Belfast Telegraph

What we'll be watching on TV this Christmas

Well-known NI faces tell Victoria Leonard about their festive television favourites

TV presenter Pamela Ballantine
TV presenter Pamela Ballantine
Vinny Hurrell
Jackie Fullerton

TV presenter Pamela Ballantine (60) will be enjoying a traditional family Christmas get-together at her sister's house - and admits she is a big fan of Christmas TV specials.

"I like watching the Christmas movie channel, taking your brain out and leaving it on the settee beside you," she said.

"For some reason I always associate The Great Escape with Christmas, I love it. And It's a Wonderful Life is a classic."

She added: "I am a big soap fan - it's Emmerdale for me. Then there are the Christmas specials like Doctor Who and Call the Midwife."

Radio Ulster host and BBC NI presenter Vinny Hurrell (36) admitted that his Christmas TV viewing started in November.

He plans to spend Christmas Day with his partner and their family, as well as eight dogs - including his own rescue hounds Teenie, Winnie and Charlie.

On Boxing Day, Vinny and his family will gather at his sister's house for another celebration.

"I have a big box of Christmas DVDs that I add to each year - I started in the middle of November with Gremlins, then progress to the likes of Elf and Die Hard," he said.

"I don't really watch the soaps, but I do like The Royle Family - I would re-watch their Christmas episodes.

"My two favourite Christmas movies are Santa Claus: The Movie, with Dudley Moore, and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - I keep those for Christmas Day.

"I also like the Father Ted Christmas Special, and Mrs Brown's Boys is my guilty pleasure."

TV personality Jackie Fullerton (75) says he only watches the classics over the festive period.

He will spend Christmas Day at his sister-in-law's house, and says he will also enjoy spending time with his children and grandchildren over the festive period.

"Even if The Great Escape was on for the 9,000th time I would still watch it," Jackie (above) said. "I would never miss a Morecambe and Wise special -they were true comedy legends.

"I would also watch a great episode of Only Fools and Horses, or a movie like High Society with Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.

"Or there's White Christmas - those are favourites of my generation which stick with me."

DUP leader Arlene Foster (48) said that watching old festive films takes her back to her childhood - and that she won't miss the Queen's speech.

"The old films are always the best and remind you of all your childhood Christmases," she said.

"I love Miracle on 34th Street. I do love watching a series on Netflix, and I am patiently waiting on the next series of The Crown.

"Of course, for me sitting around the TV at 3pm on Christmas Day is a tradition in our household."

Enniskillen-based country singer Nathan Carter (28) says he intends to catch up with some new Netflix documentaries on bands - and will also be watching his own Christmas special, recorded at Dublin's 3Arena.

The singer returned from his Celtic Country US tour on December 6, and the next day began his Irish Christmas concert tour in Londonderry.

He plans to take a few days off to travel to his home city of Liverpool to spend Christmas with his parents, sister Kiara and brother Jake.

"I think my favourite Christmas movie is Home Alone 2: Lost in New York," said the singer.

"On Christmas Day we will help out with the dinner and then watch whatever is on TV.

"My mum is a very good cook and loves doing the dinner, but we would help out as much as we can.

"Apart from watching my own Christmas special, which was recorded two years ago, I love Celebrity Juice."

Coronation Street star Charlie Lawson (59), who suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA) while onstage in Edinburgh in October but returned to the role within days, admitted to some surprising festive TV favourites. Fermanagh native Charlie, better known as Jim McDonald on the ITV soap, said: "I don't watch Corrie - it's not my thing.

"I will be catching a couple of movies - probably It's a Wonderful Life, and MasterChef stuff.

"Christmas tends to be visiting people - TV doesn't do anything for me."

Charlie (left) added: "On Christmas Day myself and Debbie will be going to a very nice restaurant with two very good friends. I was going to cook but then couldn't be bothered!

"I would like nothing better, on Christmas Day before going out, than to do some ironing with a bottle of wine and put Desperate Housewives on the telly."

Former UTV broadcaster Lynda Bryans (55), a journalism lecturer, said that for her "Christmas isn't Christmas without Elf", although her UUP MLA husband Mike Nesbitt might disagree.

"Elf would definitely be on my list, as is Love Actually - I would watch it very happily," she admitted. "One Christmas Eve when everyone else went to bed I sat up watching Love Actually - I gurn every time, but it's a lovely film," Lynda added.

"There will not be one soap on in our house, I can't bear them -life's complicated enough!

"Mike will watch something to do with rugby or other sport - he has all the Lions DVDs."

John Linehan (67), better known as sharp-tongued battleaxe May McFettridge, revealed that Christmas Day would be his only day off in December due to pantomime commitments. "I like the usual stuff - Jason Bourne or anything like that, Miracle on 34th Street with Kris Kringle," John (above) said.

North Coast chef Paula McIntyre (51) says the festive period "wouldn't be the same without watching The Wizard of Oz. I'm not a big TV watcher, although I do like Love Actually," she said."On Christmas Day our family have never watched TV because it's not social. We definitely prefer board games, conversation and cocktails."

Q Radio presenter Stephen Clements (45) admitted that, while he loves Christmas, he also has a soft spot for Scrooge. "There are certain Christmas movies that I love - we have The Grinch starring Jim Carrey on repeat at the minute," he added. "I love the story of Scrooge, any version of it, from Mickey Mouse to The Muppets. My favourite is Scrooged, with Bill Murray. And I like Trading Places with Eddie Murphy."

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