Enjoy British TV Christmas Specials?

british-christmas-imageOkay, so perhaps the title is a silly question. What lover of British television DOESN’T enjoy a good Christmas special? Unfortunately, it can be surprisingly difficult for those of us outside the UK to watch the holiday specials. I’m not sure if it’s a matter of TV/streaming rights or if some outlets just overlook the specials, but they’re often missing from sites like Acorn, Netflix, and Hulu.

Sometimes, they’re even missing from the DVD sets. For example, there’s a Hogmanay (think New Year’s Eve in Scotland) episode for Monarch of the Glen that essentially acts as Episode 11 of Series 5. You won’t find it on Netflix or even the Series 5 DVD set (at least not the versions I’ve looked at). I was initially worried that I’d have to buy the Complete Series box set (nearly $100, even at a discount) if I wanted to watch that episode. I’d heard that it explains more about a certain character’s departure, and I really wanted to watch it.

Luckily, I found the missing Hogmanay special on a fantastic BBC DVD set – which you can buy as one large collection of comedies and dramas, or as smaller sets of only comedy or only drama. All 3 DVD sets are Region 1 encoded, which means you can play them in any standard North American DVD player (unlike many British content DVDs, which often require a region-free DVD playerclick here if you want to learn more about what that means, in plain English).

BBC Holiday Gift Set

This DVD set includes 621 minutes of the best holiday specials from both comedy and drama programs produced by the BBC. The full list of episodes is as follows:

  • Are You Being Served? – Christmas Crackers (1975)
  • Good Neighbors AKA The Good Life – Silly, But It’s Fun (1977)
  • To The Manor Born Christmas Special – The First Noel (1979)
  • Allo Allo Christmas Special – A Bun in The Oven (1991)
  • Last Of The Summer Wine – Whoops (1981)
  • Keeping Up Appearances – The Father Christmas Suit AKA A Very Merry Hyacinth (1991)
  • Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988)
  • The Vicar of Dibley – Winter (1999)
  • All Creatures Great & Small – Merry Gentlemen (1978)
  • Ballykissangel – Happy As A Turkey On Boxing Day (1997)
  • Monarch Of The Glen – Hogmanay Special (2003)
  • Lovejoy – The Prague Sun (1992)
  • Lark Rise To Candleford Christmas (2008)

As you can see, that hard-to-find Monarch of the Glen Hogmanay Special is included here, and buying this or the drama set below is the cheapest way I know of to get your hands on that episode. You can click here to buy the complete DVD set (around $18 at time of writing).

BBC Holiday Comedy

If you ONLY want comedy holiday specials, there’s no need to get the entire holiday gift set. Instead, you can buy the BBC Holiday Comedy DVD and get only the comedies. You can click here to get it. The list of included episodes is below:

  • Are You Being Served? – Christmas Crackers (1975)
  • Good Neighbors AKA The Good Life – Silly, But It’s Fun (1977)
  • To The Manor Born Christmas Special – The First Noel (1979)
  • Allo Allo Christmas Special – A Bun in The Oven (1991)
  • Last Of The Summer Wine – Whoops (1981)
  • Keeping Up Appearances – The Father Christmas Suit AKA A Very Merry Hyacinth (1991)
  • Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988)
  • The Vicar of Dibley – Winter (1999)

BBC Holiday Drama

As you might have guessed, the BBC Holiday Drama DVD includes only the drama episodes from the larger holiday set. You can click here to get it. The list of episodes is below:

  • All Creatures Great & Small – Merry Gentlemen (1978)
  • Ballykissangel – Happy As A Turkey On Boxing Day (1997)
  • Monarch Of The Glen – Hogmanay Special (2003)
  • Lovejoy – The Prague Sun (1992)
  • Lark Rise To Candleford Christmas (2008)

With “just” 13 episodes, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to British holiday specials. There are a great many more, some of which are very easy to find, with others much more difficult. Although there’s one Last of the Summer Wine Christmas special included, the show actually had quite a few holiday specials over its long run, and there are multiple DVD sets dedicated to just their specials. Some of my personal favorites include the Miranda holiday specials and the Friday Night Dinner Christmas episode. What’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

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