Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV. And as X Factor ends for another year, the Christmas specials begin to come out in force…
Saturday 14th December
The X Factor
Tonight, the final three acts perform at Wembley Arena in the hope of being crowned X Factor winner 2013.
At the time of writing, the acts remaining are Rough Copy, Nicholas McDonald, Luke Friend and Sam Bailey. Personally, I would love to see Sam take the title – and I think she has a very good chance of doing so. She’s been consistently brilliant and, unlike the others, shines no matter what kind of music she’s performing.
Or I’d like to see Nicholas win. Because I fancy him a little bit.
One act will be eliminated tonight, leaving the remaining two to battle it out tomorrow. While The Killers and Tom Odell will be taking to the stage tonight, Katy Perry, One Direction, Sir Elton John and X Factor judge Gary Barlow will be performing tomorrow.
Also today: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (ITV, 2:30pm); the Strictly semi-final (BBC1, 6:40pm); Micky Flanagan, Helen Skelton, Arlene Phillips and Diarmuid Gavin are on The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 7:00pm); Psychopath Night begins on Channel 4 (9:00pm); to coincide with the release of the sequel on Wednesday, Anchorman is on BBC3 at 10:00pm; the film’s star, Will Ferrell joins David Beckham on The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 10:05pm); and BBC2 repeats The Wrong Mans, beginning with a triple bill tonight (10:55pm).
Sunday 15th December
Sports Personality of the Year 2013
Tonight Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan will reveal which sportsperson will follow in the footsteps of 2012 Sports Personality of the Year, Bradley Wiggins.
The contenders this year include: sailing champion, Ben Ainslie; cricketer, Ian Bell; athlete, Hannah Cockroft; runner, Mo Farah; cyclist, Chris Froome; rugby union player, Leigh Halfpenny; jockey and former SPOY winner, AP McCoy; athlete, Christine Ohuruogu; golfer, Justin Rose; and tennis player, Andy Murray.
So, some brilliant contenders this year* but who will be the sixtieth recipient? I have to be honest, I think Andy Murray will take some beating but we’ll find out exactly who wins the award tonight.
*I have no idea if these are ‘brilliant contenders’. I’m as familiar with sport as Katie Hopkins is with tact.
Also today: Let’s Do Christmas With Gino & Mel returns (ITV, 12:30pm), with Cheryl Fergison the first to join in the festive chat and cooking; Ski Sunday is back (BBC2, 5:55pm); Harry Judd, Gareth Gates and Chris Bisson are on The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 6:30pm); find out who’s going through to the Strictly final at 7:00pm; the X Factor winner is announced (ITV, 7:30pm); Britain’s Killer Storms (Channel 4, 7:30pm) looks at the worst weather of 2012; and, as is tradition, Channel 5 counts down Britain’s Favourite Christmas Songs (9:30pm).
Christmas specials include: The Great British Sewing Bee (BBC2, 7:40pm) and Through the Keyhole (ITV, 9:30pm).
Monday 16th December
A Night of Heroes: The Sun Military Awards
Now in its sixth year, The Millies celebrates the exceptional work and bravery of the British military.
As always, the intrepid recipients have been selected by a panel of judges, this year comprising of Andy McNab, Lorraine Kelly, Holly Willoughby, Jeremy Clarkson and former military chiefs Admiral Lord West, Field Marshal Lord Guthrie, Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire and General Sir Mike Jackson.
So, join hosts Philip Schofield and Amanda Holden, along with an audience of celebrities and politicians, for a night of rare celebration of the brilliance of our Forces.
Also today: The first instalment of World’s Strongest Man 2013 (Channel 5, 7:00pm); Kirsty’s Crafty Christmas (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Tom Kerridge Cooks Christmas (BBC2, 8:30pm); and the last-ever Ripper Street (BBC1, 9:00pm).
Christmas specials include: Don’t Tell the Bride (BBC3, 9:00pm) and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, hosted by Johnny Vegas (BBC2, 10:00pm).
Tuesday 17th December
The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special
In this one-off festive masterclass, Bake Off judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry show viewers how to create some top Christmas treats.
Stollen, Mincemeat Streusel and a Gingerbread House (pictured) are on the menu tonight, as well as Paul’s own Boxing Day pie.
If you’re struggling for a unique, homemade treat to top of your Christmas celebrations, this may just be ideal!
Also today: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (ITV, 7:30pm); Pothole Britain: Drivers Beware! (Channel 5, 8:00pm); and documentary The Lockerbie Bombing (ITV, 11:00pm).
Christmas specials include: The Call Centre (BBC3, 9:00pm); Bad Education (BBC3, 10:00pm); and The Matt Lucas Awards (BBC1, 10:35pm), with Alan Davies, Jo Brand and Rhod Gilbert.
Wednesday 18th December
The Great Train Robbery
Last year ITV brought us the fantastic Mrs Biggs, and now Auntie have this two-part drama based on the 1963 heist.
Written by Broadchurch scribe Chris Chibnall, the series begins with ‘A Robber’s Tale’, the story of the heist, told from the perspective of the perpetrators. We see the gang plan, rehearse and finally execute the theft, including the many humorous slip-ups they made and obstacles they faced along the way.
Starring Luke Evans, Neil Maskell and Martin Compston, this opening episode tells of the group’s extraordinary luck, and how that luck would change their lives forever.
Also today: Excessive Compulsive Collectors (Channel 5, 8:00pm); the conclusion of Lucan (ITV, 9:00pm); Britain’s Craziest Christmas Lights (Channel 5, 9:00pm); and the credits roll on Gogglebox for the final time this year (Channel 4, 10:00pm).
Christmas specials include: Food & Drink (BBC2, 8:00pm); Surprise, Surprise (ITV, 8:00pm); and Backchat, with Lee Mack (BBC3, 10:00pm). There are also repeats of last year’s Mrs Brown’s Boys and The Sarah Millican Television Programme specials (BBC1, 9:30pm and BBC2, 10:00pm).
Thursday 19th December
Live Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Chris Tarrant presents what may be the final-ever Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? celebrity special. Or indeed the final-ever Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.
Among the celebrity pairs tonight are Sir Alex Ferguson and Eamonn Holmes, who are of course pals owing to their Manchester United link.
Now, with Chris Tarrant having left the show (as he made plain during his cringeworthy Jonathan Ross Show interview), it’s possible that this will be the last time that we’ll see contestants taking to the hot seat.
Still, I’m sure we’ll get over it.
Also today: Hairy Bikers’ Christmas Party (BBC2, 7:00pm); The Great Train Robbery concludes (BBC1, 8:00pm); Alex Polizzi’s Perfect Christmas (BBC2, 8:00pm); George Clarke’s Amazing Christmas Spaces (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Giles Coren and Alexander Armstrong host The 12 Drinks of Christmas (BBC2, 9:00pm); Phil Taggart presents Christmas on Benefits (BBC3, 9:00pm); the last-ever episode of Him & Her (BBC3, 10:00pm); highlights of Celebrity Juice in Parallel Juicyverse (ITV2, 10:00pm); and one-off documentary Utopia (ITV, 10:35pm).
Christmas specials include: Educating Yorkshire (Channel 4, 9:00pm); and last year’s Mrs Brown’s Boys and The Royle Family (BBC1, 9:30pm and 10:35pm) – the first of which was disappointing, the latter just plain abysmal. Sorry, Caroline and Craig, but you’ll have to do better than that!
Friday 20th December
It’s slowly becoming as much a fixture as Comic Relief and Children in Need – and, now in its third year, ITV’s Text Santa appeal is back.
Although the big telethon actually begins at eight o’clock, there are programmes in aid of Text Santa throughout the day on ITV. Dickinson’s Real Deal, from Birmingham, is on at 3:00pm and The Chase is at 5:00pm. If The Chase special is anything like last year’s, which saw all of the Chasers dressed as pantomime characters, it should be brilliant.
Back to the show itself, though, and hosts Ant & Dec, Philip Schofield, Holly Willoughby, Paddy McGuinness and Christine Bleakley will be bringing three hours of festive entertainment, including Corrie, Emmerdale and Take Me Out specials and a performance of this year’s single, ‘I Wish it Could Be Christmas Everyday’, by the Big Reunion cast.
The six charities benefiting this year are: Age UK, Barnardo’s, BeatBullying, British Heart Foundation, CLIC Sargent and Help the Hospices. To find out more about these causes, and how to donate to the appeal, click here.
There will also be a highlights package at 11:45pm.
Also today: Gordon Ramsay’s Festive Home Cooking (Channel 4, 8:00pm); The Xtra Factor: Judges All-Time Best and Worst (ITV2, 8:00pm); 2013: Moments in Time (BBC2) and Have I Got 2013 For You (BBC1) look back at the events of the year at 9:00pm; Jack Whitehall hosts Live at the Apollo (BBC1, 9:30pm); Alan Carr welcomes Katy Perry onto his show (Channel 4, 10:00pm) and Julie Walters, Tinie Tempah, Idris Elba and Miranda Hart are on The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:35pm).
Christmas specials today include: University Challenge (BBC2, 7:30pm); Citizen Khan (BBC1, 8:30pm); and Big Fat Gypsy Weddings (Channel 4, 9:00pm).
This Christmas in TV (for 21st December 2013 – 3rd January 2014) will be published at the earlier time of midnight on Monday (9th December).
Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.
Image credits: The X Factor – Thanks to ITV and Tom Dymond, ©Thames TV; Sports Personality of the Year – Thanks to BBC, Ray Burmiston and Joel Anderson, ©BBC; A Night of Heroes: The Sun Military Awards – Thanks to ITV and TwoFour Productions, ©The Sun; The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special – Thanks to BBC and Love Productions, ©Love Productions; The Great Train Robbery – Thanks to BBC, World Productions and Robert Viglasky, ©World Productions; Live Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? – Thanks to ITV and Victory Television, ©Victory Television; Text Santa – ©ITV.