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Festive TV has some Christmas crackers: Julian Simmons shares his top picks

There's something for everybody on offer in this year's seasonal viewing line-up, and Julian Simmons has his favourites


Julian Simmons. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

Julian Simmons. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

Julian Simmons. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

Julian Simmons. Picture by Colm O'Reilly


Julian Simmons. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

Well here, this year has been desperate altogether, hasn't it? But the good news is, none of us are on the naughty list. Now, more than ever, we all need some festive cheer.

So sit back, pour yourselves a wee sherry and feast your eyes on our bumper 56-page Christmas TV guide. There are some right Christmas crackers in there, from comedy capers to seasonal soap storylines to keep us entertained over the holidays.

I, for one, can't wait to see what the soaps have in store for us all. Of course, there'll be plenty of explosive plot twists and exposed secrets. It wouldn't be Christmas without them.

On Coronation Street, the dust has barely settled after the dramatic event of its 60th anniversary but Christmas will bring more drama to the cobbles. Watch out for a romantic reunion for one of Corrie's most loved couples. It would bring a tear to a glass eye.

Locally don't miss the Give My Head Peace Christmas special on Sunday, December 27 on BBC One Northern Ireland. I made a wee cameo appearance in a Christmas Day special once, in a fantasy sequence with Ma. It was great craic and this year's will provide plenty of laughs too as the gang all gather in the Knee Breakers for the reading of Big Mervyn's will. But there'll be a poignant wee tribute to the late, great BJ Hogg too.

A real Christmas highlight last year was the new Worzel Gummidge so I'm thrilled to see it return. Mackenzie Crook is brilliant as the loveable scarecrow and this year's special also stars Harry Potter's Shirley Henderson as Saucy Nancy. Perfect family viewing.

Speaking of family fun, no show reminds me of childhood quite like Doctor Who. I still remember those early first episodes and the Daleks scaring the bejaysus out of me. And this year they're back! I love Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor and can't wait for this one. It'll be fab.

If it's a weepy you're wanting, look no further than the Christmas Day special of Call The Midwife. The period drama will air on BBC One on Christmas Day at 7.40pm. This year's special is set in December 1965 and sees everyone at Nonnatus House preparing for a traditional Christmas. But things don't quite go to plan. Of course they don't.


Julian Simmons. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

Julian Simmons. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

Julian Simmons. Picture by Colm O'Reilly

If you're suffering withdrawal symptoms from the latest season of the Great British Bake Off ending, fear not. Channel 4 has confirmed two festive episodes for all you Yuletide bakers out there. Prue Leith will present along with Tom Allen and Matt Lucas as four past bakers go head to head. The Great British Bake Off airs on Christmas Eve at 7.40pm on Channel 4.

Closer to home, BBC Northern Ireland pays homage to our First Lady of broadcasting, Gloria Hunniford in a one-off documentary charting her career. Gloria: My Life on TV goes out on Monday, December 28 at 10.30pm and is a fascinating insight into a local legend.

Finally, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a festive film and for me, it's The Holiday. Sure it's just gorgeous. The movie sees Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz cross the Atlantic, swop homes and find love. Tune into ITV on Boxing Day at 10.45pm for some festive feels.

Or throw some tinsel round your neck and sing along to City of Stars. It's a quare tune! Travel might've been off the cards this year but we can always watch La La Land on Christmas night and dream...

With the Covid vaccine now being rolled out and a much-needed light at the end of a dark tunnel, let me take this chance to wish all the readers a very merry Christmas and a hopeful, happy and healthy 2021.

Julian's top 10 festive shows and films

Coronation Street Christmas Special

Give My Head Peace Christmas Special

Worzel Gummidge

Doctor Who

Mrs Brown's Boys

La La Land

Call The Midwife

Great British Bake Off

Gloria: My Life on TV

The Holiday

Belfast Telegraph