From Barry to Craggy Island: the best Christmas specials on television

Two of our writers relive their favourite Christmas specials of all time.

Beth Chrisp
11th December 2017
Image Credit: Insomnia Cured Here (Flickr) & Clker-Free-Vector-Images / 29610 images (Pixabay)

 Father Ted - Beth Chrisp

The Father Ted special, ‘A Christmassy Ted’ has earned its place amongst the best ever Christmas special on British television and rightly so. The hour-long Christmas special of Father Ted manages to incorporate all of the best qualities of the series, without compromising the comedy for a shoe-horned Christmas theme (although we are treated to a self-referential nod to those clichéd Christmas specials). 

"Father Ted is one of those rare sitcoms in which every episode is as good as the last"

The episode takes place over the Christmas period in which Ted finds out he’s to be given The Golden Cleric Award for helping a group of Priests escape the lingerie section in a department store (“It’s the largest lingerie section in Ireland”).

Ted is at his greedy and selfish best, exasperated by his companions and vindictive in victory. Mrs Doyle manages to fall off the window not once, not twice, but thrice - and a priest is partially blinded by a twanging bra. It’s classic Father Ted, surreal cutaways to priest only chat lines and a catastrophic phone call to the recurring Father Larry Duff culminating in an avalanche.

"Ted is at his greedy and selfish best"

Father Ted is one of those rare sitcoms in which every episode is as good as the last and the Christmas Special doesn’t disappoint. The humour moves from slapstick to surreal, to just plain weird. It’s a Christmassy delight and deserving of ‘classic’ status.

Gavin and Stacey - Laura Bolden

The greatest festive TV episode ever? It will always be Gavin and Stacey. The special may be nine years old but it is, and always will be, a timeless classic. From Doris being “absolutely twatted” to Smithy’s infamous rendition of ‘Do they Know it’s Christmas,’ the episode is filled with all the festive humour you could desire. 

It would be hard to pinpoint one scene that makes the special so brilliant: could it be the world’s worst proposal in the form of Dave and Nessa? Bryn and Uncle Jason discussing THAT fishing trip? Edna emerging from behind the bar hours later? I could go on for hours.

"Where else will you see a woman dressed as Santa smoking a cigarette?"

The cringe-worthy moments matched with heart-warming glimpses of family love, cement this special as my favourite. Where else will you see a woman dressed as Santa smoking a cigarette? (I hope not at your local shopping centre). I love that almost every scene is extremely relatable, with the merged family drama or that one person who gets too drunk too early. The entire 45 minutes is a joy to watch and if you haven’t watched it yet, then you truly have not enjoyed Christmas television at its best.

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