T’is the season to sleep in and watch far too much telly while scoffing down the contents of several selection boxes and those five tins of biscuits you got from the neighbours but if you’ve been far too busy getting ready for the festive season you might be at a bit of a loss when it comes to knowing what’s actually on.
Never fear, that’s why I’m here, picking out 10 of the best TV shows you quite simply won’t want to miss during the festive season.So, whether you plan to sit down and catch all the action live or set the good old Sky Box to record because it’s just too difficult to decide which show to watch, here are 10 of the best TV treats on offer this Christmas.
1. Mrs Brown’s Boys – RTE One/BBC One, Christmas Day at 9.25pm/9.30pm
Whether you love her or loathe it, there’s absolutely no escaping Mrs Brown’s Boys this Christmas because, ala 2012, we’re getting not one but two Specials this year. This first installment is all about Bono. No, seriously. Christmas is just round the corner, and no-one knows what Mrs Brown’s grandson Bono wants for a present. He’s already posted his letter off to Santa, so how can she find out in time? We can’t even begin to imagine what kind of antics will ensue…
2. The Time of The Doctor – BBC One, Christmas Day at 7.30pm
Hey now Whovians, don’t dream it’s over. The much anticipated Doctor Who Christmas Special will bring about an end to Matt Smith’s tenure as the Time Lord, and clear the way for Peter Capaldi to step into The Doctor’s shoes. Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe’s deadliest species gather, drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars. Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his best friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe. Keep an eye out for our own Orla Brady in a major role.
3. Downton Abbey – UTV, Christmas Day at 8.30pm & TV3, St Stephen’s Day 9pm
The Crawleys ditch the Abbey for a rather summery Christmas Special as they head down to London for Rose’s ‘coming out’ at Buckingham Palace. We’ll be getting our first gawk at the plush Grantham House (the family’s home in the big schmoke), atching up with Cora’s mammy and brother (played by the wonderful Shirley McClaine and Paul Giamatti), and following the servants on a day out and about in London. Oh, and there’ll be plenty of scandal too, with Robert struggling to keep both the Royal Family and his own brood from becoming the subject of idle gossip.
4. Death Comes to Pemberley – BBC One, December 26th at 8.15pm
This rather lush looking drama lands on St Stephen’s Day and, being honest, I’m probably more excited about it than I am about Downton Abbey. Believe me, that’s kind of a big deal. With more drama, intrigue and romance than you can shake a stick at, this one should definitely make for some ideal St Stephen’s night (Boxing Day to all of you in the UK) viewing.
5. Dermot Morgan Fearless Funnyman – RTE One, December 27th at 9.50pm
If there’s one Irish comedian who holds a special place in all of our hearts it’s got to be Dermot Morgan. The aptly titled ‘Fearless Funnyman’ may have gained international noteriety as Father Ted but those of us on the Emerald Isle know all to well that he honed his craft on the likes of The Live Mike and Scrap Saturday. Who knew Father Trendy was just the start of something big? We personally can’t wait to see RTE pay tribute to one of Ireland’s best, brightest and beloved.
6. Moonfleet – Sky One, December 28th and 29th at 8pm
We do love a good family-friendly drama at Christmas time and this two-part offering is about as appealing as they come. Based on the tale by J. Meade Falkner, Moonfleet tells the story of young man dreams of adventure and joins a gang of smugglers in the hunt for a diamond. There’s adventure, swashbuckling, drama and romance on the cards, and sure didn’t they film the whole thing in Ireland too? Ray Winstone takes the lead alongside The White Queen’s Anuerin Barnard and we definitely think this one will be among your Christmas TV highlights.
7. The Graham Norton Show New Year’s Eve Special – BBC One, New Year’s Eve at 10.15pm & TV3, New Year’s Eve at 11pm
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, when it comes to getting guests Graham Norton’s production team have to be the best in the chat show business right now. The host is most definitely going to need a bigger couch this New Year’s as he welcomes (deep breath) Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd and David Koechner from Anchorman 2, Pythons John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam, the sisters Collins aka Jackie and Joan, Michael Buble and good old Frank Skinner. Now that’s one way to ring in the New Year…
8. David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive – Sky 1, New Year’s Day at 6.30pm
Move aside Ben Stiller, Sir David Attenborough’s about to show us all how a night at the museum is done. Written and presented by the main main himself, David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive takes us on a rather magical journey after hours in London. Using ground-breaking 3D technology, state-of-the-art CGI, science and research, Sir David reveals how ancient animals once roamed the planet and filled the skies. If you’ve got Sky 3D you’ll definitely want to flick over, he’s only gone and roped in the team behind Gravity to help him out.
9. David Blaine: Real or Magic – Channel 4, New Year’s Day at 9pm
Anything with David Blaine in it can be terribly hit or miss but we’re ever so slightly intrigued by his latest offering, not least because some pretty familiar faces will be popping up throughout the show. Yep, it seems Mr Blaine will be testing his talents out on the likes of Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, Kanye West and Katy Perry. We have absolutely no idea what to expect, but sure ain’t that what you want from magic, eh?
10. Sherlock – BBC One, New Year’s Day at 9pm
Well, we’ve been waiting almost 2 years to find out how on earth the super sleuth survived that Reichenbach Fall so we can imagine there’ll be a fair few of you tuning in to see Sherlock make his much anticipated return on New Year’s Day. The Empty Hearse picks up 2 years after we left off, and it’s got as many questions to answer as the main man himself. Plus, there’s a brand new mystery to solve, with London under threat from a massive terrorist attack. Sure there’s no better time for a comeback – it’s elementary.