Christmas and New Year TV guide 2019: what’s on this year

Festive telly touts twists on familiar tales

Gavin & Stacey
Gavin & Stacey returns for a one-off special on Christmas Day this year
(Image credit: BBC)

Sitting back with some festive telly is a crucial part of Christmas for many of us around the country.

This year’s offering includes new twists on classic tales - like A Christmas Carol and The Tiger who came to tea - as well as wholesome staples of the festive calendar like The Great British Bake Off.

Also, Gavin and Stacey will return for an hour-long special this year after a decade off our screens.

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Here is The Week’s round-up of where, when and how to catch the best TV shows over Christmas:

A Christmas Carol

Put Charles Dickens and Peaky Blinders writer Steven Knight together and you get the BBC’s new Christmas Carol, touted as a “unique and original take” on the ghost story. The three-part series stars Hollywood’s Guy Pearce as Ebenezer Scrooge.

First two episodes on BBC iPlayer and final episode at 9pm on Christmas Eve, BBC One

The Tiger who came to Tea

Judith Kerr’s classic children’s story is being adapted for television this Christmas. The author, who died in May this year, first published The Tiger Who Came To Tea in 1968 and it remains hugely popular 50 years on. Selma’s David Oyelowo is the voice behind the insatiable big cat, while Tamsin Greig and Benedict Cumberbatch play the mum and dad.

7.30pm on Christmas Eve, Channel 4

The Snail and the Whale

The latest Julia Donaldson children’s book to be transformed into a television adventure is her heart-warming tale of The Snail and the Whale. Sally Hawkins voices the snail with the itchy foot who hitches a ride on the tail of a humpback whale (Rob Brydon) to travel around the world.

2.30pm on Christmas Day, BBC One

The Great British Bake Off - Christmas and New Year’s specials

There are two Bake Off specials to look forward to over the festive period this year. Prue Leith, Paul Hollywood, Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig will join past favourite contestants, as well as the cast of Derry Girls, putting their baking skills to the test.

7.10pm on Christmas Day and 7.40pm on New Year’s Day, Channel 4

Gavin & Stacey

Ten years on from the last episodes, James Corden and Ruth Jones are bringing back their acclaimed sitcom Gavin & Stacey, about the coming together of two families from Essex and Wales. Most of the original cast are set to appear in the one-hour episode.

8.30pm on Christmas Day, BBC One

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Worzel Gummidge

The BBC update of this classic family sitcom “looks set to be one of the highlights of the festive TV calendar”, says Radio Times. Mackenzie Crook, of The Office and Pirates of the Caribbean fame, plays the sentient scarecrow in the two hour-long episodes.

6.20pm on Boxing Day and 7pm on 27 December, BBC One

Doctor Who

The new ten-part series of Doctor Who will kick off on New Year’s Day, with Jodie Whittaker back as the Time Lord. Stephen Fry, Lenny Henry, Robert Glenister and Goran Visnjic have all been confirmed as guest stars in the 2020 series.

6.55pm on New Year’s Day, BBC One

Call the Midwife

The period drama returns to screens with another festive special, marking the ninth season of the hit show that has become a staple of the Christmas Day TV schedule.

This year’s festive instalment sees the team travel to Scotland, where they stay at the beautiful Amhuinnsuidhe Castle on the Isle of Harris. Expect tears, joy and, of course, babies.

7pm on Christmas Day, BBC One

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