Top Family Telly over Christmas 2017

Whether you are fans of animation, prefer watching classic Christmas comedies or just want to enjoy the Strictly Christmas special on your own with a box of Quality Street, you can’t beat a bit of family telly over the festive break.

Here are our top picks of kids programmes, family films and – of course – musicals to catch over the next few weeks.

Highlights for us include:

  • five Julia Donaldson animations
  • classic Disney such as Dumbo, Mary Poppins and Bednobs & Broomsticks
  • TV specials including comedy ‘A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong’ and ‘All Star Musicals’
  • Flashbacks to the 80s with Santa Claus: The Movie, Dirty Dancing and Footloose

Saturday 23rd December

0930am – BBC 2 – The Muppets (2011, PG) adventure, comedy, family

2.50pm – BBC 1 – Frozen (2013, PG) Disney animation featuring songs such as ‘Do You Want to Build A Snowman’, ‘Love Is An Open Door’ and ‘Let it Go’

4.30pm – ITV – Despicable Me (2010, PG) animation, adventure, comedy

5.05pm –  Channel 5 – ‘Elf The Musical’ Live

Christmas Eve

10.30am – BBC1 – The Santa Clause (1994, PG) comedy, drama, family

3.20pm – BBC 2 – Guys and Dolls (1955) musical featuring songs such as ‘Luck Be A Lady’ and ‘Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat’

5.20pm – Channel 4 – The Snowman (Raymond Briggs animation)

5.55pm – Channel 4 – The Snowman and the Snowdog (animation)

6.30pm  Channel 4 – The Muppet Christmas Carol (1999, U) family comedy musical featuring songs such as ‘Scrooge’ and ‘It Feels Like Christmas’

6.40pm – ITV – All Star Musicals. West End legend Michael Crawford will guide seven well known celebrities through an all singing, all dancing musical theatre extravaganza!

6.50pm – ITV2 – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005 PG) adventure, comedy, family


Christmas Day

9.00am – BBC1 – CBeebies The Snow Queen

9.25am – ITV – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) PG-13, comedy

11.25am – ITV2 – Peter Pan (1953) Disney animation featuring classic songs such as ‘You Can Fly’


1.55pm – Channel 4 – Father Christmas (Raymond Briggs animation)

1.20pm – BBC One – Toy Story 3 (2010, U) animation, adventure, comedy

1.20pm – Channel 5  – Singin’ in the Rain (1952, U) classic musical starring Gene Kelly

3.10pm – Channel 5  – Oliver! (1968, U) classic musical featuring songs like ‘Food Glorious Food’, ‘You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two’ and ‘As Long As He Needs Me’

6.05pm – Channel 5 – ‘Elf – The Musical’ Live (repeat)

12.50pm  – ITV – Santa Claus : The Movie (1985, PG) adventure, family, fantasy

1.45pm – BBC2 – Proms 2017: Oklahoma! Concert performance of the classic Rodgers 7 Hammerstein musical featuring songs such as ‘Oh What A Beautiful Mornin’, and ‘People Will Say We’re in Love’ – look out for our very own Sarah Lark performing!

3.10pm – BBC1 – Cinderella (2015, PG), drama, family, fantasy

4.30pm – Channel 4 – Dumbo (1941) classic Disney animation featuring songs such as ‘Baby Mine’ and ‘When I See An Elephant Fly’

4.45pm – BBC1 – The Highway Rat. Thirty minute animation of the Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler picture book, voiced by a stellar cast headed up by David Tennant and Rob Brydon

5.50pm – Channel 4 – Home Alone (1990, PG) comedy, family

6pm – More4 – Miracle on 34th Street (1994, PG) family, fantasy

6.30pm – BBC1 – Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special

8pm – More4 – Les Misérables (2012, PG-13) musical starring High Jackman featuring songs such as ‘Do You Hear the People Sing’, ‘On My Own’ and ‘I Dreamed a Dream’

9.00pm  – BBC2 – Tom Jones and Beverley Knight’s Gospel Christmas (one for the Baby Gospel fans!)

Boxing Day

9.00am – BBC1 – Tinkerbell and the Legend of Neverbeast (2014, U) animation, adventure, fantasy

11.25am – ITV – Cats and Dogs : The Revenge of Kitty Galore (2010, PG) action, comedy, adventure

1.45pm – BBC1 – Stick Man (another delightful Julia Donaldson animation)

2.10pm – BBC1 – Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015, PG) animation, adventure, comedy

3.30pm – ITV – E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982, PG) family, sci-fi


3.45pm – BBC1 – Mary Poppins (1964, U) classic Disney musical with Dick van Dyke and Julie Andrews, featuring wonderful Sherman Bros. songs such as ‘Feed the Birds’, ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’, ‘Step in Time’, ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’

4.20pm – Channel 4 – The Little Mermaid (1989, U) Disney animation musical featuring songs such as ‘Under the Sea’ and ‘Part of Your World’

6.30pm – BBC1 – Snow Bears. A fun packed snowy adventure about baby polar bears

10.00pm – Channel 5 – Dirty Dancing (1987, PG-13) 80s-tastic film with an amazing soundtrack


Wednesday December 27th

10.45am – BBC1 – The Princess and the Frog (2009, U) Disney animation with songs by Randy Newman

12.10pm – BBC 2 – The Red Shoes (1948, PG) drama, music, romance (for any older ballet fans in the house)

2.20pm – BBC1 – Shrek 2 (2004, PG) animation, adventure, comedy

3.45pm – BBC1 – The Gruffalo (animation) another Julia Donaldson classic

4.10pm – BBC1 – Big Hero 6 (2014, PG) animation, action, adventure


Thursday December 28th

5.40am – Channel 4 – Holiday Inn (1942) musical starring Bing Crosby & Fred Astaire featuring the song ‘White Christmas’

7.20am – Channel 4 – The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004, PG) animation, adventure, comedy

10.20am – BBC1 – Kung Fu Panda (2008, PG) animation, action, adventure

2.20pm – BBC1 – Shrek the Third (2007, PG) animation, action, adventure

3.45pm – BBC1 – The Gruffalo’s Child. Another charming animation of the Julia Donaldson book

7.00pm – Channel 4 – We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (animation)


Friday December 29th

3.50pm – BBC1 – Room on the Broom (animation of the Donaldson/Schaffer picturebook)

4.20pm – BBC1 – Brave (2012, PG) Pixar animation, adventure, comedy

5.10pm  – Channel 5 – Footloose (1984) musical drama/romance starring Kevin Bacon, with amazing 80s soundtrack including “Let’s Hear it for the Boy’, ‘Footloose’ and ‘Holding out for a Hero’!


Saturday December 30th

7.35am – BBC2 – Tinkerbell and the Pirate Fairy (2014, U) Disney animation, adventure, family

1.15pm – BBC1 – 102 Dalmatians (2000, U) adventure, comedy, family

4.25pm – ITV – Despicable Me 2 (2013, PG) animation, adventure, comedy

7.10pm – BBC1 – A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong. Comedy from Mischief theatre, creators of West End & Broadway Hit The Play That Goes Wrong


New Year’s Eve

11.50am – Channel 4  – We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (animation, repeat) 

1.40pm – BBC1 – Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971, U) classic Disney musical with Sherman Bros. songs such as ‘Eglantine’, ‘Portabello Road’ and ‘Beautiful Briny’

5pm – Channel 5 – The Lego Movie (2014, PG) animation, action, adventure

8pm – BBC2 – Into the Woods (2014, PG) musical fantasy by Stephen Sondheim featuring songs such as ‘It Takes Two’ and ‘Noone is Alone’


New Year’s Day

6.25am – BBC2 – Stick Man (repeat)

9.15am – Channel 5 – On the Town (1949) classic musical starring Gene Kelly & Frank Sinatra with music by Leonard Bernstein, featuring the infamous song ‘New York New York’

11.25am – Channel 5 – Oliver! (1968) (repeat)

12.25pm – BBC1 – The Highway Rat (repeat)

3.30pm – ITV – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005, repeat)

3.35pm – Channel 4 – Ice Age : The Meltdown (2006, PG) animation, action, adventure

6.55pm – BBC1 – Grandpa’s Great Escape (adaptation of David Walliams’ children’s book)

list compiled using the Radio Times, UK Christmas TV, BBC, Channel 4, i Newspaper, iMDB and Digital Spy websites

Eight of London’s best Christmas shows and experiences for under 5s in 2017

… aside from Baby Broadway and Baby Gospel Christmas concerts, of course!

It’s December, which means that – along with the promise of Christmas cheer and lots of festive treats – there’s a pretty long stretch of time coming up, during which the children will need entertaining. Yikes.

Luckily you don’t have to rely on Advent Calendars, presents, TV or even your own Baby Broadway-esque singing skills to keep them sweet, because there are plenty of fun ways to get out and about in London this festive season AND introduce your young ones to the joys of live and big-screen entertainment.

Here’s the Baby Broadway pick of the most Christmassy shows (and other things) to do with your under 5s.

Sleepyhead at the Little Angel Theatre

The Little Angel Theatre, located in Islington, is a gem of a place. All of its shows feature incredible puppets and many are aimed at children and young people. There’s quite a lot going on this Christmas – including a fun workshop (we did it last year) where your child can make their own puppet – but this year’s show Sleepyhead is a real treat. We went this week and, although it’s aimed at 2-5 year olds, the grown ups’ faces ached from smiling.

It tells the story of a tired dad, a baby that won’t sleep, a circus, a magical rabbit and much more. If you love the silliness of The Muppets, you’ll enjoy this and at 45 minutes it’s a good length for toddlers. Ticket prices start at £11 for children.

For more information, visit the Little Angel website.


Boing at the Unicorn Theatre

While older children will enjoy the Unicorn Theatre’s adaptation of Christmas classic The Velveteen Rabbit, Boing is a spectacularly magical danceathon of a show designed to enchant those aged 2-6. It’s all about the excitement of going to bed on Christmas Eve, when there are beds to be jumped on, pillows to be fought with, seas to be sailed and incredible things to imagine. The Unicorn Theatre can be found near London Bridge station and tickets for Boing start at £12. The show lasts for 50 minutes.

Visit the Unicorn Theatre website for more.


Sponge at the Battersea Arts Centre

This is a Christmas show with a difference. Created entirely for babies and toddlers, Sponge takes  its young audience on a soft, bouncy adventure through lots of different sensory environments. Two friendly dancers and a leggy character called Splegs will be on hand to guide them through, giving children the opportunity to explore textures, shapes and sounds. The show is designed for those aged 4 months to 4 years and lasts 50 minutes. There are also gentler baby-only performances for those aged 4-18 months. Prices start at £10.

For more information, visit the Battersea Arts Centre website.


Underneath a Magical Moon at Jackson’s Lane

Jackson’s Lane in Haringey is the area’s flagship arts and cultural centre, and their Christmas show this year shows why. Underneath a Magical Moon retells the traditional story of Peter Pan through the eyes of Wendy Darling, using music, movement and more than a sprinkling of magic. Suitable for children aged 3+, the show lasts 60 minutes and tickets start at £14.95.

See the Jackson’s Lane website for more information.


Picturehouse Cinemas Toddler Time

This year, Picturehouse Cinemas – which has branches in Clapham, Greenwich, Hackney, Dulwich, Stratford and slap bang in the middle of the great West End – is showing a range of toddler-friendly Christmassy animations on the big screen. From The Snowman and The Snowdog to The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child (approx. running time for each 25-30 minutes) and longer big-screen classics including Frozen and The Princess and the Frog, there’s something for even the most wriggly toddler. And, as adults go free and children’s tickets start at just £3, it’s probably the most affordable cinema trip you’ll ever have in London.

For a full list of Picturehouse Cinemas and listings, visit the Picturehouse website.


Stick Man at the Leicester Square Theatre

If your kids love the Julia Donaldson iconic book, then Scamp Theatre’s adaptation of Stick Man would be a great alternative to a traditional pantomine if your kids are still a bit too young for all that. Featuring puppets, songs, live music, dancing and 55 minutes of top-notch entertainment, what’s not to love? It’s suitable for all ages and although prices are a little steep (starting at £16.50 for a child, although restricted view seats are available for £14) there are discounted family tickets on offer and those under 18 months are free.

For more information, visit the Leicester Square website.


The Ugly Duckling at The Albany

Who doesn’t love a traditional fairytale at Christmas? Even better when it comes with some magical, musical twists, like tutti frutti and York Theatre Royal’s adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic The Ugly Duckling, which comes to the Albany in Deptford this year. Suitable for those aged 3 and up, it uses live music and inventive physicality to tell this familiar tale of identity and self-worth. The show lasts approx. 50 minutes and tickets start at £8.

Visit the Albany Theatre website for more information.


The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre

Raymond Briggs’ much-loved story of a little boy’s wintery adventure with a magical snowman has been enchanting children for years, and The Peacock Theatre’s hit show is no exception. The stage production of The Snowman has become a festive classic, using dance, live music, storytelling and spectacular effects to bring this classic story to life. Suitable for all ages, at 1 hour 15 minutes the show lasts longer than many others on this list but there is an interval.

For more information, visit the Peacock Theatre website.


List compiled by freelance writer Nicola Slavin. Baby Broadway did not receive any free tickets in return for promoting these shows.