As we celebrate the completion of another trip around the sun, and prepare to start the next one, the festive television season is shifting into high gear.
Grab your remote – we’ve got more than enough TV treats to enjoy as you relax on the sofa after all the preparation and socialising. Pop that gourmet corn, rip open a box of chocolate and enjoy a wide range of entertainment, including heartfelt dramas, big-name musical treats, mouthwatering cookery programmes, fashion shows, yuletide romances and animated tear-jerkers.
From Mickey Mouse and Seth Rogen to Bill Murray and Shah Rukh Khan, there is something for all ages and tastes. Here is our pick of the shows – times and dates indicate the first screening but most programmes will be broadcast multiple times, so check listings for full details.
Hark, the herald angels sync
Rap is not a musical genre known for laughs, but it meets comedy head-on in the Lip Sync Battle Holiday Special (7.55pm, Wednesday, December 21, Comedy Central), hosted by L L Cool J, with a helping hand from social-media whizz and supermodel Chrissy Teigen.
Even better, A-list celebrities Seth Rogen (Sausage Party), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Snowden) and Anthony Mackie (All the Way) will be synching their hearts out in a series of epic over-the-top performances.
Revered rap pioneers Run DMC will also help get the bells jingling with a slamming Christmas tune.
The British are coming
Settle down with this trio of renowned shows from the United Kingdom.
After a year without a new season, Peter Capaldi is back as everyone’s favourite Time Lord in Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio (10.25pm, December 25, BBC First). For this year’s Christmas special, the Doctor teams up with an investigative journalist and a superhero to save New York from (another) deadly alien threat. The long-running sci-fi drama (53 years and counting) returns for a new season in April.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, meanwhile, are back at their sleuthing best in the fourth season of Sherlock (January 1, time to be confirmed, on BBC First). Plot details are being kept under wraps but the first episode is titled The Six Thatchers.
A little less high-profile, but just as entertaining, do not miss The Detectorists: Christmas Special (5.30pm, Thursday, December 22, BBC First). This Bafta-winning comedy about blokes with a passion for metal detecting never disappoints. With the treasure he found in the previous season now in a museum and a reward on its way, could Lance – played by Toby Jones (The Hunger Games, Wayward Pines) really be suffering from the “Curse of the Gold”? Also starring Mackenzie Crook (The Office, Pirates of the Caribbean).
• Don’t miss our exclusive reports from the sets of both Doctor Who and Sherlock, including interviews with the stars and showrunner Steven Moffat, in Arts&Life on Sunday, December 25 and Monday, January 1, respectively
If you’re craving a traditional festive feast and could use a few pointers in the kitchen, tune in to 12 Chefs of Christmas (9.30pm, December 21, Food Network). Chef Matt Tebbutt joins host Jeni Barnett to prepare his signature brined roast turkey, with all the trimmings and gravy. For those Boxing Day leftovers, Matt also tosses together a zesty Asian turkey salad.
Put the finishing touches to your Christmas meal with a show-stopping almond-and-chocolate meringue from Jodie Prenger’s Christmas Cracker (9.30am, Saturday, December 24, Food Network).
Let tales of homeless pets warm your heart, as Paul O’Grady: For the Love Of Dogs at Christmas shares 15 moving stories from do-gooders at the UK’s Battersea Cats and Dogs home, which feel even more poignant over the holidays.
This season Disney unveils Duck The Halls: A Very Mickey Christmas 10.05am, Sunday, December 25, Disney Channel), a new animation in which Mickey sets out to make Donald Duck’s first-ever Christmas (we could have sworn he was older …) the best ever but soon realises that the cold winter weather has placed Donald in grave danger and could ruin the holidays for everyone.
Festive family films
One Christmas Eve (11pm, Saturday, December 24, OSN Movies Family) tells the story of a newly single mum (Anne Heche) who wants this Christmas to be extra-special for her two kids. She gets her wish – but not in the way she had in mind.
In Northpole: Open For Christmas (8pm, Sunday, December 25, OSN Movies Premiere), successful businesswoman Mackenzie (Full House star Lori Loughlin) inherits her beloved aunt’s inn but decides to sell it right before Christmas. Can the elves help her rediscover the true meaning of Christmas?
Jean-Luc Picard meets Napoleon Dynamite
Patrick Stewart (X-Men, Star Trek: The Next Generation), Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) star in the seasonal comedy Christmas Eve (9pm, Thursday, December 24, OSN Movies). When a power cut traps six groups of people in lifts, their lives are changed forever as new friendships are formed and romances blossom – with the help of a little holiday magic.
An old-fashioned Christmas
Vicar Sidney Chambers (James Norton) is a vicar by day and a crime-solving cleric by night. In the first Grantchester Christmas Special (5.55pm, Sunday, December 25, ITV Choice), the former Scots Guards officer is on a mission that is more than religious. Christmas is his busiest time of year, as you might imagine, and that is before his heavily pregnant former flame Amanda (Morven Christie), returns to the area after leaving her husband. One can only hope she doesn’t go into labour in the vicarage.
’Tis the season to be Bolly
Happy New Year (Midnight, Tuesday, December 27, Z Cinema), or simply HNY as it is known to its legions of fans, ranks among the highest-grossing Bollywood films of all time. This 2014 laugh-fest, which was filmed in Dubai, boasts a cavalcade of stars led by Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Abhishek Bachchan, Sonu Sood and Boman Irani.
It follows a ragtag team of light-fingered losers who are forced to enter a dance contest to filch a priceless diamond. Surprisingly.
If you missed Very Murray Christmas when it debuted on Netflix last year, don’t make the same mistake twice. Enjoy a nostalgic, old-school wallow in the festive traditions with Bill Murray and a host of Hollywood cronies – including George Clooney, Chris Rock and Miley Cyrus – who crank up the Christmas cheer with a musical special that pays homage to the great seasonal variety shows of the past.
Other festive treats worth checking out on Netflix include: Will Ferrell’s timeless movie classic Elf, and the animated fun of Arthur Christmas.
If you have had your fill of Christmas spirit and need a break from festive-themed TV specials, check out Queen Sugar (5pm, Tuesday, December 20, OSN First HD), a new contemporary drama executive-produced by Oprah Winfrey.
Set in the fictitious town of Saint Josephine, Louisiana, it chronicles the lives and loves of the estranged Bordelon siblings: Nova, a worldly-wise journalist and activist; Charley, the savvy wife and manager of a professional basketball star; and Ralph Angel, a young father in search of redemption. After a family tragedy, the Bordelons are reunited to run a struggling sugar-cane farm they inherit in the Deep South.
Check online listings for more viewing times at www.osn.com/en-ae/watch/tv-schedule