New to View: December 20 – 26

A weekly guide to what’s new of note on air and online


The Best Foods Christmas Comedy Gala TVNZ 2, 8.30

Spearheading a stand-out week for stand-up comedy fans is this two-part special featuring Urzila Carlson, Guy Williams, Justine Smith, Ben Hurley, Melanie Bracewell and Hayley Sproull as well as exclusive access to their backstage antics. Continues Monday.


➢ Funniest Ever Pets at Christmas TVNZ 2, 7.30

Jo Brand is among the British comedians and celebrities whose funniest close encounters of the furred kind link the clips in this 2019 special that was broadcast to raise funds for animal welfare groups.


 Vikings Neon

The second half of season six streams express from the US. “Unquestionably, the biggest plot twist from part one that needs resolving is whether Bjorn Ironside survived being skewered by half-brother and full time-bastard Ivar The Boneless. Our guess? It was all a dream. After all, the show has been getting increasingly confident segueing between reality and the imaginary in recent seasons.” — NME.

Reef Break TVNZ OnDemand

Unforgettable’s Poppy Montgomery plays a surfer sleuth on a remote Pacific isle (actually Australia’s Gold Coast).  “ABC’s Reef Break is everything that CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 should be – breezy, bright, a wee bit sassy, a whole lot silly, the ideal summer show to catch as a nightcap before bed.” — Boston Herald.


Christmas at Chatsworth House TVNZ 1, 7.30

This Channel 4 documentary about how one of England’s stateliest homes prepares its 800 staff to cope with 200,000 visitors over the festive season was so popular it’s spawned a six-part series about the 14,000-hectare estate that’s been in the same family for 500 years. “Charmingly uneventful,” said The Telegraph before presciently observing: “Maybe we could have another programme or two. The charm of an English country house is for life, not just for Christmas.”

Would I Lie to You? Christmas Special TVNZ 2, 7.30

Festive edition of the panel show that TVNZ 2 will strip 7.00 Monday-Thursdays as the summer replacement for Shortland Street.

Beecham House Prime, 7.30

Free-to-air premiere of ITV’s six-part costume drama flop that’s a feast for the eyes if nothing else. “Basically, it’s Downton Abbey relocated to late-18th-century Delhi.” — The Guardian.

➢ A Berry Royal Christmas TVNZ 1, 8.35

“It is pure purgatory reviewing food television at Christmas, like watching porn stars faking orgasms. Mary Berry’s gelatinous, twinkly, cloying A Berry Royal Christmas special was the Annabel Chong Story of festive entertaining programmes — the royals, charity workers and Nadiya off Bake Off all lining up to gush over mocktails and fig tartlets and mince pies and stew while Berry icily toured the country, listening to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge bore for England about their charities. If you wanted to watch Prince William climax synthetically over a stained-glass-window biscuit, this was the show for you.” — The Times.


The Repair Shop at Christmas TVNZ 1, 7.00

Yuletide crowdpleaser that coincides with TVNZ 1’s stripping of the original half-hour format 7.00 Mondays-Fridays. “Visiting The Repair Shop’s Sussex HQ is like stumbling into Santa’s magical workshop … The Christmas heart-crusher will surely be 88-year-old Beryl and her teddy bear, which she was given in 1939. She gave it to her firstborn, who in turn passed it on to his baby brother. When he died of cancer this year, the family found the bear among his possessions.” — The Guardian.

All Creatures Great and Small: Christmas Special Vibe, 8.30

“The All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special is the televisual equivalent of a mug of mulled wine. I defy anyone to be cynical about it. And yes, sure, the episode is a little bit predictable – but does it really matter when it’s all so lovely and charming?” — Radio Times.


➢ Bridgerton Netflix

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Regency romance must be in want of glittering ballrooms, witty banter, a dashing leading man, and a piquant heroine. Bridgerton, Netflix’s first scripted title with über-producer Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland production company — under its headline-grabbing $150 million deal — has all of this in abundance. Not to mention a diverse cast that’s a far cry from the typical lily-white hues of Jane Austen adaptations and their ilk. Oh, and the narrator is a Regency-era Gossip Girl voiced by Julie Andrews. As showrunner Chris Van Dusen puts it, ‘It’s not your grandmother’s period [piece].’” — Entertainment Weekly.

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