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A Christmas box full of comedy

Sarah Millican's Television Programme. Photo: PA Images/Martin Rickett/BBC
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It’s not as if there is a paucity of live comedians on the telly at any other time of year, but Christmas will still provide a glut of gagsmiths on our screens. So, I’ve scanned the yuletide listings and come up with a few shows that I might lift my Santa hat out of the way for…

On Christmas eve, to start my busman’s holiday, I will try to catch Michael McIntyre on the repeat of the previous Saturday’s Jonathan Ross Show. The prancing prince is on with Jamie Oliver, Charlotte Church, Sienna Miller and paralympians Ellie Simmonds and Jonnie Peacock (11.15pm ITV1). Beforehand there’s a great live double bill on Comedy Central with Dara O’Briain at the Hammersmith Apollo and Jimmy Carr filmed at the Bloomsbury Theatre (9pm & 10.05pm).

On Christmas Day there’s a double helping of Sarah Millican. The first lady of comedy is on  QI XL and a there’s a repeat of Sarah Millican’s Television Programme, featuring Hugh Bonneville among the guests (9.45pm & 10.30pm, BBC2). Meanwhile. BBC1’s repeat of the previous Friday’s Have I Got News For You, with Daniel Radcliffe as the guest host, should be worth a look – if you haven’t already seen it of course. A bit of a cheat, but a comedy curio, notwithstanding the lack of a stand up as a guest.

On Boxing Day ITV4 screens Johnny Vegas Live at the Benidorm Palace (9pm), quite an intriguing live recording, contrasting a gently amusing meta narrative with a customarily ballsy live performance:


Over on Comedy Central, Michael McIntyre’s Live & Laughing tour (10.20pm) is showing with Hello Wembley! aired on Christmas Day, (9pm). If you miss either of these it seems that Comedy Central are offering numerous other opportunities to get your fix of MM.

Saturday 29 is something of an Apollo mission with ITV 3 screening an edition of Live at the Apollo with Rich Hall, Mark Watson and Andrew Maxwell (9.30pm) and Comedy Central showing the Manchester Apollo stop from Jason Manford’s 2009 tour.

Simon Amstell’s Numb live. Photo: Colin Hutton/BBC

As one might expect, New Year’s Eve is a bumper day for stand-up, if not standing up. Manford features again, as it is the Mancunian’s job to front ITV1’s A Funny Old year and lead a host of comics in looking back at 2012 (9pm).

BBC4 competes with a still fresh slice of live action, they are showing of Simon Amstell’s Numb tour from earlier this year (9.30pm). Finally, The Graham Norton Show on BBC1 (10.35pm) will see John Bishop hold his own with Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman, Billy Crystal, Pink and The Great British Bake Off’s Marry Berry and Paul Hollywood. That’s a couch literally groaning with talent, and a line up that any comic would certainly take the cake for amusing.

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