KEEPING UP APPEARANCES
What is the true meaning of Christmas? Ensuring dinner goes without a hitch, of course. Guaranteeing the sprouts aren't waterlogged balls of green mush, that there are plenty of pigs in blankets to go round (best be on the safe side and provide 32 per person), and - most crucially - that the word "Brexit" is not mentioned once at the dinner table. And who has the thankless task of making all of this happen? The host, of course. So, it's very fitting to spend some time during the festive season in the company of the patron saint of hosts everywhere, the inimitable Hyacinth Bucket. As the undisputed queen of the candlelight supper, she is an inspiration to all hosts at Christmas, even those of us who have to make do with Ikea plates rather than the Royal Doulton with the hand-painted periwinkles. Shameful.
ARE YOU BEING SERVED?
Christmas is about many things. Togetherness. Family. Carbohydrates. Antacids. Socially acceptable daytime binge-drinking. The gradual development of gout. But most of all, it's about shopping. And this is why Are You Being Served? is secretly the perfect Christmas comedy, as it's an entire TV series entirely focused on the department store shopping experience. Only with less stress, more jokes and some killer 70s fashions. So, ignore the dodgems-like chaos of the post-Christmas sales crowds and do your shopping from home - not via Amazon, but via Grace Brothers. (All right, so you won't actually be able to purchase anything, but that's OK - it's Christmas, your bank balance has suffered enough.)
CALL THE MIDWIFE
Call the Midwife is a bit like Charles Dickens, in that it's always somehow inherently Christmassy even when it's not actively being Christmassy. Maybe it's the heartfelt, bittersweet, ultimately uplifting stories of people coming together to overcome all kinds of adversity. Maybe it's the presence of all the nuns, bustling happily about. There's also something joyfully festive about all the scenes of good cheer around dinner tables, and the unashamed scoffing of extremely calorific treats. Specifically, cake. Lots and lots of cake. So much cake, it'll make you feel marginally less guilty about the sheer volumes of food that will be rampaging past your lips all the way until January. Don't worry: Sister Monica Joan is on your side.
Christmas is the sweetest time of the year - both metaphorically (all the love going around) and literally (Quality Street suddenly becoming an allowable breakfast food). If all gets a bit too saccharine, then Lovejoy is the perfect antidote, being the adventures of a cynical, sardonic cad who wheels and deals, scams and steals, smiling merrily while doing it. To put it another way, he would never NOT be on Santa's naughty list. Lovejoy is perfect Christmas viewing for when you're fed up of Christmas viewing, and just want to revel in some wry, roguish shenanigans. The TV equivalent of a shot of palate-cleansing whisky, knocked back from Tinker's trusty flask. Ahh.
London's Burning will hopefully be the closest you'll come to any actual fires this Christmas (other than when you light the pudding and proudly present its beautiful blue glow to your family, while they sit around patting their bellies, ungratefully moaning about being too full). A bit like Allo Allo, this is a show that should deliver a serious dose of nostalgia. And here's another thing: it's also a lot funnier than many people might remember. The various petty rivalries and bickering among the Blue Watch brigade are a delight to behold - and a good distraction from any sherry-fuelled arguments breaking out at home.
One aspect of Christmas that makes it so wonderful is the nostalgia it inspires. The memories of Christmases gone by. Seeing old friends. Catching up with family members you've not seen in ages. Reading out the exact same Christmas cracker joke that you once told in 1996. And what could be more nostalgic than settling down for Allo Allo? This cherished sitcom recalls a bygone, more innocent time - a time of silly pantomime-style hi-jinks, endlessly quotable catchphrases ("Good moaning") and lots of talk of big boobies. It's impossible to watch an episode and not feel instantly reverted to your earlier self - albeit without the terrible fashion sense and propensity for bad romantic decisions. A win-win.