Christmas TV: Unreality TV’s top 5 festive (dramatic) TV moments! Coronation Street, Downton Abbey & more…

by Anna Howell
Matthew Crawley

christmas 2013

Christmas is a time of cheer, love and family – unless you are a character in a TV show or soap, in which case it is your job to keep all us fans entertained whilst we let the mince pies and turkey go down.

Each year every network showcases some of its most popular TV shows to fill in one of the precious Christmas time slots, time slots which are as sought after and longed for as an Oscar.

Every type of show has its particular place and purpose in the festive order of service – The soaps usually focus on a disaster, drama or death which will have us all thanking our lucky stars we had a relatively quiet and peaceful Christmas.
Shows like Mrs Brown’s Boys, and Only Fools will have us laughing so hard at how they spend their Christmas’s that mulled wine will come out of our nose.

And then there are those shows which have a permanent place in the festive line up, whether they are about Christmas or not.

So we at Unreality TV thought we would share with you our top five selection box of Christmas Specials for you to feast on before the big day!

No 5 Coronation Street – 25th December 2009

There have been many a huge storyline crash onto our Coronation Street screens over the years, but this particular one stood out for several reasons, mainly because it was incredibly emotional without any loud bangs.

coronation street sally kevin

Cast your mind back to a time before tram crashes and fires, when the drama focussed on the seedy affair between Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell) and Molly Dobbs (Vicky Binns).

Viewers had watched the affair unfold as Kevin betrayed not only his wife, Sally (Sally Dynevor) but also his best friend and business partner, Tyrone (Alan Halsall).

Kevin and Molly were planning on breaking the news to their partners that they were leaving them for each other after Christmas, but couldn’t resist trying desperately to see each other on the big day itself.

However, swept away by their romance the pair decide that actually now was the perfect time to break the news but when Kev heads home to tell Sally, he is shocked when she reveals that she has breast cancer before he has the chance.

No 4 EastEnders – December 31st 2001

After months of domestic abuse the horrifying situation between Little Mo (Kacey Ainsworth) and her violent husband Trevor (Alex Ferns) came to a crashing and deadly conclusion this particular New Year. On Christmas Day of that year fans had already watched as Trevor had smashed Mo’s Christmas dinner on to the floor, then made her eat it on her hands and knees but, as always, she forgave him.

However by New Year’s Eve Mo had finally had enough and told Trevor that their marriage was over. On the night itself she had gone over to the Fowler’s to babysit little Louise when Trevor burst through the doors pleading with her to take him back.

Little Mo remained firm and repeated her declaration that they were done, sending Trevor into a flying rage during which he pinned her to the ground.

eastenders little mo trvor

Realising that he was much stronger than her Mo pretended to forgive him, but he was having none of it, and right when it looked like things were about to get really ugly, Little Mo reached up and grabbed the nearest thing to fend him off with.

The item in question happened to be an iron which she struck him round the head with until he was lifeless on the floor.

Unfortunately the blow did not kill him, as the Slater family discovered when they went back to the house to dispose of the body only to find it had gone. Trevor lived on, and managed to get Mo sentenced to 8 years in prison for attempted murder before later meeting his maker at the hands of a fire he caused in a bid to extract revenge on his battered wife!

No 3 – Only Fools and Horses – Christmas Day 1992

No Christmas would be complete without watching at least one festive Only Fools and Horses episode, so it was pretty hard for us to pick our favourites.

However, the one that we finally decided on is one that we are pretty sure that everyone can remember, and that everyone thinks of every time they see a bottle of spring water, was the episode shown on Christmas Day 1992, where Rodney and Del Boy turn their hand to water selling.

The lead up to this Christmas is pretty grim for the Trotters – Raquel is suffering from post natal depression, Cassandra is making Rodney feel worthless with her swanky new job and Del, as always, is struggling to make money, especially as the council had agreed to let them buy their flat in Nelson Mandela House, doubling their rent.

Meanwhile Granddad’s allotment has been reported as being a health hazard so the brothers, and Denzil, trek up there to clear it up a bit where they discover some barrels of yellow liquid. In the still of the night they dispose of the barrels in the river, and think no more about it.

Later, when Rodney has been sent to fetch fancy spring water for the newly promoted Cassandra, Del realises the potential in selling fancy water to people, and manages to trick a production company into believing that tap water is actually sourced from his own person Peckham Spring.

only fools and horses david james

The family achieve instant riches with this latest scam, and enjoy some of the profits enjoying a weekend break in Brighton, where a news story reveals that the water in Peckham has been poisoned, by several barrels of yellow liquid….

No 2 Downton Abbey – Christmas Day 2012

After the uber-festive celebrations at Downton Abbey the year before, which saw Matthew Crawley propose to his one true love Lady Mary, we were all left ever so slightly flat when the 2012 Christmas episode wasn’t even filmed in the winter.

Having watched Mary and Matthew marry at the beginning of the series before, we were all delighted that they were now expecting their first child, and prepared ourselves for tears of joy, assuming that the birth would be the Christmas episode’s big climax.

We watched the family head off to Scotland, though much else of what took place isn’t at the front of many memories, but when Mary left the trip early feeling tired we all knew it wouldn’t be long before the tiny patter of privileged feet would be heard.

And we were right.

Mary indeed gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, and Matthew rushed to be by her side, and the tissues were all sopping wet.

But it was what happened next that is the reason as to why this special made our most memorable (and remember we said memorable, not likeable) moments in our Christmas TV countdown, as Matthew then ran his car off the road, killing him instantly and changing the dynamics of the show as we know it forever.


Luckily the producers at Downton have promised us faithfully that there will be no more deaths this Christmas.

No 1 Emmerdale – 30th December 1993

Emmerdale is renowned for their dramatic stunts and disasters, but it was the one that took place on December 30th 1993 that set the bar for the future of soap drama for ever.

In this episode, which gave Emmerdale its highest-ever viewing figures of 18 million, The Emmerdale Plane Crash, also known as the Beckindale Air Disaster, struck the sleepy village between Christmas and New Year.

In the episode the village of Beckindale (now Emmerdale) is demolished, and four residents (Mark Hughes, Elizabeth Pollard, Archie Brooks and Leonard Kempinski) killed, after a plane crashed into the village.

emmerdale plane crash 1 emmerdale plane crash 2

The disaster, which had been thought of to help revamp the show and boost ratings, literally struck out of nowhere with the first glimpse of what was to come came when Frank Tate looked up to see a huge fireball heading towards him as he tended some horses in his stables.
Meanwhile Nick Bates and Archie Brooks were struck by another as they walked across the fields, whilst the windows of the Woolpack were blown out and Joe Sugden crashed his car into a falling wing.

After the initial shock of what had happened sunk in, the residents of Emmerdale, like they do so well, got together to try and salvage what they could from their own village as well as the plane itself, turning the school into a makeshift base.

The damage levels from this fateful night were astronomical, and those still in the show today are still heard from time to time reminiscing about the crash, making it one of the most memorable soap moments ever, and as it happened to be at Christmas (which most situations like this do) it has made its way into our number one position – Watch the episode again in the clip below!

So there we have it – who knows perhaps next year we will be able to include specials from this Christmas too, there is plenty to look out for.

What will you be watching? What are your favourite Christmas specials? Leave your thoughts and comments below!