Christmas 2018 – Your Guide To The Best Historical TV Shows

Highlighters at the ready! Its that time of year again – the Radio Times Bumper Christmas Issue has been released and its time to plan your festive viewing.

Christmas is a prime time for period dramas (bring back the Downton Abbey Christmas Special!) but there are so many more historical TV treats out there tucked between the repeats and the family films. You can find them easily with my historical TV guide for Christmas 2018.

Christmas Eve

The Dead Room – 10pm, BBC4

First up in my historical TV guide for Christmas 2018 is The Dead Room. Now bare with me on this one! I know exactly what you’re thinking – how can a one-off drama about ghost stories be classed as either Christmas or historical viewing? Well actually, its both.

The Dead Room

It used to be a tradition in Victorian Britain that people would gather around the fire to tell ghost stories on Christmas Eve (doesn’t Dickens’ A Christmas Carol make sense now?!). Actor and Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss is just reviving the tradition for 21st Century audiences.

Christmas Day

Upstart Crow – 8.35pm, BBC2

I’m so happy the BBC decided to commission an Upstart Crow Christmas Special again. It’s one of the best new sitcoms in years, partly due to Ben Elton’s superior writing skills. Only him and David Mitchell could make Shakespeare so funny yet so human and relatable at the same time. If you haven’t checked out the first 3 series I suggest you do so pronto.

upstart crow christmas special 2018

This year’s Christmas Special is a mix of the Bard and Charles Dickens. And guess who’s guest starring in this festive episode? Only Sir Kenneth-bloody-Branagh himself!

Boxing Day

Victoria and Albert: The Royal Wedding – 12 noon, BBC2

This programme will actually first air on Friday 21st December, but I really wanted to include it my guide as I think it’s perfect Boxing Day viewing fodder. Royal historian Lucy Worsley mounts a lavish re-staging of the 1840 wedding ceremony between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. If its anywhere near as good as the recreation of the christening of Edward VI she did, then we’re in for a treat!

P.S. If you are a really big Queen V fan, then the 2008 film The Young Victoria starring Emily Blunt is on beforehand.

The ABC Murders – 9pm, BBC1

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of  Poirot, wouldn’t it? Well this year the BBC has pulled out all the stops and we see John Malkovich as the eponymous Belgian detective. We also see Ron Weasley (real name Rupert Grint) as Inspector Crome.

the abc murders

‘The show is based on Agatha Christies 1936 thriller, The ABC Murders. The story is about the race against time to stop a serial killer travelling the length and breadth of Britain in 1933. The killer strikes first at Andover and then Bexhill, leaving only one, intriguing, clue at each crime scene: a copy of The ABC Railway Guide.’

Continues on the 26th and 27th of December

Sunday 30th November

Les Miserables – 9pm, BBC1

Now, I know as soon as you read the words ‘Les Miserables’ you started singing Do You Hear The People Sing? in your head but – SHOCK HORROR – this is a straight adaptation with NO SINGING. My initial reaction was one of horror but at the same time I am very intrigued…

Lily Collins stars as Parisian seamstress Fantine while Dominic West takes the role of bloodied convict Jean Valjean (can anyone else see the similarities between him and Hugh Jackman?) The word epic is being thrown about with abandon with regards to this production, so I’m expecting great things.

So, that’s my pick of the best historical programming out there for 2018. I feel like generally its not the strongest of years period drama wise – but maybe something will blow me away?

What historical viewing have you highlighted in you Radio Time bumper TV guide?!



    • clairemiles says

      I know – i feel like I’ve been waiting forever for it to reach the UK! Can’t wait to see Mary Queen of Scots too

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