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Daniel O'Donnell, The 2 Johnnies, and festive flicks: A look at RTÉ and Virgin Media's seasonal schedules

Mrs Brown’s Boys is back with two more episodes on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

RTÉ AND VIRGIN Media both announced their seasonal TV programming schedules today with Tommy Tiernan and Mrs Brown leading the charge for the national broadcaster, while Virgin Media has plenty of Christmas specials to keep you busy.

Following on from the success of his RTÉ chat show, Tommy Tiernan is back with a one-off special interviewing with people from all walks of life, some well-known personalities, some lesser so, and like Tommy we’ll find out who they are on the night.

Mrs Brown’s Boys is also back with two more episodes on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve in what has become an expected festive tradition at this stage. This year Agnes is recruited to the church choir under strict instructions, while a Christmas tree shortage causes Buster to get more creative than usual.

A new animated short fronted by Toy Show favourite Adam King, Adam Saves Christmas, will air on RTÉjr on Christmas Eve. Look out for Ryan Tubridy as the voice of Santa Claus.


There will also be an Ireland’s Fittest Family celebrity special over Christmas in which celebrities – including The Happy Pear’s Flynn twins and comedian Neil Delamere – will be put through gruelling physical challenges.

There’ll also be a new one-hour family entertainment show hosted by Dermot Whelan and Doireann Garrihy. RTÉ says Big Night is one of its “biggest gifts” to Irish families this season with celebrity pranks, studio games, and audience surprises all promised.

Meanwhile, The 2 Johnnies will be ringing in the New Year on RTÉ One live from Dublin Castle with guests from the world of sport and entertainment.

There is also a raft of new original documentaries coming up this month including Steps of Freedom (the story of how Irish dance became a global phenomenon), and How Ireland Rocked the 70s (the evolution of the festival circuit in Ireland during the 1970s).

Other highlights include A Grand Year which sees award-winning filmmaker Ross Whitaker tell the remarkable tale of Rachael Blackmore’s rise to the pinnacle of horse racing and her historic year. While Daniel at Sixty promises to be an “entertaining and honest insight” into the life of the Donegal crooner as he turns 60 with exclusive access to O’Donnell, his family, and friends as they take a trip down memory lane.

And if you’re a fan of Fair City, this Christmas expect to see Lucy’s unconventional relationship with Dolores and Tyler come to a head as the Gardaí close in on cracking the case of Ritchie Lennon’s murder in Carrickstown.

The schedule wouldn’t be complete without movie listings, so here are the highlights:

  • Dr Seuss’ The Grinch Christmas Day RTÉ One 6pm
  • Abominable Christmas Day RTÉ 2, 11am
  • The Secrets Life of Pets 2 Christmas Day, RTÉ One 12:35pm
  • Bohemian Rhapsody Christmas Day, RTÉ One 10:10pm
  • Rocketman Stephen’s Day, RTÉ One, 9:35pm
  • Dating Amber 21 December RTÉ 2 9:35pm
  • Stan and Ollie 31 December RTÉ 2, 10pm

These classic films are also on the schedule though no word yet on when they’ll be airing exactly: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, The Greatest Showman, Die Hard, Braveheart, Back to the Future trilogy, E.T., the Indiana Jones series, Home Alone 2 Lost in New York, Casablanca, Singin in the Rain, The Big Sleep, and Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang.

Over on Virgin Media, they’ve got a number of new Irish Christmas specials airing this month along with all the festive specials fresh from the UK.

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Idris Elba sits down with Paul McCartney on Monday 20 December at 9pm, while Piers Morgan is joined by Good Morning Britain presenter Kate Garraway on Tuesday 21 December at 10pm for his final Piers Morgan’s Life Stories. Graham Norton is also back on New Year’s Eve with his annual show at 11.55pm on Friday 31 December featuring a host of celebrities.

On Christmas Eve from 6pm you can watch The Celebrity Chase Christmas Special, The Cube Celebrity Special and Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow.

Battle of the Christmas Lights sees two Cork families as they go head-to-head to create the best possible Christmas on their street. It airs at 7pm this Saturday.The Restaurant Christmas Special returns on 14 December at 9.30pm as Marco Pierre White and Rachel Allen put Mary Black through her paces in the kitchen.

On Christmas Day, Don’t Look Back In Anger will be revisiting some of the biggest news stories of the year and everything in between at 5.30pm. You can also catch special hour-long episodes of Emmerdale and Coronation Street from 7pm on Virgin Media One on Christmas Day.

A new music series showcasing Irish talent, Fanning at Whelan’s, airs on Virgin Media Two from Saturday 4 December at 10pm. Each episode will feature live performances from acts like Inhaler, Kodaline, Paddy Casey, Lyra and Mick Flannery.

Virgin Media also has a line-up of festive flicks and the odd favourite thrown in too. Virgin Media One will be showing Finding Jack Charlton (Saturday 27 December at 10pm), Bad Santa 2 (Saturday 18 December 9.30pm), Madagascar: Escape to Africa (Christmas Eve 4.05pm), and Central Intelligence (Christmas Eve 10pm).

About the author:

Adam Daly

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