It's the final month of 2020, a year that turned out a way no one expected. The biggest story of the year was always about the proliferation of streamers. However, no one thought it would become the leading industry purveyor of entertainment quite so centrally, at least not so fast. Still, as we all huddle at home this winter, the move to streaming means fans of British TV have tons of programming choices.
So, what's coming to the U.S. in British TV this December? Let's run down the biggest titles arriving this month.
Local Bonus: The Dickens Collection
There are no new Masterpiece shows on Passport this month, but there's a bonus for those of you in the D.C. area who also happen to be WETA Passport members.
Starting in December, WETA Passport will present The Dickens Collection for Christmas. The collection includes the BBC adaptation of Little Dorrit, starring Matthew Macfadyen and Claire Foy, literary mash-up drama Dickensian, BBC's Bleak House, and the 1935 film Scrooge, based on Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol. All titles will be available on December 16.
The Great British Baking Show: Holidays Season 3
Netflix adjusted the Great British Baking Show release scheduled in the states from the 11-month wait often seen during the PBS years to a matter of days. It is not clear why they haven't done the same for The Great British Baking Show: Holidays episodes, other than that Channel 4 runs two of them, one at Christmas and one on New Year's, and perhaps having those arrive on Jan. 2 felt wrong. But no matter! Instead, fans get to rewind the clock to pre-pandemic times when Sandi Toksvig hosting on Friday, Dec. 4, when the 2019 Christmas and New Year's specials arrive 11 months late to our shores.
The Surgeon's Cut
The Surgeon's Cut is a timely four-part documentary from the BBC focusing on pioneering surgeons and medical technology, arrives on Dec. 9. Though there's nothing directly related to the pandemic here, it's a fascinating look into the worlds of fetal medicine, neurosurgery, transplants, and cardiology.
Bridgerton is a romantic fantasy set in Regency England during the time of George III brings Downton Abbey-meet-Gossip Girl vibes that will probably delight fans of British period pieces. Tune in for the costumes and sets, if nothing else; Netflix spent tons of money on this series, and it shows. Just make sure to leave your expectations of propriety at the door. It is not your mother's Jane Austen at all. All eight episodes arrive on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.
His Dark Materials
Season 2 of the BBC/HBO adaptation of His Dark Materials continues to add one episode a week through December. The show was reduced from eight to seven episodes due to the pandemic, with the finale arriving on Dec. 28.
Escape to the Chateau
Peacock's latest import, Escape to the Chateau, is from Channel 4, a reality series following couple Dick Strawbridge and Angel Adoree along with their family as they buy, renovate and redecorate the 19th-century Château de la Motte-Husson in Martigné-Sur-Mayenne, France. The good news is that, like many U.K. versions of our familiar reality series, this one is far better edited for emotional impact. All six seasons arrive Dec. 1.
A Suitable Boy
Acorn TV has done a great job bringing Exclusive Series for almost the entirety of 2020, and December is no exception. The streamer's final offering this year is A Suitable Boy, adapted from the bestselling novel by Vikram Seth.
It's the first television series from Mira Nair and adapted by Andrew Davies. It's an intimate, epic tale of life and love set in vibrant 1950s India. Lata Mehra (Tanya Maniktala) comes of age simultaneously as the country is carving out its own identity as an independent nation. Two episodes arrive on Monday, Dec. 7, with one episode a week to follow.
A Music Lover's Guide To Murdoch Mysteries
Acorn TV usually brings the yearly Murdoch Mysteries Christmas Special. Sadly, filming was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. In its place, there's A Music Lover's Guide To Murdoch Mysteries, a behind-the-scenes music special with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performing a concert of Murdoch-era music, hosted by actor Yannick Bisson. It streams Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.
Christmas on Britbox
One of the most significant offerings BritBox does every year is a live stream of the Christmas standards from the BBC for those of us here in the U.S. This year adds The Lights Before Christmas: Radiance By Rail on Dec. 22. Then on Christmas eve, there are yearly performances of Carols from King's, and then on Christmas Day, the Queen's Christmas Message will stream over here for those who want to participate in the annual tradition.
The Vicar of Dibley Christmas Special
One of the U.K.'s yearly Christmas episodes, The Vicar of Dibley Christmas Special, arrives on Christmas Day, Dec. 25. This year features the return of Dawn French as Geraldine Grainger. The episode also incorporates the state of the real world as part of the special. Geraldine is separated from her flock due to lockdown, so she's taken to delivering sermons to parishioners via zoom.