There’s a lot of cracking TV to choose from this Christmas. Here’s our feminist edit to help you narrow it down.
From everyone’s favourite baking show to the classic comedy duo that is French and Saunders, and the long-anticipated adaptation of Little Women, behold our round-up of the best TV offerings to hunker down in front of over the Christmas holidays.
Doctor Who: Upon A Time
Even for a festive special, the space traveller’s new adventure isn’t short of drama: the last outing for Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie (as Bill Potts), the return of the original 1963 Doctor (David Bradley), and excitingly the Doctor becomes a woman for the first time. The plot is almost secondary, but it does have a pleasing culture clash between the antiquated first Doctor and vivacious Potts. Mackie’s been a joy to watch, and we look forward to Jodie Whittaker’s new Who being just as formidable.
5.30pm, 25 December, BBC1
The Great Christmas Bake Off
Joy to the world, Bake Off is back for its annual Christmas get-together, with two of our all-time favourite contestants: Val and Selasi. There are innuendos aplenty, Christmas jumpers and a Heston-difficult showstopper. But Val steals it yet again, roping Sandi and Noel into her step aerobics routines, offering the judges a glass of sherry with her Yule log, and threatening to put Paul on the naughty step. Someone needs to give Val her own show.
7.40pm, 25 December, C4
300 Years Of French and Saunders
If The Handmaid’s Tale was the highlight of your TV year, you need Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders wearing red robes and white bonnets in your life ASAP. The pair teamed up almost 40 years ago at a time when Benny Hill chasing young women was considered family entertainment. Their subsequent successes transformed the chauvinist face of British comedy; now, in a one-off to celebrate their anniversary, they’re reinventing The Kar-Crashians and a certain feminist movie superhero. Wonderwomen indeed.
10.35pm, 25 December, BBC1
Victoria: Comfort and Joy
For those seeking a traditional festive treat the sumptuous costumes, opulent decorations and carol singing are all here, but Victoria’s Christmas special is dominated by women defying the conventions of the times. Victoria (Jenna Coleman) ruffles establishment feathers when she is ‘gifted’ a young West African princess, while below stairs the single Miss Skerrett makes a crucial decision, dismissing a patronising lawyer’s advice with the pointed, “I don’t need a man to tell me what’s right.” And so say all of us.
9pm, 25 December, ITV
Offering a fresh perspective on Louisa May Alcott’s classic 1869 tome, this three-part series sees Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy fight to carve out their own identities in a world that “has been torn in two because people can’t decide what is right”. Yes, their struggles with love, gender identity, consent and everyday sexism take place in the 19th century, but their plight feels all the more relevant in the current climate of Trump and #MeToo. A must-watch this Christmas.
8pm, 26 December, BBC1
When 18-year-old Nella (Anya Taylor-Joy) is effectively sold by her mother to a wealthy Dutch merchant in 1686, he gives her a miniature replica of her marital home as a wedding present. Soon the dolls’ house seems to take on an unnerving life of its own, predicting the downfall of everyone within it. As the two-part story unfolds, women emerge from the shadows to take centre stage. The series shares the bestselling novel’s brooding atmosphere, set against an opulent, Vermeer-inspired set of 17th-century Amsterdam.
9pm, 26 December, BBC1
Of the six episodes in Charlie Brooker’s highly anticipated collection of tech fables, the Jodie Foster-directed Arkangel, which examines the dangers of too much parental control, and Metalhead, a deliberately low-budget horror starring Maxine Peake as a woman pursued by a terrifying and mysterious ‘dog’, are the highlights. The finale reveals more about Black Mirror’s particular set of worlds than ever before and features some unfortunately familiar faces… Watch to kick-start your tech detox.
29 December, Netflix
This six-part comedy series about growing up in Nineties Northern Ireland from Derry native Lisa McGee (Indian Summers, Being Human) shows the lesser-spotted lighter side to life during the Troubles. Following the capers of 16-year-old Erin and her school friends, it’s a sort of Northern Irish The Inbetweeners. As well as the setting, the main difference is the predominantly female cast. The few men who do pop up – such as “wee English fella” James – are the butt of the jokes. How refreshing.
10pm, 4 January, C4
Images: Rex Features/iStock