Thursday 21 Aug 2014
With a bumper selection of festive TV fare there is something to entertain everyone this Christmas on the BBC, with a fantastic line-up of quality, original content, from laugh-out-loud comedy and gripping drama to dazzling entertainment and compelling factual shows – all featuring the very best of UK talent.
Leading the laughs is a host of brand-new comedy from the likes of Ronnie Corbett, Matt Lucas, David Walliams and Ruth Jones.
In The One Ronnie, comedy legend Ronnie Corbett takes centre stage in this all-star sketch show to mark his 80th birthday, joined by leading comedians including Rob Brydon, Miranda Hart, James Corden and singer Charlotte Church.
Matt Lucas and David Walliams turn their talents to the world of air travel in Come Fly With Me, playing an array of comic characters. And, making her UK debut with her own show, comedy actress Ruth Jones fronts Ruth Jones's Christmas Cracker on BBC Two, packed full of interviews with the likes of Ricky Gervais and Will Young, plus music, sketches and fabulous festive fun.
Other comedy highlights include Rock & Chips – Five Gold Rings and the return of The Royle Family – Joe's Crackers on BBC One and Christmas editions of Miranda, The Rob Brydon Show and Shooting Stars on BBC Two.
Topping an amazing line-up of quality drama, Matt Smith spends his first Christmas as The Doctor in Doctor Who – A Christmas Carol, starring alongside veteran actor Michael Gambon and, in her first acting role, opera diva Katherine Jenkins. In The Nativity, Peter Capaldi stars in a magical retelling of the nativity story, adapted by Tony Jordan and told from a very human perspective.
Also on BBC One, Helena Bonham Carter stars in the adaptation of Nigel Slater's Toast, which follows a young boy's childhood journey through everything edible during the Sixties, while Dame Eileen Atkins, Jean Marsh and Keeley Hawes star in the revival of the legendary Upstairs Downstairs. And with EastEnders' first ever HD episode, Christmas Day in Walford is sure to be a spectacular mix of tinsel and turmoil as Stacey leaves the Square.
Over on BBC Two, Victoria Wood and Vic Reeves star in Eric And Ernie, a drama about the formative years of one of the best comedy double acts of our time – Morecambe and Wise – while John Hurt stars in Whistle And I'll Come To You, a modern adaptation of MR James's Edwardian ghost story.
There's entertainment for all as Strictly Come Dancing returns for a Christmas special with five brand-new celebrities – Ronni Ancona, John Barrowman, Fern Britton, June Brown and The Rt Hon Vince Cable MP – taking to the dance floor for the first time ever. And, in a special extended edition of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May embark on an appropriately seasonal road trip as they attempt to follow the path of the three wise men across the Middle East in a range of top sports cars wholly unsuited to the terrain.
Jana Bennett, Director BBC Vision, said: "BBC Television is committed to providing the greatest range of programmes of any broadcaster across the festive season, bringing friends and families together with big moments such as Doctor Who, The Royle Family and Top Gear and a great range of new comedy and drama.
"And with opera from Don Giovanni, art in the Private Life Of A Christmas Masterpiece and the welcome return of The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, there really is something to suit all tastes this holiday season."
Welcoming Christmas in on BBC One, Midnight Mass comes from Liverpool's Roman Catholic Cathedral, while this year's Christmas Day Morning Service comes live from Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire. Celebration also comes with a special edition of Songs Of Praise, Boxing Day Big Sing, presented by Aled Jones from the Royal Albert Hall.
Those looking for artistic nourishment this Christmas can indulge on BBC Two, with Private Life Of A Christmas Masterpiece, which explores Filippo Lippi's nativity. In an Arena profile, artist Rolf Harris paints a series of pictures inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream, including portraits of supermodel Lily Cole and rock royalty Lizzie Jagger. For opera fans there is a performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni From Glyndebourne. And Les Mis At 25 follows Matt Lucas as he prepares to perform in a special commemorative production of the world's longest-running musical.
BBC One and BBC One HD
Additional highlights on BBC One and BBC One HD include Christmas specials from The Impressions Show With Culshaw And Stephenson and My Family, while in Accidental Farmer, Ashley Jensen stars as a high-powered, London-based ad executive who, after discovering her boyfriend in bed with another woman, decides to up sticks and get to grips with country life. And Top Of The Pops returns to reveal the all-important Christmas No. 1.
In EastEnders, Janine's evil brooding over the discovery of Ryan's secret relationship with Stacey finally culminates in one of the most spectacularly shocking announcements the Queen Vic has ever witnessed. Stacey is forced to make a life-changing decision leading to her departure from the Square, but will she bid a fond farewell or depart in a far darker fashion?
Film premieres on BBC One include: Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, Wall-E, Shrek The Third, Cars, Bee Movie, Enchanted and Chronicles Of Narnia 2 – Prince Caspian.
Adding to the seasonal treats will be the Strictly Come Dancing Final and The Apprentice Final, while a leading sports figure will be crowned Sports Personality Of The Year.
Additional highlights on BBC Two come in the form of drama When Harvey Met Bob, which tells the story behind the Live Aid concerts.
Foodies can indulge with the help of The Hairy Bikers Mum Knows Best Christmas Special, which uncovers family recipes that deserve to be shared with the nation. Oz And Hugh Raise The Bar sees Oz Clarke and Hugh Dennis collect the best of British and Irish independent drinks to stock in their very own local pub.
Giles Coren and Sue Perkins try to have A Good Christmas in Giles And Sue Live The Good Life, while there are special compilations of Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Mock The Week.
Bringing some traditional music for the festive season are Carols From Winchester Cathedral and Carols From King's. In Swinging Christmas, Michael Parkinson presents a celebration of festive musical treats from the golden age of swing, while there will be a performance of Cinderella by the Birmingham Royal Ballet. And Jools Holland welcomes in the New Year with his annual Hootenanny.
The Springwatch/Autumnwatch team look back at an amazing year of live UK wildlife broadcasting.
Offering an alternative to traditional Christmas fare, BBC Three will keep viewers entertained with a selection of big films including War Of The Worlds, Armageddon and Catch Me If You Can. In a special hour-long programme, BBC Three will celebrate 25 years of Pixar magic, looking at the story of the company behind some of the biggest animated films in recent years, while Most Annoying People 2010 takes an irreverent look back on the year with a countdown of all the people and events that have most annoyed, amused or appalled over the last 12 months.
Stephen Mangan stars as eccentric detective Dirk Gently in an adaptation of Douglas Adams's cult novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, which leads a number of detective programmes on BBC Four.
In Sacred Christmas, Simon Russell Beale presents two special Christmas programmes featuring a rich range of seasonal music from composers as diverse as JS Bach, William Byrd, Mendelssohn, Handel and Mozart, where he explores how the sound of Christmas has evolved. Making a welcome return to the BBC are The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, where scientist Dr Mark Miodownik will look at the question of size.
CBBC and CBeebies
To keep the kids out of mischief, there is an adaptation of the timeless Just William stories, starring Daniel Roche (Outnumbered) as William, alongside Caroline Quentin, Warren Clarke and Rebecca Front. There are festive editions of Horrible Histories and Shaun The Sheep, plus a special CBeebies pantomime, Aladdin And The Magic CBeebies Lamp.
BBC One HD and BBC HD
BBC One HD will simulcast a network version of the BBC One schedule this Christmas, including the first ever episode of EastEnders in HD.
The BBC HD Channel will showcase the best of the BBC's programmes from across its channels, with Christmas highlights including the Christmas special Shooting Stars, drama from Eric And Ernie, When Harvey Met Bob and Dirk Gently and Jools Holland's Hootenanny.
There's no need to stake your claim on the remote control this Christmas, as the BBC has you covered. Catch up on your favourite programmes with BBC iPlayer.
Additional multiplatform content includes a further instalment of Doctor Who – The Adventure Games and exclusive extra EastEnders scenes on Stacey's departure from the Square – which will be available via the Red Button.
Detailed information on programmes airing in weeks 51 and 52 can be found in our Programme Information bulletin. Full schedule details for those weeks will be published on 30 November.
BBC Press Office
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