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What Were The Christmas TV Specials Of The 1960s?

From The Christmas Morning Service to Christmas Night With The Stars, take a look at what TV specials were on during the 1960s in our ByGone Christmases series.

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Unlike Christmas TV today where soaps dominate with death, drama and a surprise ‘I’m your mother’ storyline, in the 60s it seems more family based shows were aired such as Walt Disney, The Christmas Music from Messiah and light hearted comedy shows.

This may come as a surprise to you (as it did us) but in 1960 and 1963 The Queen’s Speech was not aired at 3.00pm as we are used to but aired at 1pm and 9.30am respectively. In 1969 there was NO Queens speech at all, this was because the official line was that with the release of the documentary film ‘Royal Family’, the royals had spent too much time in the spotlight. Instead the Queen decided to release a written message instead: ‘I want you all to know that my good wishes are no less warm and personal because they come to you in a different form’.


Christmas Night With the Stars was the selection box for adults for TV viewing. Dominating prime time entertainment you would see celebrities such as Cliff Richard rubbing shoulders with Eric Morcambe and Ernie Wise. The show was played most years in the sixties and featured 10 minute comedy slots packed full of fun and laughter.

Just like today where Mrs Browns Boys, Sherlock Holmes and Strictly Come Dancing who all release an exclusive special’s just for Christmas day, during the 1960s your television was packed full of festive only shows too, this included:

  • Christmas at Canterbury
  • Christmas Night with the Stars
  • The Ken Dodd Show
  • Top Of The Pops
  • Save the Children: Appeal
  • The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show

You can see a few programmes in their which are still played on our televisions every December – it just wouldn’t be the same without Morcambe and Wise on our screens!

In 1961, 1963, 1967 and 1968 Coronation Street was on ITV however unlike the last few years where it would be one of the main shows you would watch on the big day, this family favourite was usually aired on Boxing Day, would you tune in if the soap was moved? we probably would!

Christmas TV Specials have not changed much over the vintage decades, comedy still plays a huge role on the build up and even on the big day as does drama, pantomime and entertainment programmes.


1960 was all about fun, laughter and excitement and today’s shows also reflect that. 2014 will see the return of Eastenders when Shirley reveals all to Mick and could there be a departure in Downton Abbey? We simply cannot wait to tune into this years festivities.

Do you watch re-runs of bygone Christmas specials?

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