Festive television isn’t what it used to be. Thirty years ago, more than 30 million people sat down to watch Eastenders on Christmas Day – a record that still stands and is unlikely to be beaten. Instant access to the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube means that many people choose to watch TV on demand.
But that didn’t stop us from grabbing a copy of the Radio Times and – armed with a red pen – circling the shows most likely to appeal to petrolheads over Christmas. Here are 25 shows you can watch during the seven days from Friday 23 December 2016.
The Grand Tour: Amazon Prime
The Grand Tour pitches its tent in the very festive surroundings of Kakslauttanen, Finland, as messrs Clarkson, Hammond and May wish us a very Happy Finnish Christmas. Stay tuned for a battle royale between the Ford Mustang and Ford Focus RS, while the boys also have some last minute Christmas shopping ideas. Expect anything but the conventional.
Casino Royale: ITV2
23 December, 9.00pm
From a battle royale to Casino Royale, which sees Daniel Craig in his first outing as 007. Cars range from the very Bond Aston Martin DBS and DB5, to the more humble Ford Mondeo. Look out for 007’s pursuit of Le Chiffre, in which the DBS performed a dramatic tumble. The scene was filmed at the Millbrook Proving Ground, near Bedford.
Quantum of Solace: ITV2
Christmas Eve, 9.00pm
Twenty-four hours later, James Bond returns in Quantum of Solace. The film is another ‘Ford fest’, including the unlikely debut of the second generation Ford Ka. Also look out for a fleet of hydrogen-powered Ford Edge SUVs and a Volvo S40. The movie opens with an epic tussle between a pair of Alfa Romeo 159s and Bond in a DBS. Oh, and a Land Rover Defender…
The Transporter: Film4
Christmas Eve, 11.10pm
If you’ve had your fill of Bond – not to mention mince pies and sherry – allow Jason Statham to offer a change of direction, if not pace. Sadly, Frank Martin (Jason Statham) doesn’t get behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Transporter, instead relying on a BMW 7 Series. One highlight is the chase scene through the streets of Nice.
Spectre: Sky Cinema Action & Adventure
Christmas Eve, 8.00pm
Yes, it’s another Bond movie, but in the case of Spectre there’s a chance you haven’t seen it since it hit the big screen in 2015. The Aston Martin DB10 is the star car, although the Jaguar C-X75 driven by henchman Mr Hinx runs it quite close. Quite literally, in fact.
Christmas Day, 12.50am
If you’re still awake at ten to one on Christmas morning, don’t be surprised if Santa doesn’t pay you a visit. But if you can’t sleep, this documentary promises to be a real treat. Narrated by Liam Neeson, it’s a profile of Joey Dunlop, the motorcycle racer who won 26 races at the Isle of Man TT between 1976 and 2000.
Mad Max: Fury Road, Sky Cinema Hits
Christmas Day, 1.20am
“Strap yourself into the rumble seat and explore the post-apocalyptic world of Max Mad: Fury Road, where the vehicles are not mere showpieces, but built and modified to perform live stunts on a massive scale.” If that doesn’t whet your appetite, nothing will.
Steve McQueen – The Motorbike Movie Star: ITV4
Christmas Day, 7.00am
If your presents aren’t doing it for you, tune into ITV4 on Christmas morning for some Steve McQueen action. This two-part documentary sees Henry Cole going on a road trip to California, charting the life and times of the legendary McQueen. Sure beats a pair of socks and a bottle of smellies.
Fast & Furious 7: Sky Cinema Hits
Christmas Day, 11.20pm
By this point on Christmas Day, you will have eaten too much food and consumed far too many bottles of granny’s gin, so a couple of hours on the sofa might be most welcome. Fast & Furious 7 is a fitting tribute to the late Paul Walker and one of the best films in the franchise.
Harley and the Davidsons: Discovery
Boxing Day, 8.00pm
Based on a true story, Harley and the Davidsons charts the birth of Harley-Davidson during a time of great social and technological change. How far will founders Walter and Arthur Davidson and their friend Bill Harley go to reach the ultimate American dream? This is the first of a three-part drama.
Gran Torino: Sky Cinema Select
Boxing Day, 10.00pm
In box office terms, this is Clint Eastwood’s most successful movie, grossing more than $148m since its release in 2008. When somebody tries to steal Walt Kowalski’s immaculate Gran Torino, he sets out on a mission to reform the local youth. It’s all set to the backdrop of Detroit’s crumbling automotive industry. A terrific film.
Back to the Future: Sky Cinema Greats
Boxing Day, 10.10pm
Is there anybody on the planet who hasn’t seen Back to the Future? Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is sent back in time by the mad scientist Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd), with the DeLorean DMC-12 acting as the time machine. Three decades on, the car remains as popular as ever, and it’s all thanks to this film.
The Italian Job: Sky Cinema Action & Adventure
Boxing Day, 10.20am
The quintessentially British ‘comedy caper’ sees three Minis escaping from Turin following an ambitious gold robbery. The film is filled with famous one-liners, not to mention a brilliant opening scene involving a Lamborghini Miura and a bulldozer. But the stars of the show are the red, white and blue Minis. Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea…
Herbie Rides Again: BBC2
Bank Holiday Tuesday, 7.50am
The sequel to the 1968 film Herbie The Love Bug finds the oh-so-cute Beetle involved in a battle to save the home of Mrs Steinmetz from a corrupt developer. Keenan Wynn is excellent as Alonzo Hawk, but Herbie is the undoubted star of the show.
Cars 2: BBC1
Bank Holiday Tuesday, 10.50am
The original Cars movie was dripping in charm and originality, and while this follow-up isn’t quite the sentimental and nostalgic treat, it’s not without appeal. Lightning McQueen is challenged to race in the World Grand Prix, while Mater becomes tangled in some international espionage. Cars 3 is set to hit the big screen in 2017.
Bank Holiday Tuesday, 8.00pm
To some, Skyfall is one of the best Bond movies of all-time. Director Sam Mendes – making his 007 debut – manages to find a terrific balance between realism and standard Bond overindulgence. The Aston Martin DB5 makes a surprise and welcome return, although it meets an explosive end in Scotland.
Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo: BBC2
28 December, 7.40am
Herbie is rolled out once again, this time in order to race in the Monte Carlo Rally. As you’d expect, things don’t go according to plan, and the loveable Bug tangles with some jewel thieves.
James May – the Christmas Reassembler: BBC4
28 December, 9.00pm
It’s not a car programme as such, but anything involving James May normally turns out to be rather good. In 1972, May was given a Hornby Flying Scotsman train set for Christmas. Now, 44 years later, he rebuilds the train in his workshop. According to the Radio Times, the nostalgia becomes a little too much for ‘Captain Slow’, as he sheds a tear upon completion.
Herbie Goes Bananas: BBC2
29 December, 7.45am
Had enough of Herbie for one Christmas? Herbie Goes Bananas is arguably the weakest film in the franchise, and the final movie before the Beetle returned in 1997 with a remake of The Love Bug.
29 December, 9.00am
We’ll stick our hands up here – this is a film we haven’t seen. According to the IMDb website, “a freak accident might just help an everyday garden snail achieve his biggest dream: winning the Indy 500.” Sounds implausible, but rather fun. The Radio Times gives it four stars.
Cannonball Run II: ITV4
29 December, 7.45pm
A guilty pleasure if ever there was one. In his review, Roger Ebert labelled this film as “one of the laziest insults to the intelligence of moviegoers that I can remember,” before claiming that “sheer arrogance made this picture.” It’s not great, but the cars are good and there’s a star-studded cast including Burt Reynolds and Catherine ‘Daisy Duke’ Bach.
Guy Martin – Cycling Home for Christmas: C4
29 December, 9.00pm
At the time of writing, news was reaching us that injury has forced Guy Martin to pull out of his latest world record attempt. Martin was hoping to complete a 4,802-mile pedal-powered ride of the British coast in just 20 days. In a statement, he said: “Well, it’s not gone quite to plan.” Will this TV show be canned?
The World’s Most Expensive Toys: More4
29 December, 10.05pm
We can’t promise you a truck-load of Ford Transit models, but this show will reveal some of the world’s most extravagant toys. According to the Radio Times, this includes a £30,000 electric toy car. Wow.
The Grand Tour: Amazon Prime
In the first of two special shows, The Grand Tour abandons its tent for a road trip across Namibia in a trio of beach buggies. Reading between the lines, this has all the hallmarks of a Top Gear festive special, so we have high hopes that this will be a Christmas cracker.
Gone in Sixty Seconds: Sky Cinema Action & Adventure
30 December, 12.55am
No, not the original Gone in 60 Seconds, but the 2000 remake Gone in Sixty Seconds. It’s all rather simple: 50 exotic cars must be stolen and loaded onto a container ship within a short period of time. Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie star, while Vinnie Jones makes his second screen appearance since making his debut in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Credits: 1 – Amazon Prime , 2 – Ford, 3 – Newspress, 4 – Universal Pictures, 5 – Autogas, 6 & 7 – Newspress, 8 Autogas, 9 – Silverstone Classic