25 Very British Christmas TV Specials

Zoe Samuel

Image: ITV

About This Article

The holidays are very special in Britain. Throughout British history, events taking place on and around holidays — Christmas in particular— have punctuated their times. The World War I Christmas football match is remembered as a moment when both sides of the war recognized each others' humanity.

Likewise, television has been a special institution in Britain since the BBC first took to the airwaves with its first television broadcast. Tradition dominates the industry, and one of those traditions reaches to the heart of British culture in December — Christmas. From Royal addresses to sentimental cameo-driven treats, Christmas television programmes have shaped our idea of the holiday, with some Britons always planning to settle into their favourite chair surrounded by family to watch, what is to them, appointment television.

Sometimes a Christmas special is connected with an existing television series, while others are created each year without any connection to an existing property. Of Christmas specials connected with a larger television series, some are self-contained episodes that do not necessarily play largely in the meta-plots of the series they belong to, while others are just as important to the story arc of the season, but have the additional duty of infusing the story with a bit of Christmas optimism. Whatever their origins, Christmas television specials play a unique role in British culture, and among such specials, 25 stand tall.

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