British TV over the holiday season is as ritualistic and predictable as Christmas Day itself.
Grandad will get drunk, the dog will vomit egg nog on the carpet, the kids will play their new video games until their thumbs bleed and everyone will slip into a three-course turkey, sprout and pudding coma.
When you all come round, you’ll want to gather together in front of the telly box to enjoy some spectacular Christmas telly. But what to watch? Well, there’s plenty of amazing TV on over the holiday period, so we’ve decided to highlight some of the best content that’s available across all the UK’s major TV platforms. You’re welcome.
Freeview, Freesat and YouView: Subscription free TV
The BBC will served up a holy trinity of EastEnders, Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing specials for Christmas Day on BBC One, which soap fans will not want to miss (somebody’s bound to die, after all). BBC Two will broadcast Charlie Brooker’s 2013 Wipe, which will recap the year in no-doubt hilarious fashion, and an adaptation of M.R. James’ ghost story The Tractate Middoth.
ITV invites Christmas viewers to another seasonal Downton Abbey special and Coronation Street, Midsomer Murders. On Channel 4, Snowman sequel The Snowman and The Snowdog will get a second airing and Christmas specials of 8 Out of 10 Cats, Alan Carr: Chatty Man and The IT Crowd will be shown.
Channel 5 generally keeps things light during the holiday season, which is great if you’re so sozzled off mulled wine that you can’t keep up with anything with a plot. Highlights, if you can call them that, will be round up shows like Most Shocking Celebrity Moments 2013. Expect a few family friendly movies, too — handy if you’ve bought the kids rubbish presents and need to distract them somehow.
Films on the public service channels include premieres of Toy Story 3, Gnomeo and Juliet and Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides on BBC One. ITV has bagged the rights to the premiere of the final two Harry Potter films for the first time on free to air TV. Channel 4 will be showing The Inbetweeners Movie, A Muppet Christmas Carol and Scrooged.
Sky TV: Sky Sports, Sky Movies and Sky Store
Sky TV will of course be showing all of the above and in HD, where available. Sky1 will also show the first episode of Moonfleet on December 27.
Premier League football games being broadcast on Sky Sports over the seasonal period include, Arsenal vs Chelsea on December 23, and Hull City vs Manchester United on Boxing Day. On New Year’s Day, Swansea City will face Manchester City on Sky Sports.
Sky Movies lets you access 11 themed movies channels as well as access hundreds of movies from Sky On Demand.
Sky Movies subscribers can enjoy newcomers including Arthur Christmas, Rise of the Guardians and The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol as well as classics including Miracle on 34th Street, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Elf.
On the Sky Store pay-per-view service, Alpha Papa, Man of Steel and The Hangover Part III are available to order now. Sci-fi thriller Elysium will be available to order from Boxing Day and drama What Maisie Knew will be available from New Year’s Eve.
Virgin TV and Movies On Demand
Virgin Media customers with access to Sky1 and Sky Movies will get all of the above shows and movies, plus over 20 channels in HD.
One of the best things about Virgin TV is its comprehensive catch-up library. This includes content from BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5. Archive content of classic Doctor Who episodes are also available to watch, setting you up nicely for the Christmas special on BBC One.
Virgin Movies on Demand is a Web-accessible pay-per-view on service that’s available to everyone, not just Virgin TV customers. This lets you rent titles like Pacific Rim, Man of Steel and The Smurfs 2 for £3.99 a throw.
BT Sport is the jewel in BT’s TV crown and over the holidays live Premier League matches will include West Ham vs Arsenal followed by Manchester City vs Liverpool on Boxing Day. On New Year’s Day Southampton play against Chelsea and Manchester United face Tottenham on BT Sport.
BT TV customers can also add Sky Sports 1 and 2, home to more Premier League action and all 11 Sky Movies channels.
Subscribing to Sky Movies in BT TV also gives you access to Sky Movies on Demand, meaning you’ll be able to enjoy titles like Wreck-It Ralph (coming on Christmas Eve), Iron Man 3 on Christmas Day and A Good Day to Die Hard on December 27.
TalkTalk has its own TalkTalk Box Office service which currenly has a weekend family promotion running. For £4.00/week you get four family favourites to watch every Saturday and Sunday. There’ll be a new bundle every weekend to keep everyone entertained and you can watch each movie as many times as you like over the weekend, which is great because you’re bound to want to watch some films again after falling asleep in the middle of them. As TalkTalk TV is a YouView-based TV service, you’ll get all of the free to air digital terrestrial channels, plus streamlined access to services like BBC iPlayer, 4oD and Dave on Demand. TalkTalk TV customers also have the option of getting Sky Movies, Sky Sports andand Sky on Demand.
TV Apps: BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD, Demand 5
If you don’t want to be tied down to programme schedules, or you want to escape the Christmas carnage then why not pop to the toilet with your tablet or phone and watch a selection of on-demand apps? BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5’s can all be easily accessed online, on the majority of phones, tablets, games consoles and connected TV devices.