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13 July 2014
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Programme Information

BBC Network TV Weeks 52/53


Around The World In 80 Faiths
Friday 2 January
(Schedule addition Wednesday 26 November)

From Taoism in China to a voodoo mass in West Africa, Pete Owen Jones takes viewers on a definitive guide through faith on Earth – one year, six continents, 80 rituals, smoking babies, naked men festivals, cargo cults and serpent handling.


The world's six biggest religions, however, are only part of the story. Faith is belief in the sacred and it's expressed in a rich diversity of rituals – in denominations, sects, cults, tribal faiths and new religious movements.


Pete's mission is to witness and take part in rites rarely filmed before – to take the religious pulse of the planet and to understand the depth of humanity's fascination with the divine. As an Anglican priest, Pete confronts cultures that challenge his values and prejudices – which surprise and even offend him, but which also enlighten him.


In today's opener, Pete travels to Australasia to find out how tribal faiths have survived into the 21st century. He goes into the Australian outback, in search of the meaning of aboriginal dreaming; to Indonesia, to attend the elaborate funeral of a woman who died 20 years ago; to Sydney, to witness the survival of ancient persecuted faiths like the Iraqi Mandeans and witchcraft; and to the remote volcanic islands of Vanuatu, in the Pacific Ring of Fire, to unravel the mystery of the cargo cult.



Hansel And Gretel From The Royal Opera House
Thursday 25 December


Sir Colin Davis conducts Humperdinck's sumptuous fairy-tale opera Hansel And Gretel, recorded recently at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, with a star-studded cast including Angelika Kirchschlager and Thomas Allen.


In this classic fairy-tale by the Brothers Grimm, two children run off to the forest to collect berries, following a scolding from their mother. As night falls, they discover they are lost. Their fears are initially allayed by the Sandman, who comforts them to sleep, but when they wake up to discover a tempting gingerbread house, they are ensnared by the Wicked Witch. In an explosive climax, the children manage to defeat the Witch and, in a rousing, happy ending, they are returned home and reunited with their parents.


This new production, by the regular directorial pairing of Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser, promises shades of light and darkness, with wit, black comedy and the magical Sandman and Dew Fairy to dispel the darker undercurrents. The exceptional cast includes Angelika Kirchschlager and Diana Damrau as Hansel and Gretel, with Anja Silja as the Witch and Thomas Allen taking the role of the children's father.


The broadcast is introduced by presenter Katie Derham, and features behind-the-scenes interviews and features during the interval.



Heroes Ep 13/13
Monday 22 December
10.00-10.45pm BBC TWO (Schedule addition 4 December)


Each Hero is forced to explore the duality that exists within them, as the cult US science-fiction series about ordinary people with superhuman abilities reaches its conclusion.


After discovering that Angela and Arthur Petrelli are not his real parents, Sylar takes Claire, Angela, HRG and Meredith hostage within the Primatech facility. In order to preserve their different agendas, Nathan, Tracy and Suresh face-off against Peter, Knox and Flint at Primatech. And, as the volume comes to a close, Nathan must also make a difficult decision regarding the future of all of the Heroes.


Cristine Rose plays Angela, Robert Forster plays Arthur, Zachary Quinto plays Sylar, Hayden Panettiere plays Claire, Jack Coleman plays HRG, Adrian Pasdar plays Nathan, Ali Larter plays Tracy, Sendhil Ramamurthy plays Suresh, Milo Ventimiglia plays Peter, Jaime Hector plays Knox and Blake Shields plays Flint.



Jools's Annual Hootenanny 2008
Wednesday 31 December

(Schedule amendment 4 December)


Jools Holland welcomes 2009 with his 16th annual Hootenanny, recorded at BBC's Television Centre in London. Featuring a host of stars and acts that have made their mark on the musical landscape of 2008, the Hootenanny is the show to help viewers ring in the New Year.


On the eve of Motown's 50th anniversary, Martha And The Vandellas join Jools to perform some of the greatest songs of the Sixties, including Dancing In The Street and (Love Is Like A) Heatwave. Annie Lennox sings one of her solo hits and a classic big band tune; Dave Edmunds performs Seventies tunes such as I Hear You Knocking; Sam Sparro takes his hit Black And Gold in a swing direction; and Lily Allen surprises with her take on a classic song.


Adele enters into the spirit with an Etta James number, Duffy asks for Mercy, Dizzee Rascal invites viewers to Dance Wiv Me, old-school rock band of the year The Hold Steady perform tracks from their acclaimed Stay Positive album, The Ting Tings play their hits and Finnish harmonica quartet Svang are tunefully strange. Further guests and artists are to be announced.


Hootenanny, of course, also features the usual combination of actors, actresses, comedians and general hipsters, who fill the room with their predictions while the 1st Battalion Scots Guards pipe us into 2009.



Maestro – The Inside Story
Thursday 25 December


Sue Perkins's Maestro journey is revealed
Sue Perkins's Maestro journey
is revealed

Viewers have the chance to see the highlights of BBC Two's hit summer series, Maestro – from the memorable first day at baton camp, to Sue Perkins's triumphant performance in Hyde Park on The Last Night Of The Proms.


The series featured actors Jane Asher and David Soul; drum 'n' bass star Goldie; Blur bassist Alex James; broadcasters Katie Derham and Peter Snow; and comedians Sue Perkins and Bradley Walsh, all competing to become the ultimate maestro.


This documentary uncovers how the celebrity students and their mentors developed their technique and style, revealing their emotional highs and lows, and takes a detailed look at why, one by one, they had to go.


With previously unseen footage and interviews from some of the students, judges and members of the BBC Concert Orchestra, this documentary gives the inside story of their incredible Maestro journeys.



New Year's Day Concert 2009 – Live From Vienna
Thursday 1 January

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra sees in the New Year with its annual celebratory concert of waltzes, polkas and marches, conducted for the first time by Argentinean-Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim.


Brian Kay introduces the second half of the concert live on BBC Two, with all the traditional encores in the morning, while BBC Four features extensive highlights from the complete New Year's Day Concert 2009 in the evening.



Rab C Nesbitt Christmas Special
Tuesday 23 December


Rab C Nesbitt (Gregor Fisher) is a changed man in this festive special
Rab C Nesbitt (Gregor Fisher)
is a changed man in this festive

One of the best-loved characters in Scottish comedy bursts back onto the screen this festive season, as Gregor Fisher once more breathes life into the Govan sage, Rab C Nesbitt.


Rab appears to have changed: he's ditched the drink, found religion and even discovered the cooker. The training shoes and the head bandage might still be the same but, underneath it all, Rab is a new man who now insists: "I can get high on a sunset. I skip with joy on seeing a lark."


Rab is not the only one to have changed in the Nesbitt household... Rab's wife, Mary Doll, now has a thriving cleaning company with her old pal, Ella Cotter. The Squeaky Clean House Mice work all over the city, leaving Rab at home, preparing the scran. Mary's busy working day leaves her husband feeling seriously frustrated and he wonders if he will ever win her affections again. Meanwhile, their eldest son, Gash, has moved out of the family home, turned vegetarian and set up in business with his new wife, Lorna.


Some things never change, though. Rab's old pal, Jamesie Cotter, is still propping up the bar and chasing women. Thankfully, Rab's raging temper hasn't cooled much over the past decade, either. He's still got issues and there's plenty he wants to get off his string-vested chest.


Rab lets rip with characteristic vitriol about modern rip-offs, the media, and the state of the nation in the 21st century. His rants are as hilarious as ever, doused with a large dose of sarcasm. In the run-up to Christmas, Rab struggles to resist the demon drink. If he doesn't, the old Nesbitt we all know and love may well be back before the turkey's been stuffed.


The Christmas Special reunites the smash-hit Rab C Nesbitt team. The script is penned by Iain Pattison and directed by Colin Gilbert, while Gregor Fisher reprises his role as the string-vested Govan philosopher. Elaine C Smith and Andrew Fairlie return as the long-suffering Mary Doll and Gash and Tony Roper and Barbara Rafferty reprise their roles of sleekit Valentino Jamesie Cotter and Ella. New faces include Gary Lewis (Billy Elliot, Gangs Of New York) as Mary's old boyfriend, Frank, and Kathleen McDermott (Morvern Callar, Wedding Belles) as Lorna.



Shooting Stars Documentary
Tuesday 30 December


Fifteen years ago, the show that introduced viewers to the Dove From Above, the Wonderful, Wonderful Car and George Dawes burst onto British screens. Hosted by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, Shooting Stars, one of TV's first celebrity panel shows, was piloted on BBC Two in December 1993 and went on to run for five series, becoming a multi-award-winning, world-wide hit.


This special anniversary night, hosted by Vic and Bob, features past team captains, previous guests and, of course, the man with the scores, George Dawes (Matt Lucas). It also treats fans to previously unseen sketches and hilarious out-takes, before finishing with a brand-new episode of the cult quiz.


The opening documentary is a celebratory look back at the show's best bits and includes interviews with the myriad stars who willingly put themselves in Vic and Bob's firing line.


Guests filmed for the documentary include team captains Will Self and Ulrika Jonsson, Lenny Henry, Amanda Donohoe, Michael Winner, Paul Whitehouse, Tim Healy, Charlie Higson, Johnny Vegas, Matt Lucas, Gary Rhodes, Noel Fielding and Martine McCutcheon.



Shooting Stars
Tuesday 30 December


Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer reunite for a special edition of the cult panel show
Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer
reunite for a special edition of
the cult panel show

After a revealing and entertaining insight into the making and filming of the cult panel show Shooting Stars, BBC Two screens this new, special one-off episode.


Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and Matt Lucas return with two very special team captains and a host of other surprising guests.






Star Of Bethlehem – Behind The Myth
Wednesday 24 December


According to the Gospel of St Matthew, an incredible star shone over the Holy Land 2,000 years ago. For the Wise Men from the East, it was the signal they had been waiting for – it was time to embark on an epic journey to visit the newborn Messiah. But what exactly was the mythical Star of Bethlehem?


New developments in technology are allowing scientists, astronomers and historians to map the night skies of the ancient world with extraordinary accuracy. As they study the movements of the planets and stars around the time of the birth of Christ, experts are challenging the traditional image of the star as a comet and putting forward new theories.


Astronomers are uncovering new evidence to support the view that the story of the Star of Bethlehem was based upon a real event – a triple conjunction of planets, an occultation of Jupiter and Saturn or even a supernova.


Drawing on evidence from as far afield as Rome, Prague, Babylon, Persia and even China, this film examines clues in Biblical texts and ancient artefacts and uses state-of-the-art computer imaging techniques to reassess the date of Jesus's birth, investigate the identity of the Wise Men, and shed new light upon the story of the Star of Bethlehem.



Top Gear
Tuesday 30 December


Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May end the series in style with a road trip through Vietnam
Richard Hammond, Jeremy
Clarkson and James May end
the series in style with a road
trip through Vietnam

Top Gear ends the current series in epic style as Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May travel to Vietnam. Their aim is to travel the entire length of the country in just eight days, thereby achieving what the American military failed to do in 10 years.


However, first they must each buy some suitable transport for the trip and, despite having several million Dong in their pockets, this proves to be of rather less value than they originally thought, especially in one of the most expensive car markets in the world.


Nonetheless, the boys are resourceful and, with their wheels finally sorted, they set off on one of the most spectacular and incredible Top Gear road trips ever attempted.



TOTP2 Christmas Special
Tuesday 23 December
BBC TWO (Schedule amendment 11 December)


This Christmas Steve Wright pulls on his Santa suit and dancing shoes for eight new episodes of TOTP2, with some fabulous party guests including Wham!, Aretha Franklin, ABBA and Culture Club, alongside dozens of other classic moments from the unique Top Of The Pops archive.


Each TOTP2 show features a classic one-hit wonder and a wide selection of the greatest chart-toppers from the last 40 years.


TOTP2 marks some of 2008's notable events with the likes of the Olympic Runners, The Specials and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and leafs through the Great British songbook in the company of Sir Elton John, Rod Stewart, The Kinks and many more. The series also honours some of the artists who have passed on this year, including Mike Smith of The Dave Clark Five and soul giant Isaac Hayes.


And in the TOTP2 Christmas Special, viewers can expect 90 minutes of holiday classics from stars including The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl, Wizzard and Slade, alongside some more unusual gifts – after all, Christmas wouldn't be complete without Mikey Dread's Reggae Reggae Christmas...


Top Of The Pops returns for two special shows over the Christmas period, presented by Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates.



The Truth About Carols
Thursday 25 December


There is nothing more safe and sentimental than a traditional carol, sung by an angelic choir, at Christmas ... or so you would think. In The Truth About Carols, composer Howard Goodall uncovers the often turbulent and uncomfortable relationship between carols and the celebration of Christmas.


Though they've been around since the 12th century, carols have only been a feature of church services for the last 150 years. For centuries, the Church tried to keep carols out, believing them to be pagan or of no value because they were written by human hand.


Carols have been used as secret codes, saved from the brink of extinction and been the subject of state censorship. Many carols sung today seem to be set in stone and yet they can have more than 400 regional variations.


Their roots are in dance, folk culture, street theatre and pre-Christian religion and yet carols have ended up as the quintessential expression of the Christmas story, with the choir of King's College Cambridge and their Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols providing a velvet-voiced soundtrack to Christmas Eve. But Howard discovers that even that tradition, which dates from 1918, was invented not in Cambridge but in Truro, half a century earlier.


The programme features a variety of performances, including folk star Bella Hardy singing the medieval Coventry Carol, the Purbeck Village Choir performing the carols of 18th-century England and the Truro Cathedral Choir recreating the very first Service of Nine Lessons and Carols.





Transmission details will be posted after final schedules for BBC Weeks 52 and 53 are confirmed.

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