BBC HD Christmas schedule
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.