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Doctor Who, Downton, Sherlock: Digital Spy's 12 TV Picks of Christmas

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God rest ye merry schedulers - your work is done for another year and now us lucky lot have a plethora of fantastic telly to enjoy over the Christmas and New Year period.

But if you're looking at your TV listings mags and finding it all a bit overwhelming, then don't panic... Digital Spy presents The 12 Picks of Christmas - a duodecuple of December (and early January) shows!

1. The Muppets and Lady Gaga at Christmas - Sunday, December 22 at 5.25pm on Channel 5

Lady Gaga and the Muppets.

© Channel 5


The festive telly season kicks off with Channel 5's flagship show for the holidays. Originally aired on ABC in the US in November, this 75-minute special sees Gaga perform songs from her latest album ARTPOP and also features Elton John, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kristen Bell, RuPaul and - of course - Kermit, Miss Piggy and co. Sounds utterly bonkers - so a perfect vehicle for Gaga then.

2. Call the Midwife - Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25) at 6.15pm on BBC One

'Call the Midwife' Christmas special.

© Neal Street Productions


Look at that picture. Just look at it. If you're looking for cosy Christmas telly, you really can't do much better than Call the Midwife, which kicks off BBC One's primetime December 25 schedule with its now-traditional festive special. There's polio vaccinations and wedding nerves, but also Christmas trees, mistletoe and chestnuts roasting over an open fire. Lovely.

3. Doctor Who - Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25) at 7.30pm on BBC One

Matt Smith as The Doctor in the Doctor Who Christmas Special

© BBC / Adrian Rogers


If Call the Midwife doesn't get you bawling, then this certainly will. Matt Smith bids a fond farewell to Doctor Who - and we, the fans, to him - in Steven Moffat's 'The Time of the Doctor', which promises Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, the Silence, Peter Capaldi and a regeneration crisis. Sure to leave you breathless - if that extra slice of turkey hasn't done so already.

4. Downton Abbey - Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25) at 8.30pm on ITV

Shirley Maclaine as Martha Levinson, Paul Giamatti as Harold Levinson & Jim Carter as Mr Carson in Downton Abbey Christmas Special

© ITV / Nick Briggs


No, it wasn't a dream - Paul Giamatti really is relocating from the Hollywood Hills to Downton Abbey in a blockbuster Christmas special which also features a return for Shirley MacLaine's sassy Martha and a trip to Buckingham Palace. So just the usual subtle affair from Julian Fellowes, then.

5. The Tractate Middoth - Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25) at 9.30pm on BBC Two

BBC Two's 'The Tractate Middoth' written by Mark Gatiis

© BBC


With the demise of BBC Four's drama output, it's fantastic to see BBC Two picking up the baton and allocating Mark Gatiss an annual slot for some spine-tingling horror. In the Sherlock co-creator's adaptation of an MR James short story, An Adventure in Space and Time actor Sacha Dhawan plays a student caught up in the strange goings-on at a spooky library. Sherlock's Una Stubbs and Doctor Who veteran Louise Jameson also star.

6. Gangsta Granny - Boxing Day (Thursday, December 26) at 6.05pm on BBC One

Gangsta Granny

© BBC


Boxing Day's first vintage outing is this one-off comedy, adapted by David Walliams from his book of the same name. The Big School funnyman stars alongside Miranda Hart, Rob Brydon, Joanna Lumley and, erm, Robbie Williams in this tale of a bored little boy who discovers a surprising new side to his grandmother.

7. Still Open All Hours - Boxing Day (Thursday, December 26) at 7.45pm on BBC One

Sir David Jason as Granville in Still Open All Hours

© BBC/Gary Moyes


David Jason stars in this revival of a classic BBC sitcom - let's hope that Still Open All Hours is more like the first time they brought back Only Fools and Horses and less like the second time they brought back Only Fools and Horses. Jason plays an older Granville, who's now inherited Uncle Arkwright's shop, which he runs with his cheeky charmer of a son Leroy (James Baxter).

A retrospective special, Open All Hours: a Celebration, also airs on BBC One on Friday, December 27 at 1.25pm.

8. Death Comes to Pemberley - Boxing Day (Thursday, December 26) at 8.15pm on BBC One

Matthew Goode as Wickham, Matthew Rhys as Darcy, Anna Maxwell-Martin as Elizabeth and Jenna Coleman as Lydia Wickham in Death Comes to Pemberley

© BBC / Origin Pictures


An all-star cast feature in this three-part adaptation of PD James's novel - a murder-mystery sequel to Jane Austen's literary classic Pride and Prejudice - which continues on December 27 and 28. The Americans star Matthew Rhys is Mr Darcy and Anna Maxwell Martin plays his now-wife Elizabeth, while Matthew Goode and Doctor Who's Jenna Coleman also appear.

9. Idris Elba: King of Speed - Boxing Day (Thursday, December 26) at 8.15pm on BBC Two

Idris Elba - King of Speed

© Shine TV Ltd


There's plenty of top-notch comedy and drama on over the Christmas period, but BBC Two's offering up some quality factual programming too. Idris Elba is our passionate host for this potted history of car racing, which sees the Luther star travel the world on a journey of discovery, stopping off along the way to race a few competition vehicles.

10. Moonfleet - Saturday, December 28 at 8pm on Sky1

Moonfleet on Sky

© Sky


The legendary Ray Winstone and rising star Aneurin Barnard team up for this new Sky1 adaptation of John Meade Falkner's classic novel - a tale of smuggling and adventure in the 19th century! Following in the footsteps of 2012's Treasure Island, the two-part Moonfleet - which concludes on December 29 - is fun for all the family.

11. Sherlock - New Year's Day (Wednesday, January 1) at 9pm on BBC One

Sherlock Series 3 still

© BBC


Anyone excited about this? Anyone? Oh, quite a few of you - yes, Sherlock returns after two years away and if the wait's been painful for us fans, it's been even worse for poor John Watson (Martin Freeman), who's mistakenly believed that his friend's been six feet under the entire time. He'll have a few harsh words for Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) no doubt, but the pair will have to put their differences aside to solve a baffling new mystery in this 90-minuter from Mark Gatiss.

12. Birds of a Feather - Thursday, January 2 at 8.30pm on ITV

The 'Birds of a Feather' cast reunite for a new series.

© ITV


What'll you do on January 2? Why, you'll watch Birds of a Feather of course - Tracey (Linda Robson), Sharon (Pauline Quirke) and the outrageous Dorien (Lesley Joseph) are all back for the first in a new series. Now relocated to ITV, the girls are a little older - as is Tracey's son Garthy, now played by McBusted's Matt Willis - but they're more mischievous than ever!

Are you excited for our Christmas picks? Or have we missed off your most-anticipated show? Let us know below!

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