The best music TV shows to watch for 2020 Christmas and New Year: From Paul McCartney and Elvis to Shania Twain and Alicia Keys

From documentaries, live performances and even a quiz category, here's all the programmes you need to catch this festive season.

It's the most wonderful time of year - where the worlds of music and television combine to offer us some much-needed festive delights over the holidays. Well, what else is there to do?

Whether you're working right through or looking for something to relax with of an evening or afternoon, here we've collated a list of the must-watch music shows for this Christmas and New Year, from documentaries and films to, of course, Top of the Pops and some very special live performances. 

A brief note before we start, most of these programmes will be available to watch via terrestrial TV on Freeview. 

December 19

Idris Elba Meets Paul McCartney
BBC One, 9.20pm

Start your festive watch off in the best way possible - with the meeting of two legends. In this new documentary, Luther star Idris Elba meets Sir Paul McCartney to discuss his legendary career and the creation of McCartney III earlier this year, the final album in a solo LP trilogy spanning 50 years. 

Shania Twain: Still The One - Live in Las Vegas
Sky Arts, 10pm

Let's go, girls. Give your Christmas a little country-pop twist, courtesy of Shania Twain herself, with a live recording of her Still The One Las Vegas show. 

December 22

Cliff Richard: The Christmas King
Channel 5, 10.25pm

Take a look back at the life and times of Sir Cliff Richard (who broke an Official Charts record earlier this year) in this documentary, which also looks at the impact of Mistletoe and Wine, one of the undeniable Christmas standards from the British pop canon. 

December 23

A Christmas History of Sacred Music
BBC4, 8pm

One for all the culture lovers out there. This film looks at the history and evolution of sacred music such as hymns and their connection with Christmas. It takes us back hundreds of years into the past to see how sacred music evolved into classics such as Silent Night. 

Mamma Mia!
ITVBe, 8pm

If you're gearing yourself up for ABBA to (finally) drop new music in 2021, re-visit a collection of their greatest hits in the effervescent movie musical we all love to love, whose sequel a decade later proved to be a decisive Official UK Chart smash.

Christmas Eve

Katherine Jenkins' Christmas Spectacular
ITV, 2.15pm

Watch Welsh opera star Katherina Jenkins take to the stage and perform a variety of classics, complete with a live orchestra. (If you can't wait to tune in, you can also watch this special right now via BritBox). 

Carols from King's
BBC2, 5.3Opm

Some more traditional fare now. The annual celebration of the Christmas story, beginning with a single chorister singing the opening of Once In Royal David's City. 

Elvis Night
BBC4, from 7.45pm


And some not-so-traditional fare. BBC4 is screening all things Elvis Presley from 7.45pm on Christmas Eve. Celebrate the King in style, with a screening of his musical film Viva Las Vegas, and then watch a Top of the Pops 2 special, with performances of artists covering Elvis' greatest hits, including Cher and Alison Moyet.

Christmas Day

Top Of The Pops Christmas Special
BBC One, 11.55am

A true festive tradition. Before the Official Christmas Number 1 is revealed, join Clara Amfo and Fearne Cotton for a special festive Top of the Pops featuring some of the biggest hits of the year. Stars performing include Becky Hill and Joel Corry and MNEK with their Number 1 single, Head and Heart.

Top Of The Pops 2 Christmas
BBC4, 7pm

The pop don't stop, as they say. If we whet your appetite for more, BBC4 are showcasing a very special compilation episode of Top of the Pops 2 later on Christmas Day, featuring performances fishes out from the vaults with Sir Elton John, ABBA and Elvis. 

December 28

BBC2, 7.30pm

A fun edition of Mastermind tonight - which features one contestant whose specialist category is UK hit singles from 2000-2004.

December 29

Pointless Celebrities
BBC One, 5.10pm

Ben Haenow - Something I Need

Ben Haenow is presented with his Official Number 1 Award for Something I Need. Something I Need sold over 214,000 copies in its first week on sale and was crowned the 2014 Official Christmas Number 1. 

A very special edition of the popular quiz show, included noted Christmas hitmakers of the past who have gained the coveted Christmas Number 1. Contestants taking part include Jimmy Osmond, Gareth Malone and X Factor winner Ben Haenow. 

Celebrity: A 21st Century Story
BBC2, 9pm

Set to be screened across four consecutive nights, this new documentary takes a look at the evolution of celebrity and popular culture in the 21st century. The first episode takes a look at the rise of reality TV with Pop Idol and its tense final between Will Young and Gareth Gates. Future episodes will also take a look at the rise of One Direction as the first social media supergroup. 

New Year's Eve

Top of the Pops New Year special
BBC One, 4.20pm

Start your New Year's Eve party off right with the second of Top of the Pops' festive specials. Joining Clara and Fearne tonight are Becky Hill, Wes Nelson and BBC Sound of 2021 longlisted indie-pop artist Alfie Templeman.

The Graham Norton Show
BBC One, 10.25pm

Joining Graham and his star-studded sofa tonight (including Tom Hanks!), Sophie Ellis-Bextor is serving as the night's musical guest, where she'll be performing her cover of Crying At The Discotheque from her successful Kitchen Disco series.

Jools' Annual Hootenanny
BBC Two, 11.15pm

Would it be New Years Eve without Jools Holland? Joining the esteemed host and musician tonight is a varied line-up: 2020 Mercury Prize winner Michael Kiwanuka, Rag'n'Bone Man and Roisin Murphy, who this year scored her highest-ever peak on the Official Albums Chart with Roisin Machine. 

Alicia Keys Rocks New Years Eve
BBC One, 11.30pm

Ring in 2021 with a very special show featuring American superstar Alicia Keys, who will be tinkling the ivories and, we assume, singing No One at full volume to ring in the New Year. 

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