Thursday 17 Apr 2014
If a sensational selection of festive family TV favourites is on your Christmas list this year, look no further. The BBC promises to provide a sleigh-load of Christmas sparkle with an action-packed and fun-filled line-up, plus more content than ever in high definition.
Highlights of this year's offering include David Tennant's final farewell in a two-part special of Doctor Who called The End Of Time. The Doctor's oldest enemy – the Master (John Simm) – returns alongside former companion Donna (Catherine Tate) and old favourite Wilf (Bernard Cribbins), as the entire human race faces its last ever Christmas – unless the Doctor can save the day.
There's plenty of laughter in store with a raft of comedies on BBC One, including a special episode of The Catherine Tate Show, as Nan experiences Christmases past, present and future, Gavin And Stacey, The Royle Family – The Golden Egg Cup, which sees all the Royles celebrating a special day for Jim and Barbara, and Victoria Wood's Mid-Life Christmas, plus seasonal sequins in the Strictly Come Dancing final and Christmas special.
Aled Jones brings us world-class carols with a unique Songs Of Praise from Jerusalem and the Big Sing Christmas Special from the Royal Albert Hall.
To celebrate Advent, Fern Britton presents a brand new series of in-depth interviews with high-profile figures exploring how their faith and beliefs have shaped their lives, called Fern Britton Meets...
The big day itself will be welcomed in by Midnight Mass from Westminster Cathedral followed later by The Glory Of Christmas: Christmas Morning Live Service from Chester Cathedral.
BBC Two features the Royal Shakespeare Company's award-winning production of Hamlet, starring David Tennant, and CBeebies fans will be mesmerised by all their favourite faces in The CBeebies Christmas Pantomime.
Other crackers this year include BBC One's animation of children's book The Gruffalo, voiced by an all-star cast – including Robbie Coltrane as the Gruffalo, and a strong selection of hit family film premieres including The Incredibles, Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End, Over The Hedge, Flushed Away and The Santa Clause 3.
Jana Bennett, Director of BBC television and multiplatform, says: "There really is something for everyone on the BBC this Christmas, with a cracking list of specials from Britain's best comedy talent.
"Viewers will bid an emotional farewell to David Tennant in one of the most dramatic and spellbinding exits in Doctor Who history, and the much-loved children's book, The Gruffalo, comes to life on screen for the very first time.
" There's also a whole host of drama, comedy, the celebration of food and a wide range of feel-good festive TV treats, all of which we hope will add an extra sparkle to Christmas and the holiday season.
"The arts also take centre stage with an acclaimed production of Hamlet, a unique interpretation of The Rite Of Spring and a look at The Mystic Nativity by Botticelli in The Private Life Of A Christmas Masterpiece.
"Many of the BBC's favourite faces will also feature this year – from David Tennant and Catherine Tate to Victoria Wood and Aled Jones. More shows will be available in high definition than ever before and there's no reason to miss anything thanks to the award-winning BBC iPlayer."
Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and Steve Coogan chart Steve's rise to fame in spoof documentary Steve Coogan: The Inside Story and the cast of Not The 9 O' Clock News reminisce about their experiences making the show in a one-off documentary for BBC Two.
This Christmas also sees a number of festive one-offs, including Outnumbered, My Family, Not Going Out, Celebrity Total Wipeout,and Top Of The Pops, with Christmas karaoke on BBC Red Button, and Celebrity Mastermind on BBC One, plus Mock The Week, Top Of The Pops 2 and Never Mind The Buzzcocks on BBC Two.
Meanwhile, Top Gear celebrates Christmas with a special episode from Bolivia and James May's Toy Stories completes its run.
There's drama galore on BBC One, with an adaptation of Henry James's classic ghost story, The Turn Of The Screw, starring Sue Johnston and Michelle Dockery, while Dame Judi Dench reprises her role in two Christmas helpings of Cranford. It's a year since the small Cheshire market town celebrated the marriage of Sophy Hutton to Dr. Harrison and Miss Matty lost her beloved sister. Fans can switch over to BBC Four after the show for a peek behind the scenes in Corsets, Carriages And Christmas At Cranford.
In a classic Christmas EastEnders, Archie's mission of hurt and destruction is brought to an abrupt halt when he is brutally murdered – but who committed the crime? Ricky and Bianca are full of festive cheer, while Max's lies and deceit catch up with him, forcing Tanya to make a heart-wrenching decision.
In Holby City, Linden is preparing for the perfect Christmas at home with his daughter Holly, but is forced to face up to the real problem that has been affecting his life for years – his guilt over his failure to save the life of his beautiful wife Olivia.
The New Year brings happiness and then heartbreak to the emergency team at Casualty as a joyful occasion ends in unexpected tragedy.
Alongside its comedy and entertainment offering, BBC Two presents an arts alternative for Christmas with The Private Life Of A Christmas Masterpiece, which examines the story behind one of the world's most admired nativity paintings – The Mystic Nativity by Botticelli – and Hamlet, which will be supported by a website providing an explanation of the key scenes, backstage footage and interviews with the actors.
There are cookery specials from some favourite faces including Delia's Classic Christmas, Oz Drinks To Christmas, The Hairy Bikers Celebrate The 12 Days Of Christmas and Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey. Victorian Farm Christmas, which is accompanied by an advent calendar of 24 festive 'how to' guides online and on BBC Red Button, along with Grow Your Own Drugs For Christmas and regular servings of Ready, Steady, Cook mean there's plenty on the menu for foodies this season.
BBC Three will see the Balletboyz offer their own unique interpretation of Stravinsky's The Rite Of Spring, and Russell Howard's Good News and Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet of Crisps will return for festive specials. Gavin And Stacey fans can also see more of their favourite lovebirds with a special out-take show.
BBC Four honours the work of Orson Welles with a season of films and documentaries and gets into the seasonal spirit with a musical extravaganza celebrating the best of British balladry.
Ruth Jones stars in A Child's Christmases In Wales – a deeply nostalgic, funny adaptation of Dylan Thomas's classic portrayal of how the routine of Christmas brings out the best and worst in a family.
There's also plenty of festive fun for the kids with all-new Tracy Beaker, Dreamland, Ingenious – a one-off drama for CBBC, and a Christmas special from Dani's House.
As we gear up for 2010, The Graham Norton Show will be reflecting on the past 12 months in a special episode with its usual mix of guests, and Jools Holland will celebrate the countdown to New Year in style on BBC Two with his annual Hootenanny.
There's no need to stake your claim on the remote control this Christmas, as the BBC has you covered.
Catch up on all your favourite programmes with BBC iPlayer, helping to make the unmissable, unmissable.
Plus there is exclusive content on BBC Red Button and up to the minute news, sport, entertainment and weather information on BBC Online or in the palm of your hand with BBC Mobile.
To find out what's on, visit the brand-new digital guide at bbc.co.uk/christmas from early December. Jam-packed with sneak previews of the best shows, food ideas and a CBeebies advent calendar for the kids, it's the perfect place to plan your festive viewing from the comfort of your own home.
For further details on Christmas programmes on the BBC, please refer to the programme information for weeks 51 and 52 (19 December 2009 – 1 January 2010).
The following programmes will be simulcast on BBC HD, the BBC's high definition channel available through Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media:
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