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Christmas Crackers

It's time to join the ghosts of Christmases past as we celebrate a century of festive film.

Our selection of comic, musical and animated treats should get you in the spirit, and for balance there's newsreels both cheerful and poignant, while some evocative home movies shine a light on the family revels of yesteryear. Meanwhile, some early promotional films offer a reminder that Christmas was serious business long before advertisers deployed CGI penguins or WWI epics to tug on viewers' heart strings.

All the yuletide traditions are here: trees, turkeys and toys (including some distant ancestors of the dreaded Furby). You'll also find some seasonal curios, not least a sci-fi re-imagining of Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol - alongside a more conventional version from 1914. These crackers are full of surprises!

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Christmas Crackers

Recommended

View Anthony
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Watch from £0.85 15 mins

Anthony 2013

Tim Key stars stars as a surly and self-centred Santa in this pitch-black Christmas comedy.

15 mins United Kingdom Director. J. van Tulleken

View The Toys Will Be Toys
The Toys Will Be Toys
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The Toys Will Be Toys 1988

Barbie dolls in pink battle khaki killing machines in a Christmas animation that cocks a snook at the “Disney Doctrine”.

5 mins United Kingdom

View A Brontë Christmas
A Brontë Christmas
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A Brontë Christmas 1980

Richard Whiteley joins children on the Worth Valley Railway Santa’s Special, while the Haworth Town Band sing On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at.

26 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas in Belfast
Christmas in Belfast
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Christmas in Belfast 1977

Christmas in Belfast at the height of 'The Troubles'. Not the most wonderful time of year.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Scrooge
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Scrooge 1951 U

Alastair Sim’s best known performance, as Dickens’ notorious curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge.

86 mins United Kingdom Director. Brian Desmond Hurst

View The Christmas Play
The Christmas Play
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The Christmas Play 1959

Taking the lid off the creative process - of a group of theatrically-minded 11-year-olds as they stage the nativity.

23 mins United Kingdom

View A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol
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A Christmas Carol 1914

A well-acted early version of Charles Dickens' much loved Christmas story, featuring some impressive ghost sequences.

20 mins United Kingdom

View Wartime Cinema Christmas Greeting
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Wartime Cinema Christmas Greeting 1940

A thoughtful Christmas message in hope of peace from early in WWII - the absence of loved ones hit hardest at holiday times.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Family Christmas
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Family Christmas 1952

Christmas Day, Norwich 1952 and following the traditional lunch for 4 generations of the Youngs family and offspring - the party is out in the back garden for some fun and fresh air.

5 mins United Kingdom

View Dodo in Christmas Adventure
Dodo in Christmas Adventure
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Dodo in Christmas Adventure 1965

Meet the animated sci-fi fixer from a strange atomic race who knows the value of Christmas.

5 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas Around the World
Christmas Around the World
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Christmas Around the World 1978

Chomping alligators, a boomerang throwing kangaroo, a turkey in Turkey, and an angry lion, all mollified by a world touring, bumbling Santa.

4 mins United Kingdom Director. Sheila Graber

View The Twelve Days of Christmas
The Twelve Days of Christmas
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The Twelve Days of Christmas 1976

A classic Christmas carol brought joyously to life in this engaging and colourful Sheila Graber animation, with help from her school class.

3 mins United Kingdom Director. Sheila Graber

View Parcels for the Front
Parcels for the Front
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Parcels for the Front 1915

Tommy's Christmas parcels are despatched to the Front in a fleet of trucks.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas Is Coming
Christmas Is Coming
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Christmas Is Coming 1951

Santa's on strike! This charming animation for the GPO advises early posting to keep Father Christmas onside.

1 mins United Kingdom

View 'If Winter Comes' - It Has!
'If Winter Comes' - It Has!
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'If Winter Comes' - It Has! 1923

Dashing through the snow; on a six-horse open plough... The streets are ready for sledging in 1920s Buxton.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Premium Bonds: Xmas 1959
Premium  Bonds:  Xmas 1959
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Premium Bonds: Xmas 1959 1959

The Happy (Christmas) way to save! Santa plugs Premium Bonds in a 'prize-winning' 1950s TV ad.

1 mins England

View 'Joys in Toys for Girls and Boys'
'Joys in Toys for Girls and Boys'
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'Joys in Toys for Girls and Boys' 1927

Treat your kiddies to the latest mechanical wonders, promoted in this festive newsreel item

1 mins United Kingdom

View Boxing Day
Boxing Day
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Boxing Day 1973

Dorothy Sleightholme, Yorkshire's answer to Fanny Cradock, makes a meal of turkey leftovers in this seasonal offering from the Farmhouse Kitchen.

26 mins United Kingdom Director. Andy Gullen

View Remember the Night
Remember the Night
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Remember the Night 1939

Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray are the shoplifter and attorney who fall for other in this charming, Christmas comedy scripted by Preston Sturges.

94 mins USA Director. Mitchell Leisen

View Christmas Greeting
Christmas Greeting
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Christmas Greeting 1938

A glittering assortment of screen stars brings some extra Yuletide sparkle to a charming festive greeting to 1930s cinemagoers.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Horses' New Year's Dinners
Horses' New Year's Dinners
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Horses' New Year's Dinners 1916

Retired nags enjoy a well-earned New Year's feed at the Cricklewood Home of Rest for Horses.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Surrey Union Boxing Day Hunt
Surrey Union Boxing Day Hunt
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Surrey Union Boxing Day Hunt 1977

The streets of Guildford are filled with riders and hounds in this traditional and colourful Boxing Day spectacle.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Turkeys for Xmas
Turkeys for Xmas
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Turkeys for Xmas 1915

Feathered friends prepare to meet their fate in this seasonal newsreel outing to a Norfolk turkey farm.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Our Christmas 1961
Our Christmas 1961
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Our Christmas 1961 1961

It’s Christmas morning at the Linehan household. Santa's been, the kids are happy and Dad's playing his guitar under the tree.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Vietnamese Children Refugees
Vietnamese Children Refugees
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Vietnamese Children Refugees 1978

6,000 miles from home, after a perilous voyage to escape terror and oppression, five child refugees from Vietnam experience the magic of a British Christmas.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Old Drury Custom Dating from 1796
Old Drury Custom Dating from 1796
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Old Drury Custom Dating from 1796 1928

Theatrical shenanigans in London's West End as thespians celebrate a Twelfth Night tradition.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Our Advice This Festive Season!
Our Advice This Festive Season!
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Our Advice This Festive Season! 1925

A quirky festive message courtesy of a pair of courting camels.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Family Christmas Home Movie
Family Christmas Home Movie
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Family Christmas Home Movie 1948

It's an austerity Christmas from 1948 with a scary looking Santa Claus dishing out the presents and the kisses.

10 mins United Kingdom

View A Message from Mars
A Message from Mars
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A Message from Mars 1913

Britain's first full-length science fiction feature has been restored by the BFI National Archive and given a new score by composer Matthew Herbert, commissioned by the BFI and the BBC.

59 mins United Kingdom Director. J. Wallett Waller

View Manufacture of Stilton Cheese
Manufacture of Stilton Cheese
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Manufacture of Stilton Cheese 1920

Ever wondered how your Christmas Stilton is made? All is revealed in this delectable short produced by pioneer Charles Urban.

3 mins USA

View Childrens' Christmas Parties
Childrens' Christmas Parties
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Childrens' Christmas Parties 1952

The ring on the string keeps moving! Party games, a finger buffet and a ventriloquist dummy entertain the children of the Lane and Scrutton families at Christmastime.

7 mins United Kingdom

View A 'White' Christmas
A 'White' Christmas
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A 'White' Christmas 1927

Heavy snowfall makes Christmas dreams come true for residents across Britain.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Little Fragrance Clings to the Hand that Gives You Roses
Little Fragrance Clings to the Hand that Gives You Roses
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Little Fragrance Clings to the Hand that Gives You Roses 1984

Agnes Mendelstien is heading for a nervous breakdown as more and more unwanted Christmas presents from her over-generous suitor, start piling up.

7 mins United Kingdom Director. Pierre Jester

View Pole: City
Pole: City
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Pole: City 1958

The tree is up in Old Market Square, the pantomime is on; it's time to celebrate Christmas in Nottingham.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Xmas 1937
Xmas 1937
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Xmas 1937 1937

Join at the Yeatman family's Yuletide celebrations with this delightful home movie of their 1937 Christmas dinner.

3 mins United Kingdom

View As Christmas Draws Near
As Christmas Draws Near
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As Christmas Draws Near 1928

An eccentric parade of mechanical toys to tantalise 1920s kids - and to remind us that Christmas consumerism is nothing new.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas Story
Christmas Story
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Christmas Story 1950

A great example of an integrated family of immigrants from different religious backgrounds showing just how Christmas can be enjoyed the traditional way in post-war Britain.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Lonely Lightship's Christmas
Lonely Lightship's Christmas
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Lonely Lightship's Christmas 1922

A crew of not-so-lonely lightshipmen enjoy a festive knees-up - 40 miles out at sea - in this heart-warming newsreel.

Great Britain

View Tony Buys a Bike
Tony Buys a Bike
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Tony Buys a Bike 1942

A lucky schoolboy gets a brand new bike for Christmas in this charming wartime promotional film.

17 mins United Kingdom

View The Mistletoe Bough
The Mistletoe Bough
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The Mistletoe Bough 1904

Discover a haunted gem, the earliest film of the Christmas ghost story The Mistletoe Bough. Guaranteed to spook a whole new generation over a hundred years after its creation. With new music by Pete Wiggs of Saint Etienne, commissioned by the BFI.

5 mins United Kingdom Director. Percy Stow

View Family Christmas in East Grinstead and Woodingdean
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Family Christmas in East Grinstead and Woodingdean 1967

There isn't a battery in sight in this Christmas film from 1967 but we do see the pudding being made and sense the thrill of presents being opened.

12 mins United Kingdom

View Their Happy New Year
Their Happy New Year
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Their Happy New Year 1929

Portsmouth sailors get some seasonal shore leave

Great Britain

View Family Christmas with the Dawson Family
Family Christmas with the Dawson Family
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Family Christmas with the Dawson Family 1963

The Dawson family from Norwich conjure up a great Christmas with games and trickery to entertain the children in this home movie.

3 mins United Kingdom

View New Year Resolutions
New Year Resolutions
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New Year Resolutions 1970

Drinking, smoking, gambling: what are you giving up? It's new year's eve 1970 and the people of Birmingham tell us about their resolutions.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas Greetings
Christmas Greetings
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Christmas Greetings 1983

A Cleveland family ring in the festive season with Bucks Fizz. But this family Christmas is not what it seems.

8 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas Shopping, Godalming 1922
Christmas Shopping, Godalming 1922
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Christmas Shopping, Godalming 1922 1922

The timber-framed establishments of old Godalming lure shoppers with their enticing displays of yuletide fare and mistletoe.

3 mins United Kingdom

View The Candlemaker
The Candlemaker
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The Candlemaker 1957

An animated tale with a Lutheran message that's equal parts Christmas spirit and good old-fashioned guilt

13 mins United Kingdom Director. Joy Batchelor, John Halas

View On the Twelfth Day...
On the Twelfth Day...
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On the Twelfth Day... 1955

Playful, charming, Oscar-nominated take on the Christmas song directed by queen of the dance Wendy Toye and designed by the great Ronald Searle.

23 mins United Kingdom

View Our Christmas 1941 - Spent at Daisy's and Dolly's
Our Christmas 1941 - Spent at Daisy's and Dolly's
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Our Christmas 1941 - Spent at Daisy's and Dolly's 1941

It's the season to eat, drink and be merry in the Tigg household, with feasting and jollity captured in this vivid amateur film.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas 1963
Christmas 1963
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Christmas 1963 1963

A table overladen with food, a wolf-pack of hungry visitors, trendy teenagers in the kitchen and lots of eating. It's Christmas 1963-style.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Magician's Wife Makes the Christmas Cake
Magician's Wife Makes the Christmas Cake
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Magician's Wife Makes the Christmas Cake 1949

There's magical mayhem in the kitchen when the magician's wife makes use of a most unusual cooking utensil - her husband's magic wand.

7 mins United Kingdom

View Kench Family Films: 1966, Redbridge and West End
Kench Family Films: 1966, Redbridge and West End
Watch for free 16 mins

Kench Family Films: 1966, Redbridge and West End 1966

Ilford parades, Post Office Tower views as well as weddings, birthdays and Christmas all feature on this fantastic home movie from Redbridge in 1966.

16 mins United Kingdom

View The Streets of Hong Kong - Wintertime 1936
The Streets of Hong Kong - Wintertime 1936
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The Streets of Hong Kong - Wintertime 1936 1938

Christmas decorations jostle for attention among thousands of street signs in this amateur exploration of Hong Kong Island’s busy streets.

17 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas 1952 Santa Claus Comes to Craig Cefn Parc
Christmas 1952 Santa Claus Comes to Craig Cefn Parc
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Christmas 1952 Santa Claus Comes to Craig Cefn Parc 1952

Santa Claus – wearing the traditional robes and a black mask – arrives in the village of Craig Cefn Parc, near Clydach, Swansea, with a horse-drawn sleigh full of presents.

4 mins Wales

View Gilchrist Brothers' & Childrens' Christmas Parties
Gilchrist Brothers' & Childrens' Christmas Parties
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Gilchrist Brothers' & Childrens' Christmas Parties 1946

With the war now over, these children make the most of a civilized Christmas Party with home-made hats, dancing and tucking into the traditional fare of sandwiches and cakes.

5 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
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Christmas Eve 1915

A heart-tugging moral melodrama with echoes of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

United Kingdom Director. Alfonse Frenguelli

View Closure of Snibston Colliery
Closure of Snibston Colliery
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Closure of Snibston Colliery 1983

A bleak Christmas for the men of Snibston Colliery as mining in Coalville comes to an end in the last days of 1983.

5 mins United Kingdom

View The Christmas Visitor
The Christmas Visitor
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The Christmas Visitor 1958

The Night Before Christmas meets Toy Story in this charming British cartoon from 1958.

8 mins United Kingdom

View Party Strife
Party Strife
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Party Strife 1951

Party hats and finger food, funny faces, and a snowball fight; the Lane-Scrutton families enjoy a Christmas get-together and a giggle in this 1951 home movie.

9 mins United Kingdom

View 'Hello! Wintertime'
'Hello! Wintertime'
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'Hello! Wintertime' 1929

Pedestrians hustle briskly through a snowy George Square in Glasgow, while others stop to gawk at a stricken carthorse.

1 mins United Kingdom

View The Iles - in the garden, at the seaside, at Christmas
The Iles - in the garden, at the seaside, at Christmas
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The Iles - in the garden, at the seaside, at Christmas 1940

Life with the Iles family: Summer is for cycling, the seaside, tending to tortoises and meeting delightful collie pups. Christmas is for crackers and the gift of a perfect doll.

10 mins Wales

View Christmas Church Parade
Christmas Church Parade
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Christmas Church Parade 1914

Recruits of Lord Kitchener's 'New Army' parade on Christmas morning.

1 mins United Kingdom

View The Traditions of a Surgeon at Christmas
The Traditions of a Surgeon at Christmas
Watch for free 17 mins

The Traditions of a Surgeon at Christmas 1962

The filmic memoirs in Cambridgeshire of heart surgeon Christopher Parish and his family, beginning with Christmas traditions, and including a royal visit. The year is 1962.

17 mins United Kingdom

View Two Columbines
Two Columbines
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Two Columbines 1914

Moving theatre-set Christmas tale of a former dancer and her child

United Kingdom Director. Harold Shaw

View Your Stamp Duty
Your Stamp Duty
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Your Stamp Duty 1947

A rich spinster aunt, the last post before Christmas, and an expectant nephew with a fondness for port spell trouble in this short comic cinema ad.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas Celebrations and the Cruel Cat
Christmas Celebrations and the Cruel Cat
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Christmas Celebrations and the Cruel Cat 1969

It's Christmas Day and while the family enjoys their annual feast the cat is having a Christmas 'banquet' of its own.

3 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas at the Front
Christmas at the Front
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Christmas at the Front 1914

Poignant scenes of Allied troops enjoying their Yuletide rations at the first Christmas of WWI.

1 mins United Kingdom

View Derby Floods
Derby Floods
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Derby Floods 1965

The community spirit shines through as Mansfield Street in Derby is hit by flooding just before Christmas 1965.

5 mins United Kingdom

View Keep Them Safe, Keep Them Happy
Keep Them Safe, Keep Them Happy
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Keep Them Safe, Keep Them Happy 1940

Sweet and touching wartime cinema appeal for 300,000 London children spending Christmas far from home.

2 mins United Kingdom

View Lloyd George at Home: Xmas 1938 & Jan 1939
Lloyd George at Home: Xmas 1938 & Jan 1939
Watch for free 9 mins

Lloyd George at Home: Xmas 1938 & Jan 1939 1938

Santa Claus arriving at a house full of children on Xmas Day has not forgotten their elders - even Lloyd George gets a present! And the new year brings Chow Chow pups and snow.

9 mins Wales

View Christmas at East Grinstead in 1972
Christmas at East Grinstead in 1972
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Christmas at East Grinstead in 1972 1972

Christmas features twice, in this 1970s compilation. After each Christmas dinner the family opens its presents. Dad gets underpants in 1972 and six years later - a compost bin.

11 mins United Kingdom

View What's The Hurry?
What's The Hurry?
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What's The Hurry? 1934

"Wise people are hastening to Walton-On-Thames". This inventive ad promotes the Surrey town as the ultimate Christmas shopping destination.

3 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas Story
Christmas Story
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Christmas Story 1945

A cautionary tale adds some chill to a drunk’s festive Christmas Eve.

10 mins United Kingdom

View A Christmas Story
A Christmas Story
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A Christmas Story 1952

It's Christmas 1952 and after the presents, the decorations and the cake are made ready, all generations of the family gather for the big party

2 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas 1949
Christmas 1949
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Christmas 1949 1949

Merry Christmas! Anyone up for a game of table tennis to work off the turkey?

3 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas 1964 and 1965
Christmas 1964 and 1965
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Christmas 1964 and 1965 1964

Christmas with a budgie and a Dalek keeps three generations of the family happy.

7 mins United Kingdom

View Gary's 1st Christmas
Gary's 1st Christmas
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Gary's 1st Christmas 1961

A teddy bear, a toy telephone, and lots more for baby Gary's first Christmas.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Christmas at Marlene's 1965
Christmas at Marlene's 1965
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Christmas at Marlene's 1965 1965

Oh, you really shouldn't have, but thank you - presents and party hats for everyone at a family Christmas.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Happy Christmas 1963
Happy Christmas 1963
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Happy Christmas 1963 1963

Wonderful home movie from 1963. As Dad is behind the camera, it is left to Mum to don the Santa suit and deliver gifts to the children at night time.

10 mins United Kingdom

View Geck Family Film Christmas 1962
Geck Family Film Christmas 1962
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Geck Family Film Christmas 1962 1962

A toy banjo and Groucho Marx novelty glasses-and-moustache supply all the fun for the youngest member of the Geck family at Christmastime.

5 mins United Kingdom

View A Christmas Party
A Christmas Party
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A Christmas Party 1951

Baby boomers celebrate Christmas with a party at a prefab in post-war Wallsend.

4 mins United Kingdom

View Diamond Family Christmas
Diamond Family Christmas
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Diamond Family Christmas 1963

It's Christmas in Sidcup in 1963 and the Diamond family - including dancing Nan - open presents, tuck into the turkey and raise a glass – or three

6 mins United Kingdom

View Ireland Family New Year Party 1974/5
Ireland Family New Year Party 1974/5
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Ireland Family New Year Party 1974/5 1974

Should old acquaintance be forgot... not likely at this family get-together in Liverpool.

3 mins United Kingdom

View Allendale Celebrates New Year
Allendale Celebrates New Year
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Allendale Celebrates New Year 1979

A wild and quirky fire festival burns in the New Year at the Northumbrian village of Allendale.

9 mins United Kingdom

View Craig-cefn-parc: Mine, School and Christmas Cake
Craig-cefn-parc: Mine, School and Christmas Cake
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Craig-cefn-parc: Mine, School and Christmas Cake 1948

A stunning record of life in Craig-cefn-parc, Swansea, showing the local mine, the chapel (Pantycrwys), the school and the community.

13 mins Wales

View Christmas 1935
Christmas 1935
Watch for free 9 mins

Christmas 1935 1935

A Christmas tale of woe and merriment in Middlesbrough with a scary Santa and teetotaller tippler.

9 mins England

ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS

View Children of Men
Children of Men
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HD

Children of Men 2006 15

In an apocalyptic future Britain, a civil servant is unexpectedly entrusted with the fate of humanity in Alfonso Cuarón’s gripping and thoughtful sci-fi.

109 mins USA

View Stations of the Cross
Stations of the Cross
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A teenage girl defies her Catholic parents and embarks on her own campaign of religious fervour, in this award-winning drama composed of just 14 scenes to mirror Biblical tableaux.

107 mins Germany Director. Dietrich Brüggemann

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