What To Watch Over Christmas

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Christmas TV can be hit and miss, but this year there is plenty to keep you occupied. From classic ghost stories on the Beeb to the new Star Wars adventure on Disney+, here’s what to watch over the next couple of weeks.

Spy City, BritBox

This twisty six-part spy thriller stars Dominic Cooper (Preacher, Mamma Mia) and is based on the novel by William Boyd (Any Human Heart). It’s 1961 and Cooper is secret agent Fielding Scott, who has been sent to Cold War Berlin by a clandestine division of the British security services. The Russians, it seems, know everything. Someone is clearly giving away the secrets of the Western powers – Fielding’s task is to find the traitor and eliminate them.

Available to watch now

Swan Song, Apple TV

Set in the near future, Swan Song is a powerful, emotional journey told through the eyes of Cameron (Oscar winner Mahershala Ali), a loving husband and father who is expecting his second child with wife Poppy (Naomie Harris). When Cameron is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he is presented with an alternative solution by his doctor (Glenn Close) to shield his family from grief. As Cameron grapples with whether to alter his family’s fate, he starts to really learn about life and love.

Available to watch now

Don’t Look Up, Netflix, Christmas Eve

There’s a galaxy’s worth of stars in this highly anticipated film about two low-level astronomers who embark on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy the planet. Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Timothée Chalamet, Jonah Hill, Chris Evans, Ariana Grande, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Cate Blanchett, Matthew Perry and Ron Perlman are all here – oh, and it’s written and directed by Adam McKay (Anchorman, The Big Short, Vice)

The Silent Sea, Netflix, Christmas Eve

If Squid Game had you hooked, this Korean sci-fi drama will fit the bill this Christmas. Set on a future Earth that has undergone desertification, The Silent Sea tells the dystopian story of a team with a potentially deadly mission: to secure a mysterious sample from an abandoned research facility on the moon. Unsurprisingly, things soon start to go wrong.

The Mezzotint: A Ghost Story For Christmas, BBC Two, 10.30pm, Christmas Eve

MR James is the man who popularised Christmas ghost stories. Now, one of his best tales has been brought to life by Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, The League of Gentlemen). The Mezzotint tells the story of Mr Williams (Rory Kinnear) who stumbles upon a mysterious photograph of an old English college. At first, the grand exteriors and sweeping lawn look perfectly normal, although slightly spooky – until the picture reveals a life of its own, dragging Mr Williams into a dangerous game.

The Amazing Mr Blunden, Sky Max, 7pm, Christmas Eve

Directed and written by that man Mark Gatiss, this Christmas adventure is an adaptation of Antonia Barber’s 1972 novel The Ghosts. Simon Callow plays strange old codger Mr Blunden, who needs a caretaker for a ruined country house. When he comes across London teenagers Jamie and Lucy Allen, he offers the job to their mum – the only caveat is that the house is said to be haunted. Inside, nothing is as it seems, especially when Jamie and Lucy discover two ghost children who have travelled back in time. A comedy-drama the whole family can enjoy. 

Stories Of A Generation – With Pope Francis, Netflix 

Filmed across the globe over the course of a year, this documentary tells 18 stories of people over 70. Why? Because their lives can inspire our own. It’s based on the Pope’s 2018 book Sharing the Wisdom of Time and sees the pontiff meeting storied individuals from film director Martin Scorsese to primatologist Jane Goodall, artist and activist Omar Badsha to surfing icon Felipe Pomar.
 
Available to watch on Christmas Day

Around the World In 80 Days, BBC1, 5.50pm, Boxing Day 

This year’s family-friendly drama is an adaptation of Jules Verne’s adventure story. The eight-part series (which has already been commissioned for a second) see David Tennant as Phileas Fogg – a bored gentleman turned unlikely adventurer. Planning to travel the world in 80 days to win a lucrative bet, he enlists the help of his valet and a beautiful widow they meet along the way to make it home in time. Viewers are in for a treat – Hans Zimmer (Lion King, Inception) is behind the score.

The Book Of Boba Fett, Disney+, Wednesday 29th December

You might remember season two of great space western The Mandalorian teased this new series in a surprise end-credit sequence. The latest spin-off from the Star Wars franchise, The Book Of Boba Fett finds legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett and mercenary Fennec Shand navigate the galaxy’s underworld. As they return to the sands of Tatooine to stake their claim on the territory once ruled by Jabba the Hutt and his crime syndicate, creatures from the underworld set out to destroy their plans.

Stay Close, Netflix, New Year’s Eve

Stay Close follows four people who are hiding dark secrets from those closest to them. Megan (Cush Jumbo) is a working mother of three; Ray (Richard Armitage) is a once-promising documentary photographer; Broome (James Nesbitt) is a detective unable to let go of a missing person’s cold case; and Lorraine (Sarah Parish) is an old friend of Megan's. As the past comes back to haunt them, it threatens to ruin their lives and the lives of those around them, so they must plan their next moves carefully.

The Tourist, BBC1, New Year’s Day

This six-part thriller stars Jamie Dornan as an unnamed man being pursued by a vast tank truck in the Australian outback. An epic cat-and-mouse chase unfolds, and the man later wakes in hospital, hurt, but somehow alive. Except he has no idea who he is. With merciless figures from his past pursuing him, the  search for answers propels him through the vast and dangerous outback.

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