Christmas Onions 2015

TVO has rounded up this year’s essential festive viewing, and summarised it on our homepage for the season. But here for posterity, and those of you bookmark and come straight here, is that round-up.

The following selection of new shows on your tellybox this Yuletide season all feature TVO regulars, and we’re sure you’ll want to set your DVRs for some of them!

Tuesday 22nd December

We’re Doomed!: The Dad’s Army Story

© Endemol Shine UK / Helen Sloan

© Endemol Shine UK / Helen Sloan

9:00pm, BBC Two

Harry Peacock is amongst the all star cast of this celebration of the story behind legendary 60s/70s sitcom Dad’s Army – alongside Paul Ritter and Richard Donmer as writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft. Also along for the ride are Sarah Alexander (Undercover), Comic Strip Presents star Keith Allen, John Sessions, Spaced‘s Mark Heap, Julian Sands, Star StoriesKevin Bishop, Shane Richie and Roy Hudd.

Harry plays tv producer Michael Mills, who was Head of Comedy at the BBC in the late 1960s, and suggested the title of Dad’s Army as well as bringing on board John Le Mesurier and Clive Dunn to the series. He later oversaw the creation of Um Pompeii and Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and was producer of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Em. There’s also another reason to watch the show: it’s directed by the incredible Steve Bendelack who was responsible for The League of Gentlemen and the pilot episode of The Mighty Boosh.


© BBC / Steffan Hill

© BBC / Steffan Hill

9:00pm, BBC One

It’s far from Christmassy, but chances are you’ll be watching Luther on Tuesday evening, as the fourth series of the smash hit detective show concludes. Once again, Michael Smiley returns as DCI John Luther, alongside the incredible Idris Elba as the titular detective.

In the grand finale, Luther is dogged by ghosts from his past, when a cold case might be the key to unlocking a mystery that’s tormenting him. Meanwhile, with the cannibalistic serial killer still at large, Benny’s hacking skills have revealed a list of hundreds of potential victims. Realising it’s all part of a macabre end game, the detective is forced to put himself and new colleague Emma into the heart of danger to try and stop the killer. Game of Thrones star Rose Leslie also appears.

If you haven’t downloaded it yet, Idris Elba makes a guest appearance on the Loose Tapestries Christmas single, which you can pick up for free over yonder.

 Wednesday 23rd December

Jekyll and Hyde

© Des Willie and Jon Hall / ITV

© Des Willie and Jon Hall / ITV

8:00pm, ITV1

Charlie Higson’s adaptation of the classic story has faced a rather haphazard run on ITV so far – with complaints over it’s graphic content and episodes being postponed in the wake of the terrible events in Paris on November 13th. However, there’s no denying the show has built up a loyal following and critical acclaim – which is just as well as the show is bouncing around the schedules over Christmas.

After the first six episodes had a regular Sunday night slot, Episode Seven aired on Saturday 19th instead, while Episode Eight is being shown on Wednesday 23rd, before the show returns to its Sunday slot on the 27th. So keep your eyes out for this one, or if you’re Tony Way‘s Silas Parnel, just the one eye will do…


© Jon Hall / Sky1

© Jon Hall / Sky1

9:00pm, Sky1

The supermarket sitcom closes out it’s fifth series with a Christmas special edition, as always starring Samuel Anderson (Doctor Who), Jason Watkins (W1A), Stephen Tompkinson (Ballykissangel), Sarah Parish (Cutting It) and Aisling Bea as checkout girl Charlie.

In this festive edition Gavin (Watkins) has turned Scrooge and is demanding his staff come in on Christmas Day, but visits from his past, present and future remind him of the true meaning of Christmas. Former colleague Julie Cook (the ever wonderful Jane Horrocks) returns to bring some festive cheer, while Gavin is shocked he sees footage of himself on the new CCTV system and then Frank Uture (One Foot in the Grave veteran Richard Wilson) shows up from logistics with some progressive ideas for his to ponder.

The Detectorists

© Channel X North/ Treasure Trove / Lola Entertainment

© Channel X North/ Treasure Trove / Lola Entertainment

10:00pm, BBC Four

There’s no sign of Simon Farnaby in this festive edition of The Detectorists sadly, as the show returns for a one-off, potentially final episode (though more adventures is entirely down to writer/director/star Mackenzie Crook’s wishes!) soon after the second run ended with Lance (Toby Jones) unearthing a major find and Andy’s (Crook) life about to change for ever.

However, there’s a brief but much welcome appearance from the fantastic Alex Kirk as a local journalist, and the remaining cast – including Gerard Horan and Pearce Quigley – are on their usual fine form. If this is the end, it’s a nice way to go…

Toast of London

© Channel 4

© Channel 4

10:00pm, Channel Four

Matt Berry returns as the larger than life Steven Toast, for the final episode of Series Three of the sitcom he writes with Arthur Matthews (Father Ted, Big Train).

As ever, Harry Peacock, Doon Mackichan, Tracy ObermanTim Downie, and Robert Bathurst return for the ride. We can’t wait to have them back for Series Four, but in the meantime, Series Three is available on dvd from Boxing Day. A box-set of the first three series will also be available. For lots more Toast of London coverage, CLICK HERE.

Queen: From Rags to Rhapsody

© Queen Productions

© Queen Productions

10:30pm, BBC Four

Okay, technically this one is a repeat, but if your Mad Friday celebrations meant you missed the debut of Rhys Thomas‘ latest documentary on his favourite band on the 18th December, here’s another chance to catch up.

Following their award winning Queen: Days of Our Lives and Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender documentaries, Rhys and his regular collaborator Simon Lupton, have combined archive interviews with Mercury, May, Taylor and Deacon with fresh May & Taylor chats and some very rare footage, including the recently rediscovered January 1975 performance of Now I’m Here on Top of the Pops, to tell the story of the band’s early years, and the legacy of Bohemian Rhapsody. Essential viewing for fans of the band, and with Eagle Rock co-producing, it’s hopefully coming to a blu-ray near you very soon.

Christmas Eve

Harry Hill in Professor Branestawm Returns

© Adam Lawrence / BBC Pictures

© Adam Lawrence / BBC Pictures

5:20pm, BBC One

Harry Hill returns to his role as madcap inventor Professor Branestawm in the family friendly adventure adapted by Charlie Higson from the popular children’s novels by Norman Hunter.

In this instalment, Branestawm believes his money troubles are over when Lady Pagwell (Dame Diana Rigg) dies, leaving a substantial sum to fund local inventing. However, scheming local councillor Harold Haggerstone (David Mitchell) insists on holding a competition to decide who gets the money – and that’s when a rival turns up – the self-proclaimed greatest inventor in the world: Professor Algebrain (Steve Pemberton). To make matters worse, Branestawm has been neglecting his young assistant Connie (Madeline Holliday) – and now she is working with his rival.

Also along for the ride are Simon Day as Colonel Dedshott, Matt Berry as the wonderfully named Professor Awfulshirt, plus Rosie Caveliero (Hunderby), Adrian Scarborough (Psychoville) and – in a small role as a radio announcer – Justin Edwards. Plus a delightful cameo from Higson as the town Mayor. A must see.

Walliams and Friend

© King Bert Productions / Ray Burmiston

© King Bert Productions / Ray Burmiston

10:05pm, BBC One

The wonderful David Walliams is always, to paraphrase The Moon, ‘in our peripheral vision’. From his early work on Mash and PeasAsylumMerry Go Round and Barking, we’ve admired his comic chops, and while many grew tired of its ubiquity, there’s no denying that Little Britain – the show he created with Matt Lucas – is television gold.

But whilst his regular work with “our lot” means we’ve somewhat adopted Matt Lucas into our fold, Walliams career has been charging a different path since Come Fly With Me was poorly received. These days, he’s better known for his work as a hugely successful children’s author, tv talent show judge and for swimming the English Channel for charity, than he is for his actual comedy work, so we’ve always kept David at arms length, even though we know, like Matt, he’s a big supporter of what we do at TVO.

Which makes his return to television comedy all the more special – as he’s brought with him Morgana RobinsonColin Hoult and the rarely seen Barunka O’Shaughnessy for the ride, alongside Mike Wozniak, James Greene and the titular ‘Friend’ – the adorable Joanna Lumley.

Directed by Matt Lipsey (This is Jinsey, Psychoville, Saxondale, Human Remains) whom Walliams previously collaborated with on Little BritainBig School and The Boy in the Dress, this is 40 minutes of rapid fire sketches that remind us just why Walliams (and Lumley) are so beloved, and it’s always a joy to see Morgana and Barunka being silly on our screens too. Don’t miss this one!

Not Going Out

© Avalon / Shamil Tanner

© Avalon / Shamil Tanner

10:45pm, BBC One

We almost didn’t see this one coming: as Not Going Out returns for a bonus episode one year after it apparently finished for good. The whole cast – including the delightful Katy Wix as dopey Daisy return – to catch up with the gang long after Lee (Lee Mack) finally married Lucy (Sally Bretton).

We join them with the latter three days overdue with the couple’s first baby, as they find themselves mistakenly caught up in a robbery at a local department store. Also trapped in the store are Lee’s dad Frank (Bobby Ball), neighbours Tony and Anna (Hugh Dennis and Abigail Cruttenden), and Daisy (Wix). As rapid-fire on the gags as ever, this won’t win over any new converts, but the show’s large and loyal following are in for a treat.

Christmas Day

Doctor Who

© BBC / Simon Ridgeway

© BBC / Simon Ridgeway

5:15pm, BBC One

TVO makes no secret of our love for Doctor Who. In an ‘Own every episode on ever made’ kind of way, too. So the continued association of TVO stars with the series (which we detailed as Series Nine launched back in September), is more than welcome – and continues here with Matt Lucas and Man Down’s Greg Davies joining Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston in the eleventh successive Christmas Day special.

This year, The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) bumps into his time-travelling, high-stakes adventuring wife River Song (Alex Kingston), who hasn’t met this face of his yet. Hoping to dodge Christmas, The Doctor gets embroiled into River’s latest misadventure, as she tries to extract a priceless diamond from her latest husband, the warrior King Hydroflax (Greg Davies).

Hydroflax – all detachable heads and ginormous robot body – is a furious man, and poor Nardole (Matt Lucas) is in the firing line. After a rather dark ninth series, it’s quite a joy to see the screwball comedy elements return to the series, and one hell of a cast put on a great show. We’re a little biased, but this is still essential viewing!

Boxing Day

The Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2015

© Brian Richie / Channel 4

© Brian Richie / Channel 4

9:00pm, Channel Four

It’s fast become a tradition for households across the land to grab notepads and biros, and try to play along with television’s longest, but most entertaining quiz show in all it’s various forms. Back for the annual review of the last twelve months, host Jimmy Carr is joined by Richard Ayoade, Rob Brydon, David Mitchell, Claudia Winkleman, Greg Davies and Jo Brand to look back across 2015, and see how little they all remember. And if you think that’s enough quiz, you ain’t see nothing yet.

© Brian Richie / Channel 4

© Brian Richie / Channel 4

As you can see above, Ayoade also returns alongside Noel Fielding for The Big Fat Quiz of Everything long after the festivities are over on Tuesday, January 5th 2016.

 Sunday 27th, Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th December

Fungus the Bogeyman

© Phil Fisk for Sky1

© Phil Fisk for Sky1

The post Christmas lull days are always a strange time in the schedules – with the Xmas special stragglers joined by brand new series vying for your attention. Sky 1’s lavish new production of Fungus the Bogeyman is a bit of both: as the legendary Timothy Spall takes on the role of the green monster from the underground world of Bogeydom.

The three part series sees Fungus and family dabbling in human culture, and a star studded cast including Victoria Wood, Keeley Hawes, Joanna Scanlan, John Thomson, Marc Warren and TVO favourite Paul Kaye on hand for the adventure.

© Colin Hutton / 2015 Sky UK Ltd

© Colin Hutton / 2015 Sky UK Ltd

Paul’s role in the third episode is the stuff of children’s nightmares – as the nicest man in showbiz plays another truly wicked villain: The Bogeyhunter!

And everything else…

BBC One are paying tribute to Peter Kay on Christmas Eve, with Matt Lucas and Reece Shearsmith amongst the talking heads on their 20 Years of Funny special devoted to the comedian.

And as is often the way, there’s lots of repeats to keep your eye on too.

For starters, anyone curious about Game of Thrones but who has never been able to start watching it before, can catch-up on all five series airing as double bills every single night from 19th December onwards from 9pm on Sky Atlantic. The show has – at various times – featured Gemma WhelanPaul Kaye and Tony Way amongst its huge ensemble cast, and is generally one of the most lavish and captivating productions ever made for television.

Then there’s repeats of old favourites such as the legendary Father Ted Christmas special, Alan Partridge’s Knowing Me Knowing Yule and countless other festive classics – across UKTV Gold throughout the festive period. There’s also another chance to catch an old Horrible Histories special on Christmas Day, if Doctor Who isn’t your thang, courtesy of CBBC. And speaking of Partridge, his film Alpha Papa gets another airing on 22nd December courtesy of BBC Two.

Finally, this one isn’t a repeat, but on Wednesday 30th December, it’s time for Charlie Brooker to bring us his 2015 Wipe, once again featuring Barry Shitpeas and the magnificent Philomena Cunk. The last series and 2014 special featured Morgana Robinson, though we’ve been unable to confirm if she is involved with 2015 Wipe as we went to ‘press’. Still, Brooker is always worth a watch, and the Wipe will prepare us for the mad year ahead.

We’ll be bringing you bits and bobs of major news as and when we get it in the next few weeks, and will be updating our Twitter feed too – but on the whole, this is TVO signing off for the year. Until next time, then… see you in 2016!

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