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The chef's polite, the Queen's on message and the West's in trouble

Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Christmas

Saturday, Food Network, 8 p.m.

Gordon Ramsay is a joy to behold in this festive special. Anyone familiar with the reality shows Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares will barely recognize the ornery British chef, who actually invites viewers into his London residence to share his secrets for preparing a sumptuous holiday feast. Airing in two hour-long segments, the program features Ramsay's method for preparing the perfect Christmas turkey with all the fixings. For non-traditionalists, he provides festive spins on roast ham and Beef Wellington. Ramsay's charming wife Tana helps out with the food preparation and their adorable daughters, Holly and Tilly, pitch in with a recipe for gourmet pumpkin soup with wild mushrooms, while the parents look on proudly. It's a warm and homey program, perfect for Christmas Eve, and because Ramsay's own mum is also in the kitchen, nary an expletive escapes his lips.

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The Queen's Christmas Message

Sunday, CBC, noon

Make time this Christmas Day for the annual message from Her Majesty. The Dec. 25 message began as a BBC radio broadcast by King George V in 1932 and has obviously become a higher-tech affair in the decades since – it now airs in high-definition and is available as a podcast. Queen Elizabeth II picked up the tradition in 1957 and the message is still heard by millions of people around the world each Christmas Day. Although the broadcast rarely delivers any surprises, she raised eyebrows with her 1992 message in which she noted the breakup of royal marriages and a fire at Windsor Castle, dubbing the year " annus horribilis." As always, viewers should expect her to reflect briefly on the year past and cast forward to better times for the British Commonwealth. In light of next year's Diamond Jubilee celebration – marking her 60th year on the throne – we may not be spending many more Christmas mornings with the Queen.

The Party's Over: How the West Went Bust

Sunday, BBC World, 4 p.m.

How did the current colossal imbalance in the world economy happen? In this sobering report, BBC business editor Robert Peston rewinds the clock three decades to examine the momentous decisions responsible for the current economic freefall in the U.K. and U.S. In eighties-era China, former Chairman Deng Xiaoping opened the doors of his country to foreign capitalists. America and Britain, meanwhile, dove headlong into the free-market revolution as envisioned by then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In methodical fashion, Peston compares the current lives and ethics of workers in England and their counterparts in a Chinese company. After interviewing several bankers and economists, he concludes that the boom enjoyed by the West before the crash was based entirely on an illusion. Scarier still, he warns the worst is yet to come.

Doctor Who: The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

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Sunday, Space, 9 p.m.

Christmas is a very special occasion for Doctor Who devotees. Since the show's revival in 2005, each holiday season has brought a new special and this year's edition looks like a corker. The good Doctor Who, still played by Matt Smith, surfaces in southwest England, circa 1941, on Christmas Day. He takes shelter in an abandoned house and is promptly joined by a woman and her two children who have fled to the countryside to escape the war in London. The woman, Madge (Claire Skinner), hasn't told her children their father recently perished while flying a bombing mission. A large blue parcel beneath the Christmas tree somehow transports all four to a Narnia-like land – hence the program's title – populated by ominous tree-like creatures and bizarre aliens. Based on advance clips, the story looks a tad frightening, but weirdly wonderful and sure to keep Who fans entranced.

Check local listings.

John Doyle will return.

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