Watch this! Top TV shows on this Christmas
- Credit: The Forge/BBC/ Laurence Cendrowicz
There are little women and highway rats, baking and regenerating, tiny houses and angry squares and a big night out from Vic and Bob. Christmas TV is looking great this year says TV Editor Stacia Briggs.
Let's get down to the most important part of Christmas: planning what you're going to watch on TV between now and New Year and securing pole position in front of the box at the key moments during the festive season. TV Editor Stacia Briggs reveals what ten shows are on her play list this year.
1) The Miniaturist, BBC1, Boxing Day, 9pm: I absolutely loved the book, the story of young bride Nella Oortman who arrives in Amsterdam after an arranged marriage to start a new life as the wife of a wealthy merchant, Johannes Brandt. Set in 1686, the novel is the story of hopeful Nella, who hopes for love and romance but is met with indifference and disdain from Johannes' sister, Marin. Presented with a strange wedding present: a perfect copy of the house she is living with in miniature, after feeling aggrieved, she commissions a miniaturist to create some items to furnish the house. The miniaturist, who she never meets, begins sending her eerily accurate dolls and items that slowly begin to predict the future…The early stills look fabulous and what's better than an other-worldly tale at Christmas?
2) Victoria, ITV, Christmas Day, 9pm: It's the first ever special for the series and seeing as Prince Albert practically invented Christmas (kind of) it should be a cracker. Albert brought the tradition of the tree from Germany and he liked to skate on frozen lakes (and once caught a sleigh to Slough, which I can't believe hasn't become a lyric to a carol). Expect snow, candlelight, feasting and Prince Ernest laying off syphilis chat when he spends the festive season with love interest Harriet, Duchess of Sutherland. That's one gift she won't thank him for.
3) The Great Christmas Bake Off, Channel 4, Christmas Day, 7.45pm: There are two seasonal offerings from C4 this year: the aforementioned and The Great Festive Bake Off – clearly inspiration had run dry when it came to programme naming. Bakers will be returning from previous series to take on challenges in a tent – in other words, it's the same as usual, but with added rum essence and icing sugar. What on earth will (the First) Noel wear? In my day, goths didn't 'do' Christmas because it was illegal to be happy.
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4) Little Women, BBC1, Boxing Day, 8pm: I loved this book as a child, even though I will never forgive Louisa May Alcott for not letting Theodore 'Laurie' Laurence end up with the fabulous Jo March (he married annoying Amy instead, surely one of the most annoying women in literature). The BBC has adapted the book from the 1860s into a three-part series starring Michael Gambon (Mr Laurence), Angela Lansbury (Aunt March), Emily Watson (Marmee March), Maya Hawke (Jo), Willa Fitzgerald (Meg), Annes Elwy (Beth) and Kathryn Newton (Amy). Jonah Hauer-King will play Laurie. Note to self: do not invest too much emotion into Beth's wellbeing.
5) Doctor Who, BBC1, Christmas Day, 5.30pm: They had me at 'enchanted glass people steal their victims from frozen time', but I'd have also tuned in to see the space/time continuum rocked by the regeneration of Peter Capaldi's Doctor into the thirteenth Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker, who is A LADY AND NOT A MAN. Man Doctor teams up with David Bradley's First Doctor and then reunite with companion Bill (Pearl Mackie) before regenerating into Woman Doctor – keep up there at the back. Mark Gatiss also appears as a Captain plucked from death in a World War One trench to play his part in the Doctor's story. Let's hope it's a fitting swan song for the fabulous Capaldi.
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6) EastEnders, BBC1, Christmas Day, 9pm: Christmas Day wouldn't be complete for me without a visit to Walford – last year we were lulled into a false sense of security by a festive visit to Walford last year that, for once, didn't involve death, divorce or disaster. The most distressing thing that happened in the festive episode that included a power cut that invoked the Blitz spirit, the rescue of Dot from a lonely dinner for one and a good old sing-song round the Old Joanna with Kathy leading a 'Bring Me Sunshine' knees-up was the return of Michelle Fowler Mk II. This year, EastEnders boss John Yorke has promised a return to form: 'The really big story on Christmas Day, and one of the biggest stories we have ever told on EastEnders, will revolve around Max and how his past actions all come back to haunt him in the most powerful and appalling way.' Hooray! Christmas has been restored!
7) McMafia, BBC1, New Year's Day and January 2 at 9pm: While I wasn't a huge fan of The Night Manager (sorry) I am a huge fan of James Norton, so I will give this adaptation of Misha Glenny's 2008 novel a whirl. Norton is Alex Goodman, the British-raised son of Russian exiles with mafia ties who is trying to escape his past but instead finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a world of organised crime – fail.
8) Nile Rodgers and Chic's New Year Fireworks, BBC1, New Year's Eve, 11.20pm: Have you ever thought to yourself 'I wonder what it would be like to hear Chic's Le Freak playing just before watched a huge firework display on the banks of the River Thames'? I thought so. Dreams answered, right here (and frankly, if you're in the house watching TV on New Year's Eve, at least this is actually filmed live, as opposed to that web of lies being woven on BBC2 by Jools…)
9) Vic and Bob's Big Night Out, BBC2, December 29, 9pm: When I was a student at Liverpool University, I was in the Ents Society (as anyone truly annoying was) and was the - don't laugh - catering manager. I once did Vic and Bob's rider, which included 20 pickled eggs, a delicacy strangely uncommon in Merseyside prompting a mission which saw me visit about seven separate fish and chip shops. Imagine my joy, therefore, when I realised they'd asked for the eggs so they could use them as vinegary missiles from their dressing room window to throw at people. I've forgiven them, though, and can't wait for this one-off episode of the fantastic show which never fails to make me laugh. As an added bonus, Idris Elba is a guest star.
10)The Highway Rat, BBC1, Christmas Day, 4.45pm: Julia Donaldson brings Christmas to life with her fabulous stories - and by this time, I'll be practically comatose after standing (over the oven) and delivering Christmas dinner and entertaining the masses.