Your essential guide to top TV shows and movies to watch over New Year

Your guide to the festive season’s essential viewing.

TV Shows

December 29

The Secret World of Emily Brontë

Channel 4, 6.05pm

Emily Brontë was just 30 years old when she died 200 years ago, having completed just one novel. It turned out to be a special one, because although Wuthering Heights was indifferently reviewed on its release, its insights into the insanity of romantic love have made it an enduring classic. Actress Lily Cole looks at Brontë’s strange life.


December 30

Phil Lynott: Scéalta on Old Town

RTÉ ONE, 7.30pm

In his evocative 1982 video for his hit single Old Town, Phil Lynott strolled around Grafton Street, sat in The Long Hall, paused at the Ha’penny Bridge, and played the trumpet in Herbert Park. It was an affectionate tribute to his home city, and in this documentary many of those involved remember how it was made.

Cities: Nature’s New Wild

BBC2, 9pm

Though environmentalists bemoan the growing global urban sprawl, some animals are adapting to these new surroundings better than anyone could have imagined. In this beautifully photographed three-part series, we watch humpback whales breaching in Hudson Bay, megabats flocking in the skies above Adelaide, and African penguins nesting in Cape Town.

Les Misérables

BBC1, 9pm

In this six-part adaptation of Victor Hugo’s epic novel, Dominic West is Jean Valjean, a southern French peasant who spends 19 years in penal servitude after stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister. When he’s released, his life goes badly, until a fateful meeting with the kindly Bishop of Digne gives him new hope, and perspective. With Derek Jacobi, Olivia Colman, Lily Collins.


RTÉ ONE, 9.30pm

This days Dublin’s footballers win All-Irelands for fun, but it wasn’t always this way, and in 1995 a young 19-year-old from Finglas helped end a 12-year drought. Jason Sherlock became one of the GAA superstars of the modern age. In this documentary, he looks back on his career and talks about the racial abuse he experienced in childhood, and how life after football has been for him.


New Year’s Eve

Pope Francis: Behind the Scenes

RTÉ ONE, 7pm

Assessments of Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland during the summer differ depending on who you ask, but the event was planned meticulously eight months in advance. This fly-on-the-wall documentary goes behind the scenes to follow a 50-strong team whose job was to make sure that everything went like clockwork, as well as the Gardaí, clergy and lay volunteers on the ground. 

Celebrity Ireland’s Fittest Family

RTÉ ONE, 8.30pm

Four celebrities and their families will test their fitness in a good cause, with the winner getting €10,000 to give to the charity of their choice. Bridget & Eamon star Norma Sheahan joins Donncha O’Callaghan; 2fm’s Keith Walsh and clan are put through their paces by Davy Fitzgerald; Derval O’Rourke is mentoring singing brothers Conor and Sean Pope, and Anna Geary has Dancing with the Stars judge Brian Redmond.

Mrs Brown’s Boys

RTÉ ONE, 9.45pm

There’s a storm brewing in Finglas, and it’s not long before it claims its first victim when the pipes in Winnie and Sharon’s house burst. Thank God, then, for Agnes Brown, who offers them shelter while their home is being repaired — but this temporary cohabitation does not go as smoothly as planned. With Brendan O’Carroll.

The Graham Norton Show

BBC1, 10.40pm

Graham always gets the best guests, and in this New Year’s Eve special he talks to the actress of the moment Olivia Colman, star of the BBC’s Les Misérables, season three of Netflix’s The Queen and also Yorgos Lanthimos’ new film The Favourite, which seems certain to earn her an Oscar nomination. Keira Knightley and Rita Ora will also be along.


New Year’s Day

Life After the Rising

RTÉ ONE, 6.30pm

While the historical facts of the Easter Rising and War of Independence are well known and justly celebrated, what life was like for the ordinary Irish people who lived through these turbulent times is not always considered. Archivist and social historian Catriona Crowe trawls through the archives and talks to experts to get a better picture of the poverty and hardship that was sometimes exacerbated by the conflict.

Doctor Who

BBC1, 7pm

As the Doctor, Yaz, Graham and Ryan return home from their intergalactic travels, it’s New Year’s Eve, but all is not peaceful as a dreadful evil is spreading like a virus through human history and poses an existential threat to the entire planet. Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor, and Tosin Cole, Bradley Walsh and Mandip Gill co-star. 

The Great New Year’s Bake Off

Channel 4, 7.40pm

Past contestants including, Dr Tamal from 2015,

finalist Steven from 2017 and 2016 winner Candice return to the Bake Off tent for the second of these Christmas contests. They’re all hoping to be crowned Festive Star Baker but must first complete some fiendish challenges set by judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood. Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding present.


BBC1, 9pm

The stylish, violent and exceedingly entertaining crime drama is back for a new run, which finds DCI Luther up to his neck in unpleasantness as usual. As a series of seemingly random killings become ever more audacious, Luther’s attempts to catch the culprit are not helped by the reappearance of his underworld enemy George Cornelius. But criminal psychiatrist Vivien Lake may be more useful. Idris Elba stars.


January 2

Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start

BBC2, 8pm

Last year, in Lose Weight for Good, chef Tom Kerridge helped a group of struggling dieters to lose weight while still enjoying their food. In this series he turns his attention to families, in the firm belief that bringing them together through home-cooked recipes will make them all stronger, healthier and happier. And he gets them going with a starter pack of ingredients.

Celebrity Home of the Year

RTÉ ONE, 9.35pm

New judge Peter Crowley joins Hugh Wallace and Deirdre Whelan for a one-hour special in which celebrity homes will be under the microscope. Competing this year are meteorologist Jean Byrne, artist Robert Ballagh, broadcaster Ramona Nicholas, writer John Boyne and singer-songwriter Eleanor McEvoy. They’re all house-proud, but only one home can win.


January 3

Food Unwrapped Diet Special

Channel 4, 8pm

As the focus turns from feasting to diets, this special investigates some novel options. Kate Quilton is in Australia to find out how replacing carbs and meat with fruit and vegetables could dramatically reduce calories; Helen Hawal talks to long-term dieters, and Matt Tebbutt looks at drinks that claim to make you look years younger.

Island of Dreams

BBC2, 10pm

Surreal new comedy set in the pristine paradise of Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s Caribbean hideaway. In this show, though, Sir Richard (Harry Enfield) is a busy man, as he offers patronising advice to a steady stream of visiting celebrities. But meanwhile, he’s secretly working on his real passion — interplanetary space travel.


January 4

Can’t Stop Dancing

RTÉ ONE, 8.30pm

Dancing with the Stars returns to your screens next

Sunday night and, to whet your appetite, Bláthnaid Treacy will preview the new season and catch up with all of this year’s celebrity contestants and their partners, to find out how they’ve been getting on as they train for the opening show.

Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast

Channel 4, 8pm

Veganism is on the rise, and this week Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty prepare the café at the end of Southend Pier’s first ever vegan menu. Their assistant tonight will be comedian Romesh Ranganathan, who’ll help the boys whip up a lasagne with plenty of flavour, but without the cheese and béchamel filling.



December 29

Harvey (1950) ★★★★★

TG4, 1.05pm

Charming comedy starring James Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd, an affable eccentric who causes his respectable aunts great consternation when he claims to have struck up a friendship with an invisible six-foot rabbit. With Josephine Hull.

Hugo (2011) ★★★★★

Channel 4, 2.10pm

In Martin Scorsese’s beguiling fantasy inspired by the pioneers of French cinema, an orphaned boy who lives in the eaves of a Parisian railway station embarks on an extraordinary adventure after meeting a mysterious  toy-shop owner. With Ben Kingsley, Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz.

Philomena (2013) ★★★★

BBC2, 9pm

Stephen Frears’ touching drama stars Judi Dench as Philomena Lee, an elderly Irish woman living in England who seeks a famous journalist’s help in tracking down the son she was forced by nuns to give up for adoption in the 1950s. With Steve Coogan, Michelle Fairley.

Spectre (2015) ★★★★

RTÉ ONE, 9.05pm

When James Bond is suspended after a disastrous incident in Mexico, he disobeys orders by travelling to Europe to track down the leader of a giant criminal organisation. With Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Léa Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Naomie Harris.


December 30

Paddington (2014) ★★★★

Channel 4, 5.40pm

Having been given a love of all things English as a cub by an explorer lost in the Peruvian jungles, Paddington Bear stows ship to visit his beloved London, which doesn’t turn out to be quite as he expected. With Ben Whishaw, Sally Hawkins.

In the Heart of the Sea (2015) ★★★★

RTÉ2, 9.30pm

Based on the true story that inspired Moby Dick, Ron Howard’s seafaring saga stars Chris Hemsworth as the first mate of a Nantucket whaler that’s attacked and sunk by a white bull sperm whale in the open Pacific. With Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson.

Calvary (2014) ★★★

BBC2, Midnight

John Michael McDonagh’s bleakly comic morality tale stars Brendan Gleeson as Father James, a country priest who does his best to live a useful Christian life but is alarmed by the casual cruelty he sees everywhere in his parish. With Kelly Reilly, Chris O’Dowd.

The Woman in Black (2012) ★★★

Channel 4, 12.05am

Gothic thriller starring Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps, a Victorian lawyer who’s sent to the country to settle the estate of a recently deceased woman. But he gets a frosty reception in the village, and an atmosphere of dread pervades the dead woman’s rambling home.


New Year’s Eve

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2014) ★★★

RTÉ2, 3.15pm

In the second part of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, Bilbo Baggins and the company of dwarves reach the Lonely Mountain and try to reclaim it from the dragon Smaug. Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage star.

Maleficent (2014) ★★★★

BBC1, 4.15pm

Handsome prequel to Disney’s Sleeping Beauty starring Angelina Jolie as a powerful fairy who vows revenge on a cruel human king after he double-crosses her and cuts off her wings. With Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Juno Temple.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) ★★★★★

Virgin Media Two, 6pm

In this timeless MGM classic, a spirited young girl from Kansas is transported to the magical land of Oz, where she joins forces with the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion to find the legendary Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland, Bert Lahr star.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016) ★★★

BBC1, 9pm

After they accidentally drown the patron saint of English fashion — Kate Moss — in the River Thames, Patsy and Edina flee to the South of France, where further unfortunate adventures await them.

Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley and Julia Sawalha star in this chaotic but amusing spin-off from the classic 1990s sitcom.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006) ★★★★

RTÉ2, 12.20am

Andy Sachs quickly realises she’s out of her depth when she lands a job as assistant to the mercurial fashion magazine supremo Miranda Priestly.

Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci and Emily Blunt star.


New Year’s Day

Tomorrowland (2015) ★★★

RTÉ ONE, 3.25pm

Ambitious sci-fi fantasy starring George Clooney as a reclusive inventor who joins forces with an inquisitive teenage girl to travel to a futuristic alternate dimension. With Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Kathryn Hahn.

Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) ★★★★

TG4, 4.40pm

Spock and Kirk have fallen out after an unfortunate incident on a primitive planet, but the boys must put aside their differences when an enemy bearing a grudge attacks Starfleet headquarters. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch star in this modern movie reboot of the classic TV series.

Inside Out (2015) ★★★★

BBC1, 5pm

High-concept Pixar animation set inside the mind of a young girl, whose various personified emotions wrestle for control as she grapples with a major domestic upheaval. With the voices of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Kyle MacLachlan, Diane Lane.

Notorious: The Conor McGregor Story (2017) ★★★

RTÉ2, 9.30pm

Mr McGregor is as circumspect and self-effacing as ever in this hagiographic documentary charting his rise through the tough world of MMA and the build-up to his boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather.


Edge of Tomorrow (2014) ★★★★

Virgin Media One, 10pm

Doug Liman’s clever sci-fi thriller is set in the future, as a high-tech army battles an alien invasion in Europe. Tom Cruise is Lieutenant Colonel Cage, the cowardly public face of a recruiting drive who’s horrified when he’s sent to the front line himself.

The Revenant (2015) ★★★★★

BBC2, 11pm

Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s brutal and spectacular Western epic is based on a true story and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, a trapper and guide who must cope alone in a hostile environment when he’s left for dead in the uncharted wilderness. With Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) ★★★★★

RTÉ ONE, 12.45am

In Tomas Alfredson’s moody adaptation of John le Carré’s novel, old MI6 warhorse George Smiley emerges from retirement to discover the identity of a high-ranking mole who’s been selling secrets to the Russians. Gary Oldman, Colin Firth star.


January 2

Jane Eyre (2011) ★★★★

BBC1, 1.45pm

Cary Fukunaga’s poetic adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s novel stars Mia Wasikowska as Jane, the plain but single-minded governess who arrives at Thornfield Hall to care for the ward of the mysterious Mr Rochester, and finds a household full of secrets.

The Princess Bride (1987) ★★★★★

RTÉ2, 1.35pm

Charming 1980s fantasy starring Cary Elwes as a valiant farmhand who sets out to rescue the beautiful Princess Buttercup from an odious prince. With Robin Wright, Peter Falk, Billy Crystal, Wallace Shawn.

Admission (2013) ★★★

RTÉ ONE, 12.40am

Comedy starring Tina Fey as a formidable admissions officer at Princeton University whose strict policy changes when a school principal calls to tell her his most talented student is her long-lost son. With Paul Rudd.


January 3

My Favourite Spy (1951) ★★★★

TG4, 10am

Bob Hope revives his well-oiled coward routine in this enjoyable spoof. He is Peanuts White, a cheesy burlesque comic who’s hired by US intelligence to impersonate a suave international spy he resembles.

Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018) ★★

Sky Premiere, 8pm

In this noisy, messy sequel to the 2013 action film, Earth is recovering from a battle with aliens who emerged through a portal under the Pacific, when the extraterrestrial threat returns. With Scott Eastwood, John Boyega. 

Hail, Caesar! (2016) ★★★

RTÉ2, 9.30pm

Coen Brothers comedy set in 1950s Hollywood, starring Josh Brolin as a studio fixer paid to keep his stars’ misdemeanours out of the press. But he has his work cut out when one of them is kidnapped by Marxists in the middle of a shoot. With George Clooney.


January 4

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) ★★★★★

BBC2, 9.40am

Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway head the cast of this delightful Ealing Studios comedy, playing two middle-aged innocents who hit on the perfect plan to rob a London bank’s stock of gold bullion and smuggle it out of the country. With Sid James.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) ★★★

More 4, 9pm

Leonardo DiCaprio heads the cast of Martin Scorsese’s baroque biopic of Jordan Belfort, a 1980s Wall Street trader who made and squandered a huge fortune. With Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey.

Creed (2015) ★★★★

RTÉ ONE, 9.35pm

In Ryan Coogler’s intelligent reboot, Apollo Creed’s son Adonis persuades Rocky Balboa to help him achieve his dream of becoming a boxing world champion. Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson co-star.

Love and Mercy (2014) ★★★★

RTÉ ONE, midnight

In this powerful biopic, Paul Dano plays a young Brian Wilson, who emerges from his father’s oppressive shadow to record the pop masterpiece Pet Sounds. John Cusack plays the Beach Boy in later years, after he’s fallen under the spell of a manipulative psychotherapist.


New Year week in Soapland

Sheena McGinley



With Christmas officially boxed off for another year, it’s time to look towards the future, see the positivity in the possibility all around you, and… sit down and watch a herd-load of soaps until it stays bright until a reasonable hour/you get paid in a million weeks’ time. Who’s with me, huh? As it’s mandatory for at least one person to darken the door of a gym at the beginning of January, Matty asks Ellis to help him bulk up after a run-in with former boyfriend Isaac and his mates. Speaking of which, Isaac and co are the conduit to more crisis — causing Cain to crumble in more ways than one. Harriet manages to coerce her one-time stepdaughter, Dawn, to accompany her back to the village (but will she stay?) while Bernice is rushed to A&E after an ill-advised encounter with fillers. How is Leanna involved this time…?


It’s New Year’s Eve, and Peter summons devious Dev and Kirk to the snooker hall… However, when the pair spot a spooky skull in the darkened room, they flee in terror. Peter thanks Carla for her hand in scaring the Street’s resident clowns, leading the old flames to ponder whether they’ll also go bump in the night (apologies). Or will Carla, quite literally, float Peter’s boat? Jealous of Imogen, a perpetually tearful Rana tells Kate that she’s still in love with her. Will they lock lips at the stroke of midnight? Lewis, meanwhile, menaces Gail when he finds her alone, peering skyward at the fireworks. Will he manage to abscond with Audrey’s money — AGAIN? Mary’s private detective tells her Jude was last seen at a B&B in Blackpool and cajoles Roy into the trip. Unfortunately for all involved, Jude is still as duplicitous as ever, managing to make his new girlfriend believe he’s one Dr Ken Barlow. Emma tries to be more like Gemma in a bid to win Chesney’s heart, so expect an array of ill-fitting clothes; and Gina begs (and then threatens) Imran to help her nail Duncan.


There’s a stand-off between Anto and Robbie when Anto goes too far by insulting Carol. Sharon chastises Anto for his behaviour, but assures him Robbie and Carol will get what’s coming to them. Wayne and Orla continue to paper over the cracks, while the latter panics when Tommy points out she’s offered a free car as a prize on the garage flyers. Orla tries making it up to Wayne by organising a celeb to promote the garage and Wayne gleefully convinces himself it’s Imelda May. Hughie tries to guilt Jane into renting Melanie a room (which works) but, unfortunately for Alex, Jane proves to be a house devil and a street angel. Farrah is put on the spot when Jim announces in front of Renee that she’s leaving Carrigstown, but that’s the least of the bride-to-be’s worries as she winds up getting arrested on her big day for driving a stolen vehicle…


’Tis the day before Mel and Ray’s (sham) wedding and, as Mel puts the final pieces of her plan into place, she grows concerned that her darling ex-husband-to-be is getting suspicious that she’s in cahoots with his many wives. What exactly does Mel have planned, and will her special day go off without a hitch — or will there be dangerous consequences? The latter, obvs. Whitney reveals to Halfway that she might be pregnant but is taken aback by his reaction. Bernadette, meanwhile, divulges she’s gay and in love with someone very close to home. How will her nearest and dearest react? Mick finds himself looking for excuses when wife Linda tries to reignite their flames of passion.


Dee is left hurt and rather livid by Katy and John Joe’s lies… but will she confront them? Vanessa is happy to be back in Ros na Rún but — despite herself — she is upset by Berni’s revelation. Noreen is not too keen on O’Shea and John Joe’s friendship. Will O’Shea back away? And will Vince regret agreeing to be director of the panto?

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