Last year, I wrote about the top five Christmas television specials, featuring such gems as the wonderful Vicar of Dibley, the ever-engaging Doctor Who and of course, my complete obsession with The Goes Wrong Show. Looking back at this now, I’m a bit annoyed that I called it the top five because… I don’t know how much thought I put into it actually being the BEST five. They were certainly five very good specials that were on my mind at the time, but the best? That’s a much bigger question. Like Ross, I would need to give that some thought, come up with a shortlist, make my final decisions, and laminate the results so they can’t be changed.
Whilst I go through that process, I thought I would share five more contenders for the best Christmas special… and this time I’ve even branched out a bit, as one of them is not even a TV show.
Ted Lasso - Carol of the Bells
When I reviewed the second season of Ted Lasso, I mentioned how slightly awkward the two shoe-horned in additional episodes were as they didn’t fit with the rest of the storylines. We had a Christmas episode in August, for goodness sake. BUT, now is the time to give that episode a rewatch, because in the context of an actual festive season, it’s such a good, heart-warming, wonderful piece.
Also, a special animated version five minute short was recently released featuring Ted looking for the meaning of Christmas… as well as his moustache. You know you love it.
Only Fools and Horses - Thicker Than Water
Fools is such a weird one, because it became a traditional Christmas staple towards the end of its run, pretty much only popping out an episode each time December rolled around. But the later specials weren’t particularly festive, focusing instead on the comedy and the story rather than tying it to the time of year. However, the early Christmas episodes were actually set in and around the 25th December, and this particular one features our favourite pair of brothers dealing with the return of their wayward father.
Del: He deserted you when he was five years old! And not just you. He walked out on his own father! In all that time he didn’t even know if Grandad was dead or alive!
Rodney: Well, we’re never that sure.
The Office UK - Christmas Special Part 2
I find it very difficult to watch either version of The Office these days because it’s just so cringey and painful and people should just be a bit nicer to each other. But you can’t fail to appreciate wrapping up the original Office series with a two part Christmas special where everyone gets what they need to. The Tim and Dawn love story is wrapped up, and this second episode is the reason I’m obsessed with the song Only You.
Cabin Pressure - Molokai
So much to love about this episode. First, at its heart, it deals with the fact that Christmas is celebrated differently across the world and if you’re travelling around, you might not get the nostalgic experience you remember… and also spares a thought for those who have to work on Christmas day when they don’t particularly want to.
But apart from the semi-serious stuff, it also has a mind-bending Secret Santa, some really dodgy alternative Christmas recipes, and, of course… THE SONG.
Miranda - The Perfect Christmas
I’ve recently emerged from a recurrence of the Miranda obsession that grips me occasionally, rewatching the show, buying stuff from the shop, you know the kind of thing. I’d forgotten how lovely the first Christmas special is, in which the gang try to do the day their own way but end up realising a bit of organisation from mummy can really smooth things along. This episode is also the reason I say Tuesday the way I do. So, thanks Miranda! Also this very tiny moment that we can all relate to.
Two week bumper Radio Times. Feel the heft of telly heaven.
That’s five more, and it’s also worth a shout out to Click & Collect, the wonderful one-off special from Stephen Merchant, which I previously already gushed about. The great thing about this list, as well, is that people will hopefully keep making festive specials, and so it will only keep growing. Meanwhile, I will continue to try and decide which I like best… although don’t hold your breath on that front, they’re all wonderful in their own ways!