Christmas 2021: viewing highlights

Music specials, festive drama specials and new Aussie dramas -your guide to Christmas viewing.

There are music specials, dramas in a festive mood, new and returning local dramas, documentaries and nostalgia galore this Christmas.

Here’s a selection of viewing highlights across Free to Air and Subscription.

Thursday December 23

Firebite (Ep 2)
After saving the missing Blood Hunter, Tyson and Shanika learn that the Vampire King is in town.

Carols in the Domain
7:30pm Seven
Kochie and Nat will be joined by a cavalcade of Australia’s most-loved performers in the original home of the iconic event, The Domain in Sydney. The most awarded country music artist of all time, Carrie Underwood will perform from Nashville, and lead a stellar cast of performers set to light up the stage on this sparkling night of Christmas cheer, including The Voice winner Bella Taylor-Smith; ARIA Award-winning Australian singer, songwriter and actress Samantha Jade and legendary children’s entertainers The Wiggles. After a difficult two years, the nation’s largest Christmas event will celebrate a long-awaited return to its full grandeur for the 39th year of Woolworths Carols in the Domain, including a very special visit from the man of the hour, Santa Claus.

Friday December 24

Don’t Look Up movie
Two astronomers go on a media tour to warn humankind of a planet-killing comet hurtling toward Earth. The response from a distracted world: Meh.

Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas
6:30pm ABC
Shaun’s seasonal excitement turns to dismay when a farmhouse raid to get bigger stockings for the Flock inadvertently leads to Timmy going missing. It’s Christmas Eve at Mossy Bottom Farm and Shaun’s seasonal excitement turns to dismay when a farmhouse raid to get bigger stockings inadvertently leads to Timmy heading off to a Christmas market in the back of the Farmer’s truck. Shaun mounts a rescue mission to the local town where the Farmer is trying to make a quick buck from selling his homemade festive fizz, and Farmer Ben, a local celebrity and influencer, is turning on the Christmas lights. Shaun’s mission becomes critical when a gift box containing Timmy is given to Farmer Ben’s feisty daughter, Ella. A high-speed snow chase ensues as the Ben family head home in their 4×4, oblivious to the sleigh full of sheep that’s following them, which itself is being pursued by Bitzer on make-shift skis. A quick-thinking Timmy manages to convince Ella that he’s just a toy, but he can’t escape the clutches of the cute tearaway. Shaun urgently needs to gain entry into Ella’s high-tech house, avoid her parents and get her to give up her new favourite possession. Can Shaun save the day and get Timmy home in time to open his stocking? Or has Shaun finally met his match in pocket rocket Ella? Prepare for an explosive high-wire ending as everyone learns the true value of Christmas!

Silent Night: A Song For The World
7:30pm SBS
Silent Night: A Song for the World is a musical film documentary about the creation and cultural impact of the world’s most famous Christmas carol, composed in 1818 in Salzburg. In fact, the song Silent Night caused a Christmas ceasefire in World War I. Over the last 100 years the song has been translated into 140 languages including Bing Crosby’s version which is the third best-selling single of all time. In short, the film tells the story of Silent Night with new recordings by global stars in different languages.

Little J And Big Cuz
7.30pm NITV (episode 2)
Little J, he’s five and Big Cuz, she’s nine. They’re a couple of Indigenous Australian kids living with their Nanna and Old Dog. Little J and Big Cuz are busy with the ups and downs of playground and classroom. There’s always something surprising going on whether it’s at school, in the backyard, or beyond. The gaps in Nanna’s ramshackle fence lead to Saltwater, Desert and Freshwater Country. With the help of Nanna and their teacher Ms Chen, Little J and Big Cuz are finding out all about culture, community and Country.

Carols by Candlelight
8pm  Nine
David Campbell and Ally Langdon will be back for their second year together at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl to host the nation’s favourite Christmas Eve tradition. This year the 84th celebration of Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight has had its own Christmas miracle, with full crowd capacity now allowed back for the concert. Whether you’re there at the Bowl or watching from home, it’s sure to be a very special and spectacular night. A whole host of familiar faces and stars will grace the stage to perform everyone’s favourite Christmas carols and songs, including:
The cast from the incredible musicals Hamilton, Moulin Rouge and Frozen; Global phenomenon Tones And I who debuts this year; ARIA Award winner Dami Im; Powerhouse vocalist Casey Donovan; Joe Camilleri and The Black Sorrows, one of Australia’s most successful bands; Indie pop band Sheppard; ARIA country album chart-toppers Darlinghurst; TV and pop star Bonnie Anderson; Nine’s beloved Carols family: Marina Prior, David Hobson, Tim Campbell, Anthony Callea, Denis Walter and Silvie Paladino; The X Factor winner and platinum artist Isaiah Firebrace; The trio of stage and screen darlings Christie Whelan-Browne, Lucy Durack and Esther Hannaford; Rob Mills and fellow music star Bobby Fox; TV presenter and professional singer Gorgi Coghlan; West End and Australian musical theatre star Simon Gleeson; Mahalia Barnes joining her brother and host David Campbell for a duet; The outstanding harmonies of the Melbourne Gospel Choir; And a special visit from the big man himself, direct from the North Pole. These stars will all perform under the baton of the musical director, maestro John Foreman AM, assisted by Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight choirmaster Doug Heywood OAM. Plus, performances from the Australian Girls Choir and the National Boys Choir.

Saturday December 25

Terry Pratchett’s The Abominable Snow Baby
6pm 10
Sir Terry’s best-selling short stories tells the story of an English town which is thrown into disarray by a huge snowfall and the dramatic appearance of a 14-feet tall Abominable Snow Baby.

A Baby Reindeer’s First Christmas
6:30pm 10
A community of herders in the Scottish Highlands prepare young reindeer for their first Christmas, including an orphaned reindeer calf battling against the odds.

The Queen’s Christmas Message
7:29pm ABC

Deck The Halls: The Luxury Christmas Decorators
7:30pm SBS
Ever wish it could be Christmas every day? In the world of The Christmas Decorators it is. Deck the Halls: The Luxury Christmas Decorators joins Britain’s busiest and best tree trimmers and wreath hangers as they transform some of the country’s most iconic locations into stunning, one-of-a-kind winter wonderlands. From the Natural History Museum and Blenheim Palace to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and London’s exclusive The Lansdowne Club, cameras follow the elves of Liverpool-based business The Christmas Decorators as they tackle the unique challenges at each world-famous location, creating enchanting festive designs to wow visitors. With tight deadlines to meet and more jobs to be done than in Santa’s workshop, not to mention unexpected hiccups to tackle along the way, all eyes are on the big switch-ons when the designs are revealed in all their festive glory. It’s in this all-or-nothing moment The Christmas Decorators know whether they’ve delivered the magic of Christmas.

Nat King Cole: Afraid Of The Dark rpt
7.30pm on NITV
Nat King Cole was the only Black television star in Hollywood at a time when America groaned under the weight of racial segregation and prejudice. Yet he possessed a natural talent so great that these issues were seemingly swept to one side to allow him to become one of the greatest jazz icons of all time. This candid account of what really happened in and around his ‘fairytale’ life is taken from his private journals, interviews with his widow Maria, and contributions from other family members, as well as Tony Bennett, Buddy Greco, Harry Belafonte, Nancy Wilson, Sir Bruce Forsyth, George Benson, Aaron Neville, Johnny Mathis and many more. Featuring never-before-seen archival footage, it reveals Nat King Cole’s feelings behind his ultimate calling as a ‘beacon of hope’ to the legions of the oppressed.

Royal Variety Performance 2021
7:40pm ABC
Hosted by comedian Alan Carr, this year’s spectacular show features exceptional performers, world class theatre, outstanding singers & top notch British comedy including Ed Sheeran, Sir Rod Stewart & Moulin Rouge The Musical.

National Lampoon’s Vacation movie rpt
8pm Seven

The Last Leg: Christmas special
8:30pm ABC TV Plus

On Broadway
8:30pm SBS
For anyone who loves theatre, this contemporary history of Broadway is a pure joy! As audiences prepare for the return of live theatre after an unprecedented absence of 18 months, an all-star cast tells the inside story of the last time Broadway came back from the brink. On Broadway shows how this revival helped save New York City, thanks to innovative work, a new attention to inclusion, and the sometimes-uneasy balance between art and commerce. Interviews with legends of the stage and screen, including Hugh Jackman, Helen Mirren, Christine Baranski, August Wilson, James Corden, Alec Baldwin, John Lithgow, Viola Davis, and Ian McKellen take us behind the scenes of Broadway’s most ground-breaking and beloved shows, from A Chorus Line to Hamilton. Archival clips of iconic performances by Lin Manuel Miranda, Patti Lupone, Bernadette Peters, James Earl Jones and Mandy Patinkin punctuate this hurly-burly ride through the main street of American show business. Now that New York City is facing an uncertain path forward in its recovery from a devastating pandemic, this documentary from Academy Award-nominated director Oren Jacoby and the producers of RBG shows how Broadway led the way in the city’s last great rebirth and provides a model of how it can come back again.

Saving The Delorean Time Machine
8.30pm on SBS VICELAND
The DeLorean Time Machine is the most famous movie car in the world. But after decades of harsh weather, souvenir hunters, and wild animals – this cinema icon seemed destined for the junkyard. Every Back To The Future fan knows the DeLorean Time Machine. It’s arguably the most iconic car in movie history. But while the film’s legacy has thrived over the years – the car itself wasn’t so fortunate. Decades of harsh weather and souvenir hunters reduced this film legend to a shadowy reflection of its former self. By 2010, it looked as if the car would not survive. Fortunately Bob Gale, Universal Studios, and a team of dedicated fans decided to take action. Saving The Delorean Time Machine is the unbelievable true story of the world’s most famous film car. Meet the filmmakers, celebrities, studio executives, and movie fans who worked together to bring the original Time Machine back to life!

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie rpt
10:10pm Seven

2021 Queen’s Christmas Message
10:47pm Nine

Dame Edna Rules The Waves
10:55pm Nine
Direct from her superyacht, Dame Edna hosts an evening with guests Sharon Osbourne, Rob Rinder, Emily Atack, Joe Sugg and music from the legendary Nile Rodgers and CHIC!

Sunday December 26

Love Me
The romantic six-part drama series followsthree different family members as they experience modern love at distinct times of their lives. The Mathiesons, Clara (30s), Glen (60s) and Aaron (20s), find themselves at an emotional crossroads following an unexpected event that changes their lives forever. In an era when the world is driven by conflict, Love Me is a call to the heart – a funny, sophisticated, heartfelt exploration of love in all its forms. More significantly, it’s a timely reminder that we’re all as inadequate and remarkable as each other. Clara (Bojana Novakovic, I, Tonya, Birds of Prey, Instinct, Shameless, Satisfaction), who uses her sharp wit and self-deprecation to hide from the reality that she is now approaching 40, and beginning to fear that her successful career might have come at the expense of her own family. Her doting father, Glen (Hugo Weaving), see-sawing between hope and despair, as he opens his eyes to new intimacies like love and romance in his older age, and then there’s little brother Aaron (William Lodder, Wakefield) – facing a crisis of identity as he navigates love in his early 20s whilst trying to come to terms with the challenges that life presents. The Mathieson’s fallibility draws them into the world and ever closer to suffering the most hilarious humiliations, those brilliant, pitiful moments that teach us to laugh at ourselves or die trying.

Bump S2
When it comes to special brands of chaos, the Chalmers-Davis and Hernandez families are the gifts that keep on giving, and while Oly (Nathalie Morris) and Santi (Carlos Sanson Jr) continue to get to know each other, they discover just how much families can mess you up. Meanwhile, Angie (Claudia Karvan) ​​and Dom (Angus Sampson) continue to deal with the fallout of their separation, while dealing with the complicated new relationships and dramas they have found themselves immersed in.

SBS on Demand
In a four-part SBS documentary event, Framed follows Walkley award-winning journalist and The Feed’s Marc Fennell in a series of twists and turns like no other, as he unpacks the who, how, and why of this infamous heist. But what he finds behind the many (many) ransom notes and rumours is a deeply affecting story. Although it begins with the theft of Australia’s most expensive painting, you can’t put a price on what it stole from those closest to the case. In the ‘80s, Melbourne’s modern arts scene was raging, and on a collision course with the old school sensibilities of The National Gallery of Victoria. More commonly referred to as the NGV, the top tier institution was in desperate need of a facelift to drive more patrons through its doors. The answer? A Picasso. The grieving woman painted in acidic green and purple, titled Weeping Woman, was considered a 20th century masterpiece by the gallery, but the Victorian public had trouble looking past the eye watering $2 million AUD price tag. Not only was this the highest sum any Australian gallery had paid for any artwork in this country, but it was also completely uninsured. The media was the first to alert the NGV of the painting’s disappearance, having received cryptic, taunting letters from a group calling itself ‘Australian Cultural Terrorists’. What’s more, the painting was missing from the gallery’s second floor for two days before anyone realised. The thieves held the NGV and state government to ransom. Dozens of forgeries of the painting magically appeared from Sydney to Adelaide. There were even accusations that it was an inside job. Was it a forger’s plot, a political act, or just a joke gone wrong?

This is Bob Hope
8.30pm History
During his eight-decade career, Bob Hope was the only performer to achieve top-rated success in every form of mass entertainment: Vaudeville, Broadway, movies, radio, television, popular song and personal appearances, including hosting the Academy Awards a record 19 times and his annual USO Christmas military tours. This is Bob Hope… presents a candid look at a remarkable life with unprecedented access to Hope’s personal archives, including writings voiced by Billy Crystal and clips from his body of work to reveal a gifted and very human individual. The documentary also features new interviews with Woody Allen, Dick Cavett, Margaret Cho, daughter Linda Hope, Kermit the Frog, film critic/historian Leonard Maltin, Conan O’Brien, Tom Selleck, Brooke Shields, Connie Stevens and biographer Richard Zoglin.

Call the Midwife 2021 Christmas Special
8.30pm BBC First
Series 11 begins with a Christmas special set in December 1966. Christmas promises to be a memorable one at Nonnatus House as Lucille (Leonie Elliott) and Cyril (Zephryn Taitte) prepare for their upcoming winter wedding. The Nonnatus team are faced with their busiest Christmas Day ever as the Maternity Home is filled with expectant mums-to-be, each with their own challenging case. Luckily Mother Mildred (Miriam Margolyes) is on hand to support the team. (S11 10am Monday January 3)

Call The Midwife: 2020 Christmas Special
8:30pm ABC
It’s December 1965 and everyone at Nonnatus House is looking forward to traditional celebrations with all the trimmings, but nothing goes quite to plan.

Walt Disney Pt I. rpt
8:30pm SBS
Walt Disney – never has a person held such a commanding place in American life. Yet as familiar as his work was to young and old alike, Disney himself was something of an enigma. To his fierce defenders, Disney was a visionary artist and entrepreneur who had changed American popular culture for the better, grounding it once again in a spirit of hopeful promise and shared values. To his detractors, Disney represented everything that was wrong with American culture, from its saccharine sentimentality and simplification of history to its redirection of our attention from reality to fantasy. His life and legacy are unravelled in this intimate biography.

Monday December 27

Christmas in Paradise (Death in Paradise)
8:30pm BBC First
It’s Christmas time on Saint Marie and Neville is preparing to head to Manchester to spend the holiday with his family. But his plans are abruptly changed when a billionaire shipping magnate dies in mysterious circumstances. Things only get stranger when a minicab driver in London receives a Christmas card with an ominous message inside that turns the entire case on its head. For Neville and the team, will this be a case they can crack together? Following the series 10 cliff-hanger that left everybody swinging in suspense, Florence is jetting off for Christmas, leaving the team a member down. So, the Commissioner decides to enlist the help of retired officer Dwayne Myers (Danny John-Jules). Alongside Marlon, Dwayne employs his unique style of policing to help investigate the case. Left to their own devices, the pair struggle on the best plan of action for apprehending a suspect. As rain falls, tensions rise – but as Christmas Day approaches, will they realise they’re more like one another than they originally thought?

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