The creepiest Christmas TV shows

Written by nick redfern | 13/05/2017
The creepiest Christmas TV shows
Telly, terror and tinsel (Getty Premium images)

There's nothing like a scary or supernatural story for Christmas. When the snow's falling, the cold wind is blowing, and you and your loved ones are huddled around a roaring fireplace, it's the ideal time to focus on tales of ghosts, mysteries and Christmas spirits - no, not the sort you get down your neck! We're talking the chain-rattling kind. And, recognising that the people of the UK love a good saga of strangeness as much as they do Christmas, the world of TV has done a great job of combining both. Welcome to our Top 10 weirdly-spooky Christmas shows.

A Gothic nightmare

The creepiest Christmas TV shows
A spectre in black (Courtesy of Granada Television)

It was Christmas Eve, 1989, and the good folk of this fine land sat down to watch a full-length drama that turned out to be probably the most bone-chilling, festive production ever: The Woman in Black. You probably know it better from the 2012 version starring boy-wizard Daniel Radcliffe. Although Radders' version is okay, the original wins hands-down. Filled with ghostly menace, and set in a mysterious, old house on the east-coast of England, it's a terror-inducing saga to die for. After watching it, you may find yourself looking for a different kind of spirit - to calm your nerves!

Related: The creepiest TV shows ever

Terror on the tracks

The creepiest Christmas TV shows
The ghost of the railway (Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Every December, between 1971 and 1978, the BBC broadcast a supernatural saga as part of its series, A Ghost Story for Christmas. The most well-remembered, and feared, was The Signal-Man, which terrorised viewers on December 22, 1976. Based on a story by Charles Dickens, it tells of a Victorian-era signal-man on an old stretch of English railway who receives ghostly messages of the petrifying kind. Each and every one of them forecasts a terrible disaster on the tracks, the last of which ominously predicts the death of the signal-man himself. Moody, macabre and mysterious, it's one of the BBC's best.

Related: The most terrifying UK ghost stories

Creek and a creaking house

The creepiest Christmas TV shows
Magic and mystery for Christmas (Courtesy of BBC)

What were you doing on New Year's Day, 2009? Well, in addition to eating the final leftovers of the turkey, you may have been watching The Grinning Man - a two-hour special in the BBC's Jonathan Creek series. Spanning the 1930s to the present-day, it sees our magician-detective exploring a spooky old mansion. Or, more correctly, the mansion's "Nightmare Room", from which countless people have vanished, never to be seen again. Years later, the old house is owned by a man who dabbles in the black-arts, and it's Jonathan's job to solve the puzzle of the mysterious disappearances. Chilling fun!

Related: The UK's top 10 unsolved mysteries

The ultimate Xmas ghost

The creepiest Christmas TV shows
Scrooge gets spirited (MJ Kim/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Although there have been many adaptations of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, one of the most notable was the 2000 version starring Eastenders' Ross "Mitchell bruvva" Kemp. In this alternative-but-entertaining version, the story is upgraded to the present-day, and the chief character, Ebenezer Scrooge, becomes Eddie Scrooge. A ruthless loan-shark, Kemp's Scrooge learns the error of his ways when the terrifying ghost of Jacob Marley comes calling on the man who used to call the Queen Vic his home. An intriguing twist on Dickens' 1843 novel, it's well worth watching when the cold wind blows on a dark Christmas night.

Related: Top 10 ghost movies

Saving the planet for Xmas

The creepiest Christmas TV shows
Aliens hate holly and hols (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

When it comes to Christmas spookiness on the telly, there's one person who has had more adventures than anyone else: the nation's favourite time-traveller, Dr. Who. In The Dalek's Master Plan, shown in 1965, the pepper-pot-style evil-doers had the very bad-taste to invade the planet when everyone was focusing on presents and a good old, festive nosh-up. Forty years later, the Doc - in his David Tennant incarnation - took on robotic Santas, and dreaded aliens called the Sycorax. Of course, our hero saved the day and even managed to fit in a slap-up Christmas-dinner with faithful companion, Rose.

Related: Top 10 Dr Who villains

Unexpected tales of toys

The creepiest Christmas TV shows
Death comes to Christmas (Courtesy of Anglia Television)

Tales of the Unexpected was an incredibly popular series that aired from 1979 to 1988 on ITV and is perhaps best remembered for its hypnotic music, and silhouetted, gyrating girl who accompanied the credits. But, its stories were equally notable, including the Christmas 1980 episode, The Party. It tells of the owner of a toy-factory who - enraged that it may be taken over by an overseas company - decides to burn it down on the same night that one of the employees organises a Christmas disco on the premises. It's a disastrous decision that hides an appropriately unexpected secret.

Related: The worst Santas in the history of Christmas

Holmes' holiday mystery

The creepiest Christmas TV shows
The goose gets cooked (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Could there be anyone more likely to solve a very weird Christmas mystery than Sherlock Holmes? Probably not! And that's exactly what Holmes and pal Dr. Watson did in The Blue Carbuncle. It's a puzzling story of a goose that is found dead at Christmas with a priceless jewel lodged in its throat, and which ends up in the hands of Holmes. Cue the surfacing of numerous other characters - all mysterious and all after the jewel. Thanks to actor Jeremy Brett playing Holmes, Granada Television's 1984 version was a huge hit with the viewers. Shame about the goose though.

Related: Top 10 TV detectives

Christmas, Blackadder-style

The creepiest Christmas TV shows
Reversing roles for the holidays (Scott Gries/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

On December 23, 1988, the BBC broadcast a very alternative version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. This one played the ghostly saga strictly for laughs. And there were plenty of them! Blackadder's Christmas Carol is a very funny take on the story, in which there's a big, unforeseen reversal. In Dickens' novel, Scrooge goes from bad-guy to hero. In the world of Blackadder, it's the other way around, and we see Scrooge transformed from a jolly old soul to the man who spawns a dark future in which the Universe is controlled by the ruthless Grand-Admiral Blackadder. Bizarrely hilarious!

Related: Britain's strangest Christmas customs

Lost at Christmas

The creepiest Christmas TV shows
A supernatural tale of Xmas hope (Jason Kempin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Without doubt, one of the most captivating of all Christmas-themed TV dramas was Lost Christmas, which was aired by the BBC in December 2011. Starring Eddie Izzard, it told the strangely-compelling saga of a young boy, Goose, whose parents are killed in a car crash on Christmas Eve. As a result, psychologically-shattered, ten-year-old Goose descends into a life of crime on the streets of Manchester. That is until Anthony, a mysterious figure played by Izzard, turns up. With a paranormal-like gift to heal lost and distraught souls - just like Goose - Anthony is as enigmatically-magical as Santa himself.

Related: The world's strangest Father Christmases

An avenging Christmas

The creepiest Christmas TV shows
Christmas trees and Christmas spies (Courtesy of ABC Weekend Television)

The Avengers, which starred Patrick Macnee as dashing, gentlemanly secret-agent John Steed was one of the most popular shows of the 1960s. Particularly when bowler-hatted Steed had curvy Emma Peel - played by Diana Rigg - at his side. As you might guess, the season of goodwill was never normal for the pair - as the episode Too Many Christmas Trees, broadcast on Christmas Day 1965, showed. Steed has nightmares of future events, all of which centre around Christmas and a murdered secret-agent. And it comes to a thrilling climax at a festive party at a mysterious, country mansion.

Related: 10 Reasons why some kids are scared stiff of Santa

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