Amii McKeever

I don’t watch a huge amount of TV. I like what I like and invariably watch the same things every Christmas.

Suffice to say, the Die Hard franchise has to get a mention. In my view the first and second of these films are very much Christmas movies.

If you don’t know the plot (hard to fathom but nonetheless) NYPD officer John McClane tries to save his wife and her colleagues who have been taken hostage by terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles. (RTÉ2, Saturday 18 December, 9.10pm.) The follow-up sees the same cop thwart rogue military operatives who seize control of Dulles Airport in Washington DC.

This time the wife is on a plane. (RTÉ2, Christmas Eve, 11.30pm.)


If sport is more your type of action, there is plenty to choose from. With Ireland’s Fittest Family finished for another year, RTÉ has asked a few celebrities to pick up the challenge. Gráinne Gallanagh, The Happy Pear twins and comedians Neil Delamere and Sinead Quinlan will compete in a celebrity version of the show, with the winner walking away with €10,000 for their chosen charity. (RTÉ One, Wednesday 29 December, 8pm.)

RTÉ2 has live coverage each day from the Leopardstown Christmas Racing Festival and I will be watching that on Stephen’s Day. While on the sport of kings, jockey Rachael Blackmore’s name has become very familiar this year. Her rise to the top of the horse racing world is covered in a documentary Rachel Blackmore: A Grand Year. With support from colleagues in the horse racing industry – such as AP McCoy, Ruby Walsh and her family – Rachael tells her story. (RTÉ One, Wednesday 29 December, 9.25pm.)

While I won’t stay up for it, I will press record on the TV for The Devil Wears Prada. I would watch that movie on silent just for the boots. (RTÉ2, St Stephen’s Day, 12.45am.)

Streaming services

If streaming services are more your thing, there is plenty to choose from. Although not a Christmassy show per se, The Toys That Made Us will take many people back to Christmases past. The show takes you into the minds behind some of the biggest toy franchises. All three series are on Netflix and the toys range from GI Joe to My Little Ponies.

If you want a marathon that stretches well beyond Christmas or you actually don’t intend to leave your couch, why not watch the Marvel movies in chronological order from the start. That’s 21 movies from Captain America: The First Avenger to Avengers Endgame, all available on Disney+.

Janine Kennedy

Christmas movies and television were not a big part of my Christmas experience as a child growing up in Canada – unless, of course, a new blockbuster was showing and my parents were brave enough to pile my brothers and I into the car for the three-ish-hour round trip journey to the cinema!

When I moved to Ireland in 2013, Christmas movies and television specials became a much-loved adopted part of my life – cosy nights in fuzzy PJs in front of the open fire with the Christmas tree sparkling. Now, cosying up on the couch with our three girls is one of the biggest highlights of the season.

Father Ted Christmas tradition

My husband and I always love watching A Christmassy Ted – the Father Ted Christmas Special. It doesn’t matter if we’ve seen it 20 million times – to me, Father Ted is like The Simpsons. If it’s on, you sit down and watch it (and you laugh even though you already know the punchlines). (RTÉ2, Christmas Eve, 9.45pm.)

Another Christmas tradition is Love Actually. How you can fit so many wonderful, loveable actors into one film where they’re all equally funny, hateable, likeable and sad, is a question I ask myself each time I watch. I mean, I will always love Alan Rickman (may he RIP), but, equally, I will never forgive him for cheating on Emma Thompson (who in their right mind would ever do that? She is perfection). For me, the holidays truly start when I hear Hugh Grant singing Good King Wenceslas. (RTÉ One, Sunday 19 Dec, 9.30pm.)

Love Actually will air on RTÉ One, Sunday 19 Dec, 9.30pm.

Family movie pick

A Boy Called Christmas is a film my kids are really looking forward to watching with mum and dad over the school holidays. Maggie Smith, Kristin Wiig and Sally Hawkins make up a brilliant cast to tell the epic tale of how Christmas became the holiday we know today.

The kids might be excited, but after watching the trailer I have to admit it gave me excited shivers too! A Boy called Christmas was released in cinemas on 26 November but is also available for streaming on Sky Cinema, which is how we will be watching – complete with hot chocolates, popcorn and cuddly blankets.

I grew up loving The Muppets and The Muppet Christmas Carol is, in my opinion, one of the greatest cinematic experiences of all time. We can’t let a Christmas go by without watching this absolute classic with the kids. The Muppet Christmas Carol is available for streaming on Disney+.

Anne O’Donoghue

One of the standout Christmas memories from my childhood is watching The Den’s Christmas Eve special. This was back in the heyday of The Den, the presenters (and I can’t remember exactly who was at the helm at the time) were in Lapland to save Christmas.

I was absolutely captivated and my mother had quite the job getting me to leave my perch to go to my aunt’s house in the middle of it. It had an air of magic about it and personified the excitement of waiting for Santy.

Unfortunately, I have since grown out of children’s programming and graduated to the adult equivalent, which may not quite hold the same magic but is very good at Christmas time all the same.

I always have great intentions to watch a lot of movies at Christmas but this doesn’t always materialise as I often fall asleep! However, my Christmas TV plan of action for 2021 is ambitious nonetheless.


FREEDOM! Yes, you guessed it, top of the list is Braveheart. I never tire of watching this movie and, testament to it, I never fall asleep during it either. You’ve most likely seen it and don’t need me to tell you Mel Gibson is immense as William Wallace. I could watch it on repeat. (RTÉ2, St Stephen’s Day, 9.50pm.)

Only out in the last number of years, Bohemian Rhapsody is quickly becoming a classic. Not being a huge Queen fan, but very appreciative of their music all the same, I found the story of Freddy Mercury’s life fascinating. There was a lot I didn’t know about the man. It’s worth watching alone for the remake of Queen’s 1985 Live Aid performance. (RTÉ One, Christmas Day, 10.10pm.)

Musical time

The last movie on my Christmas watch list is another musical masterpiece, The Greatest Showman. Inspired by the story PT Barnum’s creation of the America Museum, The Greatest Showman is the fifth-highest grossing live-action musical of all time. The songs and performances in it are second-to-none, while its star-studded cast includes Alan Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron and Rebecca Ferguson.

The Young Offenders Christmas Special will air on RTÉ2, Christmas Eve, 10.50pm.

Movies are my mainstay on the box over Christmas, but I do have a soft spot for Christmas specials also. The 2 Johnnies Christmas Spectacular (RTÉ2, Wednesday 22 December, 9.30pm) and The Young Offenders Christmas Special (RTÉ2, Christmas Eve, 10.50pm) are both on my radar.

The 2 Johnnies Christmas Spectacular will air on RTÉ2, Wednesday 22 December, 9.30pm.

Finally, I’ll be hitting record on Éamonn Ryan - An Máistir to remember the life of the 10-time All-Ireland-winning manager of the Cork ladies footballers. (TG4, Thursday 30 December.)

Ciara Leahy

As the camera pans over the Austrian mountains, there is that moment just before Julie Andrews hits those high notes and that for me is Christmas. I used to watch the Sound of Music with my nana at Christmas. I still can see her on our couch with her feet up on Stephen’s Day singing along to every song and saying her classic line: “They just don’t make them like this anymore.”

Our first Christmas without her, I cried through most of the film. But as the years have passed, it has become a happy memory watching those seven Von Trapp children sing their little hearts out. I am very sad to report that it is not on the TV listings for this Christmas so I will have my back-up DVD at the ready. However, for all you Sound of Music fans, please know that a letter of complaint has been sent to RTÉ!

Disney time

Just last week, we signed up to Disney+ and one of the first movies I showed my almost-two-year-old was The Lion King. She is at that age where she is fascinated by animals so the look of amazement on her face was just magical as she watched all the animals during the opening scene at Pride Rock for the unveiling of Simba. After that scene, she had no more interest and went back to playing with her dolls and I suspect it will be a few years until we watch the whole film together but it was enjoyable while it lasted.

Christmas classic

Mary Poppins is also another Christmas classic and I was excited as I scrolled through Disney+ to see that the 2018 remake of Mary Poppins Returns is available to view. That has been added to the list and I’m curious to see how Emily Blunt will tackle the iconic role perfected by Julie Andrews.

Another remake on my list is Little Women. This is a film I wanted to go to the cinema to see but as it was released on Stephen’s Day 2019, two days before I gave birth to Molly, I had to forgo that trip. So, I was excited to see it added to Netflix. I’d say I have watched the version with Winona Ryder 25 times and I always cry when Beth dies. So let’s see how our Irish pride and joy Saoirse Ronan lives up to the challenge.

Finally, when it comes to TV series, there is, in my opinion, nothing funnier than Gavin and Stacey. I laugh out loud to episodes I have seen time and time again but they really capture something special in their Christmas episodes. The scene where Smithy and Gavin are singing, Do They Know It’s Christmas? cracks me up every time and they took their singing duo to another level in the 10-year special as they stamp around to Step Into Christmas. I could go on but the 10-year special is on Christmas Eve at 8.30pm on RTÉ2. What a polava!

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