Venue’s festive TV highlights


After a less than satisfying Christmas special which saw Sherlock return to his Victorian roots (the big ‘twist’ being that it was a mind palace all along), the super sleuth returns to the silver screen on New Year’s Day. While the Christmas special kept annoyingly schtum on whether Moriarty survived, surely the big reveal in the new series will only be disappointing. If he is dead then it is just a pointless tease but if he survives then it is almost insulting the viewer’s intelligence, implying both Sherlock and Moriarty faked their deaths on the rooftop and we were none the wiser.

Moriarty aside, the trailer looks like it is ramping up the stakes: soldiers, assassins and helicopters. Series four looks like it is going for bigger but at its best Sherlock is about the relationship between the two leads and the fantastic deduction scenes, not Hollywood explosions. With the trailer boasting ‘everything they know will be tested’ it seems a little bizarre from the marketing team, making it feel more like an American blockbuster trailer than a smart British TV drama. But with the casting of Toby Jones as the other big bad, the same ensemble and consistently good Sherlock writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss there is every chance it’ll continue to deliver the same quality we’ve come to expect.

1st January, 9 pm, BBC1                       – Dan Struthers

 Outnumbered Christmas Special

It has been nearly three years since we last saw the comedy and chaos of life in the Brockman household, but finally on Boxing Day we will be reunited with exasperated parents Pete (Hugh Dennis) and Sue (Claire Skinner) as well as their unforgettable children Jake (Tyger Drew-Honey), Ben (Daniel Roche) and Karen (Ramona Marquez). Since the end of the last series, the children may have all grown up, but it sounds like the family has not changed much other than that. Although the BBC are keeping quiet about the plot of this 40 minute Christmas special, we know that the family have to work together on a special mission for their grandad, no doubt encountering some hilarious family drama along the way. When Outnumbered finished, it felt like the end of an era, so expect to feel a bit old and nostalgic as you sit down with your Christmas dinner leftovers. Hopefully, we can expect plenty of laughs (just beware not to choke on those mince pies!), the humorous wit and charm of the Brockman kids and a reminder of the importance of family and friendships this festive season. This is definitely one to watch with the whole family.

26th December, 10 pm, BBC1                                       – Jodie Bailey

The Great British Christmas Bake Off

Have your tissues at the ready folks, because it is with a heavy heart that the nation will come together to watch the final episode of The Great British Bake Off as we know and love it.

After suffering through the news that GBBO had been bought out by Channel 4 earlier in the year, and that national treasures Mel, Sue and Mary would not be making the transition along with the show (we do not need to talk about Paul) we have all been dreading the final episode on the BBC, and it is finally upon     us. But the good news is that they plan on going out with a bang. Not only is it going to be a two-part special, but rumour has it that they are going to bring back fan-favourites from the previous seasons.

There are guaranteed to be cringe-worthy, yet utterly delightful baking puns flying at us from all angles, and if there is anyone we can trust with giving us the goodbye we deserve for this show, it is the ever-consistent, ever-down-right-wonderful Mel and Sue. So do not despair just yet, and tune in to give the show that brought us joy, even through the toughest of times (looking at you, 2016) the send-off that it deserves.

25th December, 4:45 pm, BBC1                           – Rachel Innes

Doctor Who 

2016 has been a pretty terrible year, not made better by the fact there has been no Doctor Who, but all is not lost as we do have the Christmas special to look     forward to!

The Return of Doctor Mysterio, a superhero-esque episode based in New York as we return once more to the Twelfth Doctor. The episode features a superhero figure (Justin Chatwin) and a journalist (Charity Wakeford) who work with the Doctor to save New York from an alien invasion. Matt Lucas also returns with the familiar face of Nardole (The Husbands of River Song), whose character seems to fit the role of the temporary companion until Bill (Pearl Mackie) will appear in 2017. Who is the Doctor without a companion anyway?

Steven Moffat has said that he loves Clark Kent and Superman, so this could be some influence on the Christmas episode. Whatever happens, it is sure to be exciting. And finally, here is some Doctor Who trivia for you: ‘Doctor Misterio’ is also the name of Doctor Who in Latin America (a name which Peter Capaldi is very fond of – could he have had some input? And will this feature in the episode?). Roll on Christmas!

25th December, 5:45 pm, BBC1                                    – Hannnah Brown

Call the Midwife

Get ready for a change of scenery this Christmas as our favourite sixties midwives are off to South Africa.

This year’s Christmas special of Call the Midwife sees the majority of the characters travel to South Africa to help out at a mission hospital in East Cape in the hopes of preventing it from being shut down. It is bound to be a shock to the system for the midwives, nuns and audience alike as the characters find themselves a long way from the overcast East End of London we are all so used to. Patsy, Delia, Sister Monica Joan and Sister Mary Cynthia are left in charge of Nonnatus House, so with the combination of Sister MJ’s unparalleled love of cake, and Patsy and Delia’s bubbling secret romance, there’s sure to be shenanigans galore back in England.

So keep an ear out for the BBC to announce their Christmas schedule, and get ready to settle in with an appropriately festive drink (I am planning on a mulled wine, myself), only the finest selection of Christmas chocolates gifted to you by a somewhat estranged relative, and enjoy being sucked back into the world of Call the Midwife. Even better, we only have to wait another month for Series six!

25th December, 8pm, BBC1                                    – Rachel Innes

Comedy for Christmas

After a year like this (Brexit, Trump, changing Toblerones) we all need a good laugh, it is a good thing then that the Christmas season is synonymous with comedy!

Big names in comedy are stepping up to give us a good time. Not only do we have classic stand up with the return of Live at the Apollo; Michael McIntyre’s Christmas Show and Alan Carr’s Chatty Man Christmas Special will be sure to put us in the festive spirit!

Panel shows such as Would I Lie to You, QI, Mock the Week and 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown come back with christmas specials, not to forget the panel show of all panel shows to end 2016 on a high: The Big Fat Quiz of 2016! 

With all of that, nothing can stop you from being jolly! As Mrs Brown once said: “If you ever feel lonely or a bit down, turn on the television and flick to comedy. Have yourself a good laugh. From Dad’s Army to Faulty Towers, Only Fools and Horses. We’ll be there, you can depend on that.”

 – Denise Koblenz


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July 2021
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