Christmas Newsbites

Miranda Hart in Christmas hat It's a double helping of Miranda Hart, who stars as an accomplished midwife and a hopeless romantic at Christmas

It's official: the Christmas season is upon us. If you are feeling drained at the thought already, rejoice in all the programmes you can watch and listen to from the comfort of your sofa. A warning: you might need a bucket of mulled wine to get through this list.


  • David Attenborough journeys through the vast and diverse continent of Africa as it's never been seen before. Filmed over four years, Africa travels from the soaring Atlas Mountains to the Cape of Good Hope, the brooding jungles of the Congo to the raging Atlantic Ocean.
  • Based on the novel by William Boyd, Restless explores what becomes of your life when everything you thought was solid and certain turns out to be a complicated lie. The two-part drama centres on Ruth Gilmartin, who discovers her mother was a spy for the Secret Service and has been on the run for 30 years. It stars Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon and Charlotte Rampling.
  • David Suchet goes in the footsteps of St Paul, using archaeological and historical research, to better understand this charismatic man and his mission.
  • Gabby Logan hosts Superstars 2012 with 16 of Team GB's medal-winning athletes from the Olympic Games. Among those taking part are Christine Ohuruogu, Mo Farah, Jonathan Brownlee and Alistair Brownlee.
  • One for the family, Room On The Broom, based on a children's book, gets animated in a half-hour special that follows on from the success of The Gruffalo last year. The film is narrated by Simon Pegg with help from Gillian Anderson, Rob Brydon, Martin Clunes, Sally Hawkins, David Walliams and Timothy Spall.
  • There are also holiday specials of Miranda, The Royle Family, Mrs Brown's Boys, Doctor Who and Call the Midwife, which will return for a third series early next year.


  • In Climbed Every Mountain, Sue Perkins tells the true story of the real Von Trapp family from The Sound Of Music. Perkins travels to Austria, where she meets locals who don't believe Maria Von was like the angel portrayed in the film.
Toby Jones and Sienna Miller Hitchcock's obsession with Tippi Hedren damaged those around him
  • On the eve of his retirement as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams gives BBC Two an exclusive insight into his thoughts after 10 years in one of the toughest jobs in Britain in Goodbye to Canterbury.
  • Racing Legends follows three high-profile car enthusiasts as they retrace the steps of Stirling Moss, Colin McRae and Jackie Stewart. Olympian Chris Hoy, actor Patrick Stewart and Saturday Kitchen chef James Martin pay tribute to the racing legends by spending time with them and the people who knew them best.
  • The Girl uncovers Alfred Hitchcock's damaging obsession with the woman he made famous, Tippi Hedren. Screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes has interviewed Hedren and surviving members of Hitchcock's crew, who speak of the emotional nightmare. Toby Jones and Sienna Miller star as Hitchcock and Hedren in re-enactments.

BBC Four

  • Clara Bow was one of the greatest stars of the silent film era, with a natural acting style that hadn't been seen before. Hollywood's Lost Screen Goddess explores Bow's fall from grace and how it came at a time when one of the most significant changes in cinematic history took place, the switch from silent films to the talkies.


  • Radio 1 DJ Greg James visits Afghanistan in December to present his daily drive-time show live from Camp Bastion in Helmand Province. He teams up with BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Service) to simulcast his show from the base.
  • Nick Helm hosts his own variety show in front of a live studio audience in a Christmas Spectacular for Radio 1. It's a high-octane festive mix of jokes, sing-alongs, party games, new music, poems and young comedians.
  • Radio 2's very own native New Yorker Huey Morgan takes listeners on a magical journey across the Atlantic. The Night Before Christmas visits Rockefeller Plaza, 34th Street and Harlem, where Clement Clark Moore penned his famous poem about a visit from St Nick. Fellow New Yorkers Elliott Gould, Kim Cattrall, Neil Sedaka and Regina Spektor reveal the family traditions that make Christmas special.
  • Cliff Richard finds out the truth behind the world's most famous Christmas carol, Silent Night, for Radio 2. He visits Austria, where the carol was composed in 1818 and hears from the Silent Night Association - a team of dedicated Silent Night super fans who live to spread the word about the world's favourite Christmas carol.
  • In the run-up to Christmas, Radio 3 will broadcast five newly commissioned short plays inspired by the medieval Mystery Plays. Each one is a reworking of a New Testament story, reset in the contemporary world.
King's College, Cambridge Christmas carols will come from King's College, Cambridge, on Radio 3
  • Radio 3 broadcasts the service of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from the candlelit Chapel of King's College, Cambridge, on Christmas Day.
  • Radio 4 broadcasts a new, two-part adaptation of Enid Blyton's classic children's fantasy, The Magic Faraway Tree, with Ronni Ancona as the narrator
  • In celebration of its 40th anniversary this year, Radio 4 presents a specially extended Christmas edition of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. Regulars Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor are joined on the panel by Stephen Fry and Jack Dee as the reluctant chairman.
  • Colin Murray combines Christmas and football with a special two-part, live broadcast from Lapland on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He prepares seasonal food and dresses up as Joulupukki (Santa Claus), while looking ahead to the festive football fixtures with 5 live's regular pundits and members of the 'FC Santa Claus' football team.
  • 5 Live's Jane Garvey and Mike Sweeney pick out some of best bits of radio in 2012 and discuss the year with guests from the national broadsheets and the radio industry.
  • Olympic cycling legend Bradley Wiggins and musician Paul Weller team up for their first-ever radio show to be broadcast at Christmas on 6 Music. The duo with trademark sideburns talk about their musical heritage, stories of touring and their mutual love of music.
  • Rozina Sini looks back at the year's biggest stories as covered by the Asian Network news team, including a special investigation into racism in UK schools and the shooting of Pakistan teenager Malala Yousafzai.
  • On New Year's Eve, Suzi Mann counts down the 40 bestselling British Asian, Bollywood and South Asian records in the UK over the past 12 months for the Asian Network.


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