In the midst of all the Christmas specials in December are the US premieres of new dramas, comedies, and documentaries from the UK, Ireland, and Canada.
For updates about shows from the UK, Canada, and Ireland added to US channels and streaming services throughout the month, see the British TV Viewing Guide.
Finding Joy (Ireland)
Created, written by, and starring Amy Huberman (Striking Out), this new Irish comedy follows Joy (Huberman), a single woman looking for happiness in all the wrong places after a painful breakup. Costarring Lochlann O’Mearáin (Outlander), Paul Reid (Raw), and Aisling Bea (Hard Sun), Finding Joy, an Acorn TV Original Series, premieres in the US on Monday, December 3, exclusively on Acorn TV.
Bad Blood (Canada)
This crime drama follows the true story of the Rizzuto family and its associates, who presided over organized crime in Montreal for decades. Season 1 is based on the book Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War and stars Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace) as Vito Rizzuto. Bad Blood, a Netflix Original series, premieres in the US on Friday, December 7, exclusively on Netflix. (You can add it to your queue now.)
The Snow Queen
Based on the classic story by Hans Christian Andersen and featuring music performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, this made-for-TV movie tells a heartwarming story of friendship and the triumph of love over evil. Starring Pax Baldwin (Paradise Cafe), Sydney White (Uncle), and Juliet Stevenson (Retribution), The Snow Queen premieres in the US on Friday, December 7, exclusively on BritBox.
Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites (UK)
In this delightful program, the legendary celebrity chef introduces viewers to her favorite dishes — including Seafood Linguine, Lemon Verbena Drizzle Cake, and Harissa Spiced Lamb — cooking them with produce from the farmers’ market, the herb garden, the seaside, the countryside, and more. Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites premieres in North America on Wednesday, December 12, exclusively on BritBox. (There’s even a tie-in recipe book!)
Upstart Crow: Season 3 (UK)
David Mitchell (Peep Show) returns as the Bard in the new season of this comedy about the early days of Shakespeare’s career. Works referenced in the six new episodes include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, Julius Caesar, and As You Like It. Costarring Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones), Upstart Crow: Season 3 premieres in the US on Wednesday, December 12, exclusively on BritBox.
Cuckoo: Season 4 (UK)
In the latest season of this comedy series, Ken (Greg Davies, Man Down) copes badly with some professional issues and isn’t keen on his new neighbor, while Dale (Taylor Lautner, Twilight Saga) tries hospitality as a career. Cuckoo: Season 4, a Netflix Original series, premieres in the US on Friday, December 14, exclusively on Netflix.
Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons: Season 3 (UK)
The new season of this factual series finds investigative journalist Raphael Rowe, who spent 12 years behind bars after a wrongful conviction, visits prisons in Colombia, Costa Rica, Romania, and Norway. Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons: Season 3, a Netflix Original series, premieres in the US on Friday, December 14, exclusively on Netflix. (Photo from Season 2, courtesy of Netflix)
Sunderland Til I Die (UK)
This docuseries follows English soccer club Sunderland through the 2017-18 season, as they try to bounce back after relegation from the Premier League. Sunderland Til I Die, a Netflix Original series, premieres in the US on Friday, December 14, exclusively on Netflix. (You can add it to your queue now.) (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
Travelers: Season 3 (Canada)
The new season of this sci-fi mystery series finds the truth about the travelers’ existence exposed to the world, forcing MacLaren (Eric McCormack, Will & Grace) and his team to cover their tracks, partner with the FBI, and find Traveler 001. Travelers: Season 3, a Netflix Original series, premieres in the US on Friday, December 14, exclusively on Netflix. (Video is from Season 1)
Adrian Dunbar (Line of Duty) and Carolina Main (Unforgotten) star in this new psychological crime thriller as widower Jim Hogan and his daughter Cat. When Cat begins to notice discrepancies in Jim’s stories, she suspects he may have been involved in her mother’s death. Blood, an Acorn TV Original series, premieres in the US on Monday, December 17, exclusively on Acorn TV.
The Lights Before Christmas: Luminous London (UK)
BritBox dives further into the world of Slow TV with this holiday-themed special — a magical slow tour of the world-famous London Christmas lights, a destination which attracts thousands of families and travelers to London every holiday season. The Lights Before Christmas: Luminous London, a BritBox Original, premieres in the US on Wednesday, December 19, exclusively on BritBox.
Schitt’s Creek: Season 4 Christmas Special (Canada)
This hit comedy’s holiday episode finds Johnny (Eugene Levy, American Pie) hoping to have a traditional Rose family Christmas party like they used to, but getting everyone to participate is easier said than done. Schitt’s Creek: Season 4 Christmas Special 2018 premieres in the US on Wednesday, December 19, at 10 PM ET, on Pop TV. (Video is for Season 4)
Derry Girls (UK)
Set against the backdrop of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, this award-winning comedy series follows a group of friends as they navigate their teen years in the early 1990s. Derry Girls, a Netflix Original series, premieres in the US on Friday, December 21, exclusively on Netflix. (You can add it to your queue now.)
Vanity Fair (UK)
Adapted from William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic novel and set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, this limited series follows Becky Sharp (Olivia Cooke, Bates Motel) as she tries to claw her way out of poverty and scale the heights of English Society. Vanity Fair, a Prime Original series, premieres in the US on Friday, December 21, exclusively on Prime Video. (You can add it to your queue now.)
Watership Down (UK/IE/US)
Based on Richard Adams’ beloved novel, this animated tale of adventure, courage, and survival follows a warren of rabbits on their daring journey to find a new home. Voicing the characters is a star-studded cast that includes Peter Capaldi, Olivia Colman, Ben Kingsley, and Rosamund Pike. Watership Down, a Netflix Original Limited Series, premieres in the US on Sunday, December 23, exclusively on Netflix. (You can add it to your queue now.) (Image courtesy of Netflix)
Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam (UK)
Based on M.C. Beaton‘s novel of the same name, the second episode of Series 2 finds Agatha (Ashley Jensen, Catastrophe) escaping to the remote and seemingly idyllic village of Fryfam to avoid her ex-lover, James Lacey (Jamie Glover, Waterloo Road). It isn’t long before someone is murdered and Agatha gets sucked into a maelstrom of jealousy and dangerous liaisons while trying to solve the mystery. Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam has its world premiere on Monday, December 24, exclusively on Acorn TV. (Photo courtesy of Acorn TV)
Carols from King’s (UK)
This traditional celebration of Christmas at the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, features the world-famous King’s College Choir performing carols old and new and the story of Christmas being told in the words of the King James Bible. Broadcast on Christmas Eve for more than 60 years, Carols from King’s premieres live in North America on Monday, December 24, exclusively on BritBox (time tba). (Video is from 2017)
Murdoch Mysteries: Season 12 (Canada)
Inspired by the “Murdoch Mysteries” novels by Maureen Jennings, the new season opener of this hit period mystery series finds Murdoch (Yannick Bisson, “Aurora Teagarden” mysteries) and Ogden (Helene Joy, Durham County) hosting a housewarming party in their new Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home. However, the festivities are cut short when a man dies in one of the rooms. Murdoch Mysteries: Season 12 premieres in the US with Episodes 1 & 2 on Monday, December 24, on Acorn TV.
Call the Midwife Holiday Special 2018 (UK)
Miriam Margoyles (Harry Potter) guest stars as Sister Mildred, who arrives unexpectedly at Nonnatus House with four Chinese orphans. Meanwhile, Trixie’s (Helen George, Red Dwarf) returned to Poplar in time to cover for the Sisters as they leave for the Mother House, and Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter, Tin) learns she is the favored candidate to become the Order’s Mother Superior. The Call the Midwife holiday special premieres in the US on Tuesday, December 25, at 9 PM ET, on PBS.
The Queen’s Christmas Message (UK)
Another British tradition during the holiday season is the annual address that Queen Elizabeth II delivers to the people of the Commonwealth on Christmas Day. (The video is of Her Majesty’s address in 2017.) The Queen’s Christmas Message premieres live in North America on Tuesday, December 25, exclusively on BritBox (time tba).
Maigret: Season 2 (UK)
Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean) returns as the eponymous French detective for two new stories based on the best-selling mystery novels by Belgian author Georges Simenon. In “Night at the Crossroads,” Maigret interrogates a murder suspect (Tom Wlaschiha, Game of Thrones) after the victim is found in his car, and in “Maigret in Montmartre,” a stripper (Olivia Vinall, Queens of Mystery) tells Maigret she overheard a conversation about an imminent murder. Maigret: Season 2 premieres in North America on Wednesday, December 26, exclusively on BritBox.
Stan Lee’s Lucky Man: Season 2 (UK)
Opening six months after the Season 1 finale, Season 2 of this supernatural crime drama finds Harry (James Nesbitt, Cold Feet) and Suri (Amara Karan, Bancroft) searching for a serial poisoner, DS Winter (Steven Mackintosh, Wanderlust) returning to work after the shooting, and Harry meeting a woman with a bracelet identical to his. Stan Lee’s Lucky Man: Season 2 begins streaming on Shudder in December (date tba).
New BritBox Britmas Programs
As of this writing, the US premiere dates for the following BritBox Britmas shows below are to be announced.
- Click & Collect — Stephen Merchant (Extras) and Asim Chaudhry (People Just Do Nothing) headline this BritBox Original holiday movie about two very different neighbors who take a rather hilarious road trip to find the perfect Christmas gift for a little girl.
- Hold the Sunset Christmas Special — Will Phil (John Cleese, Fawlty Towers) and Edith (Alison Steadman, Boomers) be able to celebrate Christmas without any drama from her son Roger (Jason Watkins, Trollied) and daughter-in-law Wendy (Rosie Cavaliero, Prey) in this romcom sitcom’s first holiday special? Unlikely.
- Mrs. Brown’s Boys Christmas Special — This comedy’s annual Christmas special — starring Irish comedian Brendan O’Carroll in drag as his alter ago, the loud- and foul-mouthed matriarch Agnes Brown, and his real-life family and friends — is filled with double entendres and holiday hijinks and filmed in front of a live audience.
- Upstart Crow: Season 3 Christmas Special — Following Emma Thompson’s guest-starring role as Elizabeth I in the Season 2 Christmas special, this year’s holiday episode guest stars renowned Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet).
- Game & Panel Show Christmas Specials — Celebrity Mastermind, Mock the Week, QI, and Would I Lie to You, plus Last Leg New Years Special (streamed live December 31)
- Soap Opera Christmas Specials — Casualty, Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale, and Holby City
The following programs begin airing in the US on public TV stations starting in December. Broadcast dates and times vary by market, so check your local listings or contact the station that serves your area for details (see links below). To request a program, contact the station’s Viewer Services department or American Public Television.
Local stations: KACV (Amarillo, TX) • KAET (Phoenix, AZ) • KCTS (Seattle, WA) • KENW (Portales, NM) • KERA (Dallas, TX) • KLRU (Austin, TX) • KNME (Albuquerque, NM) • KQEH (San Francisco, CA) • KRSU (Tulsa, OK) • KUAT (Tucson, AZ) • KUED (Salt Lake City, UT) • KVCR (Los Angeles, CA) • WCMU (Mount Pleasant, MI) • WCVE (Richmond, VA) • WGBH (Boston, MA) • WILL (Urbana-Champaign, IL) • WIPB (Muncie, IN) • WITF (Harrisburg, PA) • WLRN (Miami, FL) • WMHT (Schenectady, NY) • WNED (Buffalo, NY) • WNEO (Alliance, OH) • WOSU (Columbus, OH) • WPBS (Watertown, NY) • WPBT (Miami, FL) • WPSU (Clearfield, PA) • WPTD (Dayton, OH) • WSKG (Binghamton, NY) • WVPT (Harrisonburg, VA) • WXEL (West Palm Beach, FL) • WXXI (Rochester, NY)
I Hate Jane Austen (UK)
In this hour-long program, British columnist Giles Coren, who can’t stand Jane Austen‘s writing, ventures out to meet academics and super-fans to see if they can get him to put aside his pride and prejudice. I Hate Jane Austen is set to air on stations in the Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, and Wisconsin regional public TV networks, plus KAET, KUED, KVCR, WLRN, WNEO, WPTD, and WXXI.
Inside Balmoral (UK)
This three-part documentary covers the dramatic moments and historical events that occurred within the walls of Balmoral Castle as Queen Elizabeth II and her family lived there. Inside Balmoral is set to air on stations in the Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Wisconsin regional public TV networks, plus KCTS, KENW, KLRU, KNME, KUAT, KVCR, WCVE, WLRN, WMHT, WNED, WOSU, WPBT, WXEL, and WXXI.
Judi Dench: My Passion for Trees (UK)
Oscar®-winning actress Dame Judi Dench obviously has a love for acting, but most people don’t know she has another deep-rooted passion: trees. Judi Dench: My Passion for Trees follows Dench in her personal garden through the four seasons as she meets with experts and scientists to better understand how trees “feel” and live. The hour-long program is set to air on stations in the Idaho and Nebraska regional public TV networks, plus KERA, KRSU, KUAT, WCVE, WIPB, WITF, WNED, WPSU, WPTD, WSKG, and WXXI.
Queen Elizabeth I’s Battle for Church Music (UK)
In this documentary, historian Lucy Worsley (Secrets of the Six Wives) reveals how Queen Elizabeth I and her two siblings changed the religious structure of England forever, eventually leading to the introduction of choral evensong. Queen Elizabeth I’s Battle for Church Music is set to air on stations in the Idaho, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin regional public TV networks, plus KENW, KLRU, KQEH, KUAT, KUED, WCMU, WCVE, WGBH, WLRN, WNED, WOSU, WVPT, and WXXI.
Secrets of Britain’s Great Cathedrals (UK)
Narrated by Simon Callow (Four Weddings and a Funeral), this eight-episode documentary explores 22 cathedrals and abbeys found throughout England and Wales, providing insight into these magnificent historical structures. Secrets of Britain’s Great Cathedrals is set to air on stations in the Montana and North Carolina regional public TV networks, plus KACV, KLRU, KNME, KRSU, WILL, WLRN, and WPBS.
NON-PREMIERE PROGRAMS ADDED TO PROGRAMMING SCHEDULES
Queen Elizabeth I’s Battle for Church Music (UK)
See description under Local/Regional Premieres above. Queen Elizabeth I’s Battle for Church Music begins streaming Monday, December 10.
Lords & Ladies: Series 1 (Ireland)
This six-episode factual program follows three of Ireland’s top chefs — Derry Clarke, Catherine Fulvio, and Paul Flynn — as they recreate banquets from different centuries at opulent country manors across the country. Lords & Ladies: Series 1 begins streaming Monday, December 17.
Henry IX (UK)
Set in the (fictional) contemporary court of King Henry IX (Charles Edwards, Arthur & George), this comedy series sees the forty-something Henry suffering a midlife crisis and struggling to make changes to his life in the face of centuries of tradition and a Royal household who have his (and if not, their own) best interests at heart. Co-starring Sally Phillips (Miranda), Annette Crosbie (One Foot in the Grave), Don Warrington (Death in Paradise), and Colin Salmon (No Offence), Henry IX begins streaming Monday, December 31.
The Real Doctor Zhivago (UK)
Boris Pasternak‘s Dr. Zhivago is one of the best-known love stories in print and on celluloid. Much less well-known is the story of the writing of the book, which has more twists and intrigue than many a Hollywood blockbuster. In this documentary, Stephen Smith (How to Get Ahead…) traces the revolutionary beginnings of this bestseller, to it becoming a pawn of the CIA at the height of the Cold War. The Real Doctor Zhivago begins streaming Monday, December 31.
Wild Decembers (Ireland)
Adapted from Edna O’Brien’s novel of the same name, this TV movie stars Matt Ryan (Legends of Tomorrow) as Michael Bugler, an Australian who arrives in a small town in rural Ireland to claim his inheritance. But his appearance ignites passions and changes the lives of Joseph Brennan (Owen McDonnell, Single-Handed) and his sister Breege (Lara Belmont, Henry VIII) forever. Wild Decembers begins streaming Monday, December 31. (Photo courtesy of Acorn TV)
Further Tales from Northumberland (UK)
Born and bred in Northumbria, Robson Green (Granchester) thought he knew everything there was to know about this remote and mystical part of Britain. Then he began filming this series, during which he rediscovered the area’s dramatic scenery and profound history. Further Tales from Northumberland begins streaming Saturday, December 1.
Billionaire Boy (UK)
Based on David Walliams’ children’s book, this TV movie tells the story of Len (John Thomson, Cold Feet), who made a billion dollars from inventing a new toilet roll, and his 12-year-old son, Joe, who appears to have everything he could want but what he really needs is a friend. Billionaire Boy begins streaming Friday, December 7.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales (UK)
Adapted from the Dylan Thomas classic, this TV movie stars Denholm Elliott (Raiders of the Lost Ark) as Old Geraint, who on a special Christmas Eve does more than share heartwarming memories of his youth with his grandson, Thomas; he relives them. A Child’s Christmas in Wales begins streaming Friday, December 7.
Mr. Stink (UK)
In the TV adaptation of this children’s book by David Walliams, Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) stars as the title character, a malodorous homeless man who, along with his stinky dog, Duchess, is befriended by an unhappy young girl, Chloe (Nell Tiger Free, Game of Thrones). Mr. Stink begins streaming Friday, December 7.
Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets (UK)
In this intriguing four-part series, Mary Berry discovers the rich history of Britain’s greatest stately homes — including Highclere Castle in Hampshire, Scone Palace in Scotland, Powderham Castle in Devon, and Goodwood House in West Sussex — through the prism of food. Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets begins streaming Wednesday, December 12.
Northern Lights, City Lights, and Clash of the Santas (UK)
Each of these three titles is a spin-off of the holiday special Christmas Lights, all of which star Robson Green (Grantchester) as Colin Armstrong and Mark Benton (Shakespeare & Hathaway) as Howard Scott, Colin’s best mate, brother-in-law, and unofficial Christmas festivities competitor. Northern Lights and City Lights and Clash of the Santas begin streaming Saturday, December 15. (Photo © ITV, courtesy of BritBox)
Swinging Christmas (UK)
Michael Parkinson presents the sensational John Wilson Orchestra in a celebration of festive musical treats from the golden age of swing, along with soloists Seth McFarlane, Anna-Jane Casey, and special guest Curtis Stigers. The Christmas classics include “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” “Let It Snow” and “Winter Wonderland.” Swinging Christmas begins streaming Saturday, December 22.
Titles in this section begin streaming on the dates shown below on Hulu.
Killing Eve: Season 1 (UK)
This spy thriller, which I described as “fierce, funny, and utterly fabulous” in this article, stars Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy) as British Intelligence operative Eve Polastri, and Jodie Comer (Thirteen) as assassin Villanelle — two highly-intelligent and talented women who, while playing a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, become obsessed with each other. Killing Eve begins streaming Saturday, December 1.
Titles in this section begin streaming on the dates shown below on Netflix.
Blue Planet II (UK)
Presented by BAFTA winner Sir David Attenborough and scored by Oscar® winner Hans Zimmer (The Lion King), this follow-up to the Emmy® Award-winning Blue Planet takes viewers on another journey into the mesmerizing world of our oceans — the most undiscovered place on our planet. Blue Planet II begins streaming Monday, December 3.
Did you miss any of the new shows from previous months? Check the British TV Viewing Guide 2018 Archives to find out.
For details about the December premieres of shows from Australia and New Zealand, visit The Down Under TV Place. For those about the debuts of original-language, English-subtitled programs from Europe, visit The Euro TV Place.
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