Two Doors Down

December 23, BBC1, 9.35pm

What a year it has been for the good folk of Latimer Crescent. The little idea that started as a Hogmanay comedy made it all the way to network BBC1, the big time. Not everyone, alas, was around to see it. The death in August of co-creator Simon Carlyle at the age of 48 was always going to make the seventh series special. But the writing and performances have genuinely surpassed themselves, as you will see in this series finale. Alan and Michelle are just home from a holiday in Vegas. Presumably befuddled by jet-lag they make the mistake of calling round to Eric and Chritine’s to say a quick thanks for putting the bins out. Before you can say “Is it too early for wine?” Cathy and the rest of them are on Beth’s doorstep. Prepare for tears and minor tragedy before a rallying of the troops of the kind Two Doors does best.

Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas

Enjoy any time but ideally Christmas Eve, Apple TV+,

Where had Hannah Waddingham been all our lives before turning up in Ted Lasso? She appears here as the hostess with the mostest in a special Christmas concert. Filmed at the London Coliseum, it’s a return to her home in musical theatre (that’s where she has been all this time, or since 2000 anyway). Among the guests are some of her co-stars from the “American football coach in London” hit comedy, and the English National Opera choir no less. Waddingham looks like she has just stepped out of Hollywood’s golden age of musicals and sashayed her way into 2023. Between Lasso, and her stint as a host of the Eurovision Song Contest, she is indisputably of the moment and enjoying every minute of her fame.

The Herald: Hannah WaddinghamHannah Waddingham (Image: free)

Mog's Christmas

Christmas Eve, Channel 4, 7.45pm

Some of us are dog folk, others cat people (but not like in the movie, thankfully). But everyone, surely, is a Mog person. Judith Kerr’s beloved creation, based on her family’s real cat of long ago, is given a prime spot on Christmas Day to work her magic on a whole new generation. I was delighted to learn that the meows in this half-hour tale about coping with the merry chaos of Christmas were provided by Kerr’s daughter, Tacy Neale. “I’m meowing from memory,” she told the Radio Times. “But nobody can say I’m wrong.” If Mog is not enough feline festive fun there’s Julia Donaldson’s Tabby McTat on Christmas Day, BBC1, 2.35pm.

READ MORE: The Crown bows out with affectionate swipe at St Andrews

Doctor Who

Christmas Day, BBC1, 5.55pm

Given the number of trailers and avalanche of pre-publicity, you might feel you’ve heard more than enough already about the new Time Lord. But put that weariness aside because Ncuti Gatwa looks like a fitting successor in the mould of Tennant and Eccleston. Plus, Russell T Davies is back as showrunner. Sure to be one of the most reviewed programmes this Christmas, but what the makers will be looking out for is the reaction on social media from the young crowd. At least William Hartnell did not have to put up with that carry-on. Good luck Ncuti.

The Herald: Doctor WhoDoctor Who (Image: BBC)

Ghosts: a Christmas Gift

Christmas Day, BBC1, 7.45pm

It says much about the impression this sitcom has made in the four years it has been on that it has been given such a showcase slot on Christmas Day. Once upon a time Ghosts was known to only a few, then its fame spread and it became a family favourite. Most of the friendly ghosts who live in Button House, Alison and Mike’s comfy country pile, are looking forward to the festive season, but not all it seems. Whatever can be wrong? You might find yourself tempted to sob into the sherry given this is the last hurrah for the gang. Is it too much to hope for a change of mind?

Call the Midwife

Christmas Day, BBC1, 8.15pm

First aired in 2012 and now as in with the noughties bricks as the Morecambe and Wise Christmas specials were in the 1970s, it would not be the big day without Heidi Thomas’s drama. Curtain up this year is two weeks from Christmas 1968. Apollo 8 is scheduled to launch any day, Blue Peter are running an appeal for Biafra, and The Kinks have a new album out. I remember it like it was yesterday. At Nonnatus House they’ve been playing musical rooms, with Nancy and daughter Colette getting their own space, complete with their very own kettle, and a key. Elsewhere in Poplar there is a desperate need for new houses as the old ones become unsafe. One resident, whose basement flat is flooded and overrun with cockroaches, is determined to stick where he is, but why? Elsewhere, a school bully and her victim are reunited on the labour ward, and the nativity play is having a costume crisis. Just your average Christmas in Poplar, really.

The Herald: Call the MidwifeCall the Midwife (Image: BBC)

Arena: Caroline Aherne, Comedy Queen

Christmas Day, BBC2, 10.25pm

Multi-award winning arts strand Arena is spoiling us this Christmas. First, it is opening the vaults and releasing a stream of classic episodes on BBC iPlayer and BBC4. The haul includes films on Bette Davis, Amy Winehouse, Armistead Maupin, the Chelsea Hotel, James Baldwin, and Edward Hopper to name but a few. More exciting still are two brand new films fresh out of the box. Caroline Aherne: Comedy Queen, features unseen photographs and contributions from Steve Coogan, Jon Thompson, Craig Cash, and Sue Johnston. Prepare to laugh and blub in equal measure for the loss of the comedy genius who brought us Mrs Merton and The Royle Family. A Fast Show Christmas Special follows at 11.35pm and earlier there’s a chance to see again the first episode of the Mrs Merton Show. Mad About the Boy: The Noel Coward Story, showing on Boxing Day, BBC2, 9pm) celebrates the actor, playwright and songwriter. Alan Cumming narrates, with Rupert Everett as the voice of “The Master”. The Piano at Christmas Channel 4, Christmas Day, 8.45pm Take one piano, position it in a station, and let the magic commence as invited amateur pianists and members of the public show what they can do. Claudia Winkleman returns with a special episode of one of the television hits of the year. We are not at Central Station in Glasgow, alas, where the first series so memorably rocked up, but King’s Cross in London. Lucy Illingworth, winner of the first series, is back, as are judges Mika and Lang Lang, while Gregory Porter sings. There is a new series arriving at platform Channel 4 in 2024.

Ricky Gervais: Armageddon

From Christmas Day, Netflix

My, hasn’t Christmas comedy come a long way from the Morecambe and Wise festive specials. You will have your own views on whether that’s progress or not. Enough to say that Ricky Gervais: Armageddon is one of your edgier choices for festive viewing. While Netflix is keeping the show under wraps till Christmas Da, the Daily Mail is already outraged and there’s a petition demanding some of the material is deleted. The writer and comic has described his 2022-23 tour his “best ever”, and on the upside it did raise a mountain of cash for animal charities. Gervais has his legions of fans, and if you are one of the many who couldn’t get ticket for the sold out gigs this will be a must-see.

READ MORE Did Scotland's Home of the Year judges get it right? 

Ronnie Corbett: My 30 Funniest Moments

Boxing Day, Channel 5, 8pm

Born in Edinburgh in 1930, Ronald Balfour Corbett’s long career can be divided into at least four segments. There was the time before he met Ronnie Barker, their time together as the Two Ronnies, sitcom success in his own right with Sorry, followed by a lucrative stint as an author. In short, there was a heck of a lot of talent in that 5ft plus change frame. The makers of this retrospective could have filled the two hours just with material from The Two Ronnies but I’m glad they have gone wider. Should you be in need of more, The Two Ronnies: the Lost Sketches, follows at 10pm. Later on in the week it’s the turn of Dolly Parton to have a retrospective. Dolly Parton: in her own words, December 29, Channel 5, 9pm, is as good as its promise in the title.

Murder is Easy

December 27-28, BBC1, 9pm

Agatha Christie has undergone more reinventions than most of us have had Christmas dinners. This year it is the turn of David Jonsson to ring in the changes as Luke Fitzwilliam, a young man all set for a dazzling career in London who finds himself diverted to the sleepy village of Wychwood, home to rather a lot of accidents lately. Jonsson, who some readers may recall from the City-set BBC drama Industry, is a great choice for a sleuth. PS: if you have not made the acquaintance yet of Industry it is well worth a look on iPlayer, all two series to date. Maybe not one to watch with mother, mind you.

Aretha Franklin Night

December 28, BBC2, 9pm

Hard to choose a favourite from an evening of treasures, but Liesl Tommy’s 2020 biopic of the star, played by Jennifer Hudson, and Amazing Grace (1.35am), will be standouts for many. The latter is a film, released in cinemas in 2018, of the 1972 concert at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. The recording became the best-selling live gospel album of all time. At one point the singer’s father, the Reverend CL Franklin, tells a story about picking up his dry cleaning and Aretha being on the radio. He asks the assistant what she thinks. “It’s all right,” she says, “but I’ll be glad when she gets back to church.” Keep your eye out for a young Mick Jagger in the congregation. It’s hard to miss him, given the number of times director Sydney Pollack turns the camera on the Stones’ front man.

The Herald: Aretha FranklinAretha Franklin (Image: free)

The Kemps: All Gold

December 29, BBC2, 10pm

This follow-up to the hit 2020 mockumentary The Kemps: All True keeps the same setup. Bickering brothers Gary and Martin Kemp are on the lookout for a way to make some money from their past glories in Spandau Ballet. Ever the hipster intellectual sort, Gary wants to make Spandau: The Ballet, while Martin, now a fixture on Celebrity Gogglebox, fancies doing a tour, or a biopic. At every turn, however, the brothers just cannot catch a break. The mockumentary as comedy form has been done to the death, though there is a sequel to This is Spinal Tap, the original and best, due out next year. It is still worth having a look at this, though. Written by Rhys Thomas, it has a decent amount of laugh out loud moments (if perhaps not as many as last time), and a support cast that includes Dexter Fletcher, Tamzin Outhwaite and Christopher Eccleston. Genius use of the EastEnders doof-doofs, by the way.

For more TV picks please subscribe

Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Hogmanay Fishing

BBC2, December 29, 9pm

The last series of the “two men not in a boat” show ended on rather a down note with Bob becoming ill. That, if you recall, is how the whole fishing and no shooting match started, with two male comedians of a certain age, with heart problems, getting together to learn how to relax and eat healthily. A nation fell in love. We wanted the pair, and canine companion Ted, to go on filling Sunday nights forever. But would there be a new series? The answer is yes, it’s on the way, so you can relax and enjoy all that this festive special has to offer, which includes a certain Clare Grogan dropping by to brief the boys on Hogmanay etiquette. I’m sure they will be utterly respectful of tradition. Arabella Weir from Two Doors Down, and an old mucker of Whitehouse’s on The Fast Show, also calls in with a story or three, and the hour might feature Bob falling down.