Revealed: The Most Christmassy Christmas TV Specials
It’s Christmas Day and the turkey has been gobbled up. The presents and Christmas cards have been opened and the crackers have been pulled. What’s next? Christmas telly, of course! Many of our favourite programmes broadcast special yuletide episodes – but how far do they really get into the festive spirit?
We combed through our favourite of the UK’s most popular British sitcom specials to find out. After assessing them with our harshest criteria, here’s who came out on top. And if you want to know how we did it, read on below!
The Overall Standings
After a mammoth binge, our eight classic sitcoms stack up like this:
Gavin and Stacey surged to the top, cramming in more presents, more sprouts, and more mistletoe than we thought possible within 60 minutes of festive television. The Vicar of Dibley and Miranda jostled for positions on the podium, with the latter just nosing ahead thanks to a superior number of Christmas cards and the appearance of a mega amount of mince pies.
At the other end of the table, Jim Royle’s cynical outlook on the festive period sees his Mancunian family as rooted to the bottom of the leaderboard as they are to the sofa. Even Del Boy and Rodney managed a more festive Crimbo overall – albeit almost entirely due to the beers they consumed whilst in the bar.
1st: Gavin & Stacey
The Wales-based sitcom embraces the Christmas period with enthusiasm and excitement, ticking off 11 of our 13 criteria at least once (way more than any other contender).
What’s more, in those criteria, they outperformed their competitors 80% of the time! They offer more instances of those particular Christmas traditions than any other show– for example:
Kisses Under The Mistletoe: 6
Thank Rob Brydon’s character Bryn for all six of these. Wielding a branch of the berry, Bryn welcomes a number of guests into his home by planting a kiss onto their faces.
Times Santa Is Spotted: 14
Father Christmas himself makes an appearance no less than 14 times during the episode. Aside from popping up in typical areas like on Christmas cards and at a Santa’s Grotto, he can also be found on a rather fetching Christmas tea towel.
Miranda also ticks the majority of boxes, totting up a more-than-respectable 167 points. Whilst it didn’t quite manage to match Gavin and Stacey for the sheer number of Christmassy references, it does manage to lead the way in two categories:
Mince Pies Eaten: 24
One of Christmas’ most delicious traditions. We were amazed to find that Miranda was the only sitcom to have any mince pies on show. In the scenes set in Tom’s restaurant, we spotted a plate decorated with fourteen mince pies, adding another ten later at Miranda’s parents – we’ll go ahead and assume they were all eaten.
Games Played: 2
Classic Christmas charades make an appearance in several of the TV shows that made the cut, and Miranda is no different. Where the show sets itself apart from the rest is with its unusual second choice of game – Jenga!
3rd: The Vicar of Dibley
Nudged into third place is The Vicar of Dibley, and again there is a reasonable spread of Christmas traditions. Despite getting into a sprout eating competition with David during one of her four Christmas lunches, we still didn’t see as many sprouts on plates during the show as we did during Gavin and Stacey.
In the end, it could only one-up the remaining sitcoms in one category:
Crackers Pulled: 4
You don’t actually see a cracker pulled at any point during the show, but four opened ones are seen during the Vicar’s quartet of Christmas dinners.
Other Honourable Mentions
The most argumentative Christmas – Peep Show and Absolutely Fabulous
Christmas just isn’t complete without a family row or two (with everyone all made up by Boxing Day of course). Both Peep Show and Absolutely Fabulous spend four minutes of their Christmas episodes arguing, although over totally different subjects.
In Peep Show, Mark’s argument with his dad over the validity of having cauliflower with your Christmas dinner ends with the turkey going into the paper shredder. Ab Fab on the other hand, revolves around Patsy, who is up in arms when Eddie reveals they won’t be going abroad this Christmas.
The Sleepiest Christmas – My Family
Christmas takes it out of us all, and all the excitement can see us dozing off during the afternoon. This is displayed during the Christmas episode of My Family – with four characters nodding off after a hard day entertaining a stranger on Christmas Day.
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How We Did It?
First, we selected the shortlist. Using Ranker.com’s list of “The Best 2000s British Sitcoms”, we selected our favourite sitcoms with a dedicated Christmas Special or episode set, at least in part, on Christmas Day.
That left us the following eight:
The Vicar of Dibley Series 1 Specials – The Christmas Lunch Incident
Only Fools and Horses Specials Episode 1 – Christmas Crackers
Absolutely Fabulous Series 5, Episode 8 – Cold Turkey
Peep Show Series 7, Episode 5 – Seasonal Beatings
Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special 2008
Miranda Series 2, Episode 6 – A Perfect Christmas
My Family Series 3, Episode 14 – Ding Dong Merrily
The Royle Family Series 2, Episode 7 – Christmas Special
We then sat down and watched each episode, awarding them one point for every time any of the following happened:
Christmas presents are handed out or opened
A mince pie is eaten (or appears on someone’s plate)
Santa is spotted (be it in costume or on a Christmas card etc)
Happy/Merry Christmas is said
A nap is taken
A sprout is eaten (or appears on someone’s plate)
A Christmas card is spotted
A unit of alcohol is consumed
A Christmas cracker is pulled
There is a kiss under the mistletoe
A Christmas song is played or carol is sung
A game is played
A minute of arguing elapses