The United Kingdom as a whole continues to produce top quality television. In just the past few years we have seen the Office, Coupling, Little Britain, the resurrection of Dr. Who, Downton Abbey, a modern Sherlock, the Hour, and Call the Midwife bring our television screens to life.
An added bonus to all this imaginative television is the one-off Christmas special that a series sometimes produces. A Christmas special is usually a standalone episode that runs longer than its normal format and is used as in the case of Dr. Who to tell a special Christmas themed story. Or to tie up loose ends as in Downton Abbey series two.
This year the Christmas specials of Dr. Who, Downton Abbey, and Call the Midwife will be the highlights of the BBC and ITV’s Christmas schedule. No doubt viewers with warm bellies and full glasses will gather the family around for a night of exceptional entertainment.
However, there are many classic past Christmas specials that are worth watching over and over each year. There are too many to pick from but these are a few classics from Christmas past. Warning! Spoilers ahead!
Mr. Bean: Merry Christmas Mr. Bean
Original air date: December 25, 1992
From creating havoc in Harrods, swiping a Christmas tree, getting a turkey stuck on his head, conducting a Salvation Army band, and once again exasperating his long-suffering girlfriend Irma Gobb, Rowan Atkinson’s self-described “a child in a grown man’s body” will bring a bellyful of holiday laughter.
Father Ted: A Christmassy Ted
Original air date: December 24, 1996
Still bored with Craggy Island and the priesthood, Father Ted learns that he will receive a Golden Cleric award. Believing that this is his ticket out of the priesthood and into a life of fame and fortune Ted prepares his acceptance speech and his tirade of those who have ever crossed him. However, during all the excitement he must deal with father Todd Unctious, Mrs. Doyle and her new automatic tea maker, perpetually blissful and simple Father Dougal, and of course Father Jack. Will the Golden Cleric be the answer to Father Ted’s prayers?
Vicar of Dibley – The Christmas Lunch Incident
Original air date: December 25, 1996
Geraldine proves to be quite the popular vicar as she has received three invitations for Christmas Day lunch. Finding it hard to say no she visits each parishioner and has something to eat at every house. A fourth invitation to lunch with a lonely Owen pushes her to the limits as she is carted home in the bucket of Owen’s tractor. Then an unexpected visit from her love interest also doesn’t go down well for the unlucky in love Geraldine.
Vicar of Dibbley – Winter
Original air date: December 25, 1999
Since the previous year’s Christmas play didn’t go over so well, Geraldine is determined to come up with a showstopper. Alice actually has the brilliant idea of performing a Nativity play at Owen’s farm. Everyone has a part to play; including David as a kinder Herod, Hugo as Joseph and a very pregnant Alice as Mary who ultimately gives birth in front of the audience.
The Office Christmas Specials
Original air date part one: December 26, 2003
Original air date part two: December 27, 2003
Picking up three years after the series ended a different film crew is sent back to Wernham Hogg to see what the original employees are up to now. This two-part Christmas special serves as the brilliant finale to the already brilliant the Office series. We find former manager David Brent, working as a cleaning supplies sales man by day and trying to live off what fame he ever had in demeaning public appearances by night. However, the heart and soul of the Christmas special and actually the series itself is the forbidden love between receptionist Dawn (who is engaged to another man) and paper sales man Tim. When Dawn and Tim are awkwardly reunited at the office Christmas party everyone from David Brent to the unlucky in love couple are rewarded with an emotional and heartfelt end.
What’s your favorite classic British TV Christmas Special? Let us know in the comments!