Check out some of the great entertainment shows on offer this Christmas.
Strictly Come Dancing Grand Final 6.30pm BBC One, Dec 22
More pirouettes than you could shake a stick at .. and Bruce's amazing hair all a-glow. Yes, it's the Strictly Come Dancing Grand Final. Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly present the ultimate ballroom battle, the Strictly Come Dancing Grand Final 2012. After spinning, high-kicking and sashaying their way through 11 weeks of dance, the final four couples take to the floor for a night of show-stopping routines to see who will be crowned the ultimate dancing champion of 2012. The programme will be joined by "one of the biggest music acts on the planet." Hmm, sounds disturbing.
The Jonathan Ross Show Christmas Special, 9.00pm, UTV, Dec 22
Sienna Miller talking about a woman cruelly treated by Hitchcock, a song from Charlotte Church, food with Jamie Oliver and laughs with Michael McIntyre - that's The Jonathan Ross Show Christmas Special. Jonathan welcomes king of comedy, Michael McIntyre, star of stage and screen, Sheridan Smith, and Paralympic gold medalists, Ellie Simmonds and Jonnie Peacock. Actress Sienna Miller should be interesting about The Girl (See Stephens Day, BBC Two) in which she plays Tippi Hendron, enduring the control freak that was Alfred Hitchcock on the set of The Birds. Jamie Oliver prepares a festive feast and Charlotte Church sings. Naturally.
All Star Christmas Presents, 6pm, Sky One, Dec 23
Christmas is a season of goodwill and making sure as many people as possible have a happy time. In keeping with the tradition of bringing festive cheer to one and all Sky have enlisted the help of Sally Lindsay who is delivering gifts to as many deserving, hardworking and selfless individuals as she can making sure they have a very merry Christmas indeed. It’s a big job and the actress and presenter will be joined by a few of her famous friends - the familiar faces are on hand to make dreams come true for those who go one step further to make a positive difference to other people’s lives.
I've Got Your Back, 8.30pm, RTE One, Dec 23
In this brand new pilot the former Big Brother housemate Brian Dowling presents a family game show. Each lucky contestant starts out with a €10,000 cash pot and their job is to hold on to as much of that money as they can while betting on their family’s ability to answer just 6 general knowledge questions. The families backs are turned away from the contestant and after the question is given, our contestant must bet the entire cash amount across the family members who they believe have the best chance of getting it right. With only 6 questions to get through, and €10,000 to win, who’s back will the contestant choose to put the money on! Sounds like a bit of light-hearted fun for a Sunday evening.
The Snowman and The Snowdog, 8.00pm, Channel 4, Dec 24
Well here is! What is likely to be the icing on the Christmas cake for viewers young, old and even indifferent to the season to be jollied and trollied – a brand new animated sequel to Raymond Briggs's classic The Snowman. The original aired at Christmas 1982 and has become a staple of Channel 4’s crimbo schedule ever since. This followy-upper finds a new young boy, Billy, going on an airborne adventure with a snowman but this time, for extra awww factor, a snowdog! When Billy and his mother move house, he discovers a box hidden under the floorboards of his bedroom. In the box, he finds a hat, scarf, some lumps of coal and a shrivelled tangerine - it's a snowman-making kit! When it begins to snow, Billy builds a Snowman and, with some spare snow, the Snowdog. That night, at the stroke of midnight, the Snowman and the Snowdog magically come to life . . .
Johnny Cash Christmas Special, 8.00pm, Sky Arts1, Dec 24
Forget about the big man in red and white – here’s the man in black. This is first of two Johnny Cash’s Christmas specials. This one from crimbo 1977, the year Elvis died, pays tribute to The King. Knowing that Presley loved gospel, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Cash perform the uplifting This Train is Bound for Glory in tribute. The special also sees Johnny perform fiery duets with June Carter, while Roy Orbison adds contrast to Cash’s deeper tones as the pair sing the smash hit Pretty Woman. There’s a sackful of Cash’s best-known hits, as well as favourites Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, Here Comes Santa Claus and a poignant Silent Night.
Comedy: Mrs Brown's Boys, RTÉ One, 9.45pm BBC One, 10.15pm
It's the marzipan moment this Christmas - there are those who DO NOT LIKE Mrs Brown's Boys and those who reckon it's the most revolutionary sitcom since, ooh, Some Mother's Do 'Ave 'Em and On The Buses. Whatever your feelings, this will be the most-watched show tonight on both sides of the Irish Sea. It's a two-parter and we kick off with Agnes facing her busiest Christmas yet. Spiritual son Trevor is visiting from the missions, grandson Bono is sleeping over on Christmas Eve, and there are three new faces to feed on Christmas Day now that Agnes’s youngest son Dermot is the father of triplets. But first things first – Agnes must finish the simple task of decorating the tree. And it seems as though Christmas in the Brown household is only going to get busier. When visiting, priest Father Damien announces that the Finglas Nativity play has been cancelled. Agnes vows to stage a Nativity play of her own in the local community centre. However, she meets stiff resistance from Father Damien, who is wary of meddling mothers like Agnes and refuses to ask permission from the Bishop. But nobody ever says no to the formidable Agnes Brown . . .
The Spice Girls' Story: Viva Forever, 8.30pm, UTV, Dec 24
In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new Spice Girls stage musical called Viva Forever on at the moment so time perhaps for ITV to roll out rather long lookback at their frankly remarkable career. The Spicies weren't quite the original of the species but they were the biggest selling all-female group ever and Ginger, Scary, Posh, Sporty and Baby’s mantra of Girl Power and Union Jack knickers was a global phenomenon in the late nineties. Before we all got sense and started loving Girls Aloud instead. This new doco celebrates their music and their story with interviews with all five members (even Victoria!), Viva Forever writer Jennifer Saunders and its producer Judy Craymer. Two of the Spice Mums also talk - Victoria’s mum Jackie and Melanie C’s mum Joan - plus chats with Withnail himself Richard E Grant, Perez Hilton and Dawn French.
For One Night Only: Sharon Shannon, 10.15pm, RTÉ One, Dec 24
“Sharon Shannon has a tune in her head for every beat of her heart” so sayeth Mike Scott of the mighty Waterboys and he should know. Tonight we join Gay Byrne on For One Night Only to celebrate the music of Sharon. Throughout this special Christmas edition, she speaks to Gay about growing up on the farm in Co. Clare, touring with the Waterboys in her early career and her love of Galway. She also speaks very poignantly about the death of her long-term partner, Leo Healy. Sharon will be joined by some well-known names in Irish music - Mundy performs Galway Girl, Imelda May rocks it out on Don’t tell the Devil, and the inimitable Dessie O’Halloran performs the finale belting out Courtin’ in the Kitchen.
The School Around The Corner, 7.45pm, RTÉ One, Dec 25
The much-loved TV series returns for a Christmas special hosted by Ray D’Arcy. He’ll be joined in studio by children from Waterford, Cork and Dublin primary schools, who’ll chat about their friendships, their school and what’s the best thing about Christmas, asking: how does Santa manage to get down the chimney? And where does Santa go for his holidays, after the big day? Also: Westlife’s Nicky Byrne and Una Healy from The Saturdays return to their primary schools.
The Zoo Christmas Special, RTÉ One 8:00pm, Dec 26
Like all the best telly, you end up watching repeat episodes of The Zoo over and over again, even though you know exactly what's going to happen. Fellow addicts, help is at hand this evening in the form of this new, hour-long special which finds narrator Tom Dunne heading up the North Circular Road to Santa's Grotto to meet some of the humans who make the show so special. With four years of episodes to choose from, zookeepers and presenter look back on some of their favourite moments, provide updates on the residents who got us feeling all mushy inside and, for maximum awww factor, we also find out how those i-want-two baby red pandas have been getting on. You are perfectly entitled to eat a whole box of chocolates yourself while watching - you can always walk them off with a visit to the Zoo in person over the Christmas break.
Nighthawks Rehashed, 10.10pm, RTÉ Two, Dec 27
Take a step back in time as Shay Healy brings us on a tour through the glory days of Nighthawks, his then ground-breaking Network 2 show blending a mix of music, chat, comedy and plenty of surprises. In the hour-long, one-off special, Healy, along with former co-presenter Joanne McAteer, chooses some of the best performances and interviews from the show’s extremely impressive four-series and 289 episodes. Speaking to the RTÉ Guide about the show, Healy said: “Nighthawks was four of the happiest years of my life, working with a bunch of crazy people.” Ahh. If you can’t wait until tonight, you can watch a classic episode of the show on www.rte.ie/player/tv50
OMG! Jedward's Dream Factory, 6.05pm, RTÉ Two, Dec 27
Like them or loathe them (is that possible?) Jedward go out of their way to make children's dreams come true and provide the rest of us with some very sweet, fun and hyper entertainment in the mean time.
Johnny McEvoy, 9pm, TG4, Dec 27
If Jedward isn't your thing perhaps you'll be tickled pink to hear that there is not one but two Johnny McEvoy programmes on TG4 tonight. The first at 9pm, Johnny McEvoy: Bard focuses on the Banagher native talking about his fascination with Irish history. In the second show, at 9.30pm, the singer and guitarist takes to the stage in Belfast's Waterfront to entertain thousands of his fans.
The 50 Funniest Moments of 2012, 9pm, Channel 4, Dec 28
The end of the year is nigh, so what better time to reflect on the past happenings of 2012, and Channel 4 has come to the rescue with The 50 Funniest Moments of 2012. The show features an array of comedians and celebrities, including Stacey Solomon, Russell Kane, Rob Beckett and Katherine Ryan, to look back over 2012 and share their favourite funny, weird of most outrageous moments of the year. Everything from Boris Johnson dangling from a zip wire to the phenomomenon of Psy's viral single Gangnam Style are up for discussion.
30 Years of CITV, 6.30pm, UTV, Dec 29
Thirty years ago CITV was launched and changed the face of children's television. This is its story – told by many of the stars who appeared in some of its favourite shows. From Children’s Ward to Dangermouse, Art Attack to Knightmare, and the best of Saturday morning TV from Number 73 to SMTV Live and Ministry of Mayhem CITV, it’s all here. Contributors include Ant & Dec, Holly Willoughby, Fearne Cotton, Stephen Mulhern, Michael Underwood, Christopher Biggins and Matthew Kelly.
Dale's Great Getaway, 8.30pm, UTV, Dec 29
This is a one-off spectacular Christmas feast of a game show, hosted by Dale Winton (remember him on Supermarket Sweep?), in which three families of four compete in a series of challenges from around the globe for the chance to win one of three very different holidays. They’ll all be going somewhere whether they like it or not. However, only one family can win the Great Getaway and play for the chance to win spending money to take with them.
A Night with Beyoncé 10.15pm UTV, Dec 30
All the high stepping jumping jiving antics all over again, as A Night with Beyoncé 10.15pm UTV gets a repeat. Oh, and you can hear that high-octane voice once again at full throttle. Beyoncé's one off special first went out on ITV a year ago, recorded at London's Fountain Studios with host Steve Jones. The superstar performed some the hits as well as tracks from her number one album, 4, including the chart-topping smash Best Thing I've Never Had, which dominated airwaves in the UK for 5 weeks in winter 2011. The performance was recorded in front of an audience of the singer's biggest fans with Beyoncé engaging in an interview session with fans in this unique and spectacular show. With over 75 million worldwide album sales as a solo artist alone, the sixteen-time Grammy winner is now one of the best-selling artists of all time.
Joe Dolan: Sweet LIttle Rock `n' Roller, 6.30pm, RTÉ One, Dec 31
It’s five years since the great Joe Dolan passed away on St Stephen’s Day, 2007 and in this film, those who knew him best – family members, colleagues and friends alongside key musicians and songwriters recall the life and times of this legendary, much-loved performer. Even now there is still “no show like a Joe show”. Joe Dolan was Ireland’s Elvis Presley. The only Irish singer to register chart hit’s over five successive decades, he evolved from being a rural Rocker in the early sixties to become Ireland’s first international pop star.
NYE House Party, 11.50pm, Channel 4, Dec 31
RTÉ One has The Gathering, over on Beeb Two, they’re throwing ye olde Scottish Hootenanny, Beeb One has eh, Gabby Logan with some fireworks, and UTV is showing the news but check out the hipsters on Channel 4. House Party is back for a 2012 send off which invites viewers to throw parties with live DJ sets by six top international acts, including Annie Mac, Frankie Knuckles, Norman Jay, Hercules and the Love Affair, Charlie Sloth and Toddla T Sound. The event brings house parties together from around the UK, and, by turning the television or laptop into the ultimate DJ booth, gives everyone the opportunity to celebrate the New Year with their personal line-up of world-class DJs and VJs, who are playing directly to the TV audience, rather than a packed studio. Bleedin’ hipsters! What’s wrong with Auld Lang Syne and a bottle of cooking sherry? Tsk!
Top of The Pops New Year's Eve Special, 7.00pm, BBC One, Dec 31
This New Year’s Eve sees the return of Top Of The Pops for a special hour-long celebration of all things pop. Hosts Reggie Yates and Fearne Cotton will review the year in pop, taking in 2012’s greatest hits and brightest chart stars. The show will feature special performances from some of the year's biggest acts including the final number one of 2012. Now that the charts have become unpredictable again why don’t they just bring it back every week?
Jools’ Annual Hootenanny 2012/2013, BBC Two, 11.10pm
The Dubliners bring their 50th anniversary year to a rumbustious close with an appearance on Jools’ annual Hootenanny and they’ll be performing a couple of their classic tunes, including the barnstorming The Irish Rover. Also on hand for the knees up is Petula Clark who performs two of her biggest songs along with a surprising cover of Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy from her upcoming album; the biggest selling act of 2012, designer soul singer Emeli Sandé will perform numbers from her million-selling Our Version Of Events. Also in the studio will be Soul legend Bobby Womack with a track from his recent album The Bravest Man In The Universe along with a number or two from his vast back catalogue. The lovely Lianne La Havas will perform her ode to going out with an older man in Age plus an Ella Fitzgerald number; King of the charts in the early Eighties, Adam Ant will perform some of his classic pop tunes along with a number from his upcoming album. The Hives will be dropping in to dazzle with their rock and roll tunes including crowd favourite Hate To Say I Told You So; from Detroit, soul singer Bettye Lavette will be performing her 1965 tune Let Me Down Easy along with her take on The Black Keys I’m Not The One from her new album. Frontman of Dexys Midnight Runners, Kevin Rowland, will be reprising a couple of their classic Eighties tunes along with a number from their 2012 album. And Nottingham's newest star, singer-songwriter Jake Bugg who had huge success in 2012 with his debut album. Sounds good!
Gary Barlow and Friends, 9.00pm, UTV, Jan 1
After Take That split up, Gary Barlow suffered a surprise solo career slump, but in recent years since the band reformed he can simply do no wrong. Here the X Factor judge has his own New Year’s Day special as Barlow brings some of his superstar friends together for a one-night only musical spectacular in the Manchester Apollo. Guests include: Peter Kaye, James Corden, Mark Owen, Nicole Scherzinger and JLS. I wonder will Peter Kaye bring Tony Christie along?
The Great Northern Songbook, 10.00pm, BBC TWO, Jan 1
The 150th anniversary of Belfast’s Ulster Hall was marked with a one-off event The Great Northern Songbook – 150 Years Of The Ulster Hall. This special concert, held in May, features some of Northern Ireland’s most popular musical talent joining with the Ulster Orchestra to perform ten favourite songs composed by local songwriters - as voted for by the public and BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle specialist music presenters. The acts include Cara Dillon, Brian Kennedy and The Answer.
Gok's Style Secrets, 8pm, Channel 4, Jan 2
The fashion guru is back but this time he has a brand new, exciting make-over show and this time he's holding nothing back. In a bid to help singletons meet Mr/Mrs Right he is sharing all of his style secrets and flirty tips. First up is a 30-year-old nursery school teacher who, despite still living at home and never having had a long-term relationship, is looking for love. Gok is the man to help her out, not just with her wardrobe but as a dating coach, wingman, agony uncle and matchmaker.
Secrets of a Good Marriage with Sharon Horgan, 10pm, Channel 4, Jan 2
Irish actress, writer and comedian Sharon Horgan brings her great talent on tour to uncover the Secrets of a Good Marriage. The London-born, Meath-raised presenter meets with six couples in her search and becomes a wedding crasher in a bid to get the answers to her many and diverse questions. Or as she says herself: "Everyone knows what they want from a wedding - drunk by noon, quick go on a bridesmaid, chocolate fountain - but what do we want from a marriage?" Need I say more? We'll be watching.