Sneak peak at TV crackers ; The Christmas telly schedules have been announced and there are plenty of specials, from Doctor Who to Downton, that should keep the kids quiet and stop the grandparents nodding off in their dinner. Simon Wilson chooses the top 10 highlights
Doctor Who (BBC1) Peter Capaldi makes his official debut as the Doctor, as Matt Smith leaves the Tardis for the final time. Yes, we know there was a close-up of Capaldi's forehead in The Day Of The Doctor but it's hardly the same as seeing The Thick Of It star in full flow as the Time Lord. It's a festive storyline featuring "the massed forces of the universe's deadliest species"... which doesn't sound too Christmassy.
Still Open All Hours (BBC1) A special one-off return to Awkright's shop with Granville (David Jason) running the show now that his curmudgeonly Uncle (Ronnie Barker) has shuffled off to that great convenience store in the sky. Awkright's love interest Nurse Gladys (Lynda Baron) still lives opposite and there's a new addition behind the counter in the shape of Granville's son (James Baxter).
Downton Abbey (ITV1) Details are sketchy as to what we can expect from this Christmas special but according to the producers "nobody dies". No doubt about it, Matthew Crawley's shock death really put a dampener on the festive season in last year's special and they're being careful not to upset the hardcore Downton fans this time.
Sherlock (BBC1) So, at the end of series two we saw Benedict Cumberbatch plunging off a rooftop and assumed that was it for the famous sleuth. Not so, as series three kicks off during the festive run-up and we get to find out just how he survived. There are three new episodes: The Empty Hearse, The Sign Of Three and His Last Vow. Hang on, His Last Vow? Oh not again...
Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special (BBC1) Those who can't wait to see the stars of the last series come to the Capital FM Arena on February 4 and 5, will no doubt be glued to this one-off featuring Radio 1 presenter Sara Cox, The Saturdays' Rochelle Humes, EastEnder Ricky Norwood and comedian Rufus Hound.
The Great British Bake Off/Sewing Bee (BBC2) A double bill with Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry giving viewers a Christmas baking masterclass, then Claudia Winkleman shepherding the Sewing Bee semi- finalists through some festive stitching.
Remember, you can see that silver fox of the kitchen, Paul Hollywood, on his tour at the Royal Concert Hall in May.
Call The Midwife (BBC1) Ahead of a new series next year comes another festive edition featuring the wedding of sister (and ex- nun) Sister Bernadette and Dr Turner, an unexploded bomb and, no doubt, a few births.
Gangsta Granny (BBC1) Another adaptation of a David Walliams children's book that follows the hugely successful Mr Stink last Christmas. Walliams leads a cast that also includes Miranda Hart, Rob Brydon and Joanna Lumley.
Educating Yorkshire Christmas Special (C4) So popular was the series which showed the daily life of teachers and pupils at Thornhill Community Academy, that it's getting its own festive edition, with all the popular 'characters' including headmaster Mr Mitchell and English teacher Mr Burton.
Lady Gaga & The Muppets (C5) The 21st century Madonna will be singing Christmas classics with Kermit the Frog and welcoming other celebrity guests such as Elton John for this special.
A service of YellowBrix, Inc.
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