BBC Christmas TV 2021: Best shows and series across Christmas and New Year - from The Girl Before to Superworm

Call the Midwife returns for series 11 with a festive premier, as MasterChef and The Weakest Link also return for one-off Christmas specials

Mary Berry, Call the Midwife and Shaun the Sheep will all hit our screens this Christmas on BBC One

From festive specials of The Weakest Link, Blankety Blank and Death in Paradise, to brand new series, the BBC has something to keep everyone entertained during the holiday season.

Across Christmas and New Year, the broadcaster will be airing comedy, cookery, drama and feel good children’s stories.

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Revealing the Christmas line up, Charlotte Moore, BBC’s Chief Content Officer, promised: “The BBC is the place to be entertained this Christmas and New Year.”

So, what on TV for the kids, big kids, quizzers and homemade chefs this winter? Here’s our top 12 picks from across the BBC.

For the kids

Shaun the Sheep: The flight before Christmas

BBC One

The Flight Before Christmas sees Shaun’s seasonal excitement turn to dismay when a farmhouse raid to get bigger stockings for the Flock inadvertently leads to Timmy going missing. Can Shaun get Timmy back before he becomes someone else’s present? Prepare for a ‘Santastic’ adventure as everyone learns the true value of Christmas!

Themes of friendship, loyalty, mischief and fun combine for a unique adventure that will appeal to all generations when families gather around the TV this Christmas.

Justin Fletcher returns as Shaun and Timmy, alongside Marcus Brigstocke as Farmer Ben, ‘agricultural brand’ and rival to The Farmer.

Superworm

BBC One

Julia Donaldson’s Superworm has been brought to life, narrated by Olivia Coleman (Picture: BBC)

This screen adaptation of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s CHild author Julia Donaldson’s children’s book is told through the narration of Oscar-winning actress Olivia Coleman.

Superworm (voiced by Emmy nominated Matt Smith) is a comic hero with a difference, the super-long, super-strong and big-hearted wiggler is helping all the other garden creatures - whether he’s saving baby toad from a major road, rescuing beetle from down a well, or even becoming a skipping rope to entertain some bored bees, with the help of his Butterfly best friend.

Superworm too often takes all the credit. When the wicked Wizard Lizard hears about Superworm’s special skills, he decides to kidnap Superworm to help him find treasure. Despite everything, with her friend in deep trouble, Butterfly comes to the rescue, convincing the other creatures to help her with a daring plan

Christmas drama

A Very British Scandal

BBC One

Claire Foy stars as the Duchess of Argyle (Picture: BBC)

In this three-part series, the story of the divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, one of the most notorious, deceitful and brutal legal cases of the 20th Century is told.

The stunningly elegant Duchess, Margaret,dominated the front pages as a divorce featuring accusations of forgery, theft, violence, drug-taking, secret recording, bribery and an explicit polaroid picture - all played out in the white-hot glare of the 1960s media.

A Very British Scandal explores the social and political climate of post-war Britain, looking at attitudes towards women, and asking whether institutional misogyny was widespread at the time.

Death in Paradise: Christmas special

BBC One

This feature-length special of Death in Paradise is a Christmas Carribean treat, as the series concludes the tenth anniversary celebrations.

In the 90 minute episode, viewers will see the return of Danny John-Jules as charismatic Officer Dwayne Myers, as the story unfolds from grey damp drizzly London all the way to the warm sparkling beauty of idyllic Saint Marie,

The Girl Before

BBC One

The Girl Before is a new series coming to BBC One this December (Picture: BBC)

The Girl Before tells the story of Jane (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who gets the chance to move into a beautiful, ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect (David Oyelowo).

There’s just one catch: occupants have to abide by his list of exacting rules. Jane starts to feel the house changing her in unexpected ways, but when she makes the shocking discovery about her predecessor Emma (Jessica Plummer), she’s forced to confront unnerving similarities.

Call the Midwife

BBC One

Call the Midwife returns with a festive premiere set in 1966 (Picture: BBC)

Season 11 debuts this December, with a Christmas special set in December 1966.

Christmas promises to be a memorable one at Nonnatus House as Lucille (Leonie Elliott) and Cyril (Zephryn Taitte) prepare for their upcoming winter wedding. The Nonnatus team are faced with their busiest Christmas Day ever as the Maternity Home is filled with expectant Mums to be, each with their own challenging case. Luckily Mother Mildred (Miriam Margolyes) is on hand to support the team.

Comedy

Live at the Apollo

BBC One

Live At the Apollo returns this Christmas for a special one-off festive episode, as the stand-up series returns for its 16th series.

As well as seven all new episodes, the special festive edition will welcome the fabulous Jason Manford as host, with Maisie Adam and Nabil Abdulrashid welcomed to the stage.

Would I Lie to You? At Christmas

BBC One

Rob Brydon is back in the host’s chair for a festive edition of the award-winning comedy panel show Would I Lie To You? And as ever, David Mitchell and Lee Mack are the lightning-quick team captains. Over the course of the show, a stellar cast of celebrity guests reveal amazing stories about themselves. But are they telling the truth, or are they making it all up? David Mitchell is joined by Jim Broadbent and Rose Matafeo while Lee Mack is joined by Angela Rippon and Ardal O’Hanlon.

Quizz-mas

The Weakest Link Christmas special

BBC One

Comedian Romesh Ranganathan returns as host of The Weakest Link, in this seasonal special of celebrity quizzing.

Eight celebrities will try to progress through each round, hoping to win £50,000 for their chosen charity.

This one off will be succeeded by an additional four episodes of The Weakest Link, across the week of Christmas.

Michael McIntyre’s Christmas Wheel

BBC One

Comedian Michael McIntyre hosts a festive episode of ‘The Wheel’. Three famous faces – Eastenders’ Danny Dyer, Radio and TV presenter Zoe Ball and comedian and author David Walliams - compete to complete The Wheel in an attempt to win money for their chosen charities this Christmas.

On The Wheel, trying to help the three celebrity contestants raise as much money as possible, are seven celebrity experts: choirmaster and broadcaster Gareth Malone, actress Martine McCutcheon, presenter Alex Scott, comedian Jason Manford, EastEnders actress Tameka Empson, comedian Julian Clary and presenter Gregg Wallace will take their turns to help answer questions on everything from Christmas movies to festive food.

Christmas cooking

Mary Berry’s Festive Feasts

The Queen of Puds is back with her very best of Christmas delights (Picture: BBC)

BBC Two

Dame Mary Berry is ready to teach three truly hapless cooks how to create a fantastic Christmas Feast to surprise someone special.

The kitchen novices are invited to Mary’s home to share their ambitions for the feast and tell her all about the deserving person they want to spoil.

After selecting some recipes that are sure to impress, they will be trained up by Mary herself. She’ll demonstrate tricky techniques while giving her pupils helpful critique and pointers along the way.  But once they wave goodbye to Mary and head home, it’s up to them to practice in their own kitchens... will they be able to replicate Mary’s​ mouth watering dishes?

MasterChef Champions Special

BBC One

John Torode and Gregg Wallace return to the MasterChef kitchens (Picture: BBC)

In a MasterChef first, five of the most memorable amateur champions return to the MasterChef kitchen in a cooking contest to rival any other. Each of them is back to show how far their food and careers have progressed, as they try to impress John Torode, Gregg Wallace and guest judge - singer and host of the award-winning food podcast, Table Manners, Jessie Ware.

Their two-course feasts must be MasterChef quality, and represent their journey since winning the competition.

The chef who produces the most creative, inventive and delicious menu will be crowned the MasterChef Champion of Champions 2021.