Christmas Day TV: What to watch

In your quest for good Christmas television you’ll probably have to search beyond the predictable big-hitters. Here's our guide.

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The Independent Culture

“So, is there anything good to watch this Christmas?” asks the friend/colleague/relative at this year, usually in a tone that suggests that they don’t expect an affirmative answer. But the truth is that, yes, there is – except you’ll probably have to search for it beyond the predictable big-hitters.

Scroll down to see our Christmas TV picks

The attractions of Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing are well-known, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. Downton is calling in more star power this Christmas with a guest appearance from Paul Giamatti, while over in EastEnders Danny Dyer will make his first appearance as the new landlord of the Queen Vic. In a slightly more fantastical world, theDoctor Who Christmas special promises the arrival of brand new doctor Peter Capaldi as Matt Smith hands in his bow ties.

If you are searching for something a little bit more, there are plenty of hidden gems sprinkled among the fortnight’s mass-audience “treats” - the sorts of drama, comedy or documentary smart enough to stop us turning into an intellectual equivalent of Mr Creosote, the exploding gourmand in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life.

See below for our guide of what to watch on Christmas Day.