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BBC HD Christmas schedule

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Danielle Nagler Danielle Nagler | 17:41 UK time, Saturday, 5 December 2009



I wanted to bring you news - hot off the press - of the BBC HD Christmas schedule, and to give you some insight into how it is put together.

The foundations of this year's HD Christmas started going down around a year ago, when we began to take the commissioning decisions which determine whether or not programmes get made in HD. Seasonal programmes (which may well have limited opportunities to be repeated) are in some ways less sound HD investments than programmes which can play all year round.

But while most HD-enabled sets are the main set in the home, and given that the holiday period is a key time when families and friends gather round the set together, we recognise that the HD Christmas schedule is an important part of what we deliver to our audience, and we need to get it right.

I'm really delighted that this year the vast majority of drama and comedy shows made for the holiday period are available in HD on BBC HD.

We'll be showing not just the final (two) appearances of David Tennant's Doctor Who (on Christmas and New Year's Day), but also specially made outings from The Royle Family, Gavin and Stacey, Catherine Tate, Cranford, and Victoria Wood. The week between Christmas and New Year will also see broadcasts of a remake of Day of the Triffids, The Turn of the Screw, and the Royal Shakespeare Company's Hamlet with David Tennant in the title role.

Christmas Eve will showcase music - we're showing South Pacific (the 1958 film of the musical), The Tsarina's Slippers (ballet from the Royal Opera House), and Carols from Kings. New Year's Eve will see what has become a regular date with Jools Holland's Hootenanny, and we're also using that day to show again the BBC Prom featuring the music of MGM.

We know that many of you value watching films in HD. I can reassure you that a lot of the films that the BBC is showing over Christmas will be on the channel. Please enjoy The Incredibles (on Christmas Day, following on from the Queen's Speech), Herbie: Fully Loaded, Flushed Away, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (on Boxing Day), and 101 Dalmatians, Miss Potter, Chicken Run, Mary Poppins, the Wallace and Gromit films, at various other points.

My own personal treats to look forrward to over the period include the animation of Julia Donaldson's beautiful children's classic The Gruffalo (on Christmas Day afternoon), and Top Gear's trip to Bolivia showing on 27th December.

We are starting broadcasting at around midday throughout the holiday period, and aiming of course to simulcast as much as possible with the other BBC channels showing the programmes we have in HD.

(Almost certainly?) there will be frustrations for you as viewers about what we're not showing, or not simulcasting. Making choices about what we can't do is one of the toughest parts of getting the schedule together - although somewhat inevitable when you are trying to showcase content from across the rest of the BBC channel family.

We had to make a decision on Christmas Eve about whether to offer ballet (Tsarina's Slippers, showing on BBC Two) and the film, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which is showing on BBC One. We've chosen the ballet - it is the only offer of its kind over the period, and we did show the film on BBC HD last year. On Boxing Day, because the two overlapped in the last half hour, we have chosen to simulcast with BBC One the premiere of part three of Pirates of the Caribbean, which means that Hamlet (showing on BBC Two) will be available on BBC HD on 27 December.

We've also tried - in as thoughtful a way as possible - to give you a chance to see and to share a range of the programmes we've showcased over the year. In the mix you will find Torchwood: Children of Earth, Emma, extracts from Britain from Above, the Electric Proms, Shaun the Sheep, South Pacific, Planet Earth, our series of short films, and Gigglebiz. On New Year's Day, you will find the channel dedicated to a celebration of Doctor Who. From early afternoon we will be showing all the special episodes broadcast over the year, with a range of under the bonnet Doctor Who Confidentials (made with BBC Three), some episodes from The Sarah Jane Adventures (from CBBC) and Dreamland, the Doctor Who Animation first shown on BBC Red Button.

There is more - of course - both new and old. The schedule comes together through a lot of hard work from a lot of people across and beyond the BBC, and the BBC HD team. We hope you feel it brings you the best of what is on the BBC's channels over the holiday weeks, and more than anything that you find something in the mix to enjoy.


Danielle Nagler is the Head of BBC HD.


  • Comment number 1.

    New Years Day Concert please!

  • Comment number 2.

    Cheers Danielle lots of nice Christmas goodies.

    Do you get overtime for working on Saturday?

  • Comment number 3.

    Danielle, have to say a great HD line up this year for Christmas! Well done BBC HD on the schedule.

  • Comment number 4.

    Thanks for the heads up on the Christmas shows - however this sentence caught my eye:-

    'I'm really delighted that this year the vast majority of drama and comedy shows made for the holiday period are available in HD on BBC HD.'

    I thought the BBC had agreed that all new productions of this sort would be made in HD in 2010.

    Now that may way mean productions after Jan 2010 or programmes made that will get shown from the start of 2010 onwards.

    In either case I hope as we move into 2010 many more programmes will get the HD treatment - and hopefully the BBC HD channel will do them justice.

    'Britain from Above' will be good to see again - and I'd also like to see 'How We Built Britain' again as I remember that being a bit of a 'showcase' programme.

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 5.

    Youre still working at BBC HD then Danielle? Great stuff.

    Great to see A wide range of variety over the festive season but will most of this be upscaled SD like is been screened recently or will it be actual HD??

    Also can we please have the bandwith upped for the xmas period??? No point in all these shows just to be ruined by lack of quality. Oh sorry I forgot that bandiwth doesnt affect quality does it. Silly me and silly thousands of HD viewers.

  • Comment number 6.

    No Don Carlo from Covent Garden.

    If we can't have it over Christmas please will you show in the New Year

  • Comment number 7.

    Well another boaring Christmas from the BBC regurgitating most of last years offerings. Only a couple of films I have not seen and they are childern's films. Wallace and Gromit Collection is now available on blu-ray in HD. Dr Who is just about the only program I wouldn't miss. It is sad that the choice of programs is determined by schedualing rather than the merits of the program. The BBC needs to change it's policy and have a BBC 1 HD and a BBC 2 HD. I don't normally subscribe to Sky movie channels but I do have it switched on over Christmas.

  • Comment number 8.

    Good grief!
    A super line up this year, and all some people can do is be nasty.
    Shame you're not showing A Christmas Carol in HD, maybe a few people could learn a lesson or too.

    Some people will never be happy until you are showing next years summer blockbuster in 3D before it's even be made.

  • Comment number 9.

    Only a few things I will watch, but thats because I dont watch TV.

    I just hope that the Two Doctor Who's and Top Gear are aired at the same time as the SD version.

  • Comment number 10.

    thats "Much TV"

  • Comment number 11.

    #Mr Maff

    No! Complaints about 3D will come next year when Sky has started their 3D service.

  • Comment number 12.

    I've been asking the BBC for the Vienna New Years Day concert for a long time in HD. Since getting a HD setup it's the only thing I've wanted to see in HD. If the Europeans can show the concert live in HD on FTA satellite, why can't the BBC show it in HD?

    Some of the 2009 Proms were in HD, they looked good, but the Vienna Concert is visually in another world, nothing touches the visuals and music.

    So stop wasting bandwidth on the loop trailer for BBC-HD, and show the live concert in HD instead.

  • Comment number 13.

    #6, #12 I agree - Danielle, come on, listen to these guys please. They've been asking you very politely, and patiently, over and over again for Don Carlo and the Vienna Concert to be shown on your channel.

    Coverage of such Opera and Music events, along with Sport and the showing of Films, is surely what HD TV was invented for and certainly not for the likes of the Preview Loop, In the Night Garden, Hole in the Wall, Totally Saturday or Flog It. It's Xmas, give us a real treat!

  • Comment number 14.

    This information is fine but perhaps you should also be seeking to address the very poor listings of the BBC HD channel in all Listings Mags, especially the BBC's own RADIO TIMES. Here we see that FILM 4 get a mention as a "Main Digital Channel". It then get a full listing on the "ENTERTAINMENT" Page, and yet another full listing on the FILMS page. - 3 times. BBC HD however is listed once only and then in a minor location. It may be OK simply to show a simple title listing where simulcast broadcast is taking place, but significant amounts are not simulcast and I would like more info about the Listings. I recently suggested to RT that FILM 4 on Enterainment page should be deleted (why twice) and a fuller listing of BBC HD alongside BBC 4.

  • Comment number 15.

    Thanks for simulcasting Carols From Kings this year.

  • Comment number 16.

    Danielle, any chance you'd like to take a leaf out of Andy Q's book and start responding to questions "in-Blog"? I think it would really aid customer relations and contribute to a better Blog experience for all.

  • Comment number 17.

    By the way Danielle, thanks for putting some Opera on today, in HD. Much appreciated (shame it's not in 5.1 though).

  • Comment number 18.

    Just watching the xmas SCD special. Is the sound right? At my parents so not viewing/listening on my usual kit and have just installed some more equipment for my dad and reconfigured his Denon receiver. Was getting 5.1 on The Incredibles earlier on today but not on SCD, which is usually broadcast in 5.1 and sounds terrible on BBC HD compared to BBC1. Anyone one else?

  • Comment number 19.

    I am disgusted that despite lots of requests, reading the Radio Times once again, there will be no New Years Day concert from Vienna in HD, even though it is shot in full HD. You can see some sub-par film and lots of Dr.Who repeats instead.

    The BBC didn't have a problem showing the visually uninspiring BBC Proms in HD earlier this year. But the Vienna concert is in a league of it's own - stunning, and not being shown in HD.

    I have done a bit of research looking at all the FTA HD channels on Astra1, and for those that are able to pick up from the Astra1 satellite, (touch wood) you can get a Free-To-Air version of the concert in 720(i?) HD. Okay, it's not in 1080i but it's better than what BBC2 will show. Only thing is, it's likely to have a DOG in picture, but it will have better picture quality.

    Tune in to a station called ZDF HD on Astra1, they will be showing BOTH parts of the concert LIVE, something the BBC do not do, only highlights on BBC4, or both parts live if you listen to BBC radio.

    Starts 1015 GMT (UK time)

  • Comment number 20.

    Was it just me or was there lip sync issues with Christmas Day's Dr Who on BBC HD? If it's just me then must be my brand new telly and sky HD box :(

  • Comment number 21.

    20 - Might be mine then too, the sound kept disappearing for a half-second and then returning out of synch. Resolved that synch issue by changing the channel up 1 and back down again, until the next time. I thought then, that it must be something to do with the weather. N.B. Is this the right place to discuss audio issues (awaiting Nick's advice!)?

  • Comment number 22.

    Sorry if wrong place - new here. Wanted a BBC view before I took issue with Sat provider and TV retailer. With all these new toys over Christmas, and a thousand and one buttons plus the usual (un)helpful instruction books I wanted to make sure I take up the issue with the right piece of kit manufacturer / service provider.

    If there is a better message board / blog to discuss this on then please point me in the right direction.

  • Comment number 23.

    This is not the right place to discuss sound quality issues. This is most recent blog post on sound quality.

  • Comment number 24.

    Thank you for broadcasting Tsarina's Slippers on Christmas eve. I cannot understand why you decided to cut most of the overture. Surely the BBC schedules could have spared another 5 minutes of airtime

    Two years ago when the BBC broadcast La fille du Regiment on BBC HD at Christmas we had to suffer Dawn French talking through the overture.

    Next time you broadcast an opera please show it complete without the overture being partially cut or someone talking over the music.

    Please may I make another plea for the Covent Garden Don Carlo to be shown on BBC HD

  • Comment number 25.

    New Years Day concert from Vienna in HD:

    What were the reasons for not showing live?

    Please consider for next year

  • Comment number 26.

    Bill, I don't have much faith in anything decent like the Vienna New Years Day concert to be shown in HD, at least not on To me, it's THE highlight of a Christmas season.

  • Comment number 27.

    Maybe Eurovision did not want it shown on the reduced quality BBC HD channel.

    This would explain why BBC retaliated by broadcasting in low quality even for BBC2.

    Maybe Sky Arts will pick this up next year as BBC has lost interest in World Event HD Broadcasts?

  • Comment number 28.

    I managed to watch / record the 720p 50 fps version that ZDF pushed out live this morning. As you'd expect it looked stunning, more lines means better looking than PAL / Freeview BBC2.

    Shame on the BBC for not showing the New Years Concert AGAIN in HD, preferring to push out a repeat showing of some Muppets movie.

    That's three years in a row the concert has been transmitted in HD by the Austrian broadcaster, and three years not seen it on BBC HD. Oh well, suppose you could get back to watching endless and pointless loop of BBC HD instead of actually showing anything on the channel.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Danielle, thanks for the Wallander and Top Gear shows in tonight's schedules, examples of exactly the kind of thing that is good for the channel. I have to say though that Wallander took a bit of getting used to, with a totally different cast from the BBC4 series and being in English, but I'd warmed to it by the end.

    On scheduling, any chance of the Superbowl being shown on the HD channel this year (feb 7th)? I think your sport and films allocation was very under-utilised last year and it would be good to make an early start on this years!

  • Comment number 31.

    Danielle, as posted by another on 5th December 2009, why did HD Channel not show the Vienna New Years day concert in HD. This concert is made in HD format for transmission on the Eurovision network, and also recorded in HD for DVD and Blu-Ray (available later this month or February).
    the same applies to future concerts on BBC2 or Four, for simulcast transmission in HD. can you look into this please.
    Robert in Sussex

  • Comment number 32.

    Comparative image quality of 720p image of a European tv station (via Astra1) LIVE showing of the New Years Day Concert in Vienna, vs BBC2 / BBC4 image quality also via satellite (not Freeview). I could not get the exact same frames to nearest millisecond to compare, but they're close enough.

    Image1 from ZDF HD:

    Image1 from BBC2 / BBC4 (via satellite NOT Freeview):

    Image2 from ZDF HD:

    Image2 from BBC2 / BBC4 (via satellite NOT Freeview):

  • Comment number 33.

    Moaner your comment today. The ZDF images say it all, and surely BBC HD producers will see them too for comparison. It is up to them to ensure that BBC HD quality is to the same standard, otherwise we are being short-changed. that is clearly not acceptable to most HD viewers, and action should be taken by the BBC forthwith. I am still waiting for Danielle to reply to my previous post, but so far she has not done so, so what is she waiting for ???

    Robert 382

  • Comment number 34.

    Danielle, I know you're not available for comment on the HD PQ issue but I'd be grateful if you could respond here on a couple of scheduling issues.

    Firstly, I've been away for a couple of weeks but had been looking forward to settling down on my return tonight to watch the latest episode of the English Language version of Wallander (I caught the 1st episode of before I left on my holidays). Episode 4 doesn't appear in the schedules though. I had expected that there were going to be 6 episodes in this series, like with Series 1. I hope you won't be telling me that I'm wrong! By the way, will you be repeating the 2 episodes I missed on the HD channel, and if so when (I don't have a hard disc on my Freesat STB - so can't fall back on a recording)?

    Also, while I'm talking scheduling, I'm pleased to see that the latest Mad Men has finally made it to our screens on the HD channel this coming week. Unfortunately though, after that really long and patient wait, I'm now going to be away on Wednesday night. Please do tell me that you will be repeating it on your channel too (as well as BBC4) and that we won't only get the single opportunity to catch it in HD.

    Lastly, last year the BBC had (on BBC2) an excellent winter activities series called High Altitude. I've not seen anything about it this year though, so I hope it's not been dropped. Please tell me it will be coming soon, and in HD too this year!

  • Comment number 35.

    Danielle, I just watched the NFL Highlights: Road to the Super Bowl on BBC 2. No mention there of you showing the Super Bowl itself on your channel (in just under 2 weeks time) but I have every confidence in you that, like for the Jackson funeral and the Obama inauguration, you'll pull something out of the bag for us at the last minute. I know you want to give us what we all want (and you've loads of spare capacity for sport to fill). Fingers tightly crossed, I feel it's going to be a great game this year!

  • Comment number 36.

    I hear you had some HD tennis on today, hadn't seen that advertised so I'm even more hopeful that despite no mention of HD Super Bowl on the Beeb I might just switch over on the night and get a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately I was at work today and missed the tennis on BBC HD. Although I did see it, on in the coffee shop on Eurosport, and by comparison to general BBC HD I wasn't impressed with their PQ but then I have no idea about the coffee shop's set-up, it could've been via scart for all I know). Anyway, to get back on topic, thanks for putting some sport on the BBC HD channel schedules (at last).

  • Comment number 37.

    Danielle, any news on the Super Bowl HD-feed for next weekend, or an answer to the Mad Men HD-repeat question? I see the repeat isn't being simulcast with that on BBC4 tonight. By the way, thanks for the HD tennis this morning - not a big fan of that but it was nice to be able to turn the channel on, on a Sunday day-time, and actaully find something on to watch.

    Just a thought, but instead of the Preview Loop you could have popped those 2 Mad Men repeats on right now. That really would have been a nice Sunday afternoon's viewing treat for my wife and me, relaxing here in front of the fire with something good to watch on telly!

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 40.

    at last I have bought an HD TV with Freeview HD built -in. Although I live in Sussex, and was not supposed to be able to receive Freeview HD until 2012, but as my TV aerial is aligned to Crystal Palace transmission, (and therefore in the London Freeview HD coverage), and Hey Presto ! the TV shows HD perfectly, with all the HD channels on Freeview already tuned. Great !!

    Now please BBC HD Producers, can you do your best to show both theLondon/Europe New Year celebrations/Fireworks on the BBC HD channel, but also the New Year Concert from Vienna. Most of the other European TV stations show these events in HD now, so there is no excuse. I hope you will agree. Have an HD Christmas !


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