It’s the one time of year when you’ve actually got enough downtime to sit and watch some TV, but Christmas also sees you suddenly spoilt for choice.

The terrestrial TV channels seem to save all their budget up for bagging the silver screen hits over the festive season, Sky throws out its biggest premieres over Christmas, and there’s a good chance that you’ve had a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription stuffed into your stocking, too.

But fear not, intrepid square-eyed mince pie eater! We’ve scoured the airwaves and the streaming libraries for the best movies (and the odd show) to watch over the Christmas period. Put that TV guide down, grab the remote and strap in for a festive binge session.

We’re off to a slip-sliding start on the 23rd, with the BBC putting the not-quite-Christmas, but-definitely-snowy Cool Runnings at the top of their festive coverage, showing the true story of the Jamaica’s first winter Olympics bobsled team. If you’re after something more traditionally Christmassy, head over to Netflix for Richard Attenborough as the big man himself, Santa, in Miracle on 34th Street, while Sky has the most-underrated (and surprisingly festive) superhero film of all time, Batman Returns, swooping onto screens. And what’s more magical than Harry Potter? Nothing. None more magical. The boy wizard’s silver screen debut is on ITV on the 23rd.

BBC 1 – 1.15pm – Cool Runnings

ITV – 1.35pm – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Netflix – Miracle on 34th Street

Sky – Batman Returns

Ah, now things start heating up in the classic Christmas movie stakes! First up, The Muppet Christmas Carol is an annual must-watch. Michael Caine is a superb Scrooge, letting the magic of the Muppets shine through as he plays the role sternly straight, making the gags land all the harder. Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby graces BBC 2, and is a lavish retelling of the classic novel ( if not Luhrmann's finest work), while Sky’s Disney channel has Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs up for download over the entire festive period. And it’s not Christmas without It’s a Wonderful Life a screening – stream it from Amazon Prime or download through Sky. Just make sure you’ve got a box of tissues ready first.

Channel 4 – 6.30pm – The Muppet Christmas Carol

BBC2 – 9.30pm – The Great Gatsby

Amazon Prime – It’s a Wonderful Life (also on Sky)

Sky – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

CHRISTMAS DAY! YAY! If you can pull yourself away from your presents there are some gems to watch on the 25th. Chief among them is the Doctor Who Christmas Special, in which Capaldi’s Doctor will take his final bow, to be replaced by the first ever female in the role, Jodie Whittaker. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast’s live action remake premiere is on Sky (though purists may want to dig out the superior original animated version) while BBC iPlayer plays host to the original three Indiana Jones movies – a treat whatever time of year it is.

Channel 5 – 1.05pm – Singin’ in the Rain

BBC1 – 3.10pm – Cinderella

BBC 1 – 5.30pm – Doctor Who Christmas special

Netflix – Jingle All The Way

Sky – Beauty and the Beast

BBC iPlayer – Indiana Jones Trilogy

Boxing Day? More like ‘put-every-great-movie-on-on-one-day Day’. Whatever channel or subscription service you’re tuning in to, you’re spoilt for choice today, with the network premiere of dinosaur rampage Jurassic Park, to the rarely-aired Disney take on The Little Mermaid. However, for a modern Christmas classic, you've got to turn your attention to Will Ferrell in Elf. An elf-raised human heading to New York City for the first time, it's a fish-out-of-water comedy SQUARED, and is just about the funniest Christmas film you can watch with your kids this winter break.

ITV – 3.30pm – E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

BBC 1 – 3.45pm – Mary Poppins

Channel 4 – 4.20pm – The Little Mermaid

Channel 4 – 6pm – Back to the Future

ITV – 6.40pm – Jurassic World

5Star – 9pm – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Amazon Prime – Elf

Sky – The Jungle Book

Do you like movies with numbers in their titles? Then boy, do we have a lineup for you on the 27th! First up, Disney’s Big Hero 6 – a genuinely hilarious CGI kids flick about a tech-loving boy taking on the world with his crime-fighting robot. Then follow that up with Film 4’s showing of Super 8, the perfect cross-section between E.T. and The Goonies, from J. J. Abrams. Then it’s all over to Sky, and back to the world of witchcraft and wizardry for Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

BBC 1 – 4.10pm – Big Hero 6

Film 4 – 6.45pm – Super 8

Netflix – Arthur Christmas

Sky – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

We’d normally be all over the Star Wars option in this listing, but can we point your attention to Channel 5’s classic adventure triple bill instead? And in particular, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and Jason and the Argonauts? These two films see stop maestro Ray Harryhausen at the height of his powers, bringing life to models of skeleton warriors and the towering cyclops. It’s the golden age of stop , and some of the most visually captivating action ever seen in cinemas.

BBC 1 – 9am – The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!

Channel 5 – 10.25am – The 7th Voyage of Sinbad / The Vikings / Jason and the Argonauts

Amazon Prime – The Wizard of Oz

Sky – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

“You remind me of the babe. What babe? Babe with the power.” If you got that reference, 10 points to you! If not; codpieces at the ready, you’re about to enter the Labyrinth, with a hip-thrusting, bleach-blonde David Bowie. The Jim Henson puppet team at its finest, this a fantastically dark fairy tale, with the rock-and-roll chameleon on villainously scene-stealing form. RIP, Starman, RIP.

BBC 1 – 2.25pm – Up

Channel 5 – 1.20pm – Labyrinth

Netflix – Scrooged

Sky – Kubo and the Two Strings

Ah, the year nears its end and the movie drought begins to kick in. It’s slim pickings on terrestrial TV today, with only Avengers: Age of Ultron (making its network debut) a standout highlight. Definitely time to head to the streaming platforms, where Bing Crosby keeps the festive cheer alive with White Christmas on Amazon Prime, while the inexplicably popular Frozen urges you to ‘let it go’ over on Sky.

BBC 1 – 8pm – Avengers: Age of Ultron

Amazon Prime – White Christmas

Sky – Frozen

A comedy triple-bill today – but there’s only really one that’s kid friendly, and that’s the Lego Movie. Thankfully, it’s adults-friendly too with Will Ferrell, Chris Pratt and Will Arnett lovingly bringing the world’s most popular toys to life in a story that champions creativity, friendship and big belly laughs. Once the kids are in bed, after hours programming kicks off, with Eddie Murphy classic Trading Places available through Sky (showing the pitfalls of putting too much faith in a big bank balance), while Netflix has the Alan Partridge Christmas special, Knowing Me, Knowing Yule, for some toe-curling faux-chatshow chuckles.

Channel 5 – 5pm – The Lego Movie

Netflix – Knowing Me, Knowing Yule

Sky – Trading Places

For many, this will be the last day of Christmas holidays before trudging back to work. So why not get up (sorry New Years’ party animals) and treat yourself to the best thing director Tim Burton has made in years, Frankenweenie? A stop-motion to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (swapping out the famous monster for a lovable – recently deceased – dog), it’s a heartwarming tale with some top-notch animation and a truly crazy finale. A great way to see-in the new year.

BBC 2 – 6.55am – Frankenweenie

Channel 4 – 1.10pm – Hugo

Amazon Prime – A Christmas Story

Sky – Inside Out

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