This year has been, if nothing else, a year full of the new and the unexpected. From using previously unheard-of phrases like “social distancing” in our everyday speech to scanning our locations at restaurant doors to locking ourselves in our homes for two weeks when a notification tells us to, 2020 has recalibrated normality as we knew it.
As Christmas approaches with the same element of newness, some familiarity is in order.
Here is the Kingston Courier’s pick of 10 classic British Christmas Specials to revisit this year.
1. All Creatures Great and Small: The Lord God Made Them All (1983)
With a revived Christmas Special coming out this December, it seems only natural to give the 1983 episode another watch. Sink into your couch with the rolling Yorkshire Dales, fluffy farm animals and James, Siegfried and Tristan on your screen.
2. Blackadder: Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988)
In a delightful reversal of Dickens’ original story, Ebenezer Blackadder’s voluntary fall from grace might be even funnier this year, as we plod through the steps of following the rules and doing what is right.
3. Only Fools and Horses: Time on Our Hands (1996)
If ever we needed a miraculous and outrageous bout of good luck, it is this year. Live vicariously through Del and Rodney as, after 15 years of dodgy goods, scrappy sales and the never-ending grind, their wildest dreams come true.
4. The Office: Christmas Specials (2003)
If sarcasm and disillusionment, more than fluff and light-heartedness, are what hit your funny bones then The Office Christmas Specials are the perfect watch. With all the core characters splintered in life’s different directions, relive the reunion of the old gang in this two-parter.
5. Doctor Who: The Christmas Invasion (2005)
With a treasure trove of specials to choose from, The Christmas Invasion not only features alien Santas, weaponised Christmas trees and all such seasonal things, it also boasts the introduction of David Tennant to the franchise. An apt start of a new era and a new adventure as we head optimistically into 2021.
6. The Vicar of Dibley: The Handsome Stranger / The Vicar in White (2006)
The nation’s favourite vicar and her eccentric squad of geriatrics is a standard watch most Christmases. Having returned to our screens for The Vicar of Dibley In Lockdown recently, her Jane Austen inspired romantic adventures of 2006 are definitely a must-watch this year.
7. Gavin and Stacey: Christmas Special (2008)
Driving cross-country, drink-fuelled family spats and Band Aid on full volume are the stuff of Christmas and are exactly what this Christmas Special provides. From Barry Island to Billericay, everyone should have Gavin and Stacey on their TV this December.
8. Gavin and Stacey: Christmas Special (2019)
A special mention for this second Christmas Special which graced our screens 10 years after the show ended. Although the characters look a bit older, the Shipmans and Wests are as sweet and as dysfunctional as always, making this episode a perfect follow up to its 2008 counterpart.
9. Downton Abbey: Christmas at Downton Abbey (2011)
For period drama lovers, Christmas at Downton Abbey cannot be missed. With drama unravelling in the Grantham estate, in the kitchen and the drawing-room alike, the episode is bewitching and ends with the much-needed sentiment that love conquers all.
10. Outnumbered: Christmas Special (2016)
Car problems, family problems and emotional problems all have a distinct Christmas ring to them and can be found in abundance with the Brockmans in this last Christmas Special. A true family favourite to end the list.