CHRISTMAS EVE The Greatest Snowman Channel 4, 8pm It’s celebrities on ice, as Dani Dyer, Cherry Healey, Liam Charles, Johnny Vegas and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen travel to an Alpine resort, where they will use snow and compacted ice to construct elaborate snowmen with the help of engineers and experts. Sue Perkins presents.
Christmas in St Patrick’s
St Patrick’s Cathedral has been handsomely restored for its 800th anniversary, and is the venue for RTÉ’s traditional Christmas Eve carol recital. There’ll be performances from Lisa O’Neill, Andrea Corr, Tolü Makay, Declan O’Rourke, Sinéad Campbell Wallace, David Brophy’s Frontline Choir and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.
Paddy McGuinness, Chris Harris and Freddie Flintoff assemble in the Welsh village of Bethlehem to drive cars they’ve secretly selected for each other on a festive trek across Britain, stopping off to help deliver a huge Christmas tree to the city of Bath.
8 Out of 10 Cats Does Showdown
Channel 4, 9.30pm
Jimmy Carr hosts a Christmas edition of the quiz, with Countdown regulars Susie Dent and Rachel Riley on hand to maintain order as Sarah Millican and Jon Richardson take on Lee Mack and Jason Manford, with guest appearances by Joe Wilkinson and Nick Mohammed.
Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly host a festive edition of the show, with guest dancers Fred Sirieix, Jay Blades, Moira Stuart, Mel Giedroyc, Adrian Chiles and Anne-Marie taking to the floor under the watchful eye of judges Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse, Anton Du Beke and Craig Revel-Horwood. And there’ll be music from Sheridan Smith, Gary Barlow and Jamie Cullum.
Winter Journey: Schubert’s Winterreise
Franz Schubert famously finished the Winterreise on his deathbed, and his great song cycle has been challenging singers and musicians ever since. Here Baritone Benjamin Appl and pianist James Baillieu perform the work on the suitably wintry setting of a Swiss mountain pass.
Call the Midwife
It’s Christmas 1966, and the midwives at Nonnatus House face their busiest December ever as the maternity home is packed with expectant mothers hoping for safe and happy births. And Lucille and Cyril are preparing for their wedding.
Video of the Day
Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas Special
As Christmas arrives in Finglas, Agnes is recruited to the church choir, but must promise Father McBride that there will be no singing — and most definitely no dancing. Meanwhile, a Christmas-tree shortage means that Agnes may have to go without.
ST STEPHEN’S DAY
Around the World in 80 Days
David Tennant heads the cast of this new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic 1880s adventure. Rising to the challenge of an outrageous wager at his club, English gentleman Phileas Fogg and his redoubtable valet Passepartout set out to circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days.
Sutton Foster, Robert Lindsay, Felicity Kendal and Gary Wilmot star in this rousing production of Cole Porter’s classic musical filmed at London’s Barbican. When the ocean liner SS American leaves New York on a trip to London, two loved-up couples cause chaos onboard.
All I Want (ed) for Christmas
Channel 4, 8pm
Still smarting about a present you wished and prayed for as a kid but never got? In this show, narrated by Stephen Fry, childhood dreams come true for Jonathan Ross, Robert Webb, Rosie Jones, Martine McCutcheon, Rosie Jones, Aled Jones, London Hughes, Kerry Godliman, Grace Dent, Lucy Porter and Keith Lemon.
A Very British Scandal
New mini-series based on the extraordinary life of Margaret Whigham, a Scottish heiress whose spectacularly dysfunctional marriage to Ian Campbell, Duke of Argyll, would rock the British aristocracy to its core. When she and Campbell first meet, both are married, but that doesn’t stop Margaret falling in love with him and his crumbling ancestral pile, Inveraray, which she vows to restore. With Claire Foy and Paul Bettany.
Seán Ó Riada — Mo Sheanathair
Though Seán Ó Riada was just 40 when he died in 1971, the composer’s influence on Irish music was seismic. In this documentary, broadcaster and musician Doireann Ní Ghlacáin — a granddaughter of Ó Riada — tries to find out more about this elusive figure by talking to experts, contemporaries, family and friends.
The Big Night In
Doireann Garrihy and Dermot Whelan host this Christmas special in which they play studio games, pull absurd pranks on celebrities, give the audience a few surprises and welcome special guests.
Channel 4, 8pm
Richard Ayoade may have hung up his rucksack, but he has left this most engaging travel show in the capable hands of comedian Joe Lycett, who begins his tenure by taking a trip to Iceland in the company of Bill Bailey. They visit volcanoes, geysers, black sand beaches, and unwind at the Blue Lagoon spa.
The Tommy Tiernan Show
Perhaps only Tommy Tiernan could carry off the high-wire act of a talk show on which he gets no prior warning about who he’s going to be talking to. In this Christmas special, he welcomes more celebrity guests for probing and revealing interviews.
In this unique new show, music stars Imelda May, Suzanne Vega, Rufus Wainwright, Joe Elliot, Sharon Corr and Christy Dignam join forces with David Bowie’s old band and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra to perform some of the great man’s most memorable songs and hits.
A look at the extraordinary history of No 6 Harcourt Street, a Dublin house that has been home to saints, scholars, British imperialists and Irish revolutionaries. Originally the residence of the Blackwood family, one of whom died at Waterloo, No 6 became the base of John Henry Newman, scholar and theologist, and later served as Sinn Féin’s HQ.
Daniel at Sixty
Daniel O’Donnell turned 60 a few weeks ago, and this hour-long special looks back on his life and career, with contributions from Daniel’s wife, Majella, his sister, Margo, and showbiz friends including Cliff Richard, Garth Brooks and Nathan Carter.
Mock the Week End of Year Special
Not much to laugh about in 2021, you might think, between Covid surges, freak weather events and disastrous climate summits, but Dara Ó Briain and guests will no doubt beg to differ. Regular Hugh Dennis and guest comics join him for a satirical reflection on a year most of us will be glad to see the back of.
The Voice Kids
Virgin Media One, 8pm
Emma Willis presents the final of the junior talent show, as the 16 young singers are joined by their coaches Will.i.am, Danny Jones, Pixie Lott and Melanie C as the winner of this year’s contest is revealed.
Rachael Blackmore: A Grand Year
Filmmaker Ross Whitaker looks back on a remarkable year for Rachael Blackmore, who claimed the lead jockey crown at the Cheltenham Festival, and became the first ever female winner of the Aintree Grand National. With contributions from Ruby Walsh, Henry De Bromhead, Katie Walsh, AP McCoy and Davy Russell.
Film about the brief but blazing career of Mic Christopher, who began his musical life busking on Grafton Street, rose to fame with The Mary Janes, was almost killed in a motorbike crash, and recorded his one-and-only solo album, Skylarkin’, before dying at 32 while touring with the Waterboys in Holland.
Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyard
Four years ago, a couple of amateur fossil hunters were walking by a freshly dug gravel pit near Swindon when they noticed something protruding from the ground. It was the tip of a fossilised mammoth leg bone — they had stumbled on a mammoth graveyard. Sir David Attenborough joins a team of investigators at the site to find out if Neanderthals might have killed the giant beasts.
Éamonn Ryan — An Máistir
Almost a year on from the death of GAA great Éamonn Ryan, his achievements are remembered. A senior footballer of note for Cork during the 1960s, his career blossomed when he turned to management, as he guided the great Cork ladies’ football team that won 10 All-Ireland championships.
I Literally Just Told You
Channel 4, 10pm
Jimmy Carr presents a special celebrity edition of the game show, with Aisling Bea, Lorraine Kelly, Asim Chaudhry and Alex Horne given answers for questions that appear as the contest is happening.
NEW YEAR’S EVE
The Last Leg of the Year
Channel 4, 9pm
Aisling Bea, who seems to be everywhere at the minute, joins Joe Wilkinson, Kish Numar, Vick Hope, Ivo Graham and hosts Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker to explore some of the stranger news stories that emerged during this turbulent year.
The Heart of Saturday Night
Una Healy and Loah are at the Round Room in Dublin’s Mansion House to present an evening of music and song, with performances from Nathan Carter, Mary Black, The Crash Ensemble, Shiv and Ryan McMullan, Aoife Ní Bhriain and Mick O’Brien.
Mrs Brown’s Boys New Year’s Special
When Grandad’s brother Micky is released from prison, he shows up at the house asking for €5,000 to invest in a goldmine. Will anyone be daft enough to give it to him? And Winnie has decided that she needs to transform her life.
The Graham Norton Show
Jessica Chastain joins Graham to talk about her new all-female action thriller, The 355, and Peter Dinklage will also be along to talk about playing the tragic lover Cyrano de Bergerac. Other guests include Claire Foy, Cush Jumbo and Joe Lycett.
NEW YEAR’S DAY
The Weakest Link
Romesh Ranganathan presents a new run of the iconic quiz, and tonight, radio and podcast stars, including Grace Dent, Jenni Falconer, Pat Sharp, Joanne McNally and Roman Kemp, will work as a team to try and win up to £50,000 for charity.
Aisling Bea guest stars in this special episode as Sarah, who’s working late on New Year’s Eve when she and a customer called Nick find themselves targeted by a Dalek executioner. Only the Doctor can figure out what’s going on.
Jamie Dornan stars in this new drama series from Jack and Harry Williams about a British man who wakes up in the middle of the Australian outback after being run off the road by a truck. And try as he might, he can’t remember who he is.
The Great Pottery Throw Down
Channel 4, 7.45pm
Siobhán McSweeney presents a new season of the pottery show in which contestants try to outdo each other by designing beautiful bowls, cups, utensils and pieces of art. Richard Miller and Keith Brymer Jones do the judging.
As the season builds toward the Winter Olympics in China, Chemmy Alcott and Ed Smith will have all the latest snow sports action from around the world and present highlights of the men’s downhill from Bormio in Italy.
Chieftains Live at Montreux
To mark the passing of traditional great Paddy Moloney, TG4 are showing this memorable 1997 performance from the Montreux Jazz Festival, with Moloney and the Chieftains wowing a rapturous crowd.
Food Unwrapped’s Healthy New Year
Channel 4, 7.30pm
As the traditional January purge begins, Kate Quilton, Matt Tebbutt and Jimmy Doherty explore what’s best to eat, and they also bust some myths about healthy diets.
Freddie Mercury: The Final Act
In 1987, at the height of his fame, Freddie Mercury was diagnosed with Aids. This documentary charts his four-year battle with the disease, and the tribute concert Queen organised in his memory in 1992.
Drama based on a true story and starring Stephen Merchant as Stephen Port, a serial killer who took the lives of four young men. Sheridan Smith co-stars.
In Disney’s 2013 smash, intrepid princess Anna sets off across a wintry wasteland to rescue her unhappy sister. With the voices of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Channel 4, 2pm
A suicidal small-town businessman is visited by a bumbling angel who shows him how much difference his life has made. Classic comic drama, with James Stewart.
Channel 4, 6pm
When his parents accidentally forget to bring him on a holiday to Paris, young Kevin must protect the family homestead from two idiot burglars. With Macaulay Culkin and Joe Pesci.
La La Land
Romance blossoms when an aspiring actress meets a struggling jazz pianist, but her sudden success might just be the end of them. Musical, with Emma Stone.
Mary Poppins Returns
Emily Blunt stars in Disney’s musical sequel, in which the magical nanny returns to the Banks’ home to help the now grown-up Michael, who’s made rather a mess of things.
Hugh Grant steals the show in this winning sequel playing a devious ham actor who frames poor Paddington, who ends up in prison. With Brendan Gleeson.
John Wick 3
Virgin Media Two, 9pm
Expelled from the league of assassins, John Wick goes on the run with a $14m price tag on his head. Action thriller, with Halle Berry and Keanu Reeves.
Rami Malek delivers an Oscar-winning portrayal of Freddie Mercury in this lively account of the rock singer’s brief but spectacular life. With Lucy Boynton.
ST STEPHEN’S DAY
Beauty and the Beast
Emma Watson is the long-suffering Belle in this competent live-action remake of the classic Disney cartoon. With Luke Evans and Emma Thompson.
In Lee Unkrich’s Pixar animation, a 12-year-old Mexican boy visits the Land of the Dead to persuade an ancestor to end a family curse.
The Princess Bride
Virgin Media One, 9.30pm
When his true love, Princess Buttercup, is kidnapped by evil Prince Humperdinck, dashing farmhand Westley sets out to rescue her. With Robin Wright and Cary Ewles.
Taron Egerton is superb in this entertaining account of Elton John’s rise from obscurity in Pinner to international stardom. With Bryce Dallas Howard.
West Side Story
A chance to compare Steven Spielberg’s remake with this classic 1961 adaptation of Jerome Robbins’ stage musical, set in New York. With Rita Moreno and Natalie Wood.
Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve’s brilliantly realised sequel stars Ryan Gosling as a replicant assassin who discovers evidence that synthetic robots can reproduce.
Shy and retiring teenager Ned is an outcast at his private boarding school until the star of the rugby team unexpectedly befriends him. Comic drama, with Fionn O’Shea.
Neil Jordan’s rousing account of the War of Independence and Civil War stars Liam Neeson as the clever and ruthless military leader who’s forced to turn on his best friend.
Comic horror starring Maeve Higgins as a small-town driving instructor who’s convinced that she’s psychic. She might be right. With Barry Ward and Will Forte.
When her husband is shot right in front of her, Jackie Kennedy must summon all her inner resources as she accompanies his body back to Washington. With Natalie Portman.
A Star is Born
Bradley Cooper directs and stars in this inspired remake, playing worn-out rock star Jackson Maine, who falls in love with a young singer he sees performing in a dive bar. With Lady Gaga.
Hard-hitting drama about a Dublin DJ who’s struggling with drug abuse when he meets his estranged older brother, a homeless heroin addict.
Film Four, 11.15pm
Classic 1980s action comedy starring Robert De Niro as a bounty hunter who bites off more than he can chew when he goes to New York to apprehend a mob accountant.
The Remains of the Day
Merchant/Ivory adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel about a butler and a housekeeper in postwar England who do not dare to act on their love. With Anthony Hopkins.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Channel 4, 6.45pm
In the first and best of the Indiana Jones movies, the intrepid archaeologist takes on the might of the Third Reich when he goes in search of the Ark of the Covenant. Harrison Ford and Karen Allen star.
Renée Zellweger won an Oscar for her portrayal of Judy Garland, who comes to London to sing in the West End after being frozen out by Hollywood.
NEW YEAR’S EVE
Michael Fassbender smoulders as Mr Rochester in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s handsome retelling of Charlotte Brontë’s gothic novel. With Mia Wasikowska.
Thor’s errant brother Loki has decided to subjugate the Earth, and only a team of heroes can stop him. With Tom Hiddleston.
Stan & Ollie
When Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel come to England in the 1950s for a theatrical tour, they do not realise these performances will be their last. With Steve Coogan.
NEW YEAR’S DAY
Virgin Media Two, 8.55pm
Gripping thriller starring Emily Blunt as a young FBI agent who’s seconded to a secret government unit tasked with sneaking into Mexico and bringing down a major cartel boss. With Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro and Daniel Kaluuya.
Bourne emerges from hiding in Greece to track down those responsible for assassinating his father, but soon has an army of CIA agents and assassins on his tail. Matt Damon and Alicia Vikander star.
Documentary narrated by Michael Caine which charts the huge changes in British culture during the 1960s, with reflections from Mary Quant, Paul McCartney, Roger Daltrey, David Bailey and Twiggy.
Bridget Jones’s Baby
No one is more surprised than Bridget when, after a chaotic weekend at a music festival, she finds out that she’s pregnant. The question is, who’s the daddy? Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey star.
In Frank Berry’s hard-hitting film, a young man from a Dublin housing estate faces a life-changing spell in prison after being caught in possession of drugs. With Dafhyd Flynn.
Fighting with My Family
Channel 4, 10.30pm
Comic drama based on a true story and starring Florence Pugh as a young English woman hell-bent on making it in the competitive world of women’s wrestling. Dwayne Johnson, Lena Headey and Jack Lowden co-star.
Wistful drama starring Johnny Depp as Scottish playwright JM Barrie, whose relationship with a family would inspire the creation of Peter Pan. With Kate Winslet and Julie Christie.
Helen Mirren and Julie Walters head the cast of this comedy based on the true story of a group of middle-aged Yorkshire women who decide to produce a nude calendar to help with cancer research.
Nightmarish thriller exploring the early years of Batman’s nemesis, the Joker, aka Arthur Fleck, who becomes increasingly bitter when his stand-up comedy career fails to take off. With Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De Niro.
Amazon Prime, streaming now
’Tis that time of year again, when all the talented ladies across America convene to bid farewell to yet another year we all hope to soon forget. Among those delivering eulogies to our least favourite parts of 2021 are Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Meg Stalter (Hacks), Dulcé Sloan (The Daily Show), and the Jane Fonda (no intro required). Expect nods to ‘hot vax summer’, ignoring the climate crisis, and Zoom.
Emily in Paris
Netflix, streaming now
Listen, either you’ll be all over this newly released second season or you’d rather pluck out thine eyes to stuff them in your ears for respite. Should you reside in the latter camp and are seeking something female-driven but not dripping in Darren Star, why not try Aisling Bea’s This Way Up, or Feel Good, or The Letdown.
Disney+, streaming now
If you’re filled to the brim with the usual festive viewing, why not treat your peepers to something sunny. This magical movie, set in Colombia, sees Mirabel face the frustration of being the only member of her family who doesn’t have phenomenal powers. If you’re still all in with the snowfest, however, Shaun The Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas is now available via Netflix.
Don’t Look Up
Netflix, streaming now
Another offering that’s been recently released in the cinema, this film sees Jennifer Lawrence star as an astronomy grad student. Alongside her professor, Dr Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), she makes an astounding discovery of a comet — on a direct collision course with Earth. Much like our slow-moving climate crisis, no one really seems to care.
Secrets in the Mist
Disney+, streaming now
Dian Fossey changed the way people viewed gorillas. She told the world how they lived, dedicating years to fighting a battle against encroaching gorilla poachers. Three decades after Fossey was murdered in a remote mountain cabin in Rwanda, National Geographic looks back at her legacy, including 18 years studying the mountain gorilla population. Aptly enough, the series is narrated by Sigourney Weaver, who won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Fossey in 1988’s Gorillas in the Mist.
Based on Fredrik Backman’s number-one New York Times bestseller, this Swedish dramedy focuses on a bank robber that fails miserably by robbing a cashless bank — so he ends up taking eight people hostage during an open house. Rescue comes in the form of two dysfunctional police officers, Jack and Jim, who also happen to be father and son.
The Lost Daughter
Netflix, New Year’s Eve
From the lauded Landscapers to this equally disturbing drama, where does Olivia Colman find the time? Here, in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut, Colman stars as Leda. Alone on a seaside holiday, she becomes consumed with watching a young mother and daughter. Unnerved by their compelling relationship, plus their raucous and menacing extended family, Leda is overwhelmed by her own memories of the terror, confusion, and intensity of early motherhood. Expect a sterling supporting cast in the form of Dakota Fanning and Ed Harris, plus our very own Jessie Buckley and Paul Mescal.
Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
Amazon Prime, Wednesday
The world’s most lethal odd couple (Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson), alongside an international con artist (Salma Hayek), race across Europe to stop an evil madman (Antonio Banderas). All the retirement funds being topped up there! Staying with Samuel L Jackson, Amazon has been keeping him busy — he’s also due to appear in The Protégé with Michael Keaton on New Year’s Eve.
Disney+, streaming now
Co-written by Jesse Peep Show Armstrong, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell play a married couple taking a family skiing vacation in Austria. However, after suffering a near-death experience, they’re forced to confront their relationship and feelings for each other.
Netflix, New Year’s Eve
There is no better way to ring in the New Year than with JVN et al transforming the lives of several deserving Texan souls. Arguably formulaic (the Fab Five descend and disarm, before promoting self-care by way of a home makeover show), season five breaks from the norm as it consistently references the pandemic while helping not just single men in need but also school students, a diligent humanitarian, plus more.
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