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The Best Movies On Telly Over Christmas

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Dodge all the turkeys and locate the crackers with our guide to the best movies showing on the small screen over the festive period. Stock up on the popcorn now, or else it'll be leftover sprouts to munch on...




Christmas Eve – Wednesday, 24 December

Christmas should be a cynicism-free zone, so there's no better time to discover the cheesy charms of High School Musical (BBC1, 11.50am) alongside the family. More seasonal fare to put you in the festive mood can be found in the afternoon, although the choices are likely to cause a tussle for the remote control.

The original Miracle On 34th Street (More4, 1.50pm) is a must-see classic that captures the essence of Christmas; The Santa Clause (BBC1, 2.40pm) is a lightweight, inoffensive comedy with Tim Allen; while The Polar Express (ITV1, 3pm) is a visually luscious animated trip to the North Pole featuring the vocal talents of Tom Hanks.

Hanks and Allen combine for Toy Story 2 (BBC1, 6.05pm) - guaranteed to entertain viewers of all ages. Many young'uns will undoubtedly be dispatched to bed by the time gentle comedy Calendar Girls (BBC2, 8.30pm) begins, although geriatric nudity is an acquired taste. Action movie fans could do a lot worse than watch Arnie tackle a very ugly Predator (Sky Movies Sci-Fi, 9pm), and any nocturnal folks wishing to catch out Santa should use David Lynch's incredibly good Mulholland Drive (Sky Movies Indie, 12.05am) to keep them company.



Christmas Day – Thursday, 25 December

The morning will surely be spent pretending to be happy with your presents and trying to avoid family arguments, so why not chuck a bit of Chevy Chase into the mix too with National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (ITV1, 11.25am)? Fittingly for an afternoon spent devouring turkeys, a plethora of creature features dominates the schedules.

There are the terrestrial premieres of a new version of Lassie (Channel 4, 1.15pm), the animated Shark Tale (BBC1, 3.10pm) and Wallace & Gromit In The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit (BBC1, 4.30pm) - which serves as a nice precursor to a new adventure for the pair later in the day. The first screening of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass (Sky Movies Premiere, 4pm) is a fine option for those preferring a live-action blockbuster to devour.

Memoirs Of A Geisha (Five, 6.45pm) doesn't manage to be an entirely successful adaptation of the best-seller, but is a sumptuous visual feast for those who have any space left after Christmas dinner. However, the night's best viewing options are to be found in the Sky Movies Comedy double-bill of the hilariously crude Superbad (8pm) and legendary '80s flick Trading Places (10pm). The word 'McLovin' and Jamie Lee Curtis's breasts became global institutions after those two movies.



Boxing Day – Friday, 26 December

Ditch terrestrial channels in the morning to behold Senor Schwarzenegger in his comic guise in the enjoyable Kindergarten Cop (Sky Modern Greats, 10am). Another star vehicle packs a punch on Boxing Day, as Tom Hanks plays a kid in a 30-year-old's body in the superb Big (BBC1, 2.30pm).

Alternatively, have a chuckle at Dick Van Dyke's English accent on Mary Poppins (ITV1, 3.25pm) and then try to get the phrase "chim chim-in-ey chim chim-in-ey, chim chim cher-oo' out of your head. Good luck.

The children will no doubt lap up the premiere of The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (BBC1, 5.50pm) in the evening, while more seasoned viewers will be wise to immerse themselves in David Lean's exceptional, multi-Oscar winning PoW drama The Bridge On the River Kwai (More4, 6,.45pm). Many will be feeling immobile from too much food, but should spare a thought for wheelchair-bound Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock's voyeuristic masterpiece Rear Window (Alibi, 10pm). He certainly wouldn't have stood a chance against the sprinting zombies in the underrated gem 28 Weeks Later (Sky Movies Horror, 11.25pm).

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