Sunday 25 August 2019

What's on tv, what time and where you can watch it: The essential Christmas viewing guide

Kim Cattrall in BBC1's Witness for the Prosecution
Kim Cattrall in BBC1's Witness for the Prosecution
Dark: Bill Murray as Baloo and Neel Sethi as Mowgli in Disney's 'The Jungle Book'
Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables
Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie could be getting a sequel
Noomi Rapace in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington

The definitive festive tv and movie guide.

Christmas Day

Great Christmas Bake Off

BBC1, 4.45pm

This may well be the last farewell to the original Bake Off team before the show departs for the choppier waters of Channel 4. Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins welcome a group of former contestants back to the tent for a two-part festive challenge, where they’ll be set a series of daunting challenges by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

Doctor Who Christmas Special

Matt Lucas as Nardole, Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, Justin Chatwin as The Ghost and Charity Wakefield as Lucy Fletcher in the Doctor Who Christmas special The Return of Doctor Mysterio (BBC/PA)

BBC1, 5.45pm

The Doctor arrives in contemporary Manhattan for this feature-length special, just as a gang of brain-swapping aliens are poised to attack. To stop them, Doctor Who and his associate Nardole must join forces with a masked avenger called The Ghost, whose intentions seem unclear. Peter Capaldi stars.

Travel Man

Channel 4, 8pm

Australian actress Rebel Wilson joins Richard Ayoade for what promises to be a rowdy 48-hour visit to the great city of Florence. Richard and Rebel take in some street art, race past Botticelli’s Venus and Michelangelo’s David, climb to the top of the Duomo, take a rafting trip down the River Arno and drive an Alfa Romeo through the Tuscan hills.

Call the Midwife

The Christmas special of Call The Midwife is set in the Eastern Cape of South Africa

BBC1, 8pm

The midwives and nuns of Nonnatus House are enjoying a white Christmas when they receive a desperate call for help from a sister mission in South Africa. So a small group of nurses travel to the embattled Hope Clinic, where a dwindling water supply and a lack of electricity hamper their efforts to deal with a health emergency. Helen George stars. 

Mrs Brown’s Boys

Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special

RTÉ ONE, 10.25pm

Christmas wouldn’t quite be Christmas without a visit to the household of Mrs Brown, but this year Agnes is not in a festive mood. Sick and tired of decades of mishaps involving the Christmas tree, Agnes decides she’s not going to have one this time at all, but Rory and Dino have bigger problems when the Blow and Dry burns down, leaving them with nowhere to work.

St Stephen’s Day

Rugbaí Beo

TG4, 5pm

Leinster and Munster have a habit of producing epic encounters practically every time they meet, and fans at Thomond Park are likely to enjoy a Stephen’s Day treat as the provincial rivals square off in round 11 of the Pro12. They’re neck and neck at the top of the table, and Leinster won 25-14 when the sides last met at the Aviva in October. Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill presents live coverage.

A Big Lego Christmas

Channel 4, 8pm

This documentary goes behind the scenes as the world’s biggest Lego store is opened in London’s Leicester Square, and meets Britain’s only certified ‘Lego professional’ as he prepares to build a giant model of Tower Bridge using nearly six million bricks.

Elephant Family and Me

BBC2, 8.30pm

With the habitats of the African Elephant under strain as never before, wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan travels to Kenya to get closer than we’ve ever been to the elusive and mysterious creatures. Elephants can be more dangerous than any predator, and kill hundreds of Africans every year. Gordon tries to find out why.

Witness for the Prosecution

BBC1, 9pm

Stylish adaptation of Agatha Christie’s atmospheric crime story starring Kim Cattrall as Emily French, a wealthy London widow who’s been dating a dashing young seducer called Leonard Vole when she’s found murdered in her home. All suspicion points to Vole, but a penniless solicitor called Mayhew is not so sure, and takes on his case.

Tuesday, Dec 27

Big Year on the Farm

RTÉ ONE, 6.30pm

Last spring, RTÉ cameras spent a week on John Fagan’s sheep farm in Castlepollard, County Westmeath, and tonight Ella McSweeney and Aine Lawlor return to the shores of Lough Derravaragh to find out how John and his animals have been doing since.

Thank GAA It’s 2016

RTÉ2, 8pm

The story of another hectic summer is recalled in this edition of Thank GAA it’s Friday, as Tipperary hurling star Cathal Barrett discusses his role in the county’s All-Ireland triumph. Andy Moran reflects on another narrow miss for Mayo, and champion jockey Bryan Cooper remembers lessons learnt playing GAA in Kerry.

The Real Marigold on Tour

BBC2, 9pm

The stars of the popular reality show The Real Marigold Hotel are reunited in this two-part special, as Miriam Margolyes, Wayne Sleep, Bobby George and Rosemary Shrager go in search of places reputed to be the best in the world to grow old. They begin in Florida, retirement capital of the world.

Inside No 9: The Devil of Christmas

BBC2, 10pm

Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith return with a seasonally-themed episode of their grisly black comedy. It’s Krampusnacht, December 1977, and the Devonshire family have arrived in the Austrian Alps to begin a skiing holiday. When their jovial host tells them a local legend about the Devil of Christmas they’re sceptical — but not for long.

Wednesday, Dec 28

Xposé: The Big Celebrity Interviews

Karen Koster & Charlotte Tilbury at the Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Event at Brown Thomas. Picture: Anthony Woods

TV3, 6.30pm

Xposé hosts Glenda Gilson, Karen Foster, Cassie Stokes and Ruth O’Neill look back on another busy year of celebrity interviews and sit-downs, including memorable encounters with Canadian singing star Michael Bublé, modeling legend Elle McPherson and make-up artist to the stars Charlotte Tilbury.  

Celebrity Home of the Year

RTÉ ONE, 6.30pm

Judges Hugh Wallace, Deirdre Whelan and Declan O’Donnell invade the homes of four well-known Irish personalities to decide whose residence is the most impressive. Weekend columnist Darren Kennedy, publisher Norah Casey, media expert Terry Prone and fashion designer Helen Cody are in the running, and the winner will get a cash prize to donate to charity.

Ethel and Ernest

BBC1, 7.30pm

Animated feature film based on the story of graphic novelist Raymond Briggs’ parents. Two ordinary Londoners, Ernest and Ethel meet by chance in the 1920s, marry, have a son and live through some of the most turbulent times their nation has endured, from the Great Depression to the Blitz. With the voices of Pam Ferris, June Brown.

The Nathan Carter Show Christmas Special

16 NEWS Nathan Carter.jpg
Nathan Carter will host a Christmas edition of his show complete with special guests

RTÉ one, 9.30pm

It’s been another big year for Liverpool-born country star Nathan Carter (below), and this Christmas special was recorded in front of a lively audience at Dublin’s Mansion House. Music legends Paddy Moloney, Billy Ocean, KT Tunstall and Eleanor Shanley join Nathan on stage, and there’ll be comedy from Al Porter.

Thursday, Dec 29

The Year of the Rising

RTÉ one, 6.30pm

This special programme presented by Mary Kennedy looks back at how the tricky task of commemorating the 1916 Rising was undertaken by the state. Marshalling 5,000 members of the Defence Forces for a parade, delivering flags to 900 schools and staging a live TV reading of the Proclamation outside the GPO were just some of the challenges faced by the people who made the commemorations happen.

To Walk Invisible

BBC1, 9pm

Sally Wainwright’s feature-length drama explores the enigma of the Brontë sisters, three young women who lived most of their short lives in quiet rural obscurity but managed to produce some of the greatest and most enduring novels in the English language. Jonathan Pryce, Chloe Pirrie and Charlie Murphy co-star.

Euro 2016: Two Shades of Green

RTÉ2, 9.30pm

Last summer, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland competed at the same major soccer tournament for the first time, and this documentary recalls the heady days of Euro 2016. Both teams emerged from the group stages, and the North’s early form was probably the more impressive, but Robbie Brady gave southern fans something to cheer about with that priceless goal against the Italians.

Johnny Logan: Hold Me Now

Johnny Logan

RTÉ one, 9.30pm

The only performer ever to have won the Eurovision Contest twice, Johnny Logan also wrote the song that won a third Eurovision, and is one of Ireland’s most celebrated entertainers. In this hour-long documentary he reflects on his sometimes tumultuous career, and his enduring popularity in Germany and Scandinavia. 

Friday, Dec 30

Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast

Channel 4, 8pm

Jimmy Doherty and Jamie Oliver begin a new series of their culinary show set in a windy café at the end of Southend Pier by helping special guest John Bishop prepare the perfect lasagne, and a quick and tasty Thai green curry. Other guests next year will include Lindsay Lohan, Alesha Dixon, Martin Clunes and Hollywood star Salma Hayek.

Judy Dench: All the World’s a Stage

BBC2, 8pm

Sam Mendes, Daniel Craig, Sir Ian McKellen and Harvey Weinstein are among the stars playing tribute to the 60-year career of actress Judi Dench. Billy Connolly recalls how her acting on Mrs Brown was so good he became convinced she was falling in love with him, and Samantha Bond remembers calming Pierce Brosnan’s nerves before his first ever scene with Dame Judi.


Sky One, 9pm

This new drama from the creator of Mr Selfridge stars Dawn French and Emilia Fox as women with an uncomfortable amount in common. French is Gina, a Cornish cook who separated from her husband Leo after years of infidelity. Now he’s returned to the neighbourhood with a new wife, and the two ladies form a surprising friendship.


Christmas Day

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Channel 4, 2.20pm

A man on the verge of despair is visited by a clumsy angel who shows him what his life has really meant in Frank Capra’s timeless drama. With James Stewart.

Frozen (2013)

Kristen Bell and Jonathan Groff lend their voices to characters in Frozen

RTÉ ONE, 6.35pm

A princess (above) with uncontrollable powers accidentally turns her kingdom into a snowy wasteland in this winning Disney musical fantasy. With the voices of Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell. 

Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

RTÉ2, 6.30pm

Kirk and Spock have fallen out again when a direct attack on Star Fleet’s base forces them to suspend hostilities and confront a deadly new enemy. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto star in JJ Abrams’ entertaining sequel.

Doubt (2008)
CYNIC: Meryl Streep's Sister Aloysius is a wonderfully vital and complex character who has previously been married and has led a life which has not been without sin

UTV Ireland, 9pm

John Patrick Shanley’s powerful drama stars Meryl Streep as Sister Aloysius, the redoubtable principal of a ’50s Catholic school in the Bronx who becomes convinced that the new parish priest is sexually abusing a boy.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

RTÉ2, 9.25pm

Solid action sequel starring Chris Evans as Captain America, who’s cryogenically defrosted and is just getting to grips with life in the 21st century when a ruthless enemy arrives in Washington with murderous plans.

St Stephen’s Day

Brave (2014)

BBC1, 2.40pm

In this Pixar animation set in medieval Scotland, a young princess called Merida rebels against her parents and sets out to prove herself as a warrior. With Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

RTÉ2, 6pm

In the first part of Peter Jackson’s trilogy based on JRR Tolkien’s classic children’s story, a stay-at-home hobbit is visited by a mischievous magician who persuades him to embark on an adventure. Martin Freeman stars.

Magnolia (1999)

TG4, 9.15pm

In Paul Thomas Anderson’s powerful drama, the lives of a misogynistic self-help author, a nurse, a lonely cop, a disillusioned game show contestant and a rich, dying man intertwine on a single, eventful night.

Rush (2013)

RTÉ2, 9.35pm

Ron Howard’s hugely entertaining sporting biopic is set in the golden age of motor racing and dramatises the epic rivalry between 1970s Formula One stars Niki Lauda and James Hunt.

Pride (2014)

BBC2, 10.30pm

Feel-good drama based on the true story of a group of London gay activists who decide to raise money to support the 1984 miners’ strike. Bill Nighy stars.

Tuesday, Dec 27

Mr Peabody and Sherman (2014)

BBC1, 3.50pm

In this delightful Dreamworks animation, Ty Burrell provides the voice of Mr Peabody, a talking dog who’s an inventor, Nobel Laureate and all-round polymath, but is proudest of all of his human son, Sherman.

Deadpool (2016)


Sky Movies Premiere, 9pm

Overrated superhero comedy starring Ryan Reynolds as a mercenary who becomes an unstable masked crime-fighter after being disfigured by a radical cancer cure.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

RTÉ2, 9pm

As the company closes in on the ancient dwarf fortress of Lonely Mountain, Bilbo finds his secret magic ring more and more useful. Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Evangeline Lilly star.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

noomi girl dragon tattoo.jpg
Noomi Rapace in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Channel 4, 12.40am

Swedish crime drama starring Michael Nyqvist as a journalist who joins forces with a chippy female hacker to investigate the disappearance of a young woman 40 years before.

Wednesday, Dec 28

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

Sky Movies Premiere, 4.15pm

Po the Panda is feeling pretty good about himself until a fearsome creature emerges from the spirit world intent on global domination. Jack Black heads the voice cast of this winning sequel.

Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)

TG4, 4.55pm

In Wes Anderson’s charming stop-motion animation, George Clooney provides the urbane voice of Mr Fox, a dashing and devious animal who becomes involved in a war of attrition with a group of local farmers.

Dolores Claiborne (1995)

TG4, 9.45pm

In this powerful drama based on a Stephen King novel, Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a nervy New York journalist who returns to her coastal home town when her mother, Dolores Claiborne (Kathy Bates) is accused of murder.

Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)

Film Four, midnight

Abdellatif Kechiche’s controversial Palme d’Or-winning epic charts the progress of a lesbian love affair between a teenage schoolgirl and an up-and-coming artist. Lea Seydoux stars.

Thursday, Dec 29

The Jungle Book (2016)

Dark: Bill Murray as Baloo and Neel Sethi as Mowgli in Disney's 'The Jungle Book'

Sky Movies Premiere, 4.15pm

In this well-made live action version of the classic Disney film based on Rudyard Kipling’s stories, a young boy called Mowgli is befriended by a tuneful bear after being abandoned in the jungle.

Jimmy’s Hall (2014)

TG4, 10.15pm

Ken Loach’s worthy drama is set in 1930s Leitrim, and tells the story of a former IRA man who returns home after 10 years in America full of socialist ideals that outrage the local grandees. 

American Hustle (2013)

Film Four, 11.10pm

David O Russell’s sparkling comic drama is set in the late ’70s and stars Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld, a minor conman who’s blackmailed into helping the FBI ensnare a corrupt politician. Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams co-star.

Taxi Driver (1976)

RTÉ2, 12.30am

Martin Scorsese’s journey to the heart of ’70s New York’s seedy underbelly stars Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle, an unhinged taxi driver who decides it’s his duty to save a 13-year-old girl from a life of prostitution.

Friday, Dec 30

Les Miserables (2012)

les mis 2.jpg
Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables

More 4, 8pm

Tom Hooper’s rousing adaptation of the West End show stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, a Napoleonic-era convict whose efforts to rebuild his life are constantly thwarted by his vengeful former jailer, Javert.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

RTÉ2, 9.30pm

Gary Oldman heads up a glittering cast in Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of John le Carré’s novel. Old MI6 warhorse George Smiley emerges from retirement to discover the identity of a high-ranking mole who’s selling secrets to the Russians.

Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie (2014)

Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie could be getting a sequel

RTÉ one, 9.30pm

When Moore Street is threatened by the schemes of foreign developers, Agnes Browne rides to its rescue. Brendan O’Carroll and Sorcha Cusask star in this toothless spin-off.

The Beaver (2011)

UTV Ireland, 11.45pm

Jodie Foster’s novel but uneven comic drama stars Mel Gibson as a suicidal businessman who recovers with the help of an outspoken beaver glove puppet that becomes an alter ego.

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