The best TV specials and most memorable moments from the Christmas TV archives

The best TV specials and most memorable moments from the Christmas TV archives

Christmas TV is an essential component of a perfect festive day.

What is Christmas if not a time to, full of Christmas food (depending on how our supply chains get on), slump down on a sofa with loved and tolerated ones and watch the Queen’s speech then everything you do and do not usually watch from Eastenders to Doctor Who - but this time, festive themed - until you fall asleep?

Nothing, of course. But not all Christmas TV is created equal and some episodes have slapped while others have withered faster than drooping mistletoe.

Here are some of best specials and iconic moments from over the years that truly capture the spirit of Christmas.

The Catherine Tate Show Christmas Special

Catherine Tate dominated the sitcom genre during the early noughties so it is no surprise the 2007 special of the show gave people some festive joy, with guest stars like George Michael adding to viewer’s delight.

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Outnumbered Christmas specials

BBC/Hat Trick

Outnumbered - a vignette of middle class family life - produced five Christmas specials in the seven years that it was on our screens and in doing so it also captured the trials and tribulations of bringing up a bunch of unruly children while making sure festive plans go to... plan.

Their ‘disasters’ made families feel better about their own, and the character’s palpable love and warm for each other warmed even the most Scroogelike of viewer’s hearts.

Arthur's Perfect Christmas

Originally aired in 2000, Arthur’s Perfect Christmas is a lesson in expectation management. Arthur wants snow, an amazing tree, great food and presents, but things don’t go to plan.

Revelling in the good and still having a pretty lovely Christmas, the episode shows viewers that happiness isn’t about getting everything you want, but accepting what you have in the given moment.

A Christmas show worthy of Eckhart Tolle.

Charlie and Lola ‘How Many More Minutes Until Christmas’

Another children’s TV banger, the 2006 festive edition of Charlie and Lola is a reminder of the excited anticipation that children have in the run up to Christmas, in which every hour on Christmas Eve feels like a day, and every festive tradition, from putting up stockings to decorating the Christmas tree still feels fresh and exciting.

Completely heartwarming.

Peep Show ‘Seasonal Beatings’

And if Charlie and Lola captures Christmas for children, Peep Show captures the Christmas period that some adults experience. A sprinkling of family drama, cooking that doesn’t exactly go to plan, and some disappointing gifts.


Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

As well as being a stand out Christmas special, this was the very first episode the popular cartoon, airing in 1989.

The episode sees Bart annoy his parents by getting a tattoo and the family - for various reasons - falling on hard times and not having enough money to get decadent gifts and presents.

No matter, because Bart and Homer rescue greyhound Santa’s Little Helper, and the family are united in their joy at their new pet, and sing Christmas carols together as the credits roll.

We’re not crying, you’re crying.

Doctor Who ‘The Christmas Invasion’


Nostalgic millennials will remember this 2005 special for being the first time viewers were treated to David Tennant’s interpretation of the character and for being the first Doctor Who Christmas special in general.

In the years that followed, getting a dose of Dalek action became a key Christmas tradition - as important as pigs in blankets, maybe.

Good stuff.

EastEnders ‘Max’s Last Stand’

We all remember where we were when Max and Stacey’s affair was revealed in 2007 (on our sofas stuffed with stuffing, of course), through the meta medium of the Branning family watching Stacey and Bradley’s wedding tape. Chaotic, iconic, dramatic - it was everything Christmas TV should be and more.

Father Ted ‘A Christmassy Ted’

With witty moments like Ted and Dougal accidentally wandering into the largest lingerie section in Ireland, and Jack teaching children swear words, Father Ted’s 1996 Christmas Special is one of the classics, and worth it’s frequent rebroadcasts throughout the years.

So there you have it. Christmas! T! V! And the best Christmas TV show is, of course, Mrs Browns Boys. Not.

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