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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best entertainment magazine in the UK“, we check out the highest rated and best Christmas TV Specials since the 90’s to help you choose what to watch!

Christmas TV Specials

The festive season is synonymous with heartwarming moments, cherished traditions, and, of course, captivating television specials. Each year, the UK’s television networks unveil a lineup of festive specials, ranging from heartwarming comedies to nostalgic dramas. While many Christmas TV specials aim to bring joy and laughter into our homes, some have truly captured the hearts of viewers, achieving remarkable viewership figures and cementing their place in British television history.

As millions of Brits tune in for Christmas TV every year, and there are so many options to choose from, BonusFinder decided to delve into IMDb data to determine the best-rated episodes of Christmases past to help us decide what to watch!

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Best Christmas TV specials 

RankTV ShowEpisode nameYear airedAverage rating (/10)
1The BearFishes20239.6
=2Downton AbbeyChristmas Special20159.3
=2The Office (UK)Christmas Special, Part 220039.3
4Black MirrorWhite Christmas20149.1
=5Downton AbbeyA Moorland Holiday20149.0
=5Coronation StreetCoronation Street: Tram Crash20109.0
=5Six Feet UnderIt’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year20029.0
=8Peep ShowSeasonal Beatings20108.9
=8The Vicar of DibleyThe Christmas Lunch Incident19968.9
=8BottomHoly19928.9
=8Mr. BeanMerry Christmas Mr. Bean19928.9
12Father TedA Christmassy Ted19968.8
13The Office (US)Christmas Party20058.7
=14Ted LassoCarol of the Bells20218.6
=14Gavin and StaceyChristmas Special20088.6
=14Gordon, Gino & Fred’s Road TripDesperately Seeking Santa20208.6

The Bear – Fishes

The top spot is taken by the ever-so anxiety-fuelling global hit, The Bear with the episode Fishes scoring an outstanding rating of 9.6 out of 10.

The Bear’s second season has been full of tense and emotional moments, but “Fishes” stands out as one of the most powerful episodes yet. Although not aired during Christmas, this episode sets the scene for what Christmas was like in the Berzatto family.

The episode revolves around Carmen’s (Jeremy Allen White) struggle to maintain his family’s restaurant, Carmy’s, while also dealing with his own personal demons. Fishes begins with Carmen and his staff preparing for a busy Christmas Eve dinner rush. As the orders start coming in, it becomes clear that the restaurant is understaffed and overwhelmed. Carmen tries to keep his cool, but he’s increasingly stressed and on edge.

The star-studded cast includes Jamie Lee Curtis, where the overwhelmingly anarchistic episode shows the dysfunctional family doing what they do best; causing havoc and bringing tension to the dinner table. 

Downton Abbey – Christmas Special

In joint second place are two polar opposite shows, Downton Abbey and The Office (UK) both scoring 9.3 out of 10.

As the Crawleys gather at Downton for the annual Christmas celebration, they find themselves facing both familiar challenges and surprising new developments. Robert, the Earl of Grantham, grapples with the weight of his responsibilities as he prepares to hand over management of the estate to his son, Matthew. Mary, the eldest daughter, struggles to balance her love life with her duties as the family’s matriarch. Meanwhile, Edith, the middle daughter, embarks on a new adventure that could change her life forever.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, romance blossoms amidst the Crawleys and their loyal staff. Tom Branson, the family’s Irish chauffeur, finds himself drawn to a new arrival at Downton. Daisy Mason, the young kitchen maid, experiences a whirlwind romance that challenges her expectations of love.

Of course, no Downton Abbey Christmas would be complete without a touch of mystery. As the holidays approach, a new guest arrives at Downton, bringing with him a secret that could shake the foundations of the family.

Throughout the Christmas special, the Crawleys and their staff demonstrate the warmth, compassion, and resilience that have made the show a beloved favorite for audiences worldwide. They face life’s challenges with grace and humor, and their enduring bonds of love and friendship provide them with strength and support.

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The Office (UK) -Christmas Special Part 2

The episode opens with the office preparing for the Christmas party, reminiscing about previous gatherings and reflecting on their experiences at Wernham Hogg. Amidst the festive preparations, tensions arise between the employees, reflecting the ongoing conflicts and unspoken resentments that have been brewing.

David Brent, the regional manager, attempts to maintain his authority and orchestrate a memorable Christmas party, but his misguided efforts only lead to further awkwardness and cringe-worthy moments. His desperation for attention and approval from his employees is palpable, but his attempts to be the “cool boss” often backfire spectacularly.

Meanwhile, the office’s core relationships evolve and shift as the employees contemplate their futures and make decisions about their personal lives. Tim and Dawn’s enduring friendship faces a bittersweet moment as they prepare to part ways, while other employees face their own challenges and uncertainties.

As the Christmas party commences, the office transforms into a chaotic mix of awkward interactions, heartfelt confessions, and drunken mishaps. David Brent’s attempts to take center stage lead to a series of cringeworthy performances and ill-advised declarations, highlighting his flawed attempts to connect with his employees.

Amidst the chaos and awkwardness, moments of genuine connection and camaraderie emerge. The employees share stories, laugh together, and offer support to one another, revealing the underlying bonds of friendship that persist despite the office’s mundane setting and interpersonal conflicts.

The episode concludes with the employees gathered around the Christmas tree, sharing reflections on their time at Wernham Hogg. It’s a bittersweet moment, marked by a mix of nostalgia, gratitude, and uncertainty about the future. The office has been their shared experience, a place where they’ve forged friendships, faced challenges, and navigated the complexities of work and life.

Black Mirror – White Christmas

The ‘cult classic’ horror-anthology show, Black Mirror takes fourth place with 9.1 out of 10. Starring Jon Hamm, this eerie episode is set during Christmas where story swapping turns dark, with both characters revealing the horrors of their past in the true dystopian fashion that Black Mirror fans crave. 

Three interconnected stories unfold on a snow-covered Christmas Day in a secluded cabin in the middle of nowhere. Each story delves into the consequences of technology’s intrusion into human lives, highlighting the potential for abuse and manipulation.

The first story centers on Joe Potter, who finds himself trapped in a digital prison, unable to escape the confines of a cookie, a digital copy of his consciousness. He is subjected to a cruel punishment for a crime he committed, with no hope of release.

The second story introduces Matt Trent, a man who trains cookies to be companions for lonely people. However, his business takes a dark turn when he learns that he can manipulate cookies to perform tasks or even commit crimes on his behalf.

The third story revolves around Joe’s ex-fiancée, Faye, who discovers that Joe has created a cookie of their deceased son. She becomes obsessed with the cookie, trying to fill the void left by her son’s death.

As the stories intertwine, the episode raises questions about the nature of consciousness, the ethics of technology, and the boundaries between reality and simulation. It also explores the potential for technology to exacerbate existing human emotions, such as loneliness, grief, and obsession.

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