Christmas TV highlights for the next three days

Christmas TV highlights for the next three days

The sheer volume of offerings can be overwhelming at this time of year, so Des O'Driscoll picks some of the best shows to watch or record.

Christmas Eve

For Children

Angela's Christmas - RTÉ One, 7.20pm

A repeat of the charming adaptation of the Limerick-set children's story by Frank McCourt.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea - Channel 4, 7.30pm

Children's author Judith Kerr passed away in May at the age of 95, and a host of stars pay tribute to her by voicing the characters in this animated adaptation of her most famous book. Benedict Cumberbatch, David Walliams and Tamsin Greig are among those who feature.

For Grown-ups

The Big Christmas Rewind - RTÉ One, 6.20pm

Members of the cast of such shows as The Young Offenders, Derry Girls and Mrs Browns Boys are joined by family members as they look back at Irish telly at Christmas through the years.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - RTÉ2, 6.20pm

Christmas TV highlights for the next three days

This warmly-received instalment from 2015 follows on from the tale of the original Return of the Jedi. Irish viewers can look out for scenes shot on the Skelligs.

The Last Igloo - BBC Four, 7.30pm

At the rate the Arctic is melting, it will soon be impossible for most Inuit hunters to create their famous ice dwellings. This feature-length documentary follows an Inuit man as he travels to the hunting grounds by dog sled, fishes through the sea ice, and finally builds an igloo.

Carols From Kilkenny Castle - RTÉ One, 9.20pm

Christmas TV highlights for the next three days

If you're wrapping presents or preparing food, Mary Kennedy hosts a programme that may provide the perfect soundtrack. The RTÉ Concert Orchestra are joined by the likes of Hudson Taylor, Colm Wilkinson and Ronan Tynan.

Not Going Out: Driving Home For Christmas - BBC One, 10pm

Lee Mack is back for a new series next year, but for now his seasonal special has the usual chaos around a trip out for last-minute gifts.


For Grown-ups

Gavin & Stacey - BBC One, 8.30pm

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During its three-year run from 2008, the inter-cultural exchange between Wales and Essex provided some of the best comedy drama of its era. In this Christmas special, the Shipmans are off to the Vale of Glamorgan, and the titular couple are left trying to keep everyone happy while also looking after their son (now 12!).

Phil Coulter - TG4, 9.30pm

Documentary on the Derry musician who has had an incredible career in showbusiness.

Dolly Parton - Here I Am - BBC Two, 8.30pm

The country music star seems to be everywhere at the moment, and for this documentary the 73-year-old talks about her life and the stories behind some of her biggest hits.

Mrs Brown's Boys - RTÉ One, 10pm

Christmas TV highlights for the next three days

Brendan O'Carroll and his cohorts return for two seasonal specials, with herself being visited be a trainee angel in this first episode. This programme will probably top the ratings again for Christmas Day viewing.

For Children

The Snail And The Whale - BBC One, 2.30pm

We've previously seen Christmas adaptations of Julia Donaldson's Gruffalo books, and this latest animation turns to her story about a little mollusc who gets a spin on the tail of a humpback whale. Rob Brydon provides the voice for the whale.

Raiders Of The Lost Ark - RTÉ2, 6.10pm

Steven Spielberg's classic adventure film from 1981 has aged well, and provides a good viewing option for most ages.

Into the West - TG4, 6.55pm

This tale of two boys who run away on a white horse was a really big deal when it was released in 1992, and a sure sign of its quality is that it still makes for great family viewing all these years later. Gabriel Byrne and Ellen Barkin add star appeal, but it's the kids who shine here.

Paddington 2 - RTÉ One, 7pm

Excellent sequel that has Brendan Gleeson having great fun with his jailbird character.


For Grown-ups

Gaybo Laughs Back - RTÉ One, 7.30pm

It was a great idea to package some of the funniest moments from the Late Late Show during its heyday, and it's all given an extra poignancy this year following the death of Gay Byrne. This episode includes excerpts from interviews with Niall Toibin, Spike Milligan and Billy Connolly.

Bridget Jones's Baby - RTÉ One, 9pm

Decent rom-com from 2013 in which Renée Zellweger's 43-year-old character is pregnant. But who is the father?

Paddington: The Man Behind The Bear - BBC Two, 9pm

The film adaptations of Michael Bond's tales are popping up for several broadcasts over the holidays, and in this documentary star Hugh Bonneville looks at the life of the author and how his creation became so popular.

Big Fat Quiz of the Year - Channel 4, 9pm

Jimmy Carr asks the questions for a lighthearted quiz around events of the year, with Irish brainbox Dara O Briain probably doing very well.


The Premier Sports channel has the main Boxing Day soccer action from England, including:

Tottenham v Brighton (ko 12.30pm)

Bournemouth v Arsenal (ko 3pm)

Man Utd v Newcastle (ko 5.30pm)

Leicester v Liverpool (ko 8pm).

Other options include:

St Mirren v Celtic (BT Sport, ko 3pm)

Leeds Utd v Preston (Sky Sports, ko 5.15pm)

For Children

Oliver Twist - Virgin Two, 2pm

This 1948 musical still stands as the best ever Dickens adaptation. Alec Guinness leads an excellent cast, and you'll be humming the songs for the rest of the day.

Mimi And The Mountain Dragon - BBC One, 3.20pm

Another animated adaptation of a children's favourite, Michael Morpurgo's story features a little girl who finds a sleeping baby dragon in her shed.

Ratatouille - Channel 4, 5pm

Superb animated feature following Remy the foodie rat as he pursues his dream of working in a top Paris kitchen.

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