Christmas is the season of joy, giving and goodwill. It's also the season of TV specials and back-to-back movies that often result in fights over the remote. You could change that this year (the remote fights part, we mean) by taking to your iPad to watch the shows you prefer. Here, we round up the best Christmas 2013 TV and show you how to watch it on your iPad.

You can find out what else is on this Christmas by downloading a TV guide app. See our Best TV guide apps article for some suggestions.

How to watch Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor on iPad

Doctor Who fans won't want to miss 'The Time of the Doctor' the Christmas special that also signals Matt Smith's departure from the show, and will be his last episode as the Doctor.

To watch Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor on iPad, you can download the BBC iPlayer app to your iPad or iPhone. You should be able to stream the show from the app at 7.30pm on Christmas Day through the BBC iPlayer app by tapping Channels and choosing BBC One.

BBC One is also the channel to visit for the Eastenders Christmas episode (8.30pm on Christmas day), the Call The Midwife Christmas special (6.15 on Christmas Day) and the Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas Special (9.30pm on Christmas Day), so head to the BBC iPlayer app to catch those live, too.

You can also use the BBC iPlayer app to watch the QI XL Christmas Special at 9pm on Christmas Eve.

Other apps you can use to watch BBC channels include the TVCatchup app and the Sky Go app, though you'll need to be a Sky subscriber or sign up for a Monthly Ticket.

How to watch Downton Abbey Christmas special on iPad

ITV is the channel for popular shows such as Downton Abbey, which has its very own Christmas Special at 8.30pm on Christmas day.

The iTV Player app for iPad and iPhone allows live streaming of ITV and ITV 2, so you can tune in on your iOS device to watch ITV shows if the rest of your family aren't so keen on period drama. 

Other apps you can use to watch ITV channels include the TVCatchup app and Sky Go app.

How to watch The IT Crowd Special: The Internet is Coming on iPad

Channel 4's Christmas TV highlights include The IT Crowd Special at 9pm on Christmas Eve, followed by three further specially selected The IT Crowd episodes.

Bear's Wild Weekend with Stephen Fry is set to be a goodun' at 8.30pm on Christmas Day, while Boxing Day on Channel 4 plays host to the Big Fat Quiz of the Year at 9pm.

We think the best way to watch Channel 4 on iPad is through the TVCatchup app, which also includes lots of other channels including most of the other channels mentioned in this article.

You can also use the Sky Go app to watch Channel 4.

How to watch Lady Gaga & The Muppets Holiday Spectacular on iPad

Yep, you read that right, Lady Gaga & The Muppets Holiday Spectacular is a real thing. It's on Channel 5 on Christmas Eve at 8pm, and you can watch it through the TVCatchup app.

You can also use the Sky Go app to watch Channel 5.

How to watch Christmas movies 2013 on iPad

One of the most exciting things about TV at Christmas is the movies. Most channels go all out with their Christmas movies, and this year looks to be no different. You should be able to watch all of these movies live through the TV Catchup app.


A Christmas Carol (2009) – 4.30pm, 23 December

Finding Nemo (2003)  - 5.55pm, Christmas Eve

Toy Story 3 (2010) – 3.20pm, Christmas Eve

Cars 2 (2011) – 4.05pm, Boxing Day


Tangled (2010) – 3.20pm, Christmas Day

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010) – 7.15pm, Boxing Day

Channel 4

The Grinch (2000) – 3.50pm, Christmas Eve

The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992) – 4.35pm, Christmas Day

Channel 5

Michael Jackson's This Is It (2009) – 9.30pm, Christmas Day

There are also plenty of Christmas movies available to watch on streaming services like Netflix and LoveFilm, both of which offer a month's free trial (and tons of non-Christmassy movies, too).

Once signed up, you can download the Netflix of LoveFilm apps on your iPad to gain access to loads of Christmas movies and more.

A note about TV licenses

It's important to note that streaming live TV content requires a TV License. Watching live TV without a valid licence is a criminal offence, and could lead to prosecution, a court appearance and a fine of up to £1,000 plus legal costs.