Christmas 2018 best TV preview: What’s on the BBC this festive season?

The BBC has announced a cracker of a line-up for UK viewers this festive season.

Here are some of the shows we’re most excited about this Christmas:


The ABC Murders

John Malkovich makes his debut as the new Hercule Poirot in the BBC’s three-part adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders.

He’s joined by Rupert Grint (Harry Potter), Andrew Buchan (Broadchurch), Tara Fitzgerald (Game of Thrones) and Shirley Henderson (Harry Potter).

It’s 1933 and a killer travels the length and breadth of Britain via the railway network. The killer uses the alias ABC, and strikes in a methodical pattern, leaving a copy of the ABC railway guide at the scene of each of murder. As Poirot attempts to investigate he is thwarted on every front. If he is to match his most cunning nemesis, everything about him will be called into question: his authority, his integrity, his identity.


Call the Midwife

Ahead of its eighth season next year, Call the Midwife returns for another traditional annual Christmas special.

As Poplar prepares for Christmas, the nuns travel to the Mother House to elect a new mother superior. As they ready to leave, Sister Mildred (Miriam Margolyes), an indefatigable sister from their order, arrives unexpectedly with her hands full with four Chinese orphans on route to the Children’s Home at the Mother House.

Back in Poplar, Trixie returns from Portofino refreshed and with her troubles well and truly behind her and Valerie leads the baby ballet Christmas performance.


The Dead Room

Sherlock creator Mark Gatiss bring a one-off short Christmas ghost story to BBC Four, telling the spooky story of a long-running radio horror series.

Simon Callow plays Aubrey Judd, the radio series’ veteran presenter and national treasure, who finds that he must adapt to changing times and tastes… But whatever happened to the classic ghost stories? The good old days? Aubrey soon discovers that all is not quiet in the eerie radio studio – and that elements of his own past are not as dead and buried as he perhaps hoped!


The Long Song

Adapted from Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel by Small Island screenwriter Sarah Williams, The Long Song is set during the final days of slavery in 19th century Jamaica.

The three-part drama follows the trials, tribulations and survival of a wily, strong-willed slave July (Tamara Lawrance) on a plantation owned by her odious mistress Caroline Mortimer (Hayley Atwell).

But if that sounds a bit bleak from Christmas, don’t worry – the BBC promises it’s “a story of love, hope, passion, survival and determination, full of insight and humour.”


Mary Berry’s Christmas Party

Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson of fame, newsreader Huw Edwards, comedian Joe Lycett and Britain’s fastest-ever female athlete Dina Asher-Smith join Mary Berry as she prepares for her own Christmas Party.

These four guests are busy folk and they all adore time off over Christmas, but this year they are hoping to fine tune their festive cookery skills, Mary she teaches each of them some of her mouth-watering Christmas recipes.


Mary Berry’s Country House at Christmas

In this sumptuous and heart-warming programme, Mary Berry visits Harewood House in Yorkshire, one of the nation’s most beautiful stately homes, to meet its army of skilled staff and dedicated volunteers as they prepare the house for Christmas.

Delving into the archives, she finds out about the inspiring story of Princess Mary, 6th Countess of Harewood, who helped provide Christmas gifts for serving soldiers during the First World War.


Les Misérables

Victor Hugo’s 19th century classic is brought to life as never before by Pride & Prejudice screenwriter Andrew Davies.

This new six-part mini-series will be delving deep into the many layers of Hugo’s story, revelling in Jean Valjean and Javert’s cat-and-mouse relationship, against the epic backdrop of France at a time of civil unrest. And there won’t be any singing in this version!

The cast includes Dominic West (The Hour) as Jean Valjean, David Oyelowo (A United Kingdon) as Javert and Lily Collins as Fantine, alongside Adeel Akhtar (Victoria & Abdul) and Olivia Colman (The Crown) as Monsieur and Madame Thénardier, and Josh O’Connor (The Durrells) as Marius.


Upstart Crow

Following its recent third season, Blackadder creator Ben Elton’s William Shakespeare sitcom returns with ‘A Crow Christmas Carol’.

It’s a bleak midwinter in the Shakespeare household as the family comes to terms with a cruel loss. But when a mysterious stranger (Kenneth Branagh) offers to share with Will (David Mitchell) a tale of redemption he becomes filled anew with love and light and hope.


Watership Down

Based on Richard Adams’ classic novel, this new two-part animated adaptation of Watership Down features an all-star British voice cast, including James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, John Boyega, Olivia Colman, Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Wilkinson, Gemma Arterton, Peter Capaldi, Mackenzie Crook, Anne-Marie Duff, Taron Egerton, Freddie Fox, Daniel Kaluuya, Rory Kinnear, Rosamund Pike, and Gemma Chan. Wow!

A tale of adventure, courage and survival, the story follows a band of rabbits as they flee the certain destruction of their home. Get the tissues ready!



Other drama highlights include the return of Idris Elba’s crime drama Luther, and a New Year’s Day Doctor Who special.



Children’s highlights include an animated adaptation of children’s picture book Zog from the creators of The Gruffalo, and an adaptation of David Walliams’ book The Midnight Gang.



Comedy highlights include a Christmas episode of sitcom Hold the Sunset, one-off Christmas Eve adventure Click & Collect, the traditional love-it-or-hate it Mrs Brown’s Boys specials, new documentary Ken Dodd: How Tickled We Were, a look back at Goodness Gracious Me celebrating its 20th anniversary, The “Xmas” Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan, a Live at the Apollo special, quiz show Would I Lie to You at Christmas?, the fourth season of Scottish sitcom Two Doors Down, two classic episodes of Morecambe & Wise that haven’t been seen since 1968, and a unique live episode of Not Going Out.



Entertainment highlights include the annual Michael McIntyre’s Christmas Big Show, an all-star Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special, Billy Connolly: Made in Scotland, a festive episode of The Graham Norton Show, two Top of the Pops specials, a QI special, a MasterChef: The Professionals special, Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain’s Party Feasts and Take That & Us, celebrating the group’s 30th anniversary.



Nature documentary highlights include Spy In The Snow, Grizzly Bear Cubs and Me, Snow-Wolf, and Christmas Sky with Chris and Michaela.



Cultural highlights include Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake from the Royal Opera House, a New Years Day Concert from the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna, some festive jazz in Merry Christmas Baby – with Gregory Porter & friends, a look at one of the most prolific British period drama screenwriters in Andrew Davies: Rewriting the Classics, Sir Antonio Pappano’s personal selection of opera’s greatest arias in Pappano’s Arias, and the Tony award-winning Broadway musical An American In Paris.



Religious highlights include Carols from King’s from the Chapel of King’s College in Cambridge, two Songs of Praise specials, Midnight Mass from Buckfast Abbey, new four-part series My Faith and Me, a Christmas family service broadcast live in Christmas Morning Live from Oldham Parish Church,Christmas at St Paul’s, and The Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message.


Here’s a trailer for Christmas 2018 on BBC One:


Take a look at our list of Christmas gift ideas here.