Christmas Day’s TV tips

Check out our spolier-free guide to Christmas Day TV.

Christmas Day’s TV tips

VARIETY SHOW: Lady Gaga and the Muppets (RTE Two, 1.55pm)

The outrageous Lady Gaga joins the muppets in this avant garde twist on the classic holiday variety show.

This spectacular holiday variety show features Lady Gaga performing songs from her new album, ARTPOP.

Performance highlights include a duet between Lady Gaga and Kermit the Frog, a dazzling rendition of Gaga’s hit Applause with special Muppet guests, and performance duets with Sir Elton John, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and RuPaul.

The program will also feature a look at Disney movie Muppets Most Wanted, which features Lady Gaga herself in a spectacular cameo performance. In addition, Swedish Chef, Beaker and Animal will perform special Muppet renditions of the holiday classics “Deck the Halls” and “Jingle Bells.”

FILM: Puss in Boots (BBC1, 3.10pm)

(2011) The story begins with the young Puss (voiced by Antonio Banderas) being abandoned at an orphanage where kind Imelda (Constance Marie) raises the kitten as her own.

Initially picked on by the boys, Puss learns to fight to survive and he helps protect fellow outcast Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). Many years later, the surrogate brothers join forces with sexy pickpocket Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) to steal magic beans currently in the possession of murderous outlaws Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris), as they try to find the Golden Goose.

The animation is fantastic, and there’s no denying there are some great names lined up here to voice the famous characters.

While it won’t live up to the Shrek movies, it does have a certain charm of its own. Antonio Banderas once again shows why he’s so perfectly cast as Puss, and Salma Hayek and Zach Galifianakis are great additions to the cast.

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton

FILM: Puss In Boots (RTÉ One, 3.40pm)

(2011) Long before he even met Shrek, the notorious fighter, lover and outlaw Puss in Boots becomes a hero when he sets off on an adventure with the tough and street smart Kitty Softpaws and the mastermind Humpty Dumpty to save his town.

This is the true story of The Cat, The Myth, The Legend… The Boots. (HD)

Starring: Antonio Banderas (Voice), Salma Hayek (Voice). Director: Chris Miller

FILM: Madagascar 3 (RTÉ One, 5pm)

(2012) Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman are still fighting to get home to their beloved Big Apple.

Their journey takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a travelling circus, which they reinvent – Madagascar style. (HD)

Starring: Ben Stiller (Voice), Jada Pinkett Smith (Voice). Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon

ENTERTAINMENT: Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special (BBC1, 5pm)

Tinsel, tutus and terrific dancing – they’re all in store for viewers as some familiar faces take to the dance floor once last time.

While the recent crop of contestants on the regular show have bitten their nails down to the quick due to the stress and strain of taking part over weeks of gruelling competition, the emphasis is on fun in this festive edition.

Last year, those taking part were novices, but this time, the Beeb has opted to bring back a few favourites from previous series.

Lisa Riley will be paired with her old mate Robin Windsor, but the rest have new partners: Louis Smith is with Aliona Vilani, Chris Hollins comes face-to-face with Iveta Lukosiute, Russell Grant trips the light fantastic with Joanne Clifton, Rachel Stevens is partnered by new boy Tristan MacManus, and lucky Sophie Ellis-Bextor gets her hands on Aljaz Skorjanec.

But who will be putting the most sparkle into their routines?

MUSIC: Ed Sheeran Up Close (RTE Two, 6pm)

An exclusive with the hottest star of the moment Ed Sheeran, in conversation with Eoghan McDermott and featuring special music performances of his best loved hit songs from his recent RTÉ 2fm concert.

FILM: Arthur Christmas (Channel 4, 6pm)

(2011) Santa Claus’s Christmas Eve gift-giving routine has become a complex high-tech operation.

However, Santa’s youngest son Arthur, embarks on a Christmas mission of his own when one girl is accidentally missed out.

He decides to take control of the family sleigh and deliver her presents the old-fashioned way, but soon realises that following in his father’s footsteps isn’t going to be as easy as he first thought.

With colourful, fun characters, brilliant attention to detail and a plot line to soften even the most stone-hearted Grinch, there’s plenty to Christmas cheer about here. And while it’s perfect for keeping the kids quiet for a couple of hours, the adults will get plenty out of it too.

Starring: James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Hugh Laurie, Ashley Jensen

COMEDY: Miranda (BBC1, 7.15pm)

There are some ever-reliable rules of comedy that rarely fail to gain a laugh.

Large and small things side by side? Funny. People falling over? Funny. Large people falling over smaller people? Hilarious.

Miranda Hart adheres to all the tried and tested rules for her hit sitcom, but the whole thing is executed with such skill, it doesn’t matter that it’s all been done before.

In this festive rib-tickler, the first of a two-part special, the unlucky-in-love shop owner has received two proposals of marriage. Talk about waiting for a bus. The question is: will she opt for new boyfriend Mike, dreamy chef Gary or settle for a single life?

Patricia Hodge, Sarah Hadland, Sally Phillips, Tom Ellis and Bo Poraj also feature.

These are the final couple of episodes, so there’s bound to be a few tears amid the laughter as Ms Hart breaks the fourth wall with her gags to camera, and no doubt a few hearts and ornaments along the way.

DRAMA: Call the Midwife (BBC1, 7.50pm)

It’s 2005 when we catch up with the Call the Midwife ladies – but not for long.

Yes, regular viewers, there’s no need to worry; the programme hasn’t just skipped 40-odd years of its characters’ lives. Instead, an aged Jennifer Worth merely introduces the story as she reminisces about her youth at Nonnatus House while preparing to celebrate Christmas with her husband Philip.

She remembers back to 1960, as Chummy attempts to choreograph a dance involving little girls dressed as snowflakes for the Sunday School Christmas concert - it’s a task that proves to be far harder than she imagined.

Chummy is soon whisked away to help run a dilapidated mother and baby home, and Patsy helps her bring a little joy into the unfortunate residents’ lives.

Meanwhile, an encounter with two former mental patients forces Cynthia to make a life-changing decision.

FILM: Forrest Gump (TV3, 9pm)

(1994) Two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks stars alongside Sally Field and Robin Wright in this multi-Oscar winning blockbuster. The story follows the life of low I.Q. Forrest Gump and his meeting with the love of his life Jenny Curran.

The film chronicles his accidental experiences with some of the most important people and events in America from the late 1950s through the 1970s including a meeting with Elvis Presley, JFK, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, fighting in Vietnam, etc.

The problem is, he's too stupid to realize the significance of his actions. Forrest becomes representative of the baby boomer generation having walked through life blindly.

Starring: Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Robin Wright

DRAMA: Downton Abbey (UTV, 9pm)

After the shenanigans in the special short film shot for Text Santa, which included none other than George Clooney, it’s time to get back down to business for the Crawley family.

They’ve been invited to a shooting party at Lord and Lady Sinderby’s estate, but as usual it doesn’t turn out to be the welcome break anyone had hoped for.

Alun Armstrong guest stars as the Sinberbys’ butler Stowell, who seems to have an axe to grind about something, while a scandalous secret could turn someone’s world upside down. Meanwhile, back at Downton, Baxter and Molesley launch a joint plan, just as Carson and Mrs Hughes consider a business venture.

As usual, Bates and Anna are miserable as her future remains unstable, and there’s a chance to finally meet the much-talked-about Princess Irina, wife of the Dowager Countess’s suitor, Prince Kuragin.

Jane Lapotaire guest stars as the newcomer.

COMEDY: Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas Special (RTE One, 10pm)

Christmas is just around the corner and Agnes already has her tinsel in a twist. Rory’s getting plastic surgery, Cathy’s hiding something from her and the family are insisting upon a cost-cutting Secret Santa!

To make matters worse, Winnie drops a Christmas bombshell. Maybe Agnes’ unusual new Christmas Tree will bring her some festive cheer?

FILM: Argo (RTÉ One, 10.40pm)

(2012) Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980.

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston. Director: Ben Affleck

FILM: Anna Karenina (RTÉ2, 10.40pm)

(2012) In late-19th-century Russian high society, St. Petersburg aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the dashing Count Alexei Vronsky. (HD)

Starring: Kiera Knightly, Jude Law. Director: Joe Wright

FILM: Muriel’s Wedding (Channel 5, 11.05pm)

(1994) Muriel lives in the not-so salubrious Australian town of Porpoise Spit and, while listening to Abba songs, hankers after finding Mr Right, so she can walk down the aisle in the wedding dress of her dreams.

Instead of sitting around and waiting for it to happen, our heroine does something about it by stealing money and vanishing first on holiday and then to the big city. After moving in with a friend who also loves the Swedish super group, she inches ever closer to her heart’s desire.

Is It Any Good? It’s fantastic, largely thanks to a charming breakthrough performance from Toni Collette as the ’terrible’ Muriel. Add to that a great script from director PJ Hogan, and – as they say – the winner takes it all.

Starring: Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, Daniel Lapaine, Bill Hunter, Jeanie Drynan, Gennie Nevinson

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