Right then, I suppose it’s about time I do a quick run-down of some of the things I’m looking forward to this Christmas…
Next year will be the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’ birth and the BBC will be celebrating with a season of programmes, including documentaries fronted by Armando Iannucci and Sue Perkins, plus an adaptation of his unfinished last work, The Mystery Of Edwin Drood. At the centrepiece is this big-budget version of one of his most popular stories, starring Ray Winstone, Gillian Anderson and David Suchet.
Tuesday 27 December, 9.00pm, BBC One
Mary Norton’s tale of little people who live under the floorboards has been told many times on both the big and small screen, most recently in Studio Ghibli’s beautiful animation Arrietty. This version is a one-off film for the BBC, starring Christopher Eccleston, Aisling Loftus and former Misfit Robert Sheehan.
Boxing Day, 7:30pm, BBC One
The Royal Bodyguard
Sir David Jason takes his rightful place back in the BBC One Christmas comedy line-up. In this new series, he plays Captain Guy Hubble, mistakenly put in charge of royal security due to a terrible mix-up. Quite how good this comedy is remains to be seen, but it’s comforting to have him back on our screens at this time of year.
Boxing Day, 9:30pm, BBC One
The highlight of Sky’s Christmas schedule is this two-part adaptation of Robert Louis-Stevenson’s adventure, starring Eddie Izzard as Long John Silver alongside such big names as Elijah Wood, Philip Glenister, Rupert Penry-Jones, Keith Allen and Donald Sutherland.
New Year’s Day, 7pm, Sky 1 HD
Twenty years after it first appeared on our screens, Eddy, Patsy, Saffy, Bubble and Mother are back in three new episodes, including one where they get involved in the 2012 Olympics.
Christmas Day, 10pm, BBC One
Written by Drop the Dead Donkey and Outnumbered writer Guy Jenkin, this is the first comedy to take a look at the recent phone hacking scandals. Starring Claire Foy as a tabloid editor who demands her staff get the story by any means necessary, Hacks also features Kayvan Novak, Nigel Planer, Phil Davis, Alexander Armstrong, Gordon Kennedy, Russ Abbott and Celia Imrie.
New Year’s Day, 10pm, Channel Four
The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff
Another part of the Dickens season, a new four-part comedy adventure set in the Old Shop of Stuff, Victorian London’s most successful purveyor of miscellaneous odd things. Robert Webb plays shop owner Jedrington Secret-Past while Katherine Parkinson is his wife Conceptiva. Look out for appearances by David Mitchell, Pauline McLynn, Johnny Vegas, Una Stubbs and Stephen Fry.
Monday 19 December, 8.30pm, BBC Two
This is England ’88
After the success of This Is England ’86, Shane Meadows’ breathtaking follow-up to his earlier film, This Is England ’90 was commissioned and a Christmas special set in 1988 was also given the green light. As filming went on and the project kept going, it became clear that this would have to be a mini-series in its own right as well. After the devastating events shown in the previous series, this one will focus on Lol and Woody as they struggle to cope with the fallout.
Tuesday 13 December, 10pm, Channel Four
This year’s Christmas special is a set in Dorset during the Second World War, a time when city children were being sent to the countryside for their safety. With more than a few nods to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, this is set to be the highlight of Christmas Day viewing. Matt Smith is, of course, the Doctor and he’s joined by Claire Skinner, Bill Bailey, Arabella Weir and Alexander Armstrong.