Mary Berry, Bake Off, Nigella and more


Do you believe there’s nothing better at Christmas than grabbing a glass of festive fizz and settling down to watch as someone else prepares a winter feast? If so, this is the guide for you. 

The festive cooking kicks off on 21 December and there are highlights until 3 January.

Monday, 21 December  
Celebrity MasterChef Christmas Cook Off (9pm, BBC One)

John Torode and Greg Wallace are inviting eight celebrities who’ve previously competed on the show back into the MasterChef kitchen to duke it out for the title of Christmas Champion.  

Donning the white aprons and handling the cavolo nero are Christopher Biggins, Dev Griffin, Amar Latif, Spencer Matthews, Vicky Pattison, Craig Revel Horwood, Crissy Rock and Janet Street-Porter.

The cook-off concludes on 23 December at the same time.

Tuesday, 22 December  
Nigella: Cook, Eat, Repeat Christmas Special (8pm, BBC 2)

Nigella’s Christmas special is part of the TV tie-in to her new cookbook of the same name. Nigella will be making Linzer cookies, pomegranate cocktails, smoked salmon on black bread and Norwegian pork ribs with Jansson’s Temptation (which is a Swedish gratin dish, foodie fact fans).

Will the meecro-wavé make an appearance? You’ll have to tune in to find out. There’s more info on the programme on the Beeb. And, if you miss it the first time around, it’ll be (cook, eat) repeated on Wednesday 23 December at 1.15pm on BBC 2.  

Plus, if you’d like to see more Christmassy Nigella, there’s a repeat of Nigellissima: An Italian Inspired Christmas on Sunday 17 December, at 8pm on BBC Two.

Incidentally, the Cook, Eat, Repeat book would make a lovely Christmas present if you’re casting about for last-minute gift ideas. It’s £15 in hardback and contains recipes (as you’d expect), as well as Nigella’s thoughts on the importance of good food in her life.

Wednesday, 23 December
Mary Berry Saves Christmas (6.30pm, BBC One)

Christmas 2020 is going to be an odd one for many people. It may be the first time some of us have to figure out how long you actually have to cook a turkey for and whether or not you really have to carve those little crosses on the Brussels Sprouts. But fear not – because Mary Berry is on the case.

She’ll be teaching three people who’ve never cooked before how to make a Christmas dinner. On the menu is a turkey crown (an entire turkey might be a bit much for home-aloners), a veggie-friendly butternut squash tart and a mango and passionfruit pavlova.

The Repair Shop’s Jay Blades, presenter Angela Scanlon and comedian Tom Allen will be coaching the cooking newbies.

The Great British Bake Off: The Winners (7pm, Channel 4)

Want to catch up with the Bake Off champions? This documentary promises to provide an insight into what they got up to after their successes in the tent of pastry magic.

Celebrity MasterChef Christmas Cook Off  (9pm, BBC One)

They’re back for part two of the celebrity MasterChef seasonal special. Find out which famous face is crowned Champion in this, the concluding episode.

Christmas Eve
The Great Christmas Bake Off (7.40pm, Channel 4)

This is the first of two seasonal bake-offeries (technical term), with the second landing on 3 January (see below).

Four contestants from previous seasons will be returning to bake the day away. Jamie Finn and Rosie Brandreth-Poynter from 2019 will join Ruby Bhogalm from 2018 and James Hillery from 2017.

Comedian Tom Allen will be filling in for Noel Fielding, who was away on paternity leave at the time of filming. Matt Lucas, Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood will of course be on hand, to encourage the bakers and judge their creations. 

There will be festive goings-on aplenty, including a rendition of Silent Night by Alexandra Burke.

Christmas Day
James Martin’s Christmas Day (12pm, ITV)

If you’re not in the kitchen at midday, you can sit back in your new Christmas jumper and watch as celebrity chef James Martin cooks a Christmas lunch for Denise Van Outen and Chris Evans at his home. 

On the menu is a dish from The Ritz’s head chef John Williams, as well as a recipe from Michelin-starred chef Thomas Kerridge and one from Bake off: Creme de la Creme winner Mark Tilling. This last one is sure to involve an extravagant amount of chocolate.

There will also be tips on how to enjoy your Christmas dinner leftovers. Another sandwich, anyone?

Ainsley’s Festive Food We Love (2pm, ITV)

Ainsley Harriott will be serving up a seasonal mix of tasty recipes and celebrity guests, with Martine McCutcheon and Christopher Biggins among those enjoying the celebrations.

Escape to the Chateau (8.10pm, Channel 4)

Chateau-dwellers Dick and Angel will be staging a traditional Christmas feast, taking inspiration from a 19th century ledger found in the attic, as well as cookbooks from the chateau’s glory days.

Tuesday, 29 December
MasterChef: The Professionals A Festive Knockout (8pm, BBC One)

MasterChef superfans can tune in for more, as Greg Wallace is joined by judges Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti to find out how some of the best previous contestants have skilled up in the kitchen since their first appearances on the show.

Part two airs on 30 December. 

Wednesday 30 December
MasterChef: The Professionals A Festive Knockout (8pm, BBC One)

This is your last chance of the year to cram in a final MasterChef episode (I promise). Find out which of the previous contestants will take home the prize.

Sunday, 3 January
The Great New Year Bake Off (7.45pm, Channel 4)

If you’re not totally stuffed with seasonal TV goodies, you can head back to the tent for one last oven-ready special. All the presenters will be on hand, including Noel Fielding for this episode, and the contestants will be previous contenders Helena Garcia and Henry Bird from 2019, Nancy Birtwhistle, the 2014 winner, and 2018’s Rahul Mandal.

For more unmissable holiday TV, read our guides to the best Channel 4 Christmas TV, the best of ITV’s Christmas TV and best Christmas TV overall. We also have an article on the best Christmas movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and NowTV.


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