What do you love about Christmas? Is it the promise of presents? The seasonal sense of peace and goodwill to all men? Perhaps it is eating until you can eat no longerâ¦ (Oh but go on, Iâm sure you can manage another mince pie). Another thing to look forward to during this time of year is the stuff we get to watch on telly. Christmas specials have become an annual and eagerly anticipated part of our yuletide routine, and over the years there have been some right belters. In no particular order here are twelve of the most memorable festive momentsâ¦
The Office Final Episode
After announcing they wouldnât be making a third series of their smash-hit series, Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais softened the blow by giving us a two-part Christmas special which aired on the 26th and 27th December 2003. As well as providing some usual hilarity in the antics of its much-loved characters (David finally telling Finch to ‘f**k off’) the true satisfaction came in seeing the long-awaited union of Tim and Dawn. Finally. Hooray!
Not just a vehicle for the career-launch of Aled Jonesâ¦ this animated feature has been capturing imaginations since its release in 1982. With an intro by none other than David Bowie and through beautiful animation, the film brings to life the story of a young boy who is taken on a magical adventure to the North Pole. The plot is well-known for its ability to make grown-ups cry as well as breaking young hearts. (Yes kids, snow does melt.)
Only Fools and Horses
Del-Boy and Rodders are national treasures. The 1996 Christmas episode âHeroes and Villainsâ always seems to come out on top in the favourite episode stakes and it is not difficult to see why; an impressive 21.3 million tuned in to see the pair dress up as superheroes for a party which turns out to be a wake. A comedy classic ensues.
The First Ever (televised) Queenâs Speech.
First taking to the airwaves in 1952, the custom of addressing the nation by making an annual Christmas speech was passed onto the Queen by her father King George VI. However it was five years later that she actually appeared on TV for a broadcast. âMy own family often gather around to watch the television, and that is how I imagine you nowâ? she began, and in this traditional vein it has endured. Another notable speech was in 1992, describing it as her âannus horribilisâ, the Queen expressed sorrow at a year which saw the break-up of two family marriages and a fire at Windsor Castle.
Continuing with the theme of royalty, this list would not be complete without mentioning the specials of The Royle Family. It perfectly showcases what most people tend to do at Christmas; eating, bickering, and sitting in front of the telly. This 1999 episode is probably the best due to its heart-warming scene of Jim comforting a frightened Denise as she goes into labour in the upstairs bathroom.
Morecambe and Wise
From 1969 to 1980 (bar an exception to the rule in 1974) this legendary double-act appeared in living rooms up and down the country at Christmas, entertaining in their own inimitable and beloved style. A much-anticipated part of their annual special became the appearances of famous guests. Angela Ripponâs legs caused a right stir back in the day, when she danced on the show alongside the comedy duo.
Wallace & Gromit
The magic of Ardman Animation is captured by the humorous and loveable Wallace and Gromit. The 1996 Christmas special âA Close Shaveâ sees the hapless Wallace framed for killing sheep, whilst his intelligent companion Wallace and love-interest Wendolene attempt to save him. It has become a classic, and is quite simply guaranteed fun for all the family!
Vicar of Dibley
The monumental popularity of The Vicar of Dibley has been shown over the years through its ratings at Christmas. In particular, the 2000 episode garnered 14.17 million, second only to the juggernaut that is Eastenders. In 1996âs âThe Christmas Lunch Incidentâ, Geraldineâs popularity proved all too much as she was invited to three separate dinners. Everyone loves her â fact. As Jim Trott clarifiesâ¦. âI like the way you move from the superficial and facile messages of popular culture to the subtle and more complex revelations of the nativity.â?
This choice might be unknown to many, but Seinfeld fans will recall the tradition âFestivusâ, an alternative to Christmas described in a classic episode entitled âThe Strikeâ. To celebrate you must partake in the Airing of Grievances, whereby family members tell you of all the ways youâve disappointed them during the past year. Instead of the traditional tree, the holiday is also celebrated by the assembly of an aluminium pole. As Frank Costanza shrewdly explains…âIt requires no decoration. I find tinsel distractingâ?.
Top of the Pops
Back in the days when chart positions actually meant something, the Christmas number one was an important and competitively fought accolade. Millions tuned in to TOTP each year on Christmas Day to see presenters decked out in reindeer jumpers and tinsel and bands dancing around under fake snow. Despite being axed, TOTP returns every year to carry on this grand tradition.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
There have been quite a few versions of C.S. Lewisâ classic tale, but this 1988 version seems to stick in the minds of many. Despite the animation seeming a bit dated now (youâve probably seen more impressive beaver costumes at Halloween) the version is synonymous with the type of nostalgia we just canât get enough of at this time of year.
Chrimbo in Walford is never going to be a quiet affair, and the 1986 Eastenders Christmas Day episode has gone down in history as one of the most explosive of all time. (Why canât they just argue over the remote like normal people?!) It was also the most watched with 30.1 million viewers tuning in to see Ange get her comeuppance. Who knew Santa delivered divorce papers.