Lifehacker's Christmas TV Viewing Guide

No matter how hi-tech your Christmas, at a certain point you'll end up collapsing in front of the box. Our 12 days of perfect Christmas planning continues with a guide to what's worth watching over Christmas.

Yeah, we know: a couple of key sporting events aside, TV at this time of year is generally a wasteland, and many of you will be turning to Channel BT and hoping for a few good DVD box sets to tide you over. But there are a handful of shows worth looking out for/setting your PVR to record. Here's our picks (and with no apologies for the emphasis on public broadcasters; have you seen the rubbish the commercial networks are scheduling?).

5. Catherine Tate Christmas Special: Nan's Christmas Carol

ABC, Friday December 24, 9:30pm-10:20pm Catherine Tate is something of a polarising comedian, and taking on Dickens isn't the most original approach (our #1 inclusion notwithstanding). Nonetheless, this is the first Australian broadcast of the special, Tate's first comedy excursion since a 2007 festive set of new sketches.

4. Did Cooking Make Us Human?

SBS, Tuesday December 28, 7:30pm-8:30pm A documentary examining a fascinating premise: have humans evolved because our mastery of cooking expanded our general cognitive capacity? Something to muse on while chewing through leftover salmon and turkey.

3. Carols By Candlelight

Nine, Saturday December 24, 8:00pm-10:30pm Yes, it's cheesy and predictable and features Karl Stefanovic. But it's as close as we get in Australia to a TV Christmas tradition — well, except for perhaps the next entry . . .

2. A Very Specky Christmas

ABC, Saturday December 25, 7:35pm-8:35pm Six seasons in, the ABC's pop quiz is still going strong, and the Christmas episodes are always overloaded with special guests. Plus you can skite by answering the questions faster than the family. Don't cheat with a smart phone, though, that doesn't count. (The 2010 special is on December 24 at 8:30pm.)

1. Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol

ABC, Sunday December 26, 7:30pm-8:30pm Double points to the ABC for showing this at basically the first feasible date (less than 24 hours after the UK transmission), rather than months later. We should reward the broadcaster by not immediately downloading it from Channel BT. Doctor Who At The Proms 2010 is on at 5:30pm if you fancy a musical twist on Who earlier in the day.

Got your own TV recommendations for the Christmas period? Share them in the comments.

Lifehacker's weekly Streaming column looks at how technology is keeping us entertained. And yes, we know the Who trailer we've featured here is a fan effort. We like it anyway.


    What about the Boxing Day test???

    Spicks and Specks is not ten seasons in, they've just finished their sixth season.

    What's a Christmas without National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? Follow it up with some Community for a little old and new Chevy Chase goodness.

    The Doctor Who at the Proms is at 5pm, not 5:30pm.


    . Review with Myles Barlow Christms Special is on Wednesday at 8:30pm on ABC1;
    . the 2007 film remake of Monkey Magic on SBS1, Friday 10pm, remake of the cult TV series that was on the ABC many years ago;
    . Asterix at the Olympic Games, on SBS1, 10:50pm, Christmas Day.

      And of course, that should be Review with Myles Barlow at 10pm, not 8:30pm...!

    Pssst... That Doctor Who trailer is a fake.

    Here's how it was made:

      Psst . . . did you read the tag on the article?

        I did not. Egg, meet face.

    sbs you should show a great 60s scifi about how martians kidnap santa so they can have xmas. it was played three years in a row and now its gone :(

      i mean 'sbs used to', not 'sbs you'

    Don't forget the Aussie comedy the "Marriage of Figaro" screening straight after Christmas Vacation on Nine, Christmas Day.

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