TV guide: 46 of the best shows to watch this holiday week
There’s plenty of music, drama and whatever you’re having yourself in 2020’s final week
Mrs Brown’s Boys: Mammy’s Memories?, New Year’s Eve on RTÉ1 and New Year’s Day on BBC1
Sunday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm
The disappearance of Fungie the dolphin in Co Kerry a few months ago captured the nation. Baz Ashmawy headed to Dingle to investigate further. Residents of the peninsula, almost in mourning for the sudden loss of their companion and friend for almost four decades, regale the magic and the mystery of the cheeky solitary wild dolphin. Ashmawy is enchanted by the stories of the superstar who arrived as mysteriously as he disappeared,.
After a Woman’s Heart
Sunday, RTÉ One, 9.30pm
What’s it like to be part of the biggest-selling album in Irish music history? When Eleanor McEvoy recorded her song Only a Woman’s Heart with Mary Black in 1992, it was the start of something big. The song became a massive hit, and an anthem of empowerment for Irish women. The album featured McEvoy, Black, Dolores Keane, Maura O’Connell, Frances Black and Sharon Shannon, and in this documentary McEvoy reunites with her collaborators on this landmark record, and they talk about the changes wrought in Irish society in the three decades since its release. Of course, there’ll be a few aul songs too.
Sunday-Tuesday, BBC1, 9pm
Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel was adapted for the screen in a classic 1947 film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, which managed the impressive feat of recreating the Himalayas in Pinewood Studios. So this new three-part drama has a lot to live up, but it’s off to a great start with an impressive cast that includes Gemma Arterton, Jim Broadbent and the late Diana Rigg in one of her final performances. Set in the 1930s, during the later years of British rule in India, Black Narcissus follows ambitious young nun Sister Clodagh (Arterton) as she attempts to establish a mission in a remote palace, which holds many dark secrets. However, the haunting atmosphere and isolation takes its toll on the newcomers, particularly the volatile Sr Ruth (Aisling Franciosi).
Laochra na Rásaíochta
Sunday, TG4, 9.55pm
Laochra na Rásaíochta takes a look at Ireland’s most famous National Hunt horses from the 1970s to the present day, recounting their brilliant feats through archive footage and interviews with the men and women involved in their success. This episode tells the remarkable story of Dawn Run, a mare trained in Co Kilkenny by Paddy Mullins, who remains the only horse ever to win both the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
Dancing with the Stars – Putting on the Glitz
Sunday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm
A look back at the most memorable moments of Dancing with the Stars from astounding dance routines to epic failures, from crazy costumes to the famous Dessie Swim, presented by Nicky Byrne and Jennifer Zamparelli. The show is presented by Nicky and Jen and features past celebrity dancers, some of the pro dancers (Karen, Laura, John & Ryan) and the three judges (Brian, Loraine & Julian). They take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the highlights from the past four series.
Last Woman on Earth with Sara Pascoe
Sunday, BBC2, 9pm
As technology advances, jobs are becoming obsolete – and Sara Pascoe is on a mission to find out more about several of them. The first episode of her adventure takes her to Cuba, which is best known for its cigars, rum and the revolution. While learning about how tourism and commercialism have impacted on the locals, she meets those whose livelihoods are at risk. Among them is a “mattress magician”, a reader who entertains the workers at a factory, and a family who use traditional methods to make a sweet treat.
The Supervet at Christmas
Sunday, Channel 4, 8pm
t’s a busy time for the staff at Fitzpatrick Referrals, where Noel and the team are trying to make sure that all their patients can be home for Christmas. This year there are also some famous faces, including Will Young, who has rescued Domino and Diamond, two dogs that were facing euthanasia in the US. Fitzpatrick discovers that both canines have significant joint problems, but can he give them a new lease of life? Meanwhile, Yasmin Le Bon and her daughters rush in their three-year-old French bulldog Willow, who his diagnosed with a disc extrusion so acute that she can’t stand or walk on her back legs at all.
Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow Christmas Special
Sunday, Virgin One, 6pm
Get ready to “come on down” as Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow returns with a Christmas Special of The Price Is Right. In this festive romp, lucky audience members will get called down to contestants row for the chance to guess if the price is indeed right on a host of hilarious Christmas prizes before spinning the wheel and taking on the epic showcase, where they stand to win a mountain of incredible prizes.
Two Doors Down Christmas Special
Monday, BBC2, 9pm
Beware the comedy special that whisks the main characters out of their familiar environment and sends them off on a “holiday”. (Hey, we’ve seen the On the Buses movie.) In this Christmas special, the neighbours of Latimer Crescent decide to spend Hogmanay in the Highlands. Will it all end badly? Probably, but the bigger question is, will the crescent residents be like fish jokes out of water? With their plans to spend Christmas in Dubai derailed by Covid, Colin and Cathy decide to rent a lodge in the Scottish Highlands, and invited the neighbours along, as you do. Once you’ve suspended your disbelief at the idea of an entire street going off on holidays together, you can settle in for some festive fun, frolics and misunderstandings.
Monday, RTÉ One, 8pm
Drumcondra triangle is one of Dublin’s oldest housing estates, comprising nearly 600 houses constructed in one year in 1928. The estate was built in response to the need for good housing at a time when many Dubliners were living in tenement buildings. Clíona O’Flaherty’s documentary follows some of the early residents and explores the sense of community and the changes experienced by them both personally and collectively over the past 90 years. This gentle, thought-provoking documentary is accompanied by the beautiful music of Rónán Hession.
Riverdance 25th Anniversary Show
Monday, RTÉ One, 9.25pm
On February 9th, 1995, the first performance of Riverdance was given in Dublin’s biggest indoor venue, then known as The Point. It has gone on to be performed in front of more than 27 million people worldwide, and changed the face of Irish dancing forever. Exactly 25 years later to the day, in the same venue (now rechristened The 3Arena) a new, bigger, more spectacular Riverdance premiered in a gala performance to huge acclaim. This programme starts with a brief documentary detailing the history of Riverdance, then presents the performance in full. As stage director John McColgan put it, now you can see the close-ups, the amazingly fast feet, the expressions and emotions of the dancers and musicians, and the creative camera angles that show the work more intimately and revealingly than is possible for an audience sitting in the stalls.
Meerkat: A Dynasties Special
Monday, BBC1, 7.30pm
David Attenborough lends his dulcet tones to this fascinating documentary, which follows the fortunes of young meerkat queen Maghogho, who calls the salt pans of Makagikadi in Botswana home. Thanks to the arid conditions, it’s one of the harshest environments on the planet, but she is determined to raise her pups there, with help from her extended family. Maghogho is their seemingly fearless leader, but battling dust storms and fights with rivals threatens their relationships – putting the clan’s survival at risk.
Billy Connolly: It’s Been a Pleasure
Monday, ITV, 9.30pm; Tuesday, Virgin One, 10.15pm
There are some great British comedians about, but the Big Yin was the one comic to rule them all, and he bestrode the stage like a quipping colossus, endearing himself to, well everyone. In 2018, Connolly announced his retirement from stand-up comedy, and no one would begrudge the man (now 78) some down time. In this special programme the viewer is invited into Connolly’s Florida home to share some of his finest comedy moments over the past five decades.
Britain’s Most Expensive Houses
Monday, Channel 4, 8pm
Mention Sotheby’s and what springs to mind? Probably very expensive items sold to bidders with seemingly bottomless pockets. But paintings, antiques and other collectibles are not the only goods passing through the auction house’s doors: the deeds to some of extraordinary properties are also bought and sold here as revealed in this documentary, which goes behind the scenes at UK Sotheby’s International Realty department. Even coronavirus has played its part in the business, as the mega-rich quit cities and leave the firm’s brokers to find people willing to take homes worth millions off their hands.
The Francis Street Photographer
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm
John Walsh was the John Hinde of the Liberties. He took stunning photographs of the people and places in his Dublin inner city neighbourhood and built up a superb archive of images that captured the social history of the area. After he died in 1999, his daughter Suzanne Behan, who was recovering from cancer, decided to pass the time by pulling some of her dad’s old negatives out of the shed and going through them. What she found was 100,000 images going back through several decades – a treasure trove chronicling life in and around Francis Street. This film is a celebration of a unique Dublin neighbourhood and a tribute to the man who documented it with his trusty camera.
Ireland in Music
Tuesday, RTÉ One, 8pm
Ireland in Music sees the country become a stage as Denise Chaila and Sharon Shannon perform along the Cliffs of Moher, Clannad in Poison Glen, Gweedore; Lisa Hannigan in the bandstand at Saint Stephen’s Green; and The Stunning in the grounds of Trim Castle.
The Real Field
Tuesday, RTE One, 9.25pm
2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Jim Sheridan’s Oscar-nominated movie version of The Field, but John B Keane’s play was first performed in 1965 in the Olympia Theatre. The play was controversial play because it was staged only seven years after the murder that inspired it. The death of Moss Moore in rural Kerry caused a sensation in an Ireland where murder was rare. And it remains an extraordinary case because the murder was never solved. Dan Foley was the chief suspect; though never charged, he was ostracised from his local community. Keane used him as the model for the Bull McCabe.
In The Real Field, John B’s son, broadcaster and writer Billy Keane, goes in search of the truth behind the murder. Billy explores the story behind The Field and looks at its progression from real murder to the theatre and eventually the Oscar stage. Featuring interviews with Jim Sheridan, Noel Pearson, Garry Hynes, Michael Harding and many others who’s lives have been affected by both the real and fictional Field.
Celebrity: A 21st Century Story
Tuesday, BBC2, 10pm
Modern-day celebrity is a phenomenon fuelled by an unquenchable public thirst for news and gossip about celebrities. This four-part history charts the explosion in celebrity culture over the past two decades. Since the turn of the century, the world of celebrity has been transformed, driven by some of the most dramatic technological and cultural developments. From the fame-farms churning out reality TV stars to the rise of the celebrity politician, society’s complicated obsession with fame now impacts every aspect of life; from media read and watched, material possessions owned, and even choice of vote. The first episode examines how David and Victoria Beckham changed the model of the celebrity power couple, while the rise of reality TV led to a gigantic influx of people gaining overnight fame. The programme also examines how leaked sex tapes changed the nature of celebrity scandal.
Penguins: Meet the Family
Tuesday, BBC1, 6.30pm
There are 17 to 20 living species of penguin, and here viewers are introduced to them all, meeting penguins living in dense forests, desert burrows and city streets from the equator to deepest Antarctica. There is footage of an emperor penguin chick stepping away from the safety of it father’s feet and experiencing its first flurry of snow. Plus, majestic king penguins overcome a catastrophic molt, swapping their ragged feathers for a brand new outfit. Audiences will also join the penguins as they battle the elements, face the perils of rock climbing and confront dangerous sea lions. Plus, we see how these wonderful characters form lifelong bonds and become devoted parents, and find out how satellite imagery is revealing new penguin colonies we never knew existed before.
2020: Thank You, Next!
Tuesday, Virgin One, 9pm
Round about this time, pundits gear up to look back through the year just gone and dissect the events and trends of the past 12 months, Not this year. We just want to get shot of 2020 and never have to think about it again. Neil Delamere points his sharp wit at the annus horribilis just past, and gathers a celebrity panel to look at the funny side of this very forgettable year, which included Brexit, Megxit, Golfgate and the general election, but was dominated by that pesky coronavirus.
Tuesday, TG4, 9.20pm
This musical documentary looks back at the 50-year career of the High Queen of Celtic music, who as the singer with Clannad brought the traditional music of Gweedore to a global audience, and took Gaelic on to Top of the Pops via Harry’s Game. The programme features interviews and performances with her family, and with musical friends Paul Brady, Imelda May, Damien Dempsey, Liam Ó Maonlaí and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh.
Tuesday, TG4, 7.15pm
Many of us still wake in a cold sweat from nightmares about our final State exams. A rite of passage, a shared ordeal, but for the class of 2020 the confusion and frustration amplified as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc across the globe. Rang 2020, featuring a mixture of self-shot and documentary footage, follows the lives, struggles and disruptions endured by four students as they prepare for their Leaving Cert and A-level exams and progress to university. We also witness their personal loss as they and their families grapple with the cruel implications of the virus.
Jamie and Jimmy’s Festive Feast
Tuesday, Channel 4, 9pm
Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty are joined by not one but two celebrity guests to get the New Year party going. Singer-songwriter Sam Smith and PE-teacher-to-the-nation Joe Wicks assist the duo as they prepare a range of delicious dishes. Jamie kicks things off with a mouth-watering, Italian-inspired pork and crispy double crackling, laid on a bed of beautiful veg and creamy beans. He then takes Sam to Mexico via Scotland, tracks down the singer’s favourite food memory from the Isle of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides, and makes delicious haggis tacos. And if we can’t go to the pub then Jimmy is bringing the pub to us, as he prepares scampi and chips, washed down with sparkling mojitos.
Callan’s Kicks of the Year
Wednesay, RTÉ One, 9.25pm
Comedian Oliver Callan reaches into his grab-bag of uncanny impressions and gives 2020 a right old duffing-up before casting it right back into the hell from which it was forged. The whole 2020 gang is here, including Leo, Boris, Mary Lou, Trump, Francis Brennan and Saoirse Ronan, as Callan casts a satirical eye over the events of the past year, including Golfgate, Nphet, Matt Damon in Dalkey, Fungie going missing in Dingle, the Healy-Raes going mad in the Dáil, and covidiots getting in our faces wherever we went. I’ve always been more of a fan of Callan’s radio show and podcast, but I’m happy to tune into this just to see 2020 get the kicking it deserves.
Growing Up at the End of the World
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 6.30pm
Go to school or save the world? In 2019, kids across the globe went on strike, skipping school on Fridays to stand outside city halls and parliament buildings and demand their governments act on climate change. Galvanised by the original school striker Greta Thunberg, they developed a manifesto, organised marches, made speeches before policymakers, and built the biggest environmental movement in history– only to have it all come to a sudden halt when the world became gripped by a global pandemic. Now, with their momentum gone and disillusionment setting in, the activists still standing must start over.
Over the course of 1½ years cameras follow three of these activists – 16-year-olds Saoi O’Connor, Theo Cullen-Mouze and Beth Doherty – as they lead demonstrations, interrogate politicians, and work alongside Thunberg to create a vision for the youth climate movement, all while juggling school, friends, and a global pandemic. They give us sense of who they are and who they want to be. We see their strengths, their weaknesses, and their inspiring hope for a better future.
Ar thóir na Saighneán
Wednesday, TG4, 8.15pm
Dónal Glackin and Graeme Pollard are two photographers who travelled to Iceland in order to fulfil a lifelong goal of witnessing the Northern Lights. They lived and travelled for two weeks inside a small van, travelling wherever the forecast suggested there might be a chance of seeing this spectacular display. The search brought them to some of the country’s most remote regions on their search for the Northern Lights.
Stephen Fry’s 21st Century Firsts
Wednesday, ITV, 8.30pm
Almost 21 years ago, some of us were looking forward to the start of a new century; others fretted about the impact of the so-called millennium bug. Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t? Those born that year are now coming of age, while others who were 21 back then have discovered whether or not life really does begin at 40. Here Stephen Fry takes a look at some of the momentous events, landmarks and technological advances made during that time, including the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, the social media revolution and the Tinder app. He also examines the impact of the first truly accurate satnav and meets one of the first women to voice one . Other amazing moments featured include the legalisation of same-sex marriage, Capt Sir Tom Moore’s record-breaking efforts, and Stormzy becoming the first solo British black man to headline Glastonbury.
Not Going Out
Wednesday, BBC1, 9pm
The festive edition of Not Going Out has become a comic highlight of the season over recent years. And this year’s episode will be especially poignant because Bobby Ball, who plays Lee’s lovable but useless father Frank, passed away in October. We meet up with Lee (Lee Mack) and Lucy (Sally Bretton) on New Year’s Eve. They’re joined by Frank, as well as Lucy’s pompous father Geoffrey (Geoffrey Whitehead), her mother Wendy (Deborah Grant), and friends Toby (Hugh Dennis) and Anna (Abigail Cruttenden). Everything goes swimmingly until someone comes up with the bright idea for a new parlour game, one that involves telling each other how they can improve their behaviour and what New Year’s resolutions they need to make – including downtrodden Toby making suggestions to uptight Anna.
Wednesday, BBC1, 9.45pm
This new video diary comedy penned by After Life star and Plebs writer Tom Basden boasts a stellar cast, including Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd), Jim Howick (Ghosts), Alison Steadman (Gavin & Stacey), Tom Basen (After Life) and Tori Allen-Martin (Pure). Like a lot of families, the Jessops have seen their finances and plans devastated in 2020, and have had to abandon their holiday of a lifetime to California. With morale at an all-time low, the clan decides they’re going to have their summer holiday after all, even if it means doing it in December... in Margate. All filmed by their youngest son, Pandemonium charts the Jessops last, dogged attempt at some quality family time, despite the best efforts of a global pandemic to pull them apart.
The Nine Lives of Ozzy Osbourne
Wednesday, BBC2, 10pm
Ozzy Osbourne has personified rock’n’roll for more than 50 years, from his childhood in poverty and time in prison, to fronting metal band Black Sabbath, a successful solo career and being a lovable 21st-century television dad on The Osbournes TV reality series. This two-hour documentary features archival footage and exclusive interviews, as Osbourne, now 72, reflects on his successes, failures, survival and perseverance and touches on his recent Parkinson’s diagnosis. The film also includes the thoughts of wife Sharon and children Kelly and Jack Osbourne, as well as fellow musicians, including Rick Rubin, Ice-T, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Jonathan Davis, Post Malone and more.
Wednesday, RTÉ One, 7.30pm
Who can forget the elegance of Ingrid Bergman, the charisma of s Humphrey Bogart and ay poignant love story set against the backdrop of the brutality of the second world war in Nazi-occupied Morocco? Casablanca, one of cinema’s most romantic films, engaged and intrigued audiences all over the world in 1943 – except in Ireland, which saw a different version. For more than three decades, Irish movie fans were denied the full story of Rick and Ilsa’s ill-fated wartime love affair because Ireland’s film censors, who in the early days acknowledged taking guidance from the 10 Commandments, were determined to safeguard and uphold traditional Catholic values. The film was banned outright under the Emergency Powers Order when first submitted in 1942, as it was deemed to infringe on Irish neutrality. When resubmitted again in 1945, it was morality and that concerned the devout Catholic censor, Richard Hayes.
Determined to suppress the affair between Rick and Ilsa, a married woman, key dialogue was cut from the movie, dialogue that has gone on to become among the most memorable and oft-quoted in the history of cinema. This episode of Cosc looks at how the censor changed the story of the film as well as the nature of the State’s film censorship process, the social, historical, political and most importantly, religious context.
news2day News Review of the Year
New Year’s Eve, RTÉ2, 11.25am
Due to Covid-19, 2020 was a year like no other. It was a year of huge upheaval for everyone, including children. Everything changed on March 12th with the closure of schools. Children had to get used to home schooling, not seeing their friends or some family members. It was a year when sport and activities stopped, primary school graduations were on Zoom, birthday parties were smaller and visits to granny and grandad meant waving through a window. Aisling Moloney and Mícheál Ó Scannáil look back at the year when we were together apart, the year of Zoom calls and quizzes, hand sanitiser, masks and social distance.
Mrs Brown’s Boys: Mammy’s Memories?
New Year’s Eve, RTÉ One, 9.10pm/New Year’s Day, BBC1, 10pm
We’ve been waiting patiently since Christmas Day for the second Mrs Brown’s Boys special to come along and break up the post-Christmas boredom, but how is everyone in Finglas faring as we head into a new year with no sign of the new normal ending anytime soon? Well, Cathy has her 50th birthday coming up, and she’s not exactly counting down the days. And a mysterious burglar has stolen a special heirloom from Winnie’s house: her mammy’s wedding ring. But when Agnes gets the Garda in to investigate this heinous theft, Winnie seems unable to give a proper description of the perpetrator.
Soundtrack to My Life
New Year’s Eve, RTÉ One, 9.45pm
Soundtrack to My Life, presented by Nicky Byrne, is a new music series on RTÉ One. Each episode will see top Irish musicians collaborate with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra to create a unique playlist of songs that mean the most to them and reveal the stories behind their choices. The series kicks off on New Year’s Eve with a special night of music and chat with one of Ireland’s greatest bands, Kodaline. Additional episodes will air later in 2021.
NYE Countdown Show
New Year’s Eve, RTÉ One, 10.45pm
Mundy and Sharon Shannon lead a musical New Year’s Eve Countdown from Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre . Laughs are promised from Waterford Whispers News, plaus entertaining panellists and many special guests.
Jools’ Annual Hootenanny
New Year’s Eve, BBC2, 11.15pm
Every year, a bunch of top musos gather with no social distancing to take part in Jools Holland’s annual celebration and rock in the new year. This year, however, things are going to have to be done a little differently. So yes, we’re going to get great music, but no, there won’t be lots of group hugs and kisses and two singers sharing the same mic as the world counts down to 2021. Jools and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra will indeed perform with special guests, but the focus will be more on pulling out archive material from 28 years of the Hootenanny. That’s a lot of material to choose from, and we can trust Jools to choose wisely.
Faoi Scáth a Chéile
New Year’s Eve, TG4, 7.15pm
The Covid-19 pandemic shook us to our very core but also led to an awakening of our true values. From rural villages to bustling cities, life as we knew it has changed. Now, as we stand on the threshold of a new year, is the opportunity to begin anew. Will the pandemic be remembered as the event that brought us all to our senses? In this documentary we take a personal look at how six individuals dealt with the challenges of living through this tumultuous year and are looking forward to the prospect of a more compassionate, genuine and meaningful life in 2021 for themselves and their communities.
New Year’s Eve, TG4, 11.30pm
Dáithí Ó Sé, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh & friends welcome 2021 with a musical gathering from Dingle. Featuring guests from Donegal, Conamara, Waterford and Meath, the hosts say goodbye to 2020 and lead the song and dance into 2021. Guest include Pauline Scanlon & the Whileaways, Fidil, Cormac Begley, Séamus Begley & family, Emma Ní Fhioruisce, Megan Nic Ruairí, Johnny Óg Connolly, Máírtín Tom Sheáinín, Séamus & Caoimhe Uí Fhlatharta, The Hot Toddies, and Éamonn Mac Donnacha.
The Graham Norton Show New Year’s Eve Special
New Year’s Eve, BBC1, 10.25; Virgin One, 11.40pm
Joining Norton for his traditional Hogmanay chat are actors Tom Hanks, Jessica Chatain, Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan; food writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall; and comedian Nish Kumar. Plus, musical guest Sophie Ellis-Bextor performs Crying at the Discotheque and viewers from around the world tell us their New Year’s Eve stories in the Big Red Chair.
The Man Comes Around: Johnny Cash in Ireland
New Year’s Day, RTÉ One, 6.30pm
In 1963, at the age of 31, American country superstar Johnny Cash took a figary and flew over to Ireland to do a short tour of mostly small rural venues. Cash was 31 and had his biggest-ever hit with Ring of Fire. But he was also battling alcoholism and drug addiction and having an affair with June Carter. Accompanying him on his Irish trip was his band The Tennessee Three, with Carter as the support act. They performed in local dancehalls in Cavan, Dundalk, Belfast, Mullingar, Galway, Limerick, Athy, Kilkenny and Rush, culminating with a show at Dublin’s National Stadium. This documentary tells the story of Cash’s Irish visit, when Irish audiences got to see the Man in Black up close and sharing the stage with local showbands. Eileen Reid recalls meeting Cash when her band The Cadets supported him, and fans bring their memories of the star as he cut a swathe through rural Ireland. Among the archive material and first-hand accounts, the film unveils a “lost” live recording of Cash performing at the National Stadium, which had been languishing in a biscuit tin in a shed for more than 50 years.
Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks
New Year’s Day, BBC1, 6.45pm
This Christmas, there’ll be lots of R2-D2s and BB8s under the Christmas tree, but how many kids will be asking Santa for a Dalek? The answer is very few, because the Daleks are JUST TOO SCARY. Okay, they may be little more than warlike wheelie bins with grating voices, but stand still long enough and they’ll eventually trundle up, surround you and exterminate you with their laser-powered proboscis. This latest Doctor Who Christmas special grapples with the eternal problem of the Daleks: they’re just too clunky and slow to frighten even a toddler. But they seem to have acquired the power of flight since I were a wee lad, so that helps. Jodie Whitaker returns as the Doctor, and John Barrowman makes a comeback as Capt Jack Harkness – wait until he sees the Doctor’s latest incarnation. Also back is Sex & the City guy Chris Noth as Jack Robertson, while Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole will be making their final appearance as the Doctor’s loyal sidekicks Graham and Ryan. But what of the plot? Well, the Doctor’s been locked in a space prison, so while she’s otherwise occupied, the Daleks get busy taking over Earth.
New Year’s Day, BBC1, 9pm
Last night we were letting our hair down (in a socially distanced, own bubble kind of a way, of course), so now it’s time to get serious with the Beeb’s new eight-part drama, which is inspired by a true story. The Serpent is set in the 1970s and focuses on the authorities’ efforts to bring Charles Sobhraj to justice. Back then he was the chief suspect in the murders of several young western travellers on the so-called hippie trail across India, Thailand and Nepal. Despite being Interpol’s most-wanted man, he evaded capture. Tahar Rahim portrays Sobhraj, while Billy Howle co-stars as Herman Knippenberg, a junior diplomat at the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok who was on the killer’s trail; Jenna Colman also appears as Marie-Andree Leclerc, who has been described as Sobhraj’s most devoted follower.
New Year’s Day, TG4, 9.20pm
Micí Finky (Dara Devaney), a musician and puppeteer looking to escape his past, steals an envelope full of cash and runs off to Scotland with his childhood friend Tom Tom (Eoin Geoghegan) to start a new life. On their first night in Glasgow, Finky suffers a horrible accident and is left paralysed from the waist down. He hits rock bottom but is given a chance at redemption when recruited by Carnival Chaotica, a violent avant-garde circus. Finky embarks on a twisted odyssey that brings him over the rainbow but, as his journey becomes increasingly hellish and surreal, he realises that he must confront his tormented past. This 2019 film costars Ned Dennehy and Diarmuid de Faoite, and directed by by Dathaí Keane.
Chitty Flies Again with David Walliams
New Year’s Day, Channel 4, 7.30pm
David Walliams celebrates the 50th anniversary of the musical film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (although it was actually released in 1968) by trying to fulfil his childhood dream of building a flying car. He’s recruited his own Caratacus Potts, in the form of aeronautical engineer Tony Hoskins, but can they really pull off this madcap plan? Along the way, Walliams learns more about Chitty’s origins, from the car that inspired the original children’s book, written by Bond creator Ian Fleming, to the big-screen adaption, which was penned by one Roald Dahl.
Whitney at the BBC
New Year’s Day, BBC4, 9pm
The late Whitney Houston helped shape the world of pop music with her image and remarkable voice on hits including I Will Always Love You, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, I’m Every Woman and I Have Nothing. Eight years on from the pop powerhouse’s tragic death, this compilation of her performances at the BBC begins in 1985, when she burst onto the scene with Saving All My Love for You, and takes music fans through two more decades of hits. Nick Broomfield and Rudi Dolezal’s acclaimed documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me, which studies her sad decline, follows at 9.30pm.
We Can Be Heroes
From New Year’s Day, Netflix
It’s almost 16 years since cult film-maker Robert Rodriguez released The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D, much of which had been conceived by his then young children. It provided an early role for Taylor Lautner who, alongside Taylor Dooley, played fantasy characters created by a lonely boy who came to life. Now we’re being treated to a sequel; sadly there’s no Lautner, but Dooley does return as Lavagirl. The plot focuses on what happens when the offspring of Earth’s superheroes try to save their kidnapped parents – and the entire planet – from the clutches of dastardly alien invaders. Priyanka Chopra, Christian Slater and Pedro Pascal also star.