THE countdown to Christmas is on, which means time for festive TV while steadily working your way through that tub of Quality Street.

Here's our round-up of programmes you won't want to miss this Christmas.

Saturday December 23

Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway Presents — The Missing Crown Jewels (ITV, 7.30pm)

Lancashire Telegraph:

If you're a fan of the duo, chances are you will already have seen this half-hour show, albeit in a different format. During the last run of Saturday Night Takeaway, they returned to their acting roots to appear in a tongue-in-cheek mystery series that popped up in each episode, revealing what happened when Mr McPartlin and Mr Donnelly supposedly misplaced the crown jewels. Thankfully, they had some celebrity friends to call upon to help them locate these priceless national heirlooms. Among those lending a hand were Joanna Lumley, Clare Balding, Katherine Jenkins, Carol Vorderman and Jessica Ennis, and they suspected that another famous face - from a batch including Scarlett Moffatt, David Walliams and Shirley Bassey - could have stolen them. Relive the fun again in this hilarious programme.

Blind Date Christmas Special (C5, 8pm)

Rather than spending the festive season loitering under the mistletoe and hoping for the best, a group of singletons have decided to put their faith in Paul O'Grady and appear on the Christmas special of the revamped dating show. One eligible bachelor is getting into the romantic spirit by turning up dressed as Prince Charming - and he'll have to choose between Cinderella, Snow White and Tinkerbell. There will also be a lonely heart from Dorset, who gets to pick one of three single ladies. And the good news is that we won't have to wait until the New Year to find out if the couples got their happy endings - both pairs will return in the same show to tell Paul how they got on during their date. Could we be hearing wedding bell as well as the jingle variety?

The World's Best Christmas Lights: From Liverpool to Bethlehem (C4, 8pm)

Documentary exploring the work of a Christmas decorating company from Liverpool, which for the past five years has dispatched a team to Bethlehem in Palestine to put up trimmings in Manger Square. Christmas festivities in the city in which Jesus is said to have been born reach their climax on Christmas Eve, when thousands of residents and pilgrims gather at Manger Square ahead of Midnight Mass. As such, the team's job has been of particular importance to the West Bank city. This programme follows them to the Middle East, as budget cuts, strained working relationships with the locals, and a delay in the delivery of their much-needed lights threaten to derail their efforts.

Christmas Eve

All Star Musicals (ITV, 6.40pm)

Lancashire Telegraph:

He's best known as a cricketer, but Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff is in the process of re-inventing himself as an all-round entertainer with a role in the new musical Fat Friends. So really, who better to present this one-off special which sees a group of famous faces, not normally known for their all-singing skills, taking on an iconic musical number at the London Palladium Theatre? Blackadder star and former Time Team host Tony Robinson, former athlete and one-time Strictly runner-up Denise Lewis, broadcaster Nicky Campbell, Miranda actress Sally Phillips, soaps stars Lucy Fallon and Michael Parr and Love, Lies & Record's Rebecca Front all have proven performance skills, but this is still a nerve-wracking challenge. So, it's a good job they've got West End legend Michael Crawford on hand to offer guidance and encouragement as they get to grips with their chosen songs.

Michael McIntyre's Big Christmas Show (BBC1, 8.30pm)

Lancashire Telegraph:

The bubbly comedy star brings the latest series of his entertainment showcase to a conclusion with another festive special, recorded at Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London's West End. Joining Michael to entertain the masses this evening are soul singer Seal (who's been doing the rounds lately to publicise the release of his latest album) and comedian Bill Bailey. Alesha Dixon risks social catastrophe by handing over her phone in Celebrity Send-to-All, and Father Christmas himself receives the surprise of his life in Unexpected Star of the Show.

Not Going Out Christmas Special (BBC1, 9.35pm)

Lancashire Telegraph:

Lee and Lucy think they have bought the perfect Christmas present for seven-year old Charlie and five-year-old twins Benji and Molly. However, their pride in their parenting is short-lived when the youngsters' grandparents buy exactly the same gift and beat them to the punch by handing it over on Christmas Eve. Lee ventures into the streets on the night before Christmas and faces a desperate race against time to find a suitable replacement. Lee Mack and Sally Bretton star in a festive episode of the sitcom.

Christmas Day

Doctor Who (BBC1, 5.30pm)

Lancashire Telegraph:

It's the end of an era - Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie and showrunner Steven Moffatt will leave the long-running sci-fi show after its latest festive edition. Strangely, that fact has been somewhat overlooked in recent weeks as the focus has been firmly on Capaldi's successor - Jodie Whittaker, who will become the first woman to play the role when she takes over before the end credits roll on this episode. We had a taste of what the tale would involve in the final scenes of the previous series, as the Time Lord's 12th incarnation, wounded by a Mondasian cyberman, stumbled into an icy landscape, determined not to regenerate. He was joined there by a blast from the past - the first Doctor, who joins him during an adventure that involves the mysterious glass people and their nefarious deeds. Mark Gatiss co-stars, while David Bradley plays Doctor mkI, having already portrayed William Hartnell, who portrayed the character, in An Adventure In Space and Time.

The Great Christmas Bake Off (C4, 7.40pm)

Lancashire Telegraph:

Spices, sweets and tasty baked treats... They're all on the menu as presenters Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig and judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood head back into the famous tent for the first of two festive baking competitions. They will be welcoming back some familiar faces from Bake Off's past, with Paul Jagger, Beca Lyne-Pirkis, Selasi Gbormittah and Val Stones going head-to-head in the opener. While 'cake-whisperer' Val and supercool Selasi participated in series seven, Beca appeared in series four and now has her own Welsh language cookery show called Bexws, and Paul popped up in series six and is best known for his lion-shaped bread creation. They'll be tackling three Christmassy challenges while battling for the position of Star Baker.

Victoria (ITV, 9pm)

Lancashire Telegraph:

Feature-length festive special. It is Christmas 1846 and Victoria is uncharacteristically sad as she prepares to face her first Christmas without her beloved Baroness Lehzen, while Albert transforms the palace into a magical festive wonderland as he is gripped by an obsession with staging the perfect family Christmas. But tensions between the couple mount when the prince invites house guests to join the celebrations. Meanwhile, Skerrett inherits a large estate from an estranged uncle. Starring Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes.

Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas Special (BBC1, 10pm)

Brendan O'Carroll returns as the daft-but-doting Irish matriarch for the first of two festive episodes - and as usual, there is mayhem in the Brown household. Grandad has got it into his head that the house is haunted, Rory hopes to improve his looks by undergoing plastic surgery and Cathy continues her search for the right man by getting herself an internet date. As for Agnes, her annual battles with the decorations may well be over as Buster has bought her a special tree. What could possibly go wrong?

Boxing Day

The Miniaturist (BBC1, 9pm)

Lancashire Telegraph:

Based on Jessie Burton's best-selling novel, this new two-part drama should make for intriguing viewing - especially if anyone in your family got a dolls' house for Christmas. Set in 1686, it stars Anya Taylor-Joy as 18-year-old Nella, who has left her home in the country to start a new life as the wife of wealthy Amsterdam merchant Johannes Brandt (Alex Hassell). However, when she turns up to her new home, it isn't her husband who greets her but his cold sister Marin (Romola Garai) - the first of many clues that not everything is as it seems in the Brandt household. When Johannes does eventually appear, he comes bearing a wedding gift in the form of a doll-sized replica of their home. The job of furnishing the dolls' house fall to an elusive miniaturist (Elizabeth Berrington), but her tiny creations mirror what is going on within the house with alarming accuracy and even seem to predict the future.

Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2017 (C4, 9pm)

This has become as much of an annual tradition as Jools' Hootenanny. Once more, Jimmy Carr hosts the comedy quiz looking back at the past 12 months, with panellists Richard Ayoade, Noel Fielding, David Mitchell, Big Narstie, Roisin Conaty and Katherine Ryan being put to the test on subjects ranging from Theresa May's ill-fated conference speech to Taylor Swift's unlikely musical collaborations. Special guests including Game of Thrones veteran Charles Dance and newsreader Jon Snow are on hand to set the questions.

Two Doors Down: Christmas Special (BBC2, 10.30pm)

While some of us love nothing better than throwing open the doors to our homes at Christmas and sharing fun and frolics with all and sundry, there are others who prefer to lock them and spend them just with their nearest and dearest. Beth and Eric certainly fall into the latter category, but their hopes of a quiet festive period are wrecked when Cathy and Colin's flight to the French Alps is cancelled, and Christine turns up with her granddaughter. The arrival of Ian and his new boyfriend Gordon stretches the meal further than expected, leaving Christine and Cathy to reveal their own particular take on the spirit of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 27

Alan Partridge: Why, When, Where, How and Whom? (BBC2, 9pm)

Lancashire Telegraph:

We still have a little while to wait before Norfolk's most famous TV and radio presenter returns to his rightful home at the BBC in 2018. In the meantime, this retrospective documentary will look back at Alan Partridge's journey from broadcasting caricature to award-winning study of pathos. We hear from the man behind the man himself, Steve Coogan, as well as some of the acclaimed team that helped created him 25 years ago - Armando Iannucci, Patrick Marber, Peter Baynham, Rebecca Front, David Schneider and Doon Mackichan. Interviews and never-before-seen archive footage, including improv sessions, rehearsals and unseen outtakes, help shed a light on the genesis of the legendary comedy character, while some of the best loved characters in Alan's world: Felicity Montagu (Lynn), Simon Greenall (Michael), Sally Phillips (Sophie), Phil Cornwell (Dave Clifton) and Tim Key (Sidekick Simon) share their thoughts on why they think Alan will always have the last laugh.

Miranda Does Christmas (C4, 9pm)

Her self-titled sitcom may have ended, but that doesn't mean we don't get a Miranda Hart festive special this year. Instead, she's here with a programme to remind us how much fun Christmas used to be when we were kids - and why that doesn't have to stop just because you're a grown-up who has to buy presents instead of waiting for Santa to deliver them. To distract from some of the seasonal stress and put the merry back in Christmas, she'll be going carolling, spreading joy among festive shoppers and inviting a gospel choir to perform a mash-up that includes a yuletide take on a Destiny's Child classic. She'll also be joined by celebrity guests including David Tennant, Sam Smith and Prue Leith.

Most Shocking Celebrity Moments 2017 (Channel 5, 9pm)

If you've got three hours to kill - or, more likely, are so bloated by the festive food and drink you've consumed so far and can't be bothered to move from the sofa - this could be the programme for you. It's never going to challenge your little grey cells, but it does promise to feature some extraordinary clips of celebrities getting up to mischief or behaving badly. Among the events and moments covered are the leaking of David Beckham's private emails, the wrong announcement of the Best Film winner at the Oscars, Taylor Swift's vengeful video for Look What You Made Me Do and scenes from some of the biggest reality TV shows of the year. Louis Walsh, Len Goodman, Sinitta, Brian Harvey and Eamonn Holmes.

Thursday, December 28

What Britain Bought in 2017 (C4, 9pm)

Mary Portas conducts a new survey into Britain's spending habits, setting out to determine whether the national events of the past year have altered the way people in the UK part with their cash. Estimates suggest the UK spends £7.5billion a week, and Mary catches up with representatives from Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Superdrug, Poundland, Hobbycraft and Lakeland to find out how these retailers have fared. Mary also looks back at some of the retail stories of the year, such as the return of big knickers, the unicorn trend, and the popularity of Prosecco and the fidget spinner.

Attenborough and the Empire of the Ants (BBC2, 9.30pm)

Winter in the Swiss Jura Mountains. A region where it seems nothing lives in the frozen landscape. However, hidden beneath the snow, billions of individuals are about to stir, because this glittering winter wonderland is home to hundreds of nests of wood ants. Each minute resident is hunkered down in the corridors and chambers of their tiny cities, hibernating through the worst of the cold and barely moving. However, when the snow begins to melt, their lives will change dramatically. As spring arrives, David Attenborough introduces viewers to the protagonists of a spectacular story - the queens and workers of an incredible ant society. It's an incredible journey which should ensure you'll never look at these humble insects in the same way again.

Bruno Mars: Live in Harlem (BBC1, regions vary)

When you've sold more than 180 million singles around the world, safe to say you don't have to worry too much about where your next meal is coming from. Bruno Mars is one of those artists, an effortlessly cool musician who was greeted with open arms when he made this concert film in one of the most iconic regions of New York. As a kid, the aspiring star grew up watching shows from the Apollo Theatre, so little wonder he feels so at home singing in the city that never sleeps. So, whether you've been a fan since the early days; warmed to him during the phenomenal success of Uptown Funk, or are just a casual observer, now's your chance to see one of the world's greatest showmen in action.

Friday, December 29

Tim Vine Travels Through Time Christmas Special (BBC1, 7.30pm)

Lancashire Telegraph:

It's Christmas time at Tim's antiques shop, and special guest Emma Bunton needs his help to make an antique silver lion as good as new. Thanks to his time-travelling grandfather clock, Tim travels back to Tudor England, arriving in the court of Henry VIII to source an identical replacement. He soon finds Anne Boleyn (Bunton again) desperate to impress King Henry, arranging a Christmas party in his honour. When Tim meets the monarch, he's mistaken for the new court jester and immediately put in charge of the entertainment. Sally Phillips, Danny John-Jules and the Rev Richard Coles also star.

Eric, Ernie & Me (BBC4, 9pm)

Morecambe and Wise are arguably the best-loved double act in British TV history, and they have already been the subject of one Bafta-winning drama, Eric & Ernie, charting their evolution from child performers to fledgling small-screen stars. But this new drama focuses on one of the people who helped to turn them into icons - writer Eddie Braben (Stephen Tompkinson), a Liverpudlian ex-market trader who not only came up with some of their best gags, but also helped to shape their TV personas. But with the success came enormous pressure.

Vic & Bob's Big Night Out (BBC2, 9pm)

Lancashire Telegraph:

Back in 1990, the show Vic Reeves' Big Night Out was many viewers' first introduction to the surreal comedy of Reeves and Mortimer - and also had playgrounds and pub across the nation ringing with catchphrases including 'What's on the end of the stick, Vic?' and 'You wouldn't let it lie!' And despite the success of their subsequent shows, including Shooting Stars, The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer and House of Fools, Big Night Out still holds a special place in many fans' hearts. Now, the duo are bringing it back for an half-hour special that will reunite us with some of the old characters - and introduce us to a few new ones. There will also be songs, skits, stunts and of course, a lot of slapstick.

Victoria Wood By Her Friends (C5, 9pm)

Victoria Wood died in 2016, and viewers still miss her so much that there are two tributes to her this week - BBC1's Our Friend Victoria and this profile, which charts her career from her initial breakthrough singing comedy songs on 1970s talent show New Faces, through to her subsequent TV series and stand-up shows. Featuring clips of some of the funniest performances of her 40-year career and contributions from friends, fans and co-stars, including Richard E Grant, Duncan Preston, Kate Robbins and Barry Cryer.