Christmas Drama 2022: The best specials and new series to watch this festive season

View the best dramas to watch this Christmas, from Call the Midwife and Death in Paradise to Jack Ryan and The Witcher: Blood Origin.

By Alex Fletcher Updated: 2 December 2022 - 5.17pm
BBC Call the Midwife 2022 Christmas special

There's no better time of year to snuggle down with a new TV series than the Christmas holidays.

Fetch yourself a cosy blanket, a box of your favourite chocolates and pick up your BT TV remote, because there are loads of fantastic new series and festive specials to indulge in across December and into the New Year.

Across NOW, Netflix, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, ITV and Channel 4, there’s heaps of new series and one-off specials, which means there is something to watch, whatever your tastes.

If you don’t know where to begin, check out our list of must-watch new dramas to dive into as 2022 comes to an end.

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BBC and BBC iPlayer

1.  Call the Midwife Christmas Special

BBC

Cosier than a mug of mulled wine by the fire, the BBC’s much-loved period drama Call the Midwife returns with more of the usual snow, sadness and unique to this year’s special, a Poplar talent show.

Creator Heidi Thomas has teased a new arrival, Sister Veronica, and a storyline about a single mother who is discharged from prison alone into the community at Christmas time.

Watch the Call the Midwife Christmas special on BBC One on Christmas Day

2. Death in Paradise Christmas special

BBC

We’ve been promised a spooky Christmas in Saint Marie this year with the murder of a true crime podcaster the central mystery in the Caribbean whodunnit series.

Guest stars Les Dennis and Siobhan McSweeney joins Ralf Little, Don Warrington and the regulars in the show’s second feature-length festive special.

3. His Dark Materials season 3

HBO/BBC

The epic HBO fantasy series returns in the US in December and the BBC is expected to follow suit with an air date over the Christmas period.

Based on Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass, this will be the last season of the show and the creative team have described the adaptation as the most complex yet and an "epic aventure" about "love and truth".

4. Happy Valley

BBC

Sally Wainwright's multi-BAFTA award winning hit Happy Valley returns for its third and long-awaited final series, starring Sarah Lancashire as Sergeant Catherine Cawood.

When Catherine discovers the remains of a gangland murder victim in a drained reservoir, it sparks a chain of events that leads her straight back to Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton).

Her grandson, Ryan (Rhys Connah), is now sixteen and has ideas of his own about the kind of relationship he wants to have with the man Catherine refuses to acknowledge as his father, leaving Catherine’s sister Clare (Siobhan Finneran) caught in the middle.

Watch Happy Valley at 9pm on New Year's Day on BBC One and iPlayer

5. Mayflies

BBC

In the summer of 1986, in a small Scottish town, Jimmy (Martin Compston) and Tully ignite a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit.

With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth - a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain.

There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently. Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has the worst kind of news, and a request that will test their friendship, love, and loyalty to the limit...

The series is based on the acclaimed novel from Andrew O’Hagan.

Watch Mayflies Mayflies on Wednesday, 28 December at 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer

6.  Strike: Troubled Blood

BBC

Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke) and Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger) are back for another mystery and it's an unusual case for the private detectives.

Anna Phipps (Sophie Ward) asks for help finding her mother, Margot Bamborough (Abigail Lawrie), but there's one catch - it was over 40 years ago.

The fiendishly complex cold case sets the duo on a dangerous hunt for a psychopathic serial killer.

Watch Strike: Troubled Blood on BBC One and iPlayer this Christmas

ITV

7. Doc Martin Christmas Special

Get ready for one final trip to Portwenn as Doc Martin bows out with a Christmas special.

Martin Clunes much-loved grumpy doctor will have to prove that he’s no grinch as the locals try show him the magic of Christmas.

It’s being billed as the last ever Doc Martin episode, so expect fingers crossed for a festive happy ending.

8. A Spy Among Friends

ITV

Based on the best-selling book by Ben Macintyre, the author behind SAS Rogue Heroes and Operation Mincemeat, A Spy Among Friends offers a fresh perspective on the true story of double agent Kim Philby and his friend and fellow spy Nicholas Elliott.

Starring Guy Pearce and Damian Lewis, this is a story of loyalty, trust and treachery.

Watch A Spy Among Friends on ITVX from Friday, 8 December.

9. Riches

ITV

How to Get Away With Murder and Inventing Anna’s Abby Ajayi brings some glamour and style to the Christmas season with her six-part drama Riches.

Based around a warring family fighting over a business empire after the sudden death of mogul Stephen Richards (Hugh Quarshie), the series should deliver high-stakes thrills.

Watch Riches on ITVX from Thursday, 22 December.

10. Without Sin

ITV

Vicky McClure (Line of Duty, Trigger Point) is back on ITV between Christmas and New Year with four-part thriller Without Sin.

A dark psychological drama filmed in McClure’s home city Nottingham, the series tells the story of a gieving mother, who makes a shocking discovery when she visits her daughters killer (Johnny Harris) in prison.

Watch Without Sin on ITVX from Wednesday, 28 December.

11. Litvinenko

ITV

David Tennant returns to screens this autumn in the role of Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian Federal Security Services and KGB officer who was poisoned and died in London in 2006.

One of the Metropolitan Police’s most famous and dangerous cases, the story has been turned into a series by George Kay, writer of hit Netflix crime series Lupin.

Watch Litvinenko on ITVX from Thursday, 15 December.

Channel 4

12. Vardy v Rooney

Channel 4

Channel 4 have promised that their #WagathaChristie trial TV series will be out before the end of 2022, so it looks like the Rooney v Vardy drama will get a Christmas release.

Starring Chanel Cresswell (This is England, Trollied) as Coleen Rooney, Natalia Tena (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, 10.000KM) as WAG, Rebekah Vardy, the series will focus on the pair's barristers.

Michael Sheen (Good Omens, Quiz) plays Coleen Rooney’s high profile barrister David Sherborne, while Simon Coury (The Professor and the Madman) will play Rebekah’s barrister, Hugh Tomlinson QC (now KC).

The outrageous social media scandal was one of the biggest talking points of 2022 and as a result this dramatisation is a must-watch.

Netflix

13. The Witcher: Blood Origin

Netflix

If you’re looking for something a million miles away from mistletoe and snow, Netflix’s The Witcher prequel is bringing swords, blood and brutality to Christmas Day.

Michelle Yeoh leads the cast of the four-part series, which is set thousands of years before the events of the Henry Cavill fantasy series.

Watch The Witcher: Blood Origin on Netflix on Christmas Day.

14. Emily in Paris season 3

Netflix

Emily is back to bring some Parisian glamour and romance to your Christmas.

Lily Collins stars Emily, who will have yet more adventures in Paris as she attempts to navigate her dream job and busy love life – all while dressed exquisitely.

The joyous guilty pleasure is perfect sunny escapism for the holidays.

Watch Emily in Paris season 3 on Netflix from 21 December.

15. Treason

Netflix

A deliciously twist-filled spy thriller, Treason will make perfect viewing on Boxing Day.

Charlie Cox (Daredevil) stars as MI6 agent Adam Lawrence, who has been trained and groomed by the agency to reach the top of the organisation.

However, when his past catches up with him in the form of Russian spy Kara, played by James Bond star Olga Kurylenko, Adam has to question everything and everyone in his life.

Watch Treason season 1 from Boxing Day on Netflix

NOW

16. Christmas Carole

Suranne Jones is the latest star to try her hand at the Charles Dickens classic in this comedy drama based on the classic Ebeneezer Scrooge story.

Carole Mackay (Jones) is an unashamedly outspoken and wealthy entrepreneur. Her online business selling all things festive has earned her a fortune, as well as the nickname ‘Christmas Carole’.But her success hasn’t made her a better human being. In fact, it’s made her worse.

Will some rather familiar Christmas spirits help her discover the true spirit of Christmas?

Watch Christmas Carole in December on Sky Max with NOW.

Amazon Prime Video

17. Jack Ryan season 3

John Krasinski returns for his penultimate season as the Tom Clancy CIA hero – expect explosions, bad Russians and globetrotting action.

Nina Hoss and Betty Gabriel join the season 3 adventure as Jack finds himself accused of treason and in a race against time to prevent a global nuclear catastrophe.

Watch Jack Ryan season 3 from Monday, 21 December on Amazon Prime Video.

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Channel 5

18. All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special

The hugely popular update of the classic All Creatures Great and Small story will continue into a fourth series in 2023, but for fans who can’t wait that long, there is still a Christmas special to come this year.

Even with World War II in the backdrop, expect some festive merriment and cheer as we get the latest instalment of adventures from the Yorkshire Dales.

Watch All Creatures Great and Small in December on Channel 5.