Top picks for anyone looking for festive entertainment with an Irish edge this Christmas

Top picks for anyone looking for festive entertainment with an Irish edge this Christmas

THE holidays are pretty much here which means plenty of time for you and the family to relax in front of the TV or listen to your favourite radio stations.

And there is plenty festive entertainment scheduled for the days ahead which comes with an Irish theme.

So here are our top picks for your Christmas viewing and listening…

Wednesday, December 21

The Banshees of Inisherin, Disney +

From December 21, Irish writer Martin McDonagh’s latest highly acclaimed film will be available to view for subscribers of Disney +.

Set on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, the story follows lifelong friends Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson), who find themselves at an impasse when Colm unexpectedly puts an end to their friendship.

The film, which has received rave reviews and multiple award-nominations since its release in cinemas in October, brings Farrell and Gleeson back together after the pair starred in McDonagh’s comedy crime classic In Bruges 15 years ago.

Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Martin McDonagh have reunited for The Banshees of Inisherin

Christmas Eve

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse: BBC1, 4.35pm

The BBC’s adaptation of the internationally bestselling illustrated book by Charlie Mackesy features the voice of Irish actor Gabriel Byrne.

Byrne takes on the role of the Horse in the short film, alongside a host of other actors including Tom Hollander as the Mole, Idris Elba as the Fox and newcomer Jude Coward Nicoll as the Boy.

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse airs on Christmas Eve

Celebrity I Literally Just Told You with Jimmy Carr: Channel 4, 9.40pm

Proud London Irishman Dermot O’Leary is among the panel of guests on the festive edition of this popular game show.

He joins Judi Love, David Walliams, and Kerry Katona on the celebrity special, where contestants must answer freshly written questions about events that occur during the game.

Christmas Day

The Canterville Ghost: Channel 5, 3.10pm

Anthony Head makes for an entertaining lead in this modernisation of Irish writer Oscar Wilde’s tale.

Wilde’s humorous short story, which was his first to be published, is about an American family who move to a castle haunted by the ghost of a dead English nobleman.

It has been adapted for the stage and screen several times, with this latest version due to air over two nights this Christmas – the second part will air on Channel 5 at 3pm on Boxing Day.

The Great Festive Pottery Throwdown: Channel 4, 7.50pm

Shockingly, this will be the first Christmas special for the popular pottery show, which has now been on our screens since 2015.

For its first festive outing, The Great Festive Pottery Throw Down will feature guests including James Fleet, who starred in The Vicar of Darby, and Jenny Eclair, who wrote and starred in Grumpy Old Women.

It also features Sunetra Sarker, who made her break in Brookside, and reality TV star Jamie Laing.

Overseeing it all will be Irish woman Siobhán McSweeney.

The Cork-born actor, best known for her role as Sister Michael in Derry Girls, has been in place as presenter for the pottery show since January 2021.

Siobhán McSweeney will oversee matters on the first ever Great Festive Pottery Throwdown

Mrs Brown’s Boys: BBC1, 10.25pm

For fans of Mrs Brown’s Boys there are two visits to Finglas this festive season.

The first episode, Mammy's Creepy Christmas, will see Cathy's new boyfriend initiated into the family, but Agnes gets a festive fright when looking after his spooky twins.

Meanwhile Bono rethinks his eco-kick after a lesson from Agnes.

Boxing Day

Peter Rabbit: Channel 4, 5.55pm

Domhnall Gleeson, of the Irish acting dynasty, is among the a-list actors that feature in the 2013 comedy film Peter Rabbit which gets a festive screening on Boxing Day.

The family film, which is based on the classic Beatrix Potter character, also stars Rose Byrne and Sam Neill, as well as the voices of James Cordon, Daisy Ridley and Margot Robbie.

The Voice Kids: ITV1, 8.30pm

Pop legend Ronan Keating is a new face among the coaches for the return of The Voice Kids this Christmas.

The former Boyzone star, who hails from Dublin, joins returning coaches, Pixie Lott and Danny Jones in the spinning red chairs.

The Boyzone favourite takes over from Melanie C who is unable to return to the show due to touring commitments.

The show sees a selection of young singers, aged between seven and 14, hoping to turn both heads and chairs in their bid to become The Voice Kids champion 2022.

Ronan Keating joins the team as the The Voice Kids returns this month

Des O’Connor - The Ultimate Entertainer: ITV1, 10.15pm

A tribute to the longest-serving prime time TV host of all time, who topped theatre bills globally, including more than a thousand solo appearances at the London Palladium.

The showbusiness legend, whose mother was Jewish and father was Irish, released 36 chart-topping albums throughout his career.

This programme tells how he went from being a Butlins Redcoat to becoming the ultimate entertainer, and features contributions from celebrity friends and admirers including Jonathan Ross, Jay Leno, Melanie Sykes, Bradley Walsh, Joe Pasquale, Alan Davies, Elaine Paige and Cliff Richard.

Wednesday, December 28

Kate Bush - the Strangest Thing: Absolute Radio, 8pm

The Stranger Things hit series brought musical icon Kate Bush’s genius to a whole new generation of fans this year.

In a radio special dedicated to the singer, whose mother hailed from Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Absolute Radio charts the life and career of this enigma who found fame in the 1970s but was propelled back into the spotlight in 2022.

Kate Bush has enjoyed something of a comeback this year

The Piper’s Chair: Radio 4 Extra, 3pm

Written by Michael Butt, this fast-moving comic double love story charts the involvement of Irish penny-whistle player Sean Hennessy and his fiddler father in the machinations that eventually lead to married bliss for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

It stars Paul Rhys and Andrew Scott.

Rosie Molloy Gives Up Everything: Sky Comedy, 10pm

Over the festive season don’t miss the series finale of the hugely popular new series Rosie Molloy Gives up Everything, ably led by the consistently successful Sheridan Smith.

Irish comedy duo, and former Father Ted co-stars, Ardal O’Hanlon and Pauline McLynn star as Sheridan’s parents, upping the ante majorly in the comedy stakes.

Thursday, December 29

Open Country: Radio 4, 3pm

Radio 4’s countryside magazine, which features the people and wildlife that shape the landscape around us, focuses on Northern Ireland for this episode.

In particular it examines the move to reopen the 19th century Ulster Canal – which has been closed since the 1930s – that links County Armagh on one side of the border with the Republic and County Monaghan on the other side.

Helen Mark’s atmospheric visit takes in some fascinating history while looking ahead ot the enhancement that the canal could bring to many lives.

New Year’s Eve

The Mirror and the Light: Radio 4 Extra, 7.30am

Anton Lesser reads the eagerly awaited finale to Hilary Mantel's Booker-winning Thomas Cromwell series (abridged by Katrin Williams).

The Mirror and the Light, published in 2020, followed Mantel’s Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring up the Bodies (2012).

Mantel, who died on September 22, 2022, was born in England to parents of Irish descent and admitted she grew up in “what was essentially an Irish family”.

In recent years the esteemed author had talked of moving to Ireland, where she hoped to reclaim her European citizenship, post-Brexit.

Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends: BBC2, 5pm

A recent all-star West End concert celebrating the life and work of Stephen Sondheim will broadcast on the BBC this Christmas.

Held at the Sondheim Theatre in London in May, Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends featured performances of some of Sondheim’s most iconic work.

Produced by Cameron Mackintosh, the event to not only remember Sondheim’s legacy but also raise money for the recently formed Stephen Sondheim Foundation which supports new writers.

Second generation Irish woman Judi Dench is among the cast, alongside Michael Ball, Helena Bonham Carter, Rob Brydon, Petula Clark, Anna-Jane Casey, Rosalie Craig, Janie Dee, Daniel Evans, Maria Friedman, Haydn Gwynne, Bonnie Langford, Damian Lewis, Julia Mckenzie and Imelda Staunton.

So there is someone for everyone in this show.

The Graham Norton Show is back for its annual New Year's Eve bash

The Graham Norton New Year’s Eve Show: BBC1, 10.25pm

Graham Norton has announced who’ll be joining him on the New Year’s special of his BAFTA-award-winning talk show.

The Irishman’s festive sofa is set to welcome Oscar-winning Olivia Colman, known for her roles in the likes of The Favourite and The Crown, alongside BAFTA Rising Star Michael Ward, of Top Boy, as well as comedy actor Hugh Laurie and the award-winning stand-up comedian Romesh Ranganathan.

And, celebrating one of England’s biggest triumphs of the year, footballer Leah Williamson, who captained the Lionesses to victory in the Euros this year, will also be on the sofa to ring in the New Year.

New Year’s Day

And it simply would not be Christmas - or New Year - without a Mrs Brown's Boys special

Mrs Brown’s Boys: BBC1, 10pm

Our second and final festive outing to Finglas is called Mammy's Hair Loom.

In it, Buster and Dermot become convinced that Cathy's new boyfriend is a vampire, while Agnes awaits the valuation of an antique vase that has been in the family for generations.