TV not to miss: Christmas Specials

Des O'Driscoll previews the best of Christmas TV

Saturday

Strictly Come Dancing

BBC One, 8.50pm

Three couples have made it into the final and perform their last sequences before a winner is voted on. A results show follows at 8.50pm.

The Bourne Ultimatum

RTÉ Two, 9.30pm

Paul Greengrass directs Matt Damon in the third instalment of the highly enjoyable franchise.

Sunday

It’s A Wonderful Life

TV3, 3.35pm

Frank Capra’s all-time classic pops up in various parts of the Christmas schedule, and if you haven’t seen it in while, the 1946 tale is well worth another look. Jimmy Stewart and co work every time.

The School Around The Corner From Cork

RTÉ One, 5.10pm

Ray D’arcy has a revival of the show on Christmas Day, but this original from 50 years ago features Paddy Crosbie chatting to school children on Leeside. Possibly filmed at Collins Barracks, RTÉ recently discovered tapes of the show that they believed had been destroyed.

Joanna Lumley: The Search for Noah’s

Ark

UTV, 9pm

The affable presenter says she has always been fascinated by the story of Noah and the great flood. In this documentary, she tries to decipher if there is any truth behind the tale, travelling through Turkey, Oman and India piecing together evidence from scientists, religious texts and popular lore.

Christmas Eve

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull

RTÉ Two, 6.25pm

Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchett star in this 2008 revival of Steven Spielberg’s film series.

Kitchen Hero Christmas Special

RTÉ One, 8.15pm

Donal Skehan is in Austria to check out that nation’s Christmas culture and also get inspiration for some seasonal treats. Apple strudel and a visit to a schnapps distillery are both on the menu. How bad.

Outnumbered Christmas Special

BBC One, 9.35pm

The Brockman kids are growing up fast, but it’s good to have them back for this one-off, with series five to follow next year. This episode has the family throwing a party for their neighbours, but all does not go to plan.

Christmas Day

Room On The Broom

BBC One, 4.35pm

If you want to distract the smallies for a while on the big day, this animated adaptation of the book by Julia ‘Gruffalo’ Donaldson may be just the thing. A kind witch with a grumpy cat allows too many animals onto her broom with disastrous consequences.

Up

RTÉ One, 5.10pm

This 2009 animation from the Pixar stable is part of a superb afternoon of children’s viewing from RTÉ. But don’t just leave this one to the little folk. Deservedly nominated for a best film Oscar, it really is a movie that can be enjoyed by young and old alike.

Call The Midwife — Christmas Special

BBC One, 7.30pm

This semi-factual drama was a huge success in its debut season, and given the subject matter, it isn’t a surprise that the show is being wheeled out as the BBC’s flagship drama over the holidays. The midwives and nuns are busier than ever, but their routine is interrupted when an abandoned newborn is discovered on the steps of the convent. It all makes for rather emotional fare.

School Around The Corner

RTÉ One, 8pm

Ray D’Arcy steps into the shoes of Paddy Crosbie and visits children in Waterford, Cork and Dublin to hear them talk about such subjects as their best friends, how Santa gets down the chimney, etc.

St Stephen’s Day

Sport

It’s Boxing Day, innit, so there’s a full programme of fixtures. Nottingham Forest v Leeds United (Sky Sports 1, ko 12.15pm) in the Championship should have several Irish players involved, as will Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur (Sky Sports 1, ko 5.30pm) and Stoke City v Liverpool (Sky Sports 1, ko 7.45pm).

Ponyo

Film4, 1.10pm

Excellent animated version of The Little Mermaid from Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese director who also gave us Spirited Away.

St Stephen’s Night With Vincent Browne

TV3, 11pm

Ho ho ho — the ghost of political disasters past is joined by the Rubberbandits and various other guests for a review of the year.

Thursday

Nighthawks Rehashed

RTÉ Two, 10.10pm

Documentary on the thrice weekly chatshow from the early 1990s. Not all of it worked, but Shay Healy, Ann-Marie Hourihane and co often provided a must-see show if you wanted to be in on the following day’s equivalent of the water cooler conversation. Watch out for the likes of Gina Moxley and Anne Enright in the sketches, and also the classic clips from Kevin McAleer in his heyday. In political terms at least, the show’s most significant moment came when former justice minister Seán Doherty, spilt the beans on Charlie Haughey’s complicity in a phone-tapping scandal.

Friday

Sup As An Tobar

RTÉ One, 8.30pm

Recently retired broadcaster Pat Butler chooses a selection of his favourite Irish language documentaries from the RTÉ archives over the past 50 years.

Mumford And Sons Live At Red Rocks

RTÉ Two, 11.40pm

U2 recorded a fine concert film at the famed Colorado amphitheatre, but now it’s the turn of the hugely popular London band.


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