2012 was another brilliant year when it came to Christmas on the box. As well as some seminal family movies, both old and new, December's festive comedy, sci-fi and drama TV brought us much cheer throughout the holiday season making the couch our favourite place in the world in the run up to Christmas and New Year. Here are our highlights still available to watch on BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Channel 5 online.
Doctor Who: The Snowmen
'Doctor Who' returned to our screens on Christmas Day with an all new special. Following events from the previous episode which aired in September, Amy and Rory are sadly no longer with us as the Doctor's assistants - we are instead re-introduced to the mysterious and ever-changing Clara Oswald played by Jenna-Louise Coleman who we met in the first episode of the series, 'Asylum of the Daleks'. Matt Smith is still the Doctor, but his beloved TARDIS looks suspiciously like it has had a bit of an overhaul. There are brand new villains, Dr. Simeon played by Richard E. Grant and the evil snow manipulator known as The Great Intelligence voiced by Sir Ian McKellen, and what looks like another long-standing mystery that won't be solved until the end of the next series involving the new assistant. It's safe to say this ominous episode has got us pretty giddy about the upcoming season.
Ripper Street: I Need Light
This brand new, dark 19th century mini-series created by the 'Mistresses' writer Richard Warlow aired its first episode on December 30th. It is set in the Whitechapel area of London infamous for the murders that took place there at the hands of Jack the Ripper in the late 1800s, six months after the horrific events. When mutilated women's bodies are being discovered again, the police department start to wonder if he has made a grand return. Starring Matthew MacFadyen as Detective Inspector Edmund Reid, Jerome Flynn as Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake and Adam Rothenberg as Captain Homer Jackson, 'Ripper Street' is definitely not one to miss so stay tuned for episode two and, if you haven't already watched it, make sure you catch up on 'I Need Light' on BBC iPlayer.
Series four of hit period drama 'Downton Abbey' ended on a unsurprisingly dramatic note, which made its Christmas special, the first episode of series five, all the more exciting. The respected Crawley family; headed by the Earl and Countess of Grantham, Robert and Cora, and Robert's mother Violet, played by Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern and Dame Maggie Smith respectively; visit their cousin Rose at Duneagle Castle but it doesn't take long for family tensions to arise among them as the Christmas celebrations get under way. Blackmail, murder convictions and infidelity are ripe in this episode, but don't worry; things get sweeter towards the end. After all, we can only take so much drama in the chaotic world of this Golden Globe winning British show.
Big Fat Quiz Of The Year
Jimmy Carr's annual comedy quiz is usually something we look forward to and this year was no different. However, while we sat chuckling in our seats at the naughty jokes from this year's panelists which included James Corden and Jack Whitehall, Russell Howard and Jonathan Ross and Richard Ayoade and Gabby Logan, some unimpressed viewers were sending furious emails to Channel 4 complaining about certain references that were made about the royal family, in particular by James and Jack. Admittedly, it's been a delicate year for the royals what with Prince Philip and the Duchess of Cambridge being admitted to hospital and Prince Harry causing a stir in Las Vegas, but we don't think any comment was made in malice. In fact, this year was probably one of the funniest yet with Richard and Gabby becoming easy winners while taking on a serious quiz attitude.
Miranda: It Was Panning
Miranda Hart was definitely a hit with us this Christmas. Having eagerly awaited her return following 'Miranda''s series two finale in 2010, the first episode of series 3 airing on Boxing Day didn't come a day too soon. The comedienne is up to her usual antics again as the owner of a joke shop, with mother Penny, played by Patricia Hodge, being just as disappointed in her as is normal. In 'It Was Panning', Penny is on the verge of turning into Scrooge and ruining Miranda's Christmas celebrations if she doesn't do something with her life. She attempts to force a detox diet on to her daughter and Miranda attempts to get a regular office job, though, unsurprisingly, things don't go according to plan. We are all very thrilled here at Contactmusic that she is back with her sitcom; the second episode has already been aired and is also available to watch online.
World's Strongest Man 2012
It's a guilty pleasure, we'll admit, watching a bunch of enormous, sweaty men pulling mad faces and dragging trucks around with a harness at Christmas in some boiling hot country while we're snuggled in our festive jumpers by the fire. We tuned in on New Year's Day to watch the 2012 final where ten of our favorite burly weight lifters embarked on a battle of the brawn to win the title of the World's Strongest Man. Among the finalists were our very own Terry Hollands from Kent, the leading champion Brian Shaw from Colorado and the twice crowned Lithuanian Zydrunas Savickas. We won't spoil the final results, just in case you haven't got round to seeing it yet, but 2012's array of bicep busting events such as Keg Tossing, Log Throwing and Airplane Pulling was just as jaw-dropping as it is every year.
Jools' Annual Hootenanny
Our favourite orchestra leader and pianist Jools Holland was back on New Year's Eve with his 'Annual Hootenanny'. For those of you that stayed in rather than venturing out for your New Year celebrations, this 20th anniversary show definitely made it worth your while with the huge variety of seminal acts both new and old. 60s singer Petula Clark turned our heads with a cover of Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy' while legendary soul singers Bobby Womack and Bettye LaVette never failed to impress. All the way from the 80s came Roland Gift from Fine Young Cannibals as well as Adam Ant with some of his classics. Rockers The Hives and The Black Keys also made appearances as well as Paloma Faith and even folk legends The Dubliners. Emeli Sande, Lianne La Havas and Jake Bugg were some of the breakthrough artists that also showcased their latest hits. Definitely worth a re-watch, we think!
Wallace And Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death
Ahh, what can be better for the New Year than one of Nick Park's classic 'Wallace and Gromit' short movies being re-aired? Just as we thought Christmas was over, we turned over to BBC One and discovered that the 2008 30 minute film was back on our screens. When Wallace and Gromit open a bakery, they discover that a Cereal Killer is on the loose determined to murder every baker in town. While Wallace, voiced by Peter Sallis, becomes distracted by a new love interest, voiced by Sally Lindsay, Gromit is left to discover who the murderer is and protect his master from a grisly fate. These lovable stop motion animation characters have always appealed to those young and old and this Hitchcock-esque plotline is definitely one of our favorites.
The Snowman and The Snowdog
Okay, so we know we're not the only adults who tuned in during Christmas dinner for this movie. and we certainly hope we're not the only ones who shed a tear. The film is a follow on from the book to screen 1982 movie 'The Snowman' and features a new little boy, Billy, who has moved into the house that the original little boy, James, used to live in. Racked with grief about the death of his dog, Billy discovers some mementos of the original snowman hidden in the house and decides to recreate him as well as a snowdog to ease his pain. They go for a fly at midnight (obviously) and attend the snowman party. Of course, he does melt again but, incredibly, the power of Christmas has turned the snowdog into a real life puppy to Billy's utmost delight. It's just as endearing as the 80s flick and also includes an excellent new soundtrack entitled 'Light the Night' by Andy Burrows.
New Year's Day was made significantly better by this epic animated movie, we have to admit. After winning two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes and two Grammys, we imagine we weren't the only ones who appreciated this showing three years after it hit cinemas. When Carl, voiced by the award-winning Edward Asner, decides to jet off to South America, he is reluctant to leave behind his home comforts. So what does he do? He attaches hundreds of helium balloons to his house and sails off through the sky towards his destination. However, he soon realizes that he has accidentally taken with him a boy scout who was stood on his doorstep at take-off and his peaceful journey is, well, no longer very peaceful at all. If 'The Snowman and The Snowdog' made us a little teary, 'Up' certainly turned that around. It's one of those films that will never get old and will be loved by everyone for many more years to come.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
The film adaption of this much loved game series was quite a hit at the box office on its release in 2010. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan, Gemma Arterton as the beautiful Princess Tamina and Ben Kingsley as the treacherous Nizam, it tells the tale of two innocent people on the run after Dastan is accused of murdering his father. Nizam is his uncle who pursues him after discovering he has obtained the Dagger of Time which he wants to use to reverse events in history in order to make himself king. It's a wonderful tale of love, betrayal and blood with some serious action, incredible fantasy and awesome outfits. It certainly made for a gripping couple of hours on New Year's Eve and if you missed it because you were out celebrating the New Year, it's still available to catch on BBC iPlayer.