Christmas TV specials 2021—our pick of the best shows to enjoy this Christmas

The best Christmas TV specials 2021 to enjoy on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day...

Best Christmas TV Specials 2021 includes The Great British Bake Off at Christmas, Call the Midwife, A Very British Scandal and The Greatest Snowman
(Image credit: Future // Image 1: Channel 4 // Image 2: BBC // Image 3: BBC // Image 4: Channel 4)

The Christmas TV specials 2021 for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day feature everything from festive twists on classic TV series to a charming royal carol concert hosted by the Duchess of Cambridge herself.

With the countdown to Christmas now reaching the final stages, there’s still time to catch up on some of the best Christmas TV episodes of all time to watch this festive season. But if you’re already made your way through your favourite specials—or even the best Christmas movies on Netflix and Christmas movies on Disney Plus—there’s plenty more entertainment to come as the big day edges closer. Whilst streaming Yuletide movies is brilliant, there’s nothing quite like getting comfortable on the sofa in your best Christmas jumper with your loved ones to watch a beloved TV show’s festive episode. 

And the Christmas TV specials 2021 have all the love and laughter you’re hoping for, unfolding from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day. Here we reveal our pick of the ultimate Christmas TV specials 2021 to watch on terrestrial TV with all the family…

The Christmas TV specials 2021 to watch on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day this year  

Christmas Eve 

  • Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas—BBC One, 6pm on Christmas Eve
  • Royal Carols: Together At Christmas—ITV, 7:30pm on Christmas Eve 
  • The Greatest Snowman—Channel 4, 8pm on Christmas Eve  
  • All Creatures Great and Small—Channel 5, 9pm on Christmas Eve
  • Bradley and Barney Walsh: Breaking Dad—ITV, 9pm on Christmas Eve 
  • A Ghost Story for Christmas: The Mezzotint—BBC Two, 10:30pm on Christmas Eve  

Christmas Day 

  • Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special—BBC One, 5:10pm on Christmas Day 
  • Michael McIntyre's Christmas Wheel—BBC One, 6:25pm on Christmas Day 
  • Terry Pratchett’s The Abominable Snow Baby—Channel 4, 7:30pm on Christmas Day 
  • Call the Midwife Christmas Special—BBC One, 8pm on Christmas Day 
  • The Great Christmas Bake Off—Channel 4, 8pm on Christmas Day  
  • Mrs Brown's Boys—BBC One, 10:20pm on Christmas Day
  • First Dates Christmas Special—Channel 4, 11.15pm on Christmas Day   

Boxing Day 

  • Around the World in 80 Days—BBC One, 5:50pm on Boxing Day
  • Death in Paradise—BBC One, 7.30pm on Boxing Day  
  • All I Want(ed) For Christmas—Channel 4, 8pm on Boxing Day  
  • A Very British Scandal—BBC One, 9pm on Boxing Day
  • All Star Musicals at Christmas—ITV 1, 9pm on Boxing Day
  • Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2021—Channel 4, 9pm on Boxing Day   

Our pick of the best Christmas TV specials 2021 on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day this year 

Royal Carols: Together At Christmas

Airs: Christmas Eve at 7:30pm on ITV

Hosted by the Duchess of Cambridge, the Together At Christmas carol concert was recorded in early December. This heartfelt occasion saw Kate Middleton wear a red dress which paid lovely tribute to Princess Diana. The concert itself was supported by The Royal Foundation and honoured the incredible work of both individuals and organisations across the UK who have supported their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Sure to be an emotional and powerful watch, this is not one to miss this year.

The Greatest Snowman

Airs: Christmas Eve at 8pm on Channel 4 

Presented by former Great British Bake Off host Sue Perkins, The Greatest Snowman will show just how much snow building can be an art form. Celebrities will travel to a ski resort and will find themselves undertaking three rounds of snow-building. Putting their skills to the test to create some magnificent structures, at the end of the show they will reportedly have to put all they’ve learnt to the test with a final huge snow sculpture. 

Best Christmas Specials 2021 including The Greatest Snowman

(Image credit: Channel 4)

A Ghost Story for Christmas: The Mezzotint

Airs: Christmas Eve at 10:30pm on BBC Two

When we think of ghost stories at Christmas, perhaps the most famous is of course Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol, which has been adapted for TV many times. But now there could be another contender vying for the title of best Christmas ghost story as Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss brings M.R. James’ original story to our screens. Set in the heart of an old English college in 1922, this spooky special will tell the tale of Edward Williams who receives a monochrome print in the post whose image keeps changing. Edward soon starts to question his own sanity as his past decisions come back to haunt him.  

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special 2021

Airs: Christmas Day at 5:10pm on BBC One

From the moment the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special 2021 announced its line-up, we’ve been seriously excited. Starring singer Anne-Marie, broadcaster Moira Stuart and The Repair Shop’s Jay Blades amongst others, this is a lovely chance to see everyone enjoy the magic of dance once more before the New Year. If you’re a long-term Strictly fan, this is an annual must-watch to look out for when you’re browsing the Christmas Specials 2021.  

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special 2021 first contestants have just been announced.

(Image credit: BBC)

Call the Midwife Christmas Special

Airs: Christmas Day at 8pm on BBC One

The popular drama follows the journey of a group of nurse midwives working in the East End of London and is one of the shows that certainly gives you all the tears, laughter and joy you need in your life. This year’s festive offering will see the return of Miriam Margoyles as Mother Mildred, whilst Sister Frances will oversee her first ever breached delivery. If past instalments are anything to go by, this won’t disappoint. 

The best Christmas TV specials 2021 include Call the Midwife

(Image credit: BBC)

The Great Christmas Bake Off

Airs: Christmas Day at 8pm on Channel 4 

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without some delicious festive treats and ever since Giuseppe won The Great British Bake Off 2021, many people will have been looking forward to seeing what the Christmas special contestants might cook up. In recent years the festive line-up has seen the cast of Derry Girls and returning bakers, but this year it’s stars of Channel 4 drama, It’s a Sin, who’ll be putting their skills to the test. We hope they’ll whip up some mouth-watering goodies! 

Best Christmas TV specials 2021 includes The Great British Bake Off at Christmas

(Image credit: Channel 4)

First Dates Christmas Special

Airs: Christmas Day at 11:15pm on Channel 4 

If you’ve already watched all the feel good Christmas movies out there, then this is a romantic and feel good TV Special you might want to try. Bringing together singletons looking for love at Christmas, they might just find the person they’ve been looking for to spread some festive cheer and magic as the year draws to a close.  

Best Christmas TV specials 2021 includes First Dates

(Image credit: Channel 4)

Around the World in 80 Days

Airs: Boxing Day at 7:30pm on BBC One 

He might not be Doctor Who anymore, but fans of David Tennant can once again enjoy seeing the acclaimed Scottish actor in a Christmas Special. Around the World in 80 Days is adapted from Jules Verne’s book of the same name and David will be playing none other than protagonist, Phineas Fogg. He’s determined to navigate the entire globe in 80 days, but whether this seemingly impossible goal can actually be reached in time remains to be seen as you settle down for this magical series.   

Death in Paradise 

Airs: Boxing Day at 7:30pm on BBC One 

We all knew it was coming after Death in Paradise announced the return of a fan-favourite character earlier this year, but there’s nothing quite like a spot of murder and magnificent Caribbean scenery to transport you this festive season. The first ever Death in Paradise Christmas special will see Officer Dwayne Myers return to Saint Marie to help his old team solve a tricky murder case.  

A Very British Scandal 

Airs: Boxing day at 9pm on BBC One

The Crown star Claire Foy steps out in an equally dramatic historical show this Boxing Day in the highly-anticipated A Very British Scandal. Focusing on the iconic Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll and her divorce case, which saw her husband publicly accuse her of adultery with over 80 men. Humiliatingly nicknamed the ‘Dirty Duchess’ by the media, A Very British Scandal will help give viewers a new perspective on Margaret’s story.

All Star Musicals at Christmas 

Airs: Boxing Day at 9pm on Channel 4 

If you love musicals then this could be just what you’ve been waiting for as far as Christmas TV Specials 2021 go. In this festive special, celebrities including actor Ben Miller and presenters Fern Britton and Anita Rani will receive top-class coaching from musical theatre legends, Elaine Page, Samantha Barks and Trevor Dion Douglas. Taking their advice on board, each will then give the musical performance of their lives on stage, with the chosen songs reportedly hailing from truly iconic musicals such as Cats and The Rocky Horror Show. 

Best Christmas TV specials 2021 includes All Star Musicals

(Image credit: ITV)

Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2021

Airs: Boxing Day at 9pm on Channel 4

Nothing marks the end of what’s been a challenging year and the beginning of a new, brighter one quite like a Big Fat Quiz. Hosted by comedian Jimmy Carr, this annual TV special sees him put teams of celebrity guests to the test with an incredibly difficult quiz about the last 12 months. And this year’s extravaganza looks set to be especially exciting, with the always-hilarious Sarah Millican, James Acaster, Jonathan Ross, Judi Love and Guz Khan announced so far for the panel. How many questions will you get right? 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.