Have yourself a merry little Britmas: From classic Only Fools And Horses to the gift of Downton, we count down some of the top TV Christmas specials…
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Every household in Britain has its own traditions on Christmas Day: whether it’s presents before turkey, or turkey then presents… then stuffing your faces with chocolate.
Yet the comfiest, cosiest and most Christmassy part of the day is when we all gather around the telly for the greatest TV line-up of the year. From The Royle Family to Downton Abbey, the holiday specials of our favourite shows have always been reserved for one night only, but now you can catch all of the most memorable festive specials throughout the Christmas countdown on BritBox, the new streaming service from the BBC and ITV.
Revisit over 100 British TV specials from Christmases past, whether it’s festive nostalgia with Only Fools and Horses to a thoroughly modern Essex-mas with the TOWIE lot.
Not only that, but BritBox will be recreating 4 nights of Christmas Day telly from 1986, 1996, 2006 and 2016 so you can relive the evenings of Christmases past whenever you like.
To truly get you into the spirit, we’re counting down some of the greatest British Christmas TV specials to watch again on BritBox and let it show, let it show, let it show!
Only Fools and Horses
Across two decades, we Brits spent Christmas with the Trotters and the whopping 18 festive episodes of Only Fools and Horses have gone down in TV history.
Not least the all-time classic trilogy from Christmas 1996, which featured Del & Rodney dressing as Batman and Robin, and that time the hapless brothers finally became ‘mill-yon-aires’!
Gavin and Stacey
This Christmas, Gavin and Stacey are set to return to our screens for another long-awaited special and we couldn’t be more excited. In anticipation, revisit the hilarious festive episode from 2009 that bridged the gap between Seasons 2 and 3.
It’s a typically chaotic reunion for Mick, Pam, Bryn and Gwen as Smithy prepares for his first Christmas with baby Neil and Gavin & Stacey make an announcement that won’t go down well with the Shipmans. It’s all the drama, we just love it.
The Only Way Is Essex-mas
What would Christmas be without some fireworks from Essex? For the last 10 years, our festive telly schedules have been defined by an especially high-glamour, high-drama finale of The Only Way Is Essex to see us into the next season.
Who can forget when Arg declared his love for The GC in a Santa suit, or when Mark returned to Brentwood to choose between Sam, Lauren and Lucy?
Christmas At Downton
Year after year, the Downton Abbey festive specials brought even more decadence, intrigue and gripping storylines into our living rooms at Christmas time and made perfect viewing for all generations.
The Season 2 finale, Christmas at Downton Abbey, was the most popular of the bunch, featuring a pregnancy and a proposal, and drawing in a whopping 12.1 million British viewers when it first aired back in 2011. Watch all four deliciously festive episodes again on BritBox.
Top of the annual watch list all the way through the Noughties were the festive episodes of My Family on the BBC, where we all got to peek inside another (highly-dysfunctional) family Christmas.
When all you need is a much funnier side to the festive fails, fall-outs and family dramas, the Harpers are the ideal people to spend a very British Christmas with.
French and Saunders
You can always count on French and Saunders to bring the LOLs at Christmas. A true highlight of the festive schedule throughout the late Eighties and Nineties, these festive sketch shows are still every bit as hilarious as they were 20 years ago.
Spoofing all of the year’s greatest screen moments with some a typically British satire, national treasures Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders do Christmas comedy like no-one else.
The Royle Family
The one-off Christmas episode of The Royle Family back in 2000 was so popular that they had to bring it back to the BBC in 2008 due to popular demand.
Just like the rest of us, The Royles always spent the big day snoozing around the TV in paper cracker hats in-between way too many courses and cuppas, so it’s easy to feel right at home with Jim and Barbara during the holidays.
Sandringham: The Queen at Christmas
We know how The Royle Family spends Christmas, but what about the real royals? Spoiler alert: There’s no paper hats or pigs in blankets. In this exciting peek behind palace doors, you’ll get exclusive access to the presents, the food and the festive traditions as Prince Harry and then-fiancé Meghan Markle prepared to spend Christmas at Sandringham together for the very first time in 2017.
So, spend a cosy evening in with BritBox, and The Queen At Christmas, when the weather outside is frightful, but the mince pies are so delightful.
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