All the new Christmas TV and films worth watching

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This week, Kayleigh Dray unveils the very best things to watch this festive season, while the Stylist team shares their essential streaming series of the year (just in case you have some time to kill between now and New Year's Day)…



... it really *is* the most wonderful time of the year

"Christmas always brings with it plenty of goodies," says Kayleigh, "particularly when it comes to new TV shows and films. And this year is a humdinger, with thrillers and dramas and biopics aplenty!

"To help you whittle down your watchlist, then, we've curated an extra-special guide for you to keep close at hand (along with the remote and a mince pie or two). Don't say we never treat you…"

DOCTOR WHO: THE CHURCH ON RUBY ROAD
Are you ready to see Sex Education's Ncuti Gatwa in action as the Doctor? Of course you are – especially as his tenure in the Tardis is overseen by Russell T Davies of It's A Sin fame. Go in expecting cannibalistic goblins (singing ones, no less), a heartwarming message about the importance of found family and a brilliant new companion in Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson). We! Can't! Wait! 5pm, Monday 25 December; BBC One and BBC iPlayer

GHOSTS
Button House is closing its doors forever, but it's gifting us one last treat before it does so with the festive special to end all festive specials. This one sees new parents Alison (Charlotte Ritchie) and Mike (Kiell Smith-Bynoe) losing their patience with an interfering mother-in-law, while the ghosts – particularly Robin (Laurence Rickard) – struggle to recapture that all-important Christmassy feeling. Keep a stash of tissues handy; it's going to be an emotional goodbye. 7.45pm, Monday 25 December; BBC One and BBC iPlayer

CALL THE MIDWIFE
It wouldn't be Christmas without Call The Midwife at this point in our lives. This time set in 1968, the festive special revolves around Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt), who becomes convinced this is her last Yuletide and that she won't live long enough to see man walk on the moon. Will her friends be able to set aside their own woes (because, yes, we have many ethical dilemmas and dramas to wade through) to lift the elderly nun's spirits? 8.15pm, Monday 25 December; BBC One and BBC iPlayer

MURDER IS EASY
Agatha Christie fans, rejoice; we have another deliciously twisty adaptation to sink our teeth into. After a chance meeting on a train with a certain Miss Pinkerton (Penelope Wilton), Luke Fitzwilliam (David Jonsson) becomes hellbent on hunting down a killer in a sleepy English village. Will he unmask them before they strike again? Morfydd Clark also stars. 9pm, Wednesday 27 December; BBC One and BBC iPlayer

THE TOURIST: SEASON 2
If you loved The Tourist, you're in luck; Jamie Dornan's amnesiac character is back – albeit this time in Ireland rather than Australia. That's right: both he and Helen (Danielle Macdonald) are on the Emerald Isle hoping to unravel the truth about Elliott's past. Their task proves a dangerous one, though, and they soon find themselves forced to confront old foes and new… 9pm, Monday 1 January; BBC One and BBC iPlayer

PRISCILLA
When 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu (Cailee Spaeny) is invited to a party at the home of 24-year-old Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi), she immediately captures the rock 'n' roll superstar's attention. We all know what happens next, of course, but in this faithful adaptation of Priscilla's autobiography, filmmaker Sofia Coppola takes us behind the headlines of the famous celebrity romance to offer a lesson on fantasies, power, loneliness and gilded cages. Monday 1 January; UK cinemas

THE TRAITORS: SEASON 2
Oh come all ye faithfuls, because the utterly addictive reality show – fronted by Claudia Winkleman and The Fringe™ – is back! Get ready to re-enter that sprawling Scottish castle and watch with bated breath as a group of traitors work together to eliminate the other contestants in order to win a grand prize. 9pm, Wednesday 3 January; BBC One and BBC iPlayer


... the best TV shows of 2023

There was a lot of competition this year, but here are the Stylist team's picks of the must-watch shows that brought them the most pleasure this year.

SMOTHERED
"I probably shouldn't admit this in a public forum, but I inhaled the entirety of Smothered in one evening; that's how much I loved it," says features writer Holly Bullock.

"It has the perfect balance of rom and com, the casting is excellent (Danielle Vitalis and Jon Pointing make great leads and Self Esteem, aka Rebecca Lucy Taylor, as a cynical flatmate is inspired), the episodes are a pacey 20 minutes and the storyline feels like a genuinely fresh take: less 'will-they-won't-they' and more 'should-they-shouldn't-they'. My Christmas wish is that we get a second season ASAP." Watch on NOW

PLATONIC
"Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate the high-stakes, rapid-fire drama of shows like The Bear and Succession, but the one show I genuinely enjoyed every minute of this year was just about two grown-ups being silly," admits Meena Alexander, features director.

"Platonic manages to tread the familiar ground of friendship in a refreshing and unexpected way as it follows full-time mum Sylvia (played to Bridesmaids-esque perfection by Rose Byrne) and middle-aged hipster Will (Seth Rogen in his element). As they rekindle an old friendship, it brilliantly observes the tensions and joys of connecting with someone who is your opposite in many ways – to hilarious and heartwarming effect." Watch on Apple TV+

BEEF
"Beef brings together its two central characters with a chance encounter in a car park. However, this is far from a typical meet-cute as Danny (Steven Yeun) and Amy (Ali Wong) let their anger over a minor parking mishap consume them – honking, chasing each other through red lights, swerving onto pavements and fuelling a months-long vendetta against each other," reminisces Emma Nicklin, acting group production director.

"The performances are stellar and despite the high-octane moments (attempted robberies, fraud, gun fights…), the show is at its most gripping when we see each character's internal struggles and two people who clearly love/hate each other keeping it simmering beneath the surface." Watch on Netflix

HAPPY VALLEY
"The best thing I watched this year (maybe even this decade) has to be Sally Wainwright's drama set to the sometimes bleak backdrop of the Yorkshire Valley," says Rachel Bailey, acting art director.

"Catherine Cawood (played perfectly by Sarah Lancashire), a divorced no-nonsense police sergeant, goes in pursuit of the man she blames for her daughter's suicide. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and actually screamed at the TV during the finale this year. Gritty British drama at its best." Watch on iPlayer

SUCCESSION
"I can't decide whether Jesse Armstrong is a genius for finishing Succession while it was at the absolute top of its game or on my naughty list for taking the revolting Roy family and their media empire away from me forever," laments entertainment director Helen Bownass. "I think it can probably be both, right?

"Series four, which concluded earlier this year, managed to be ruthless, devastating and hilarious in equal measures – and how many other dramas have the gumption to kill off the protagonist at the centre of all the drama with seven episodes to go? RIP you little slime puppies." Watch on NOW

DROPS OF GOD
"For someone who likes to think they know a bit about wine yet falls to pieces when a well-meaning shopkeeper asks, 'So, what is it you're looking for?', Drops Of God was like catnip," raves sub-editor Steven Cowan.

"Based on a Japanese manga, the series seamlessly shifts in language between French, Japanese and English, and centres around a competition to determine who will inherit the $148 million cellar of famed wine critic Alexandre Léger following his death. Will it be his estranged daughter, Camille, or his star pupil, Issei? Tense, complex and nicely structured… just like a good chablis. (I'm so sorry.)" Watch on Apple TV+

THE LAST OF US
"On paper, The Last Of Us sounds almost oppressively bleak," says Kayleigh Dray, freelance entertainment writer. "Set in a not-so-distant future, it follows hardened smuggler Joel (Pedro Pascal) as he escorts teenager Ellie (Bella Ramsey) on a terrifying journey across a ruined USA filled to bursting with cannibalistic humans.

"So far, so *whisper it* classic zombie fare. This devastatingly brilliant hopepunk series, however, was so much more than classic zombie fare. It dealt deftly with LGBTQ+ themes, shone a light on the realities of grief and taught us an uncomfortable home truth about love. It presented us with ethical dilemmas and philosophical issues aplenty. It reminded us of the very best – and worst – of humanity. And it has inspired a Pavlovian-style response in me to cry uncontrollably every single time I hear Linda Ronstadt's Long Long Time. Excellent stuff." Watch on NOW


The 10 absolute best Christmas films of all time ever, ranked
ITV has a new mystery thriller coming next month – and it sounds truly gripping
"I watched Home Alone for the first time ever – and I finally get why you're all obsessed with it"
Netflix and Lena Dunham are working together on a new London-based romcom series
Sheridan Smith is a woman fighting for survival in this gripping new thriller series
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Image credits: BBC; A24; Netflix; Sky Comedy; BBC; HBO
© The Stylist Group Ltd

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