with a heavy price. Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy and Anne-Marie Duff star.

Escape to the Chateau

Channel 4, 9pm

Festive style

At the end of another busy year at Motte-Husson, Dick Strawbridge and Angel Adoree prepare for a hectic festive season that will involve an ambitious Christmas Eve menu complete with home-made treats, craft gifts, lots of friends and visits from some very special guests.

Searching for Sam

BBC2, 9pm

Dunbar on Beckett

Author and playwright Samuel Beckett lived exiled in Paris for most of his long life, which ended 30 years ago. In this documentary, actor Adrian Dunbar explores the enigmatic Dubliner's life for clues to the genesis of great works like Endgame, Krapp's Last Tape and Waiting for Godot.

A Christmas Carol

BBC 1, 9pm

A load of humbug

Guy Pearce is Ebenezer Scrooge in this nightmarish adaptation of the Dickens classic by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight. It's Christmas, a season Scrooge detests, and when he returns to his badly heated lodgings after a hard day's penny-pinching, he's visited by three spirits who show him the error of his ways. With Andy Serkis.

Monday

Nationwide RTÉ One, 7pm

Mary's farewell

As Mary Kennedy prepares to retire from the much-loved magazine show, she invites co-presenter Anne Cassin to her Dublin home to reflect on 15 years at the helm of Nationwide and look back at some of her favourite moments and celebrity interviews.

MasterChef: The Professionals

BBC2, 8pm

Best of the best

In a seasonal special, judges Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace catch up with some of the most talented contestants from previous seasons to find out what they're up to and invite them back to the MasterChef kitchens for a spectacular cook-off. Who will be the best of the best?

Donal's Meals in Minutes

RTÉ One, 8.30pm

Christmas special Donal Skehan shows that quick cooking can help at Christmas, too, and whips up treats including spiced duck with figs, chilli, coconut and sweet potato and lentil soup, and a citrus polenta cake. He also tries a festive five-minute challenge.

Hugh Grant: A Life on Screen

BBC2, 9pm

The old charmer

Film actor Hugh Grant looks back on his long career, from his early days as part of a pub comedy act to his breakthrough role in Four Weddings and a Funeral and the Hollywood stardom that followed. Friends including Richard Curtis, Sandra Bullock, Colin Firth, Andie MacDowell, Stephen Frears and Ang Lee reflect on his talent.

Christmas Eve

The Big Christmas Rewind

RTÉ One, 6.20pm

Past glories

The stars of Young Offenders, Mrs Brown's Boys and Derry Girls, as well as Francis Brennan, Doireann Garrihy, Pat Shortt, Vogue Williams, Mairead Ronan and Mary O'Rourke, pick their favourite shows and moments from Irish Christmas television of years gone by.

The Last Igloo

BBC4, 7.30pm

Melting homes

It takes a skilled Inuit just a few hours to construct an igloo, a house of ice blocks that provides shelter from some of the worst weather in the world. But as this documentary that follows Greenland's Inuit hunters through a typical day shows, the igloo will soon be lost forever because of rapid global warming.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Channel 4, 7.30pm

A hungry guest

Hand-drawn animated version of Judith Kerr's classic children's story, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. When a well-spoken tiger knocks on a little girl's door, he promptly chows down and eats everything in sight. With the voices of Benedict Cumberbatch, David Oyelowo d Tamsin Grieg.

Carols from Kilkenny Castle

RTÉ One, 9.20pm

Seasonal song

Mary Kennedy presents a special carol concert from Kilkenny Castle to celebrate 50 years of the historic building's time in State ownership, with performances from Colm Wilkinson, Ronan Tynan, Hudson Taylor and Róisín O, all backed by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. Not Going Out BBC1, 10pm Driving home for Christmas When Lee and Lucy embark on a last-minute Christmas Eve mission for the kids, things go predictably and horribly wrong. And while they end up on an unexpected trip to the countryside, Lee's feckless father, Frank, turns up at home, full of festive cheer. Lee Mack, Sally Bretton and Bobby Ball star in this Christmas special.

Christmas Day

The Snail and the Whale

BBC1, 2.30pm

A tall tail In this animated version of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's much-loved children's book, an enterprising snail gets to see the wonders of the world after hitching a ride on the tail of an obliging whale. With the voices of Sally Hawkins, Rob Brydon, Cariad Lloyd and Diana Rigg.

Strictly Christmas Special

BBC1, 4.40pm

Dance off

Strictly alumni Debbie McGee, Gemma Atkinson, Joe Sugg, Mark Wright, Richard Arnold and Chizzy Akudolu return to compete in the traditional Christmas special. Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman present; Shirley Ballas, Bruno Tonioli, Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel Horwood do the judging.

Dolly Parton - Here I Am

BBC2, 8.30pm

Keeping it country

In this special documentary, we go behind the glitter and wigs to find out about the real Dolly Parton, who looks back on her extraordinary career, from her early days on the Grand Ole Opry to breakthrough success with songs she'd written herself and sell-out stadium tours. With contributions from Charley Pride, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.

Phil Coulter - Mo Shaol TG4, 9.30pm

A life in song

Rarely seen archive footage complements this documentary about the career of Phil Coulter, who's written songs for everyone from Elvis Presley to Cilla Black and the Bay City Rollers, but is best remembered in Ireland for his collaborations with Luke Kelly and the Dubliners on songs like 'The Town I Loved So Well'.

Mrs Brown's Boys

RTÉ One, 10pm

It's a wonderful Agnes

Agnes Browne has her own It's a Wonderful Life experience when she's visited by a mysterious character who claims to be an angel and shows her what life would have been like if she'd never existed. Pretty dull, one would imagine. With Brendan O'Carroll, Jennifer Gibney, Eilish O'Carroll, Kevin Kennedy.

Jamie & Jimmy's Festive Feast

Channel 4, 8pm

Pigs in blankets

Fresh from his triumphs in the Elton John biopic Rocketman, actor Taron Egerton joins Jimmy Doherty and Jamie Oliver in their café at the end of Southend Pier to attempt to cook his first Christmas dinner. And Jimmy delivers his distinctive take on pigs in blankets.

St Stephen's Day

Mimi and the Mountain Dragon

BBC1, 3.20pm

Mimi's quest

Michael Morpurgo introduces this animated adaptation of his children's book about a village that lives in terror of a fearsome mountain dragon. Then, one winter's night, a shy little girl called Mimi finds a baby dragon asleep in the woodshed and sets out on a perilous journey to return it to her mother.

Worzel Gummidge

BBC1, 6.20pm

The scarecrow returns

The 1980s kids' show about a rather creepy scarecrow who comes to life is revived this week for two one-hour specials. Michael Palin plays the all-knowing narrator, the Green Man, and Mackenzie Crook is Gummidge, the mischievous scarecrow who livens up the lives of two lonely children.

Paddington: The Man Behind the Bear

BBC2, 9pm

Wartime memories

In 1958, Michael Bond dreamt up a quaint story about a mischievous Peruvian bear who comes to London and is devoted to marmalade. In doing so, he drew on memories of children being evacuated from wartime London train stations: he cannot have known that he'd created a treasured character that would long outlive him.

Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2019

Channel 4, 9pm

The hard questions

How did Jennifer Aniston break the internet in 2019, what meal did Donald Trump serve to a visiting football team at the White House, and who is Andy King and what is he now known as? These and other vital questions will be answered by Jimmy Carr and guests including Roisin Conaty, Richard Ayoade, Noel Fielding and Dara Ó Briain.

Friday

No Planet B

RTÉ One, 7.25pm

Youth assembly On Friday, November 15, young campaigners from all over Ireland converged on Dáil Éireann to take part in the Youth Assembly on Climate. Their recommendations would be challenging, and this documentary follows four young participants as they prepare for the event and share their passionate views on climate change.

A Question of Sport at 50 BBC1, 8.30pm Looking back Fifty years ago, the late David Vine presented the first edition of the skittish TV quiz that's become a huge favourite in the UK. Celebrity fans, including Paddy McGuinness, Nick Knowles and Richard Osman, recall their favourite moments, while panellists Phil Tufnell and Matt Dawson take us behind the scenes.

Comedy World Cup of the Decade

Channel 4, 9pm

Cultural highlights

As the 2020s bear down upon us with unseemly haste, Richard Osman is joined by guests Jon Richardson, Rhianna Dhillon, Alex Brooker and Lorraine Kelly to choose their favourite movies, songs, TV dramas and emerging celebrities from the past decade.

Brendan Grace: A Late Late Show Tribute

RTÉ One, 10.30pm

His best bits

Over the years Brendan Grace, who died during the summer, made many memorable appearances on The Late Late Show. In this tribute, we relive some of his finest and funniest moments.

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