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Here are some of the TV highlights this festive season

Derry Girls at Bake Off, Second Captains, Brendan Grace and Mrs Brown are some of the highlights of our Christmas TV schedule.

IT MAY BE well over 30 years now since 30 million people watched Dirty Den Watts hand over divorce papers to his wife Angie on Eastenders on Christmas Day, but plenty of us still tune into whatever’s on TV on 25 December today.

(As part of the research for writing this, I discovered that Anita Dobson – who played Angie – is married to Queen’s Brian May. There you go.)

All of the TV stations roll out some festive favourites and new once-offs every year to try entice viewers to switch over.

Here’s what’s on this year on some of the most widely accessible TV channels:

Brendan Grace – Thanks for the Memories

brendan-grace File photo. Brendan Grace. Source: Leon Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

This year saw the tragic passing of one of Ireland’s most loved entertainers Brendan Grace.

RTÉ is planning to celebrate his life with a number of shows to remember the popular comedian.

Brendan Grace – A Late Late Tribute looked back at his most memorable moments down through the years as a guest on The Late Late Show on Friday 20 December.

A one-off special called Brendan Grace Thanks for the Memories Concert that was filmed at the Olympia Theatre will also air on RTÉ.

Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special

Source: BBC Trailers/YouTube

The comedy featuring James Corden, Ruth Jones, Matthew Horne et al may not have been at the height of popularity when it first hit screens, but boxsets and repeats have helped to cement it as one of the much-loved British comedies of the 2000s.

It’s a decade since the last episode, and this year will see a one-off Christmas special to see how the characters are all getting on now.

It airs on BBC One on Christmas Day at 8.30pm.

Mrs Brown’s Boys

mrs-brown-5 Source: RTÉ

It’s possibly the most marmite show of the decade, and Brendan O’Carroll returns again this year with the annual Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas special.

It’s firmly established itself as part of Christmas schedules on both sides of the Irish sea.

Here’s how RTÉ describes this year’s edition: “Agnes’ world is turned upside down when an angel arrives in Finglas and grants her a wish to see what life would be like if she’d never been born.”

Kevin Kennedy guest stars in this one. You may remember him as Curly Watts (!) from Coronation Street back in the day. 

The Great Christmas Bake Off

sky-arts-awards The Derry Girls will be putting their baking skills to the test Source: Ian West/PA Images

It’s been a while since the Derry Girls hit our screens, but we’ll get the chance to see its cast in an unlikely setting as they don aprons to get baking for a festive edition of the Great Christmas Bake Off on Channel Four.

Saoirse-Monica Jackson (Erin), Nicola Coughlan (Clare), Jamie-Lee O’Donnell (Michelle), Dylan Llewellyn (the wee English fella), and Siobhan McSweeney (ister Michael) will be put through their paces and aiming to impress Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.

It airs New Year’s Day.

The Christmas Letter

Ahead of the big day, RTÉ will be airing a new Irish animation based on the true story of a Christmas letter to Santa found in Terenure in Dublin decades later.

The Christmas Letter features the voices of Catriona Balfe and Fiona Shaw. 

Leaving Limbo

This once-off from RTÉ will tell the inspiring story of teenage best friends Natasha and Minahil.

The pair grew up in Athlone as asylum seekers and are now navigating the enormously tricky task that is the Leaving Cert.

Once Upon a Time at Christmas

The for the younger – and maybe not so younger – ones among us, RTÉjr’s panto for this year is Once Upon a Time at Christmas.

It follows the Big Bad Wolf as he tries to show he’s changed his ways for good now and become the Big Good Wolf.

TheJournal.ie staff aren’t sure he’s really changed at all to be honest (Oh no he’s not, oh yes he has).

A Christmas Carol

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Source: BBC/YouTube

Another year, another Dickens adaptation.

There have been some worthy versions of A Christmas Carol over the years but you can’t argue with the stellar cast for this year’s edition on the BBC.

Guy Pearce is Scrooge and he’s joined in a three-part special by Charlotte Riley, Andy Serkis and Stephen Graham.

It airs from 22-24 December from 9pm each nigh on BBC One.

The Trial of Christine Keeler

c keeler Source: BBC

Sherlock used to be a staple of our post-Christmas TV diets on the BBC at the beginning of the decade, but the British broadcaster has mixed it up in the last few years.

This year’s drama features the infamous Profumo Affair (google it!) that rocked British politics in the 1960s, and focuses on the woman at the heart of the story – Christine Keeler.

It airs over two nights on 29 and 30 December at 9pm on BBC One.

Second Captains

download - 2019-12-05T091548.436 Source: Alex Sheridan

They never go home, those boys.

Weekend summertime radio is always a bit brighter with the Second Captains on RTÉ Radio One. They always get fascinating and engaging interviewees – who aren’t sports people – under the tenuous pretense of learning their own sporting history.

That’s always an aside to the real show, and the Second Captains will be back on our TV screens on New Year’s Eve as the search for Ireland’s Greatest Non-Sportsperson Sportsperson goes on.

Fear Darb Ainm Harris

ry4dcr-richard-harris-the-field-1990 Source: Allstar Picture Library/Alamy Stock Photo

On TG4 on New Year’s Day, a new documentary explores the life of the late, great Richard Harris on and off-screen. 

Featuring exclusive interviews with some of Hollywood’s elite, including Clint Eastwood, Daniel Radcliffe, Ridley Scott, Jim Sheridan and Stephen Rea, it charts one of the last great hell-raisers. 

About the author:

Sean Murray

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