Christmas is a time for togetherness – whether that’s around the dinner table, a roaring fire, or a TV set. If you’re looking to fill those all important Twixmas days with restful watching, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our ultimate Christmas TV guide, showcasing the best things to watch and stream this festive season, from star-studded films to juicy BBC dramas.
Ultimate Christmas TV Guide 2023
Ghosts Christmas Special
The fifth season of Ghosts may have been the last, but the BBC has confirmed it will give viewers one last trip to Button House with a final farewell festive episode this December, following the major success of last year’s Christmas special. From the Horrible Histories team, this is a genuinely funny, heartwarming series, perfect for adults and little ones alike.
When Is It On TV? The Christmas special episode of Ghosts will air on Christmas Day at 7.45pm on BBC One and iPlayer.
Charles III: The Coronation Year
The BBC will air a 90-minute landmark documentary this Christmas: Charles III: The Coronation Year. Offering a behind the scenes look at King Charles’ first year as a monarch, the documentary marks the first time filming crews have ever been given access to the royals in the run up to such a big event. Viewers will peer in on private moments we missed out on on the actual day, plus candid interviews with family members including Princess Anne, with narration from none other than Helena Bonham Carter.
When Is It On TV? Charles III: The Coronation Year will air on BBC One and iPlayer at 6.50pm on Boxing Day (26 December 2023).
What is the Christmas season without a special Doctor Who episode? Well, we’re in for a treat this year. Following a trilogy of three 60th Anniversary Specials helmed by David Tennant – back, yes, but as the Fourteenth Doctor, not his previous Tenth – the Christmas special will signal the official beginning of Ncuti Gatwa’s reign as the Fifteenth Doctor, accompanied by brand new companion, Millie Gibson. Details have been kept under wraps, but potential stars include Jonathan Groff alongside Aneurin Barnard, Indira Varma and Bonnie Langford (if they don’t appear at Christmas, they will appear in the main series in 2024). Plus, the BBC recently released an intriguing summary, along with announcing that Davina McCall will star: ‘Little is known about Ruby Sunday as she was abandoned on Christmas Eve as a baby. Now living with her mum, Carla and grandmother, Cherry her world is about to be turned upside when she encounters the Doctor and the two set off on their first adventure together…’.
When Is It On TV? The Doctor Who Christmas special will air on BBC One and iPlayer at 5.55pm on Christmas Day (25 December 2023). Catch up on BBC iPlayer. Episodes are streaming internationally on Disney+.
A special festive animation will air on Channel 4 this festive season, this time based on one of our favourite fictional cats: Mog’s Christmas. A star studded cast of actors will lend their voices to the project, including Claire Foy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Adjoa Andoh, Miriam Margolyes, Maggie Steed, Zawe Ashton and Charlie Higson, while Sophie Ellis-Bextor sings a new song for the project, ‘As Long as I Belong’. Judith Kerr’s much-loved classic children’s book, Mog’s Christmas follows Mr and Mrs Thomas and their children Debbie and Nicky as they are busy making preparations for Christmas. With two Aunts and a jolly Uncle also staying in the house, Mog, the beloved family cat, is feeling a bit ignored…
When Is It On TV? Mog’s Christmas will air on Channel 4 at 7.45pm on Christmas Eve (24 December 2023). Catch up at channel4.com
Murder Is Easy
A brand-new two-part Agatha Christie thriller will air on BBC One and iPlayer this festive season, with an ensemble cast featuring David Jonsson, Morfydd Clark, Penelope Wilton, Tom Riley, Douglas Henshall, Mathew Baynton and Mark Bonnar. Whisking us back to 1954, Fitzwilliam (Jonsson) meets Miss Pinkerton (Wilton) on a train, and she confides that a killer is on the loose in the sleepy village of Wychwood under Ashe. The villagers believe the deaths to be accidents, but Miss Pinkerton knows otherwise. So, when she is later found dead on her way to Scotland Yard, Fitzwilliam feels he must find the killer before he strikes again.
When Is It On TV? Murder is Easy will begin at 9pm on 27 December on BBC One. Episode two will air at the same time the following night. Catch up on iPlayer.
Call The Midwife
Another festive staple in our annual Christmas TV guide is Call The Midwife, which kicks off its new season every year with a festive special on Christmas day. Starting two weeks before Christmas, the episode situates us at the end of 1968, with Apollo 8 poised to circle the moon. Read all about what to expect here.
When Is It On TV? Call The Midwife will air on BBC One at 8.15pm on Christmas Day. Catch up on BBC iPlayer.
Best. Christmas. Ever!
Time for Netflix’s original Christmas film of the year. Question is, how cringey will it be? This year, it’s Best. Christmas. Ever!, starring Heather Graham, Brandy Norwood, Jason Biggs and Matt Cedeño as two couples bought together in the festive season. Every Christmas, Jackie (Norwood) sends a boastful holiday newsletter that makes her old college friend Charlotte (Graham) feel like a lump of coal. But when a twist of fate lands Charlotte and her family on Jackie’s doorstep just days before Christmas, Charlotte seizes the opportunity to prove Jackie’s life can’t really be that perfect.
When Is It Streaming? Best. Christmas. Ever! is streaming on Netflix from 16 November 2023.
Your Christmas Or Mine 2
James (Asa Butterfield) and Hayley (Cora Kirk) are back for another festive season, but this time with more concrete plans – or so they think. James’ father has invited Hayley’s whole family to spend Christmas in a luxury ski resort in the Austrian Alps so they can meet his new American girlfriend. However, Hayley’s dad Geoff insisted on handling his family’s side of the booking and something clearly got lost in translation. Will James and Hayley’s relationship survive another turbulent family Christmas?
When Is It Streaming? Your Christmas or Mine 2 is streaming on Prime Video from 8 December 2023.
Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas
If you haven’t snagged tickets to any festive carol concerts this year, why not snuggle up on the sofa with Hannah Waddingham instead? Her Christmas concert special – launching in conjunction with an album – was recorded live at London’s The Coliseum, one of the capital’s oldest and most beautiful theatres. The one-hour special will feature Waddingham ringing in the season with musical performances of beloved Christmas classics from the likes of Sam Ryder, Luke Evans, Leslie Odom Jr., Phil Dunster and more.
When Is It Streaming? Hannah Waddingham: Home For Christmas is streaming on Apple TV+ from 22 November 2023.
Dashing Through The Snow
A brand new family-friendly holiday comedy is coming to Disney+ this season, starring Lil Rel Howery, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, and Teyonah Parris. Eddie (Bridges) is a social worker for the Atlanta police department who takes his nine-year-old daughter Eva with him to work on Christmas eve, helping both rediscover the joy and magic of the yuletide season.
When Is It Streaming? Dashing Through the Snow is streaming on Disney+ from 17 November 2023.
Candy Cane Lane
If you’re looking for laughs this festive season, what better than a brand new Eddie Murphy film? Candy Cane Lane stars Murphy as Chris, a man on a mission to win his neighbourhood’s annual Christmas home decoration contest. But, after he inadvertently makes a deal with a mischievous elf named Pepper (Jillian Bell) to better his chances of winning, she casts a magic spell that brings the 12 Days of Christmas to life and wreaks havoc on the whole town. Will Chris and his family beat the clock to break Pepper’s spell to save Christmas?
When Is It Streaming? Candy Cane Lane is streaming on Prime Video from 1 December 2023.
The Santa Clauses
The second series of Disney+’s festive series, The Santa Clauses, will debut with a two-episode premiere on 8 November, followed by new episodes weekly. Picking up where we left off in season one, the Calvin family is back in the North Pole and Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is continuing as Santa Claus after his retirement plans were scuppered when he failed to find a worthy successor. Instead, he turns his attention to his son Cal (Austin Kane), training him up to eventually take over the ‘family business’ as Santa.
When Is It Streaming? Season two of The Santa Clauses will begin streaming on Disney+ with two episodes from 8 November, followed by new episodes weekly.
Big Fat Quiz Of The Year 2023
Jimmy Carr is back on Channel 4 this festive season, hosting our favourite comedy wrap up of the year’s newsy events. ‘Who was the real star of the King’s Coronation? Who went viral for wearing a puffer jacket? Were you team Barbie or Oppenheimer?’ Asks Channel 4. Carr will be joined by celebrity teams while Charles Dance, the children of Mitchell Brook Primary School and a whole host of celebrity question setters look back at 2023.
When Is It On TV? The Big Fat Quiz Of The Year 2023 Christmas special episode will air at 9pm on Boxing Day on Channel 4.
Jennifer Garner is back in her body swap era in this brand new Netflix original film. Jess (Garner) and Bill Walker (Ed Helms) are trying to keep their family knitted together as their children grow older and more independent. But a chance encounter with an astrological reader causes the whole family to wake up to a full body switch, Freaky Friday style. It’s the morning of the most important day of each of their lives, so can the Walkers unite to land a promotion, college interview, record deal and soccer tryout?
When Is It Streaming? Family Switch is streaming on Netflix from 30 November 2023.
The Heist Before Christmas
Is a brand new festive film on your wishlist this Christmas? Sky is granting our wishes with a new original film, following 12-year-old Mikey Collins, a poor kid who hates Christmas, but stumbles across two Santa Clauses in the woods. One has just pulled off a bank heist (James Nesbitt) and is on the run with the cash, the other Santa (Timothy Spall) claims to have fallen out of his sleigh. Unperturbed by the latter but keen to get his hands on the cash of the former, will Mikey risk everything for a stolen Christmas, or will he realise the true spirit of Christmas is alive and kicking after all?
When Is It On TV? The Heist Before Christmas will air on Sky Max in the week commencing 25 December 2023, specific date TBC.
Chicken Run: Dawn Of The Nugget
This is the perfect family-friendly watch this festive season: the highly anticipated, much awaited sequel to the iconic Aardman film, Chicken Run. Having had its world premiere at the recent BFI London Film Festival, the sequel will launch on Netflix this festive season, reuniting fans with Ginger and her family who now live in an idyllic island bird sanctuary. Though, of course, the peace won’t last for long.
When Is It Streaming? Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is streaming on Netflix from 15 December 2023.
Percy Jackson And The Olympians
A new, epic adaptation of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series is finally landing on Disney+ this festive season, revitalising the modern classic fantasy series which centres on Percy Jackson, a demigod teenager who is accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt.
When Is It Streaming? The first two episodes of Percy Jackson and the Olympians will land on Disney+ on 20 December 2023, followed by new episodes weekly until 31 January 2023.
Never Mind The Buzzcocks: Christmas Special
A special Christmas edition of the much-loved comedy panel show, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, will air on Sky this December, hosted by Greg Davies with Noel Fielding and Daisy May Cooper as team captains and featuring celeb guests Harry Hill, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Ricky Wilson, plus guest appearances from DJ Luck & MC Neat, Paul Potts and Ritchie Neville of Five fame.
When Is It On TV? The special Christmas episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks will air in December (specific date TBC) on Sky Max & NOW.
Bradley Cooper’s Maestro – a love story chronicling the lifelong relationship between Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein – has garnered some awards buzz and film chatter throughout the year, screening at a number of prestigious film festivals. It finally has its theatrical release in the UK on 24 November, and will be landing on Netflix just in time for a Christmas watch: 20 December.
When Is It Streaming? Maestro is streaming on Netflix from 20 December 2023.
Love Actually fans should tune into Genie this Christmas, a brand new holiday fairytale comedy created by Richard Curtis, following a genie called Flora (Melissa McCarthy) who has been trapped in an antique jewellery box for more than 2,000 years due to a misunderstanding with a sorcerer back in 77 BCE. After years of being summoned to grant wishes for greedy men, Flora is accidentally called to service by Bernard Bottle (Paapa Essiedu), whose life is unravelling around him
When Is It Streaming? Genie is available on Sky Cinema and NOW from 1 December 2023.
We love films that scrutinise the film industry itself, and this one looks pretty juicy. May December follows Gracie (Julianne Moore) whose relationship with husband Joe (Charles Melton) sparked tabloid controversy when it first came to light, due to Gracie being 23 years Joe’s senior. Cut to the modern day, and the marriage comes under new strain when Hollywood actress Elizabeth Berry (Natalie Portman) comes to spend time with the family to better understand Gracie, who she will be playing in a film about the scandal.
When Is It Streaming? May December is coming to Sky Cinema and NOW on 8 December 2023.
Leave The World Behind
This non-Christmas film is perfect if you’re looking for a rest from the festivities this year. Starring Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, Mahershala Ali and Kevin Bacon, Netflix summarises: ‘A family’s vacation is upended when two strangers arrive at night, seeking refuge from a cyberattack that grows more terrifying by the minute, forcing everyone to come to terms with their places in a collapsing world.’
When Is It Streaming? Leave the World Behind is streaming on Netflix from 8 December 2023.