BBC Television Christmas highlights 2005
Catherine Tate Christmas Show
One of the most talked-about comedy programmes of the year is back for a one-off Christmas special.
Now loaded with industry awards, Catherine Tate made her mark this year with her comic timing, observational acting and extensive range of unforgettable characters.
The Christmas special sees the return of old favourites such as Nan, the opinionated hard-to-please woman who is a mine of misinformation; Lauren, the obnoxious 15-year-old who'd rather be right than happy; Bernie the Irish nurse, who prefers seducing her male patients to caring for them; and "How very dare you" Derek Faye, who finds people's accusations about his sexuality an outrage.
The Goodies Christmas Special
They're back, after 25 years. But did they ever really go away?
In this two-hour special, which blends documentary, archive, sitcom and audience participation, Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden break into their old office to present a show which explores their giddy rise to fame in the Seventies, the influence they and their programmes had on the nation, and attempt to explain why The Goodies haven't been on TV for so long.
They present the stories behind their finest moments and unearth some things which will be as much a surprise for them as they are for viewers, such as the story behind the Mary Whitehouse saga, and they also try to find out what happened to their three-seater bicycle.
Contributors and fans appearing on the show include Rolf Harris, Huw Edwards, Martin Freeman, Ronni Ancona, Tony Blackburn, Jon Culshaw, Mark Gatiss, Emma Kennedy and Phill Jupitus.
Tony Hancock (working title)
Tony Hancock is one of the most extraordinary and enduring comedians Britain has ever produced.
Cult sitcoms such as Hancock's Half Hour and Hancock made him a household name during the Sixties. These definitive shows, coupled with Hancock's near-iconic status, mean that he is still adored today, across the generations, with cult stars such as Pete Doherty publicly professing their admiration.
Part of the allure, of course, is that of the tragic clown. Hancock's public image belied a private life that was increasingly tormented by alcoholism and depression.
Aged just 44, he committed suicide in Australia during yet another attempt at reviving his flailing career.
This intimate documentary reveals a rounded and sympathetic portrait of this extraordinarily complex man. Made with the co-operation of Hancock's family, the film hears from some of his closest friends and colleagues to challenge some of the best-known myths about the comic genius.
Colleagues - including co-stars Hugh Lloyd, Sylvia Syms and June Whitfield and writers Galton and Simpson - explain what it was like rehearsing and performing with such a charismatic yet extremely nervous star.
Key women from Hancock's personal life, meanwhile, reveal what he was really like off-screen during the good times and the bad.
With archive footage and touching recollections, this documentary gets under the skin of Hancock, a comic icon who came to represent the hopes, dreams and frustrations of the average man, but who in private was an extraordinarily complex and troubled character.
Three Men In A Boat
Griff Rhys-Jones, Rory McGrath and Dara O'Briain star in this series which recreates the most popular comic novel of the Victorian era, Three Men In A Boat.
The book was first published in 1889, and the series follows the original journey as faithfully as the passage of 116 years will allow.
Throughout their journey from Kingston to Oxford, the trio moor where the original protagonists moored, sleep in the same boat as the original cast, and stay in some of the same pubs and guesthouses.
Their odyssey takes place in an exact replica of the wooden skiff used by Jerome K Jerome, George, Harris and Montmorency the dog.
Arena - Galton And Simpson
Alan Simpson and Ray Galton have delighted millions with their creations, which include Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe And Son.
This Christmas, Arena presents the first full-length profile of two of the greatest comedy writers to emerge since the Second World War.
They talk about life, laughter and work with author and broadcaster Nigel Williams.
The pair met as teenagers in 1948, when they were both convalescing from tuberculosis in Milford sanatorium.
They went from writing and performing scripts for hospital radio to being hired by the BBC in 1951 to write for Derek Roy's radio show, Happy-Go-Lucky.
In the Fifties, they hit the big time with Hancock's Half Hour. The radio series ran from 1954 to 1959, turned Hancock into a national institution and transferred to television with huge success.
Galton and Simpson went on to help re-launch Frankie Howerd with his first major series, Frankie Howerd, after a low period in the comedian's career, and to create a sitcom for Sidney James called Citizen James.
But a true high point for them came with the creation of the groundbreaking Steptoe And Son. The series struck a chord with the nation, and the weekly battles between the father and son were soon attracting enormous audiences, sometimes in excess of 20 million.
Galton and Simpson won lifetime achievement awards from the Writers' Guild in 1997, and were awarded OBEs in 2000.
Arena pays tribute to the writing team that is a true national treasure.
For the last 15 years, Darcey Bussell has been the star of The Royal Ballet and the ballet dancer whose name everybody knows.
But life for a professional dancer is tough and relentless. This intimate documentary follows Darcey at home and abroad, through a gruelling schedule of rehearsals, performances and photo shoots, to tell the story of how a very normal girl with an exceptional talent changed everybody's expectations of what a ballet dancer should be.
The Merry Widow
Lesley Garrett stars in this brand-new production of The Merry Widow from the Welsh National Opera.
This sparkling operetta, which has delighted audiences since its first performance in 1905, is a story of glittering aristocracy, intense passion, romantic mystery, dashing bachelors, elegant ladies and ever-flowing champagne.
Rich widow Hanna is surrounded by suitors eager to court her (and her new fortune), though she seems interested only in playboy Danilo, who feigns indifference.
Hanna then announces her engagement to a Frenchman, causing Danilo to change his tune.
Lesley Garrett plays Hanna and Jeffrey Black plays Danilo.
Carols From King's
Carols From King's brings the magic of a traditional Christmas to BBC TWO, with a celebration from the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge.
The gothic vault of the Chapel roof and glowing stained-glass windows frame the simple story of the Nativity, illustrated with readings from the King James Bible and poetry by Gerard Manley Hopkins, Richard Crashaw and Sr Mary Francis.
The famous chapel choir sing traditional and new carols by candlelight, including In Dulci Jubilo, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, In The Bleak Midwinter and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
The Dean is the Rev Ian Thompson and the Director of Music is Stephen Cleobury.
York Minster At Christmas
For the first time in its history, York Minster allows the cameras to go behind the scenes as it prepares for the most anticipated celebrations of the year - a year which has been particularly significant with the inauguration of John Sentamu, the Church of England's first black archbishop.
York Minster employs 128 full-time staff and a further 600 volunteers.
It is both a serene and bustling place, where religious and secular worlds intertwine.
The programme follows the choristers of the historic Minster School as they prepare for the Christmas Eve Nine Lessons And Carols service, and features the daily lives of key personalities from every rank of the Cathedral's hierarchy, many of who work in traditions that date back for some thousand years.
Giving a fascinating insight into one of England's greatest cathedrals, York Minster At Christmas captures the essence of this complex institution at one of its most significant times.