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What's on BBC iPlayer this Christmas

Although this Christmas might be a little different to those that have come before it, one thing that won't change will be the wealth of Christmas content coming to BBC iPlayer for the holiday season. 

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about what's on BBC iPlayer – and how to access it if you're not in the United Kingdom. 

What's on iPlayer this Christmas

Here are the best TV shows and films on iPlayer this Christmas, whether you're watching live or on repeat. 

TV shows on BBC iPlayer 

Call the Midwife – A period drama series about a group of nurses working in London's east end during the late 1950s. Originally made in 2012, it's already out on iPlayer

A Christmas Carol – In the first episode, Ebenezer Scrooge's business partner Jacob Marley dies and then visits him from beyond the grave to convince Scrooge to right his worldly wrongs. Available now on iPlayer

Marcus Rashford: Feeding Britain's Children – Documentary about footballer Marcus Rashford's national campaign to provide free school meals for children during the pandemic. 21st December at 19:00

Miranda's Games with Showbiz Names – Robbie Williams, Jermaine Jenas and Shirley Ballas star as guests as Miranda treats them to a collection of Christmas Games. 24th December at 21:45

The Last Woman on Earth – Comedian Sara Pascoe travels around the world to find people working the most endangered on the planet – first stop, Cuba. 27th December at 21:00

Black Narcissus – A psychological drama that follows a group of Anglican nuns sent to a haunted palace in the Himalayas. December 27th 21:00

Doctor Who – The Doctor is back for the latest festive instalment, titled 'Revolution of the Daleks', which is airing on January 1st at 18:45

Fresh Prince of Bel Air – After a 16 year break from the BBC The Fresh Prince of Bel Air is back, and set to please both long-standing fans and a new generation of first-time watchers. Available on iPlayer after January 1st

Planet Earth II – in a year which has given us less opportunity to explore than ever before, the spectacular footage captured by the Planet Earth team provides a much needed reminder of the wonders of the world. Out on iPlayer now

Gavin and Stacey – An iconic, modern British love story built that follows a long-distance relationship between Essex Lad Gavin and Welsh lass Stacey. Almost as much of a British Christmas tradition as sprouts by now, it's available on iPlayer now. 

Films on BBC iPlayer

Spiderman: Homecoming – Peter Parker tries to manage the ups and downs of his average teenage life whilst simultaneously proving himself to Iron Man and billionaire Tony Stark. 22nd December at 19:55.

Kung Fu PandaPo the panda is selected as the prestigious Dragon Warrier and tasked with obliterating the evil that seeks to destroy his beloved valley. 24th December at 9:00

Moana – Animated series that sees a young girl sets out on an ocean journey to return the heart of a goddess after her island is hit by famine. 24th December at 12:35.

Paddington 2 – Paddington secures a job to pay for his aunts 100th Birthday present, and he's spied the perfect gift – until it's stolen. Out on the 24th December at 16:15. 

Coco – Animated movie that charts the journey of a young boy called Miguel, who sets off to the land of the dead to find his musical idol. Showing on Christmas day at 15:10.               

Brave – not content with a traditional life, Merida, a promising young archer and daughter of Scotland's King Fergus, seeks out a witch for help. Boxing Day at 13:20.                         

Grease – In one of the most famous musicals ever to hit the big screen, Danny and Sandy, who thought they were never going to see each other after a whirlwind vacation romance, are surprised to find out they're at school together. Boxing Day at 17:00

Dunkirk – a dramatic retelling of the German advance into France which trapped allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk, only for a huge coordinated effort to save 330,000 of them. Boxing Day at 21:05

Beauty and the Beast – A prince is cursed by a sorceress, turning him into a half-man, half-beast who falls in love with Bella, a young girl yearning for excitement and adventure. New Year's Eve at 14:20

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – the third instalment of this animated franchise sees Hiccup try his best to unite the dragons and vikings, but Grimmel has other ideas. January 1st at 14:00

Robin Hood: Prince of ThievesRobin is back from the crusades in the middle east to find his father murdered and an evil sheriff in charge of Nottingham. January 1st at 16:30

Guardians of the GalaxySci-Fi action blockbuster starring Chris Pratt, whose character Peter Quill has just stolen a powerful orb and now others are on his case. January 1st at 22:55

Do I need a VPN to access BBC iPlayer?

The short answer is yes, if you live somewhere outside of the UK and in turn the BBC iPlayer jurisdiction.

Luckily, VPNs funnel your internet traffic through a private server, masking your IP address and essentially allowing you to pretend to be in the country wherever the server is held. 

VPNs can also have a positive effect on streaming speeds, as well as a whole host of other security and privacy benefits. 

Head over to our how to watch iPlayer outside the UK guide for more information about using a VPN with the service.

The Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer 

Listed below are the best VPNs to access all your favourite iPlayer shows this Christmas, but if you need more information about these services, check out our best VPNs for BBC iPlayer page.

  1. ExpressVPN - The best VPN for watching TV shows & movies on BBC iPlayer this Christmas. It's fast, so perfect for streaming iPlayer in HD.
  2. TIP

    In our testing we checked that all ExpressVPN plans work for Netflix. The one year plan is the best value: three months free and a 30 day risk-free trial.

  3. NordVPN - One of the best VPNs for watching stuff on BBC iPlayer this Christmas, it offers great features and value-for-money.
  4. Private Internet Access - One of the largest VPNs, voted best VPN by Reddit
  5. PrivateVPN - A low-price VPN with dedicated servers for BBC iPlayer. It's fast and easy-to-use, so you can easily & steam in HD.
  6. Surfshark - This VPN is packed with value. You can watch stuff on iPlayer this Christmas & stream in HD without breaking the bank.

How to use a VPN to access BBC iPlayer abroad 

  1. Subscribe to one of the best VPNs for iPlayer.
  2. Download and install the VPN software onto your device.
  3. Log in and connect to a server based in the United Kingdom.
  4. Open the BBC iPlayer site/app. You may need to create an account and find a UK postal code (equivalent of a ZIP code) on Google and enter it when requested. 
  5. Start watching BBC iPlayer!

 VPN free trials 

If you're still hesitant about downloading a VPN, you needn't worry – all of our recommendations offer either free trial periods of between 30-45 days that allow you to claim your money back if you aren't satisfied. 

However, VPNs like Cyberghost and PrivateVPN offer completely free trials without any cash exchange, and there are several other reputable providers who offer similar deals.

Try the ExpressVPN Free Trial Hack!


Did you know you can experience ExpressVPN's fully featured service without limitation… for free!

If you're finding free VPNs too restrictive, why not test ExpressVPN's premium service? Simply purchase a subscription using the button below and take advantage of the no-nonsense money-back-guarantee. Enjoy the VPN for 30 days, and when you cancel, you'll receive a complete refund!


Visit ExpressVPN

Written by: Aaron Drapkin

After graduating with a philosophy degree from the University of Bristol in 2018, Aaron became a researcher at news digest magazine The Week following a year as editor of satirical website The Whip. Freelancing alongside these roles, his work has appeared in publications such as Vice, Metro, Tablet and New Internationalist, as well as The Week's online edition.


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