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TNS Christmas TV Guide


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The lights are up, the carol services are begun and one by one the windows on advent calendars are being opened. Christmas is coming, which means holidays, family, food – and enough spare time to relax in front of an actual TV and not just your laptop and BBC iPlayer. Here’s what you should look out for on your telly box over the Christmas period.

First of all: drama

Don’t miss the series finales of Merlin (BBC One), Homeland (Channel 4) and Gossip Girl (ITV2).

The BBC's Merlin comes to the end of its fifth and final season with a two-parter episode. The first half will be shown on Saturday the 22nd and the last episode on Christmas Eve. Tune into BBC One at 8.15pm on both days to see if Merlin succeeds in saving Arthur once last time.  

Channel 4 will be airing the ‘tense conclusion’ of the second series of Homeland on the 23rd at 9pm, as Carrie faces a difficult choice.

Six series in, Gossip Girl will also be coming to an end on Wednesday the 19th. Discover Gossip Girl’s identity at last on ITV2 at 7pm and bid all the Upper East Siders a fond farewell (or not, as the case may be).

While those three shows end, several others return to our TVs for their Christmas specials. Doctor Who (BBC One, 5.15pm, Christmas Day) is of course one of those. Set this year in 1892, a young governess calls upon the Doctor for help, but he no longer wants to get involved in the universe’s problems. Meanwhile, the residents of Downton Abbey (ITV1, 8.45pm, Christmas day) are visiting Rose’s family at Duneagle Castle. Of course many other popular shows will be having Christmas specials and Christmas themed episodes, including Call the Midwife (BBC One, 7:30pm, Christmas Day).

For something different, check out The Girl (BB2, 9.30pm, Boxing Day). Starring Sienna Miller and Toby Jones, The Girl tells the story of the difficult relationship between Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren during the creation of Hitchcock's seminal work The Birds

Eight-part crime drama Ripper Street (BBC1, 9pm, 30th December), set in London's grim East End in the 1890s, tells the story of DI Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen), who is trying to calm fears in the light of Jack the Ripper's killings. 

Comedy, of course, is a big pull in the festive television calendar. We recommend Miranda (Boxing Day, BBC One at 9pm) and The Sarah Millican Television Programme Christmas Special (Christmas Eve, 9pm, ITV1). Graham Norton will also be inviting Tom Cruise and Hugh Jackman to his sofa (The Graham Norton Show, BBC 1, 10.35pm, New Year's Eve). 

And then of course we have a whole host of shows reviewing the year. Personally I think I’ll be watching The Last Leg of the Year on Channel 4. The trio who kept us up to date with the Paralympics – Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker – will be returning on the 30th at 11:35pm to take us through the year’s events. Alternatively, there’s 2012: A Funny Old Year (ITV1, New Year’s Eve,10pm) with Jason Manford, The 50 Funniest Moments of 2012 (Channel 4, 8pm, 28th) or A Right Royal 2012 (Channel 5, 8pm, Christmas Eve), a documentary looking at why 2012 has been a particularly special year for the House of Windsor. 

As always, there will be a range of films being shown across the channels. Festive treats you can look forward to include Titanic (1997) on Channel 5, Alice in Wonderland (2010) on BBC One, Wuthering Heights (2011) and Robin Hood (2010), both on Channel 4.

Meanwhile, if you’re after something a little different, Les Misèrables Movie Special (ITV1, 4.50pm, New Year’s Day), discusses the eagerly awaited film and will include exclusive interviews with cast members.

For those who want a slightly more traditional Christmas, the BBC will be showing the traditional Carols from Kings, sung by the Chapel Choir in the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge (Boxing Day, 6.15pm, BBC Two).

A merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you all!

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