Christmas 2012 TV highlights
As 2012 draws to a close and the festive excitement scales new peaks, it's time to seek refuge in front of the box. To help you navigate the array of TV specials, our very own Aitch has sifted through the schedules to bring you Mumsnet's Christmas 2012 TV highlights.
|Sat 22 Dec
Sun 23 Dec
Thurs 27 Dec
Fri 28 Dec
|Sat 29 Dec
Sun 30 Dec
Mon 31 Dec
New Year's Day
Wed 2 Jan
Thurs 3 Jan
Fri 4 Jan
The Toys That Made Christmas 5.45pm BBC2
Place your bets now, ladies and gentlemen, that our iPadded and Wii-ed children will profess to be thoroughly unconsoled by their consoles after seeing this charming wander down memory lane, and instead yearn for Meccano, Matchbox cars, and Subbuteo. And as for a chopper... well, who could possibly resist?
Strictly Come Dancing Final 6.30pm, 8.50pm BBC1
So it's Dani, Louis, Kim and Denise for the final, and this time it's the viewers in charge and the judges can't save Ms Van Outen. She has danced beautifully this year but will never be forgiven by the voting public for (a) attending the Sylvia Young Theatre School and (b) using Any Dream Will Do as her own personal dating service. So she's offski, for starters. After that, who knows? Probably Dani next but there's barely a baw hair (as they say in Scotland) between Louis and Kim. The one thing of which we can be certain is that, based on past performance, Tess will be wearing a shocker of a frock.
Arena: Screen Goddesses 9pm BBC4
Downton's Elizabeth McGovern narrates this breathy little documentary, which if anything serves to underline how distinctly un-luminous our modern actresses look these days. Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, not a pore or a pimple between them (lord, you could trowel that make-up on in them black-and-white days) and real X-Factor by the bucketload.
Mr Stink 6.30pm BBC1
HUGE larks, this, David Walliams pops up as the prime minister in his own story, now starring Hugh Bonneville as the eponymous and revolting hero. Kids will love all the fat bums and odiferous belches, adults will enjoy Sheridan Smith's turn as a politician in the Thatcher vein and, well, Johnny Vegas is typically gorgeous, even if his carolling leaves something to be desired.
Loving Miss Hatto 8.30pm BBC1
Massive pedigree here: script by Victoria Wood, great cast including Rory Kinnear, Alfred Molina and Francesca Annis, based on a true story about a husband determined to make his concert pianist wife happy, but... it's perhaps just a little too quietly brittle for Christmas-time.
Joanna Lumley: The Search for Noah's Ark 9pm ITV1
Sometimes I think there's a commissioning editor out there with a massive crush on Purdey.
Carols from King's 6.50pm BBC2
So, by now if you're not sitting down with some shortbread, a glass of something and the comforting feeling that you've Done Everything Already, you're screwed.
The Snowman and The Snowdog 8pm Channel 4
Presumably James, the original little boy, is a jaded middle-ager by now (totally a candidate for the Dadsnet Talk board), so there's another little chap going flying.
He finds the famous coat and hat in the cupboard of his new house and immediately races out to build a snowman. This time, however... he knocks himself up a floppy-eared snow-dog as well, and cartoony gorgeousness ensues.
Merlin 8.15pm BBC1
It's a relief to think that this drama ends tonight, it so comprehensively jumped the shark when it shot forward three years and landed us in a Camelot where Arthur keeps his kit on, Gwen has had a boob job and elocution lessons and Sir Freddie of Flintoff still isn't really a speaking role. Now that Mordred's blabbed about Emrys' identity, can the Greatest Goth Who Ever Lived possibly defeat Merlin? Summon the magic-eating slugs!
Doctor Who 5.15pm BBC1
Jenna-Louise Elfman's Oswin-Dalek banished all thought of Rory and Amy with such insulting ease that there were those (not on MN, oh no...) who couldn't wait for them to zaaaaap back in time and let her get on with being the new assistant.
Now it's 1842, it's Christmas and toothy creatures made of telepathic (and just a touch sociopathic) snow are stalking the planet, ready to take over. Enter Clara, a perky-nosed little button of a barmaid with the best eyebrows in the business, who, with the assistance of the heart-broken Doctor, intends to stop them.
Call The Midwife BBC1 7.30pm
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EATEN. Nice story and all that, usual birthy fare, a bit Christmassy, Chummy's ace as per but MAKE SURE YOU HAVE FINISHED EATING.
Downton Abbey 8.45pm ITV1
There's two hours of this one, so settle down with a scoop of plum duff and a sherry to enjoy the latest antics of the Grantham/Crawley household. The family are off to the Highlands of Scotland to indulge in a host of stereotypes, while the staff at home is fffffreakin' out about a county fair. Look, it's got to be better than the end of the last series. <shrugs>
The Girl 9pm BBC2
Can Sienna Miller actually act? Let's find out, gang, by watching this evocation of the story of Alfred Hitchcock's poisonous, career-damning obsession with Tippi Hedren. Oh, hang on... could Tippi Hedren actually act?
Doors Open 9pm ITV1
It's based on an Ian Rankin story, and it stars Dougie Henshall and Stephen Fry, so you'd think this art theft comedy-drama would be great, yes? Well, it is, but only if you promise to check your brain in at the door. Good fun, and a splendid performance from Kenneth Collard (recently brilliant in Cuckoo), but while everyone is very committed to what they're doing, no-one, least of all the viewer, is at all clear as to why they are doing it.
Miranda 9pm BBC1
Comedy hats, comedy falls, the coining of the words 'Mir-udder' and 'Maracc-ercise' and what's more, the very beginnings of a sniff of a love life for our much-loved heroine. SUCH fun!
Blue Peter Review of the Year CBBC 5.45pm
Helen Skelton, how do we love thee, let us count the ways, you crazy little woman. Sure, there will be stuff about the Jubilee, the Olympics and Paralympics, and the big trip to Poland and the Ukraine, but seriously, Val Singleton never had to trek on foot to the South Pole with a Norwegian for company in order to keep her job.
Restless 9pm BBC1
Oh heavens, this is lush. Hayley Atwell and Rufus Sewell, Charlotte Rampling and Michelle Dockery, in a parallel period spy story and mother-daughter tale from William Boyd. Set your hard drives, it's on tonight and tomorrow.
Panto! 9pm ITV1
John Bishop wrote and stars in this comedy-drama, based on his experiences as the comic turn in the great British institution that is pantomime. The always-reliable Sheridan Smith is principal boy, Chesney Hawkes is pretty much himself and Bishop is a local DJ who can't believe the backstage antics.
All New It'll Be Alright on the Night 9pm ITV1
Wikipedia informs us that Griff Rhys Jones took over the hosting of this show four years ago, but there are those of us who will be forever loyal to Denis Norden's clipboard. You'll have seen a lot of this online and on DVD extras already, but ITV have kept back some of the best clips of their own stable of stars (yes, Holly Willoughby this meanz you) and the Emmerdale mob making tremendous fools of themselves.
The Richest Songs in the World 9pm BBC4
If Mark Radcliffe is working on a documentary, we're watching it, and here he counts down the top 10 most successful songs of all time. Not the most-loved, not even necessarily the most-played on the radio, but the ones that coin it in year after year through cover versions, adverts and movie soundtracks.
The 50 Funniest Moments of 2012 9pm Channel 4
Boris stuck on a zip-wire, Boris stuck on a zip-wire, Boris stuck on a zip-wire!
Olympics 2012: through the lens 3pm BBC1
Most people, of course, saw the Olympics through the lens of a camera rather than from the many fantastic stadia, but who wouldn't welcome the chance to see some of that amazing footage again, especially accompanied by interviews with presenters Hazel Irvine, Steve Cram and the rest of the BBC gang as they dab their eyes and celebrate a great summer of achievement.
Superstars 2012 6.45pm BBC1
The show that made a hero out of Brian Jacks is back, but for one night only. Gabby Yorath will be fond of it, no doubt, her dad Terry used to appear on it in the 70s, and she'll certainly know all the athletes this time as Mo Farah, Nicola Adams, Kath Grainger, Lizzie Armitstead and a host of other brilliant Olympians compete to be crowned the superstar of them all.
Climbed Every Mountain 8.15pm BBC2
Somehow it seems like it was only a matter of time before Sue Perkins slipped on a nun's habit and went in search of The Sound of Music, and in this enjoyable little film she travels to Salzburg to find who the real Von Trapps were and who they went on to become.
Ripper Street 9pm BBC1
An odd drama this, but very promising, following Whitechapel Police's H Division as they deal with what they hope is the aftermath of Jack The Ripper's killings. Matthew Macfadyen stars, ably flanked by side-kicks Jerome 'you may now fancy me, ladies, I've ditched the blonde hair dye' Flynn and Adam Rothenberg.
Wild At Heart 8pm ITV1
ITV viewers loved it very much, but the African vet series has finally become so wobbly and infirm that channel heads have decided to put it out of its misery (some would say not before time) and administer the fatal tranquiliser dart of doom. There's still time for one more madcap finale, though, as Danny and DuPlessis track down the poachers who have stolen the family's three-legged cheetah.
Neil Armstrong: First Man on the Moon 9pm BBC2
A brilliant documentary about the astronaut, which reveals the hilarious fact that his principal concern about being the first man to set foot on the lunar landscape is that no-one really knew how deep the moon-dust was.
…Sings Disney Songs 8pm BBC4
You might be able to achieve a similar programme by typing '...sings Disney songs' into YouTube and playing what pops up, but don't bother, kind old Auntie Beeb has compiled them for us.
Numb: Simon Amstell Live at the BBC 9.30pm BBC4
More pleasing self-loathing from the man who brought us Grandma's House and any number of humiliated pop stars. Perhaps not the sort of thing one wants to watch on a happy Hogmanay, but absolutely worth taping for when you fancy a spot of top class comedy of cringe.
Jools' Annual Hootenanny 2012 11.10pm BBC2
Emeli Sande's on, of course. Can't have a music show, or indeed any large-scale entertainment format without Emeli... Apart from her, there's Petula Clark, Bobby Womack, Kevin Rowland, Roland Gift and Adam Ant.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, Y'ALL!
The Princess and the Frog 4pm BBC1
Disney's first black princess is a feisty, hard-working and beautiful creature... right up until the moment that she gets turned into a frog. Great adventure, brilliant music and a rather terrifying villain, so watch out for screaming young 'uns.
Frankie Howerd: The Lost Tapes 7.30pm Ch4
There's usually a reason that these 'lost tapes' get lost in the first place, we find. Generally speaking, a person's best work is protected, and doesn't get stuck down the back of the sofa or, as in this case, left behind in Wavering Down, Howerd's Somerset home. Still, this gives us some insight into a man who lived a very private public life.
Queen Victoria's Children 9pm BBC2
This stunning documentary series airs tonight, tomorrow and the next day and is absolutely a must-see for any parent wobbling about whether they're doing a good job, because, well, however rotten you are at raising children, you're still head and shoulders above old Queen Victoria.
She was needy, nasty, critical and hateful, issuing orders and turning her children into prisoners... stuff of daily royal life, apparently. Poor Kate, what has she let herself in for?
Pingu: A Winter Special 4pm CBeebies
Half an hour of Pingu. Mothers and fathers of young children, how many hot showers, how many sandwiches, how many relaxing cups of coffee could you have in that time? Set your hard drives.
Africa 9pm BBC1
David Attenborough presents this spectacular film with his usual keen eye and good nature. There are meerkats bobbing about, giraffe teens going toe-to-ginormous-toe and, rather grotesquely, giant crickets who love to chomp down on ickle baby chicks.
Secrets of a Good Marriage with Sharon Horgan 10pm Ch4
She's a funny stick, Sharon Horgan, in that, well, for a comedian she's not actually that funny at all. Apart from her frequent eye-rolls to camera, this is a fairly straight investigation of how happy couples manage to keep things ticking over, in which she meets tantric lovers and a woman who has succumbed entirely to the demands of her husband. (Do we need a Surrendered Wives forum?)
Celebrity Big Brother 9pm Ch5
Hmm, don't quite know how we feel about the news that Justin Lee Collins was asked to appear and, according to quotes in the papers, turned them down. Also, not sure that asking another Justin, this time the chap who made and leaked a sex tape with Tulisa, was at all cool. Still, if the tabloids are to be believed, her lawyers are all over it. Rylan to win (if he goes in)!
Waterloo Road 8pm BBC1
They're back! It's a new term at Waterloo Road, and there's a new family on the block, the Barrys, and wait for it... they're from Liverpool. Why? With the greatest respect to Scousers, the West of Scotland is more than capable of producing its own criminal element. At least it means we get to hear Zoe Lucker's L'pool accent and ponder the reason she called her son Barry.
Mrs Brown 10pm BBC2
Turns out, Judi Dench lied to us. If you're also watching Queen Victoria's Children (and you should be) you'll know by now that she is the 'baddie' here, and not Bertie. And as for Archie Brown, brother of John, Gerard Butler has no business making him as sweet as he appears here - it turns out that he was in fact a rotten, miserable bully.
Wild Britain with Ray Mears 8pm ITV1
The Benny Hill lookalike and 'forest specialist' admits to being all at sea with the edges of island life but there's nothing wrong with sitting back and admiring the spectacular scenery of the Isle of Mull (AKA BALAMORY!!!).
Channel 4 Mash Up from 7.30pm Channel 4
This is one of those ideas that could turn out to be hilarious (either that or a monstrous self-satisfied bore), promising an evening of 'host swap', with Alan Carr presenting The Million Pound Drop, the 8 Out of 10 Cats gang try to beat the banker on Deal or No Deal and Davina McCall and Kevin McCloud try their hands at comedy. Do we feel a cringe coming on?
Room 101 8.30pm BBC1
Frank Skinner returns for another series of the surprisingly successful revamp of Room 101, with John Craven, Miranda Hart and Reggie Yates as guests. Worth watching for the moment when Miranda ticks Craven off for enjoying pineapple on a pizza with the fabulous, "I can't look at you, John."