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It’s Christmas – time to sink into a Baileys coma, eat your own weight in Quality Street and relax. Here, then, are the best Christmas specials you can stream tonight from various services, some paid-for, some not.
1. The Office Christmas Special (Netflix)
The Office Christmas Special – a double-hander at the end of series 2 – is for my money the greatest Christmas special ever. It has everything: humiliation, pathos, the long-awaited romantic pay-off and even redemption for David Brent. And it’s bloody funny. For Pete’s sake don’t ruin it by watching David Brent: Life on the Road afterwards. That’s about as funny as waking up on Christmas morning to discover your nan’s taken a bath with her toaster.
2. Detectorists Christmas Special (BBC iPlayer)
I promise you I’m not Mackenzie Crook’s agent. Written by and starring The Office’s Gareth Keenan, Detectorists is a beautiful, gentle comedy that rarely prompts a belly laugh but is none the worse for it. Normally set in the blazing sun of the Essex countryside (such a thing exists, folks), this 2015 foray into winter focuses on Lance’s (Toby Jones) struggle with the ‘curse of the gold’, in the immediate aftermath of his big find. It’s half an hour of comfort viewing.
3. Him & Her Christmas Special (BBC iPlayer and Netflix)
One of the most underrated comedies of recent times, Him & Her is The Royle Family in a bedsit. It starts with Steve and Becky dunking their turkey in the tea, and has more ‘can’t bear to watch’ moments than Bernard Manning On Ice. The supporting cast is magnificent, ranging from the supremely spiteful Laura (Kerry Howard) to the socially inept Dan (Joe Wilkinson).
4. Knowing Me Knowing Yule (Netflix)
“Your story is a Christmas fairytale, isn’t it? You’re Gordon Hansel and Liz Gretel. Allow me if you will to be Hans Christian Alan Partridgesen.”
The Partridge Christmas special shows its sage: references to Noel’s House Party, Mick Hucknall and Boxing Day spent playing Mortal Kombat may drift over the head of anyone the right side of 40, but if you’ve not seen this for years, you’re in for a treat, sponsored by Rover.
5. Peep Show Christmas Special (All 4 and Netflix, Series 7 Episode 5)
“Ratatouille’s on a minute,” says Mark, desperate to avert the conversation from his parents’ mid-dinner meltdown. “It’s meant to be amazing.”
“Fair play,” chips in the peerless Super Hans. “It is f***ing good.”
And so the awkwardness of the British Christmas dinner plays out in Mark and Jeremy’s flat, with Jeremy attempting to avert the come-ons from Mark’s sister, Mark failing to stand up to his over-bearing father and Super Hans searching for more coke (not the fizzy kind).
“How about Pictionary after lunch?”
“We’re not playing bleeding Pictionary. It’s a made-up game.”
Merry Christmas, everyone.