Stuck at home on New Year's Eve? Here's what to watch on TV

The Thames fireworks may be off, but Jools Holland, Graham Norton and co in the UK will still be vying for your sozzled attention

Virtual New Year’s Eve Parties

You might not be able to see your real friends – but there’s a gaggle of TV’s finest to keep you company with on British TV. On BBC One Paddy McGuinness kicks things off at 9pm with The Big New Year’s In, which promises a “live extravaganza” including musical guests, quizzes and a look back at 2020. (Do we really need that, Paddy?) That’s followed by a Graham Norton Show festive special at 10pm, featuring Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan and Tom Hanks. And at 11.30pm, Alicia Keys Rocks New Year’s Eve, taking us through her hits before we cut to Big Ben for the countdown to midnight.

On BBC Two, Jools Holland returns with his annual Hootenanny, from 11.15pm to 1.20am. Joining him and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra are Celeste, Sir Tom Jones, Michael Kiwanuka, Róisín Murphy, Rick Wakeman, Ruby Turner, Chris Difford, and the pipes and drums of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards.

On BBC Scotland, we can enjoy an hour of Susan Calman from 11.30pm for Hogmanay 2020, for which she will be joined by a gaggle of Scottish stars.

Graham Norton
Showbiz’s most lovable everyman interviews Tom Hanks. Photograph: Matt Crossick/PA

Channel 4 offers The Last Leg of the Year, although Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker’s look back at 2020 will only see you through to 11pm – at which point they cruelly leave you to fend for yourself. Much like our government.

Film fun

On ITV, you can retreat to the comfort of 2012 and the best recent Bond film, Skyfall at 9pm – finishing just in time for the bongs. Channel 4 keeps up the torture of this awful year with the terrible Ben Stiller sequel, Meet the Fockers running right through from 11pm, although relief follows in the form of the excellent East Is East at 12.55am.

Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby
Devilish fun … Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby. Photograph: Allstar/Paramount

For those wanting to cap 2020 with terror and dread, TCM has the masterful 1960s horror Rosemary’s Baby from 11.40pm, while those wanting sozzled company at 11.15pm should tune into Film4 for Withnail and I. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery inserts himself into your schedule at 9pm on Comedy Central, and over on Sky Cinema is the best new year’s film of all time, Sleepless in Seattle, at 10.15pm.

And now for something completely different

If you want to eschew that old-fashioned linear TV, the streaming services have a host of delights to ensure you won’t even notice as we slip in to 2021. On Netflix, the enjoyably ludicrous Bridgerton is full of period lust and glorious costumes, Midnight Sky gives us George Clooney as a lonely scientist on a stricken Earth (maybe that one’s too close to home), and We Can Be Heroes offers some goofy Robert Rodriguez fun suitable for the whole family.

Plenty of Heart … Pixar’s new gem, Soul. Photograph: Pixar

Disney+ has the recently released Soul, a perfectly beautiful Pixar tonic with which to round off the year. There’s also a host of Disney classics to enjoy, and the second season of The Mandalorian, if you haven’t had time to catch up with the adventures of Baby Yoda yet.

Amazon Prime has slightly lacked for fresh content this festive season but it does still boast this year’s best picture Oscar-winner, Parasite, the touchingly beautiful Cate Blanchett romance Carol (full of luscious snowy scenery), and 15 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy – if you really want to ensure that you’re stocked up with stuff to watch for the rest of the year.


Toby Moses

The GuardianTramp

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