Christmas TV specials 2021: from Doctor Who to Strictly Come Dancing - what to watch on BBC, ITV, Sky and C4

The Christmas TV schedule has already started filling up, with shows like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, Death in Paradise and The Larkins all returning for a special festive episode

Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

With the end of November just around the corner, the TV Christmas special schedule has already started filling up, as the likes of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and more announce their festive line-ups.

This is what you need to know about the 2021 Christmas specials you can catch on TV.

The Larkins Christmas Special

(Photo: ITV)(Photo: ITV)
(Photo: ITV)

The Darling Buds of May reboot The Larkins took over TV screens in summer and quickly became a fan favourite.

Bradley Walsh, who stars as Pop Larkin, confirmed on an appearance on the One Show that a Larkins Christmas Special would be coming during the festive season.

He said: “We’re making the Christmas Larkins in Kent.

“We’ve got all the snow. Honestly, it’s amazing, absolutely tremendous.”

Bradley and Barney Walsh: Breaking Dad at Christmas

(Photo: ITV)(Photo: ITV)
(Photo: ITV)

The Larkins isn’t the only ITV Christmas special starring Bradley Walsh this year - starring as himself, Walsh and son Barney will get together for a festive episode of their show Bradley and Barney Walsh: Breaking Dad at Christmas.

The special will see the father and son duo take their RV to Iceland.

Barney said: “Our family loves Christmas, so, as a special present to dad this year, I’m giving him some challenges on a festive trip to Iceland. If he’s not keen on those he’s always got the RV. He loves driving that thing. It’s going to be great fun.”

Bradleadded: “Barney knows I hate the cold but I love Christmas.

“So I had to say yes to a festive road trip around Iceland. I just hope I can find somewhere to roast my chestnuts.”

Death in Paradise Christmas Special

(Photo: BBC)(Photo: BBC)
(Photo: BBC)

For the first time ever, Death in Paradise will enjoy the Christmas special treatment this year.

Danny John-Jules will return as Officer Dwayne Myers for the first time in four years as he heads to the Saint Marie police force to lend a hand to DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little) in the newest mystery that’s occurred on the Caribbean island.

The 90 minute feature length special was written by James Hall and directed by Ben Kellett.

Ghosts Christmas Special

(Photo: BBC)(Photo: BBC)
(Photo: BBC)

The critically acclaimed cult comedy Ghosts will also be back for a special Christmas episode in December.

With the countdown to Christmas officially on, Kitty becomes convinced that Santa has made an early visit to the Button House when Mike and Alison discover a man living in a tent on their grounds.

While the ghosts’ advice on how to handle the stranger leaves much to be desired, Mike and Alison learn that they actually have more to offer this Christmas than they had first realised.

The Christmas episode will also feature guest star Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous, The Stranger).

LIVE Joe Lycett: Mummy’s Big Christmas Do!

(Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)(Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)
(Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

Join comedian Joe Lycett for his big queer Christmas house party, live from his Birmingham hometown.

Described as a “90-minute festive spectacular” by Channel 4, the feature is set to be packed with special guests, musical performances, stand-up comedy and more.

Speaking about the special, Lycett said: “This show combines three of my favourite things - LGBTQ+ culture, Birmingham and chaotic live television.

“Queer creativity outside of London is the most exciting it has been in years and I can’t wait to introduce Channel 4 viewers to our colourful and anarchic world, with some silliness and a few laughs thrown in.”

Call the Midwife Christmas Special

(Photo: BBC)(Photo: BBC)
(Photo: BBC)

Season 11 of the beloved series Call the Midwife will kick off with a Christmas special set in December 1966.

The festive season promises to be a memorable one as Lucille (Leonie Elliott) and Cyril (Zephryn Taitte) prepare for their upcoming winter wedding.

The Nonnatus team are also facing their busiest Christmas Day ever as the Maternity Home is packed with soon-to-be mothers, each with their own challenging case - it’s a good thing that Mother Mildred (Miriam Margolyes) is on hand to help out the team.

A League of Their Own Christmas Party

(Photo: Sky)(Photo: Sky)
(Photo: Sky)

The League of Their Own gang will be getting together once again for some Christmas fun - this year, Romesh Ranganathan has organised the activities this year, and is treating Freddie Flintoff and Jamie Redknapp to a Center Parcs winter break.

In the episode, the guys will take on a variety of challenges and will also be joined by celebrity and sporting guests - and of course they will sing an all time festive classic.

The Jonathan Ross Show Christmas Special

(Photo: ITV)(Photo: ITV)
(Photo: ITV)

Straight off the back of series 18, the Jonathan Ross Show will return for a one-off Christmas special.

According to ITV, Ross will be “joined by an array of big-name guests as they look forward to this year’s festivities, give us the inside track on their latest projects and, of course, join in some hilarious holiday-inspired games”.

All the special guests will be confirmed nearer the time, as well as this year’s musical act.

Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs at Christmas

(Photo: ITV)(Photo: ITV)
(Photo: ITV)

Bringing Christmas spirit to Battersea, animal lover Paul O’Grady is helping out by finding more dogs their new forever home.

O’Grady said: “This Christmas special is a real cracker.

“There’s little Pudding who had me on the edge of my seat whilst he was in surgery and then there’s the Cockerpoo who needs some table manners in time for his Christmas feast - as usual I can’t resist a challenge and decide I’ll give it a go!

“All the staff are working hard at Battersea so I hope to bring them a bit of help and Christmas cheer!”

Never Mind the Buzzcocks Christmas Special

(Photo: Sky)(Photo: Sky)
(Photo: Sky)

Comedian Greg Davies takes the reins as the host of the special Christmas edition of the chaotic music quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

Davies will be joined by Noel Fielding, Daisy May Cooper, Jamali Maddix, Holly Johnson, Lauren Laverne and Asmin Chaudhrey.

Spitting Image Christmas Special

(Photo: ITV)(Photo: ITV)
(Photo: ITV)

Satirical puppet show Spitting Image will temporarily venture away from its home on streaming platform BritBox to broadcast to the masses on TV for its Christmas special.

Puppets that have been confirmed to appear in the Christmas episode include Boris Johnson, Adele, Harry and Meghan, and  Jürgen Klopp.

ITV says: “Advent events to go through Spitting Image’s legendary prism include: a shocking Christmas surprise for Prince Andrew; an ever-heroic Tom Cruise stepping up to save Christmas for Santa; who better to add a bit of flair to the Queen’s annual Christmas message than Phoebe Waller-Bridge; Kier Starmer finally springing into action for an oncoming Christmas lunch crisis with his (always law-abiding) vigilante alter-ego, Fox Man; while poor Rishi Sunak is visited by terrifying visions including of The Ghost of Tory Glory Past."

The Spitting Image Christmas special will premiere in advance to BritBox UK subscribers on Thursday 2 December.

Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas Special

(Photo: BBC)(Photo: BBC)
(Photo: BBC)

Christmas has made its way to Finglas one again, and Agnes has been recruited to the church choir - however she’s under strict instructions from Father McBridge that there be no singing and absolutely no dancing.

A Christmas tree shortage also means that Buster has to get creative in his efforts to impress Agnes. Buster has also organised this year’s festivities with Dermot at Foleys and are hosting a Murder Mystery night in aid of alcoholic greyhounds - what could go wrong?

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special

(Photo: PA/BBC)(Photo: PA/BBC)
(Photo: PA/BBC)

Six special stars will take to the Strictly dance floor in an effort to be crowned Christmas Champions 2021.

Hosted by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, the special will begin with a group routine featuring the celebrities and their professional partners. It will also feature special musical  performances from Jamie Cullum, Gary Barlow and Sheridan Smith.

Five of the six celebrities taking part have been revealed: newsreader Moira Stuart, popstar Anne-Marie, First Dates star Fred Sirieix and Repair Shop host Jay Blades and former Great British Bake Off presenter Mel Giedroyc.

Doctor Who Special

(Photo: BBC)(Photo: BBC)
(Photo: BBC)

More of a New Year’s Day special than a Christmas special, Doctor Who will kick start 2022 with an action-packed episode on New Year’s Day.

The special will feature guest stars including Aisling Bee, Adjani Salmon and Pauline McLynn, as well as the Thirteenth Doctor herself, Jodie Whittaker.

The festive special is the first of three Doctor Who specials airing in 2022, with the second special in Spring and Whittaker’s finale feature-length special in which the Thirteenth Doctor will regenerate in autumn.

A message from the editor: Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.

Related topics: