We all know that telly is best around Christmas time and this year fans of a good whodunit will be able to tune into a festive special starring a former Corrie actor who lives in Wandsworth.

Canadian detective series Murdoch Mysteries first ever Christmas special will air on the Alibi channel at 9pm on Monday, December 21, ahead of the ninth series going out in January.

Thomas Craig plays the Inspector Brackenreid, the straightforward boss of Yannick Bisson’s mercurial detective William Murdoch.

Yorkshireman Thomas, who has lived in Wandsworth for more than 30 years since studying at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, revealed the special is set to be a corker.

He said: “We’ve got some really good guest stars. We’ve got Brendan Coyle from Downton Abbey, we’ve got Ed Asner, who used to be Lou Grant (or to some viewers, he’s probably better known as Santa in Elf). He’s 87. And an actress called Kelly Rowan from The OC.

He added: “It’s going to be based on Krampus, the German fairytale about anti-Christmas. The whole episode focusses on this character Krampus. He terrorises kids.”

Set in Toronto at the dawn of the 20th century, the programme – which is huge in Canada and attracts around 300,000 viewers over here – is famed for weaving in historical characters and guest stars into its storylines.

Thomas said: “We always have real-life characters from the period. We have a young girl playing Mary Pickford, she was a big movie star in early Hollywood. It’s all set before she leaves Canada and heads to Hollywood.”

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In one episode, Star Trek legend William Shatner even played Mark Twain.

“Growing up watching him and then working with Captain Kirk was really quite weird,” said Thomas. “He’s in his eighties. He was really quiet and a nice guy.”

If you’ve not seen Murdoch Mysteries yet (and you really should), but you still recognise Thomas’ face, it’s probably down to his three-year stint on Coronation Street as Tommy Harris (he was killed off by his own daughter) or maybe from the 2001 Ken Loach film, The Navigators.

Thomas explained that it was his time on the cobbles that helped secure his current employment, which sees him filming in Canada for six months a year.

He said: “It’s huge in Canada. There are that many ex-pats, I suppose, that came over here in the 50s and 60s. Everybody watches it.

“When I’d been dead on Corrie for about two years in England, I’d only actually been dead in Canada for about nine months.

“They wanted a British actor to play Murdoch’s boss and I was lucky enough to be one of the four or five actors who was in the frame.

“The main producer is a big Coronation Street fan, she’s from Preston originally, and the showrunner – a guy called Cal Coons – was a big Ken Loach fan. He had seen that I had done a movie with Ken Loach.

“They hired me on my showreel. I never actually met anybody.”

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In early 2016, the series will start its ninth season, so clearly it is doing something very right.

“It’s the kind of show if you got kids, you can watch it with the kids. We’ve got crazy fans.

“We had a fan day in the summer and they opened the studio on a weekend to 2,500 thousand people and it sold out in 10 minutes. People came from all over the world.

“There’s a bit of everything – the love story between Murdoch and the girl he’s finally married after eight seasons, there’s the mystery if you’re a mystery fan and there’s the comedy that me and the young constable bring to it.

“I think a lot of people in Canada like it because you don’t see a lot of show related to Canadian history.”

And, of course, the lure of a confounding mystery should not be underestimated.

Thomas said: “I think sometimes our plots are a bit complex. I can’t understand what’s going on and I’m in it. I watch it and I think ‘oh, he did it’!”

Murdoch Mysteries’ Christmas special is on Alibi at 9pm on December 21. The new series starts in early 2016.