If you’re anything like me, Christmas is the one time of year when Netflix and YouTube go in a drawer, and are replaced with poor reception and fifteen-minute ad breaks. There is something so nice about communal conversation over the top of the radioactive hum of your televisual box. I have been through the Radio Times and curated a list of programs each day that are worth tuning in for. Enjoy:
If this night you find yourself with nothing to do, I can recommend Kung Fu Panda: a light-hearted, action-packed Jack Black film (7-15 on BBC 3, repeated on the 27th at 8-30pm if you miss it). At 11, BBC 4 is showing The Third Man, starring a young Orson Welles. This golden classic is slow to start, but hang in. I promise it’s worth it.
There is the usual fare of “Christmas” films, such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (BBC 1 at 1-45) and Bridget Jones’s Diary (ITV at 10-45pm) to enjoy. If you like a bit of social psychology in your evenings, I’d suggest you look at Christmas Shopping Fever: John Lewis and the Retail Race. This exasperatingly titled docu looks at John Lewis’s advertising campaign and how it lures in customers (BBC 2 at 9:30pm).
A veritable cavalcade of movies will be paraded across your TV all day. If you want to get in the Christmas spirit then you can turn over to Channel 4 for It’s a Wonderful Life at 2:15. This is one of those films that adorns every of my Christmases and will leave you full of joy. If you find yourself a little late for James Stewart, you could do worse than to flick to ITV 2 for The Polar Express at 3:25. If you find it a little too juvenile, it can still be a useful distraction for children or younger siblings while you take a breather to check Twitter with a cuppa. While they’re out of the way, you could tune in to The Film Program’s end of year special (4:30 on BBC Radio 4) and hear about all of the great films you missed this year. If you find yourself so wracked with excitement in the evening that you just can’t sleep, Dial M for Murder is on BBC2 at 11-30pm. A great way to just melt into sleep, I promise.
The big day has arrived! And after an exciting morning of opening presents or drinking alone, you might want some winter jams for preparing lunch to. You could listen to Christmas with Kylie on Radio 2 at midday. Or you could listen to anything else. Absolutely anything else. Maybe the Chart Show, starting at 10am on Radio 1. Or Lauren Laverne’s Chemical Christmas with special guests the Chemical Brothers, same time on Radio 6 Music. You are spoilt for choice.
At 2-15, Tony Robinson will be performing Lewis Carol’s nonsense poem The Hunting of the Snark on Radio 4. You never know, you might just enjoy it. Then in the evening there are the mandatory-yet-pleasant Christmas specials: the Doctor Who Christmas Special at 5:15 on BBC 1 and the Downtown Abbey Finale at 8:45 on ITV. Apart from that, I can only suggest getting more stuffed than the turkey.
Today there is a plethora of programming to help you wind down, starting with The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe (12-10 on Channel 5) a great biopic. If you’re one of those rare people to own a Sky box, Avengers: Age of Ultron is premiering at 2pm on the appropriately named Sky Premiere. On Sky Arts there is the great French director Francois Truffaut’s Jules et Jim at 2-30 which I would personally recommend to every person I meet. If you wish to find out what The Nation’s Favourite Disney Song is, turn over to ITV at 6pm. Then something classical: a new series called Dickensian kicks off at 7pm with the second instalment following at 8-30 (BBC 1). It is a dramatisation of Dickens’s novels with the characters and locations jolted around. Straight after, if you aren’t quite asleep, Russel Howard has co-written A Gert Lush Christmas (BBC 2 at 9pm) a one-off comedy drama.
Entertainment is spread so thin throughout these three days that I will deal with them together. The 27th is a quiet day, but with some promising radio. Long-time Archers actress Patricia Greene will be on Desert Island Discs at 11-15am on Radio 4. This isn’t the only Ambridge offering as there will be an Archers’ version of the Calendar Girls at 2-15. Dickensian continues in the evening, with part three at 7-30 and part four at 8-30 on BBC1. On the 28th The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures are on BBC 4 at 8pm, if you are having a hard time getting to sleep. In all seriousness, they usually cover something interesting and you should probably tune in. On the 29th, the evening’s entertainment is split between Interview with the Vampire on Watch or David Beckham: For Love of the Game on BBC 1, both at 9pm.
Things ramp up again toward the New Year, with an evening of great TV. If you have a deep-rooted need to know what kind of junk fills your neighbour’s house, fear not: What Britain Bought in 2015 (8pm on Channel 4) will fulfil your craving for great knowledge. From there, it’s between Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough on BBC 1 and Charlie Brooker’s 2015 Wipe on BBC 2 at 9. If you still have the stamina afterward, Vertigo will immediately follow both on BBC 4. There is never a bad day for Hitchcock.
New Year’s Eve
It won’t be films, but music that brings us all to the New Year countdown: Tony Blackburn’s New Year’s Eve Soul Party on Radio 2, Radio 1’s New Year’s Eve Party Mix, Nemone on Radio 6 Music. Though I know, as always, I will have Jools’ Annual Hootenanny on BBC 2 in the background. If you run out of energy when the witching hour arrives, why not set your glass of champers down and watch Big Fat Quiz of the Year? If you do, Channel 4 at ten past is the place to be.
No doubt, as you wake up with heavy gums and squeaky eyelids, you’ll want nothing more than to dive back under the covers. If you cannot get back to sleep, the New Year’s Day Vienna Concert is on Radio 3 at 10-15 and BBC 2 at 11-15. The woodwinds are sure to whisk you back to dreamland. If you’re up to it in the afternoon, there is a rotisserie of great films and TV shows: The Sound of Music (1-15, BBC 1) Wreck-It Ralph, (4-30, BBC 1) and the next instalment of Dickensian (8-30, BBC 1). My personal pick of the season would be Sherlock (BBC 1) at 9pm, where Cumberbatch and Freeman return to the characters’ Victorian roots for a one-off special. Pulp Fiction (10pm, Dave) rounds of the evening; always a favourite.
These are my recommendations: take them as you will, but at least put Markiplier away and conjugate with cousins and comrades for a couple of hours. When else will you get the chance?