Here are the top TV specials that you just can’t seem to stop coming back to, year after year.
By
Genevieve Dwyer

29 Dec 2015 - 10:50 AM  UPDATED 29 Dec 2015 - 10:56 AM

The Office

Many still claim Ricky Gervais’ original UK version of The Office as the superior version and were left disappointed that it didn’t run beyond the original two seasons. Which could have been part of why it’s return in the form of the 2003 Christmas special felt so... special!

The two-part special managed to somehow combine all the hellish work holiday dos of your nightmares and yet still leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy at the end.

The Vicar of Dibley


A stalwart in the regular annual Christmas repeats is the 1996 episode of The Vicar of Dibley in which the lovable Vicar Geraldine (Dawn French) accidentally gets invited to every Christmas lunch in the village and is forced to eat her way through them all. Depending on your preferences this could be either a nightmare or a dream scenario!


Over a decade later, record numbers tuned into the 2007 Christmas reunion special to see the lovelorn Vicar finally tie the knot with the handsome Richard Armitage.

“The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”


This will make you feel old: this was actually the world’s introduction to the now iconic yellow family as it was the first full-length episode to air – back in December 1989. The Simpsons are today so familiar to most of us, but at the time they were revolutionary and far from wholesome.

After Bart’s misadventures cause the family to lose Homer’s Christmas bonus, the now infamous bald TV dad takes a second job as a mall Santa and tries his luck at the dog track. He ends up losing the race, and that’s how the family ended up adopting their dog, the aptly named Santa’s Little Helper. It showed the family as we know and love them: a bit rough around the edges but with that warm, fuzzy family bond underneath it all.

South Park

No mention of popular cartoon Christmases could possibly go by without special mention of Mr Hanky the Christmas poo! He first cropped up in season one of the show in its first ever musical episode, but over the years Kyle’s stinky little friend has made many magical reappearances.

Friends – “The One with the Routine”


This episode features Chandler, Rachel, and Phoebe searching Monica’s apartment to find their hidden Christmas presents which is of course a fruitless endeavor, as the uber-organised Monica has already thought ahead and planted decoys.

In the meantime though, she and Ross attend a special New Year’s Eve taping where they try and get on camera by performing the “routine” from eighth grade. It works too – it gets them on the blooper real!

Merry Christmas Mr Bean

At 23-years-old now, this is one of those Christmas specials that you just can’t escape. It seems someone will pull out every year for the kids to watch, and it’s also one of those ones that seems to play in airport waiting lounges in all kinds of far-flung locations.


And who WOULDN’T laugh at Mr Bean stumbling about with a giant turkey on his head?

A Very Murray Christmas

Netflix this year appeared to usher in a new era of Christmas special – Christmas on demand. Starring beloved curmudgeon Bill Murray and directed by Sofia Coppola the musical extravaganza features an all-star line-up of guests including Amy Poehler, George Clooney, Michael Cera, Chris Rock and Jason Schwartzman. By all reports though, it was Miley Cyrus who stole the show with a surprisingly moving rendition of Silent Night.


Will this end up being one of those specials that gets re-watched year in and year out? Time will tell…

All the FOOD!

Foodlovers have Christmas to thank for an abundance of droolworthy cooking and DIY specials on telly at this time of year. Christmas with the Australian Women's Weekly always brings handy hints on how to glaze a ham or create a festive table setting.

SBS’s own Adam Liaw also brings together all kinds of delicious modern flavours from a variety of Australia’s top chefs in his special Destination Flavour Christmas airing on Thursday 24 December at 7.30pm on SBS.

Dinner for One

Of course, no list of holiday viewing would be complete without special mention of this quirky ten-minute black and white comedic short film that is over 50-years-old.

Originally a British sketch written for the stage, it was recorded by German television network Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) in 1963. From there it grew into a grand tradition in Germany to air it every New Year’s Eve – a tradition that is now repeated every year - by SBS in Australia, and also around the world, making it the most repeated television program of all time.

Much like Mr Bean, it relies largely on physical humour and hence seems to have something for everyone!