Radio 2 celebrates Christmas with the stars

BBC Radio 2 this Christmas features a dazzling array of some of the biggest stars you’ll find anywhere this festive season. It’s a feast of fantastic programmes presented by a star-studded line-up...”Lewis Carnie, Head of Programmes, BBC Radio 2
Date: 21.11.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.57
Category: Radio 2
This Christmas, BBC Radio 2 will be welcoming some of the biggest names in showbiz to the airwaves to deliver a big, sparkly helping of festive frivolity to homes across the land.

Lewis Carnie, Head of Programmes for Radio 2, says: “BBC Radio 2 this Christmas features a dazzling array of some of the biggest stars you’ll find anywhere this festive season. It’s a feast of fantastic programmes presented by a star-studded line-up including Robbie Williams, Glee’s Matthew Morrison, Australian super-star Dame Edna Everage, comedy legends French & Saunders, Hollywood actor Michael Sheen and a whole host of others. They will be the perfect accompaniment to the nation’s celebrations.”

Radio 2 highlights in chronological order:

Robbie Williams, Saturday 21 December, 3pm-6pm

Stepping into the hot seat while Dermot O’Leary takes a break for one week only, Robbie Williams will be taking control of the mic and inviting a glittering array of guests into the studio, and a great selection of live music.

Robbie says: "Anyone who has heard Radio Rudebox will know I am a natural born DJ, and I have just been biding my time for a radio comeback. Radio 2 have always been good to me, so when Dermot asked me to look after his show this Christmas, I jumped at the chance to play three hours of my favourite records and invite some very special people into the studio."

Jon And Miranda, Monday 23 December, 2pm-5pm

A short man and a tall woman return to BBC Radio 2 for Christmas, bringing with them the magical gift of laughter and any number of seasonal surprises. Stuffed with guests and basted with games, festive quizzes and arguing about presents, Jon Holmes and Miranda Hart are back!

Household name and national treasure Miranda Hart is a comedy writer and actress whose BBC Two sitcom Miranda has earned her four BAFTA nominations, three RTS awards and three Comedy Awards. It has firmly established her as one of the country’s leading comedians.

Non-household name and uncut gem Jon Holmes is an eight-time Sony Award and double Bafta-winning writer, comedian and broadcaster. As a former 6 Music presenter, he's no stranger to Radio 2, having sat in for both Chris Evans and Graham Norton, while over on TV has worked with the likes of Armando Iannucci, Stephen Fry, Harry Hill and also co-wrote the massively successful Bafta and RTS award-winning Horrible Histories. Recently, Quentin Tarantino told him he was a "fun guy".

Sounds Of The 20th Century Christmas, Monday 23 December, 8pm-10pm

A spin-off from the popular Radio 2 series Sounds Of The 20th Century, this seasonal programme recalls the Christmas music of every year from 1951 to 2000. With a smattering of archive clips, Jeremy Vine remembers the news, the personalities and the tunes that were getting people talking while they opened their stockings during the second half of the last century.

Jingle Bell Joe: Radio 2 House Party, Monday 23 December, 10pm-11pm

Recorded before a live audience in the heart of the Radio 2 building, and in true Christmas cabaret style, hugely talented singer, songwriter, pianist and raconteur Joe Stilgoe brings listeners his own individual festive fayre of fun and frolics.

Joe and his band are joined by the uniquely gifted musical comedy star Tim Minchin, multi-award winning Dutch vocalist Caro Emerald with a live performance of her chart topping A Night Like This and BBC Radio 6 Music and Radio 2 favourite Cerys Matthews – who as well as singing solo, will duet with Joe in her smash-hit pairing with Tom Jones, Baby It's Cold Outside.

French & Saunders, Tuesday & Thursday, 24 & 26 December, 12noon-2pm

Two of the biggest names in British comedy get behind the mic for a whole host of festive frivolity. For two days during the festive period, comedy duo Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders will be playing some of their favourite music, and joining them in the studio will be star guests including comedy icon Victoria Wood.

Dawn French says: “Hey everyone, it's French and Saunders, 'all up in your grill' as the modern youngsters like to say. Yes, here we come again! We will be taking to the BBC Radio 2 airwaves over Christmas. Yippee! We can't wait to play our favourite tunes, eat chocolate, tell stories and talk to tip top guests, all for your festive delight. Tis the season to be jolly after all... so do please join us. It would be rude and silly not to, wouldn't it?”

Leo Green: Hollywood Special, Tuesday & Thursday, 24 & 26 December, 7pm-8pm

When Leo Green’s late father Benny went to Hollywood for Radio 2 in the 1970s, he talked to some of the greats of the silver screen; some chats were recorded and some remain as transcripts. Put them together with classic recordings from Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby and others and you get a fascinating glimpse into the world of the musical movie star.

Leo says: “These songs, stories and voices deserve not to be sat in a cupboard somewhere gathering dust. The artists we’ll hear from are some of the greatest performers of all time! When some of my friends' dads passed away, they got left a set of golf clubs and a few ill-fitting suits. I have been fortunate enough to have been left an incredible and historical archive and I’m really excited to have the chance to share these interviews and celebrate both the Great American Popular Songbook and Hollywood with Radio 2 audiences.”

In the two-part series, listeners will hear from Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, Barbra Streisand, Fred Astaire and others as Leo celebrates the classic songs and shows. The focus will also turn to classic children's movies – the perfect accompaniment to Boxing Day. He will look at how Walt Disney came up with Mickey Mouse, as well as hearing classic Disney tunes and interviews from the likes of Peggy Lee, Louis Prima and all the cast of characters who provided Walt Disney with the voices for his various creations.

Cliff Richard, Tuesday 24 December, 8pm-10pm

Sir Cliff Richard, otherwise known as the confirmed King of Christmas, returns to BBC Radio this Christmas as presenter, hosting his very own two-hour festive show. Hot on the heels of his 100th album, Sir Cliff will be sharing his life, career and the music that has inspired him throughout the years; from the record that motivated him to first pick up the microphone, to the albums that shaped his ambitions later in his career, and the tracks that keep his love and passion for music alive today.

Sir Cliff says: “Christmas is a very special time of year and I’m looking forward to coming back to Radio 2 to share this special time of year with listeners. The show will be a wonderful way to spend Christmas Eve and I hope to share some special memories and play some great music.”

When Noddy Stole Christmas, Tuesday 24 December, 10pm–11pm

This year marks four decades since the greatest battle for the Christmas number 1 ever with Wizzard going head to head with their West Midlands neighbours Slade. Wizzard won the initial battle with I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, but Slade won the war. Merry Christmas Everybody charted for nine weeks, way beyond Christmas and well into January, peaking at Number 1 and selling over two and a half million copies in the process! The programme, presented by Mark Radcliffe, will gather the key players - including Slade, Wizzard, The Sweet, Alvin Stardust, Mike Batt and Tony Blackburn and will transport listeners back to 1973.

Bill Kenwright, Wednesday 25 December, 2pm-4pm

Bill Kenwright regularly takes listeners on a journey through his Golden Years, music from the mid-50s to the mid-60s - a time of change, celebration and fun.

And what better day to celebrate a decade that brought us the beginnings of rock 'n' roll than on Christmas Day. The programme will have the full trimmings - not just Bill’s favourite artists of the time but a raft of classic movies. Over two hours, listeners will hear Bill’s Magnificent Seven choices: seven male and female singers of the day from both sides of the Atlantic, including Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Dion DiMucci, Johnnie Ray, Billy Fury, Cliff Richard, Connie Francis and Brenda Lee; seven groups - The Beatles, The Everly Brothers, Seven 'Cowies'; and Seven films, so many to choose from in that era.

When You See My Name In Lights: Matthew Morrison, Wednesday 25 December, 6pm-8pm

From the moment Broadway was created, the world of entertainment changed. The path to stardom can be smooth - you can become an overnight sensation. Everyone’s journey is different including Matthew Morrison, presenter of this show. Better known as Mr Schuester in Glee, Matthew presents two hours of Broadway hits. Like his character, he loves musical theatre and started life as a true song and dance man.

He has one song that he’s used in every audition, including that of Mr Schu and it’s On The Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady. But it’s 'On The Street of Dreams' where the Radio 2 audience will be staying for two hours as he goes backstage to share the dreams of some of the leading men and leading ladies on the avenue known as Broadway.

Matthew says: "I'm really looking forward to playing some of the best of Broadway this Christmas Day on BBC Radio 2."

Bryan Ferry, Wednesday 25 December, 8pm-10pm

Bryan Ferry takes listeners on a personal journey through the musical decades, playing the songs that have influenced him, and the artists that he admires. Recorded at his legendary London recording studio, Bryan shares the stories behind his musical odyssey, beginning with his passion for 20s jazz, moving on through the big bands of the 30s and 40s, the early rock 'n' rollers of the 50s and the soul legends of the 60s. He plays some of his favourite tracks from the West Coast psychedelic scene of the late 60s and 70s, and talks about being a lifelong fan of Bob Dylan.

Oh Yes It Is - Barbara Windsor On Panto, Wednesday 25 December, 10pm-11pm

Barbara Windsor picks up her magic wand, climbs into her golden coach and sets off on a journey through the uniquely British institution of pantomime. In the company of guests including historian and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth she discovers the origins of pantomime in the 18th and 19th centuries, examines the role of the dame with veteran performer Nigel Ellacott and talks to present-day panto favourites including The Krankies, Su Pollard, Stu Francis and Anita Harris. She meets the impresarios behind the 21st-century success of pantomime, including Kevin Wood – the man responsible for unleashing Pamela Anderson, Henry ‘the Fonz’ Winkler and Mickey Rooney upon an unsuspecting British public – a far cry from the music hall traditions of performers such as comedians Arthur Askey, Tommy Trinder and the doyenne of principal boys, Dorothy Ward. Listeners will also hear from one of the all-time greats of pantomime, Stanley Baxter. A true perfectionist, Stanley’s lavish extravaganzas of the 1960s, 70s and 80s saw pantomime reach levels that have yet to be equalled.

Known to millions from her roles in the Carry On series of films and EastEnders, Barbara Windsor has a lifelong fascination with pantomime. This began with her very first role as a juvenile at Golders Green Hippodrome in 1950 and has continued right up to the present day with her 2010 appearance as Fairy Bow Bells at the Bristol Hippodrome – her first role after leaving Albert Square.

Dame Edna’s Christmas Leftovers, Thursday 26 December, 10am-12noon

Listeners are cordially invited to join housewife megastar Dame Edna Everage as she throws open her portals to the Radio 2 audience for a very special 'at home' for Boxing Day.

It’s the day after the big day before and taking time off from her farewell tour of the nation, the great Dame Edna will be offering advice on how to cope with the ordeal of... Boxing Day. She’s come a long way from the antipodean Christmases she spent with her late husband Norm and children - Bruce, Kenny and Valmai at Moonee Ponds in Melbourne. Little did Mrs Everage know that in years to come she would count queens, kings, presidents, pop stars and prime ministers on her Christmas card list.

Dame Edna says: “Hello Possums! I never get excited because I think it's an overdone word but frankly, I'm the next best thing to excited about the Radio 2 show I'm doing on Boxing Day...”

So if the spruce is droopy and the berries have shrivelled, Dame Edna is on hand to offer help and advice plus culinary tips for a few Christmas bites. She’ll be joined by visiting guests and her own special festive party mix – from the likes of Dame Nellie Melba, Frank Ifield and Lady Gaga. So don't just sit at home staring at a dead old carcass - join the Dame for the ideal Boxing Day Brunch.

Johnnie Walker Meets… Cilla Black, Thursday 26 December, 5pm-7pm

Priscilla Maria Veronica White had different dreams - dreams of becoming a singer. A former cloakroom attendant at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, Cilla used to perform impromptu sessions, counting none other than The Beatles as fans. Fifty years ago, despite an unsuccessful audition, she was signed by Brian Epstein and became his only female client at the time. He then introduced her to multi-talented music producer George Martin and her rise to fame was meteoric. Listeners will learn of her tussle with Dionne Warwick over the song which was to give her her first number one - Anyone Who Had A Heart - plus her demanding recording session of Alfie with composer Burt Bacharach.

She was the first woman in the UK ever to be given a television series of her own, the first person who went out among the British television audience, getting to meet them face to face on their doorstep or in their local supermarket. Cilla’s career in television began but she says: “It was television that found me, I didn’t find TV.” It’s as a singer she wishes to be known, she jokes; “On my gravestone I want it to read, Cilla Black 'Singer'.” For two hours, listeners can join Johnnie Walker and 'Step Inside The Musical World Of Cilla Black'.

Len Goodman, Thursday 26 December, 8pm-10pm

Had enough of Santa and sleigh bell, turkey and trimmings, mistletoe and wine?

Well have a good old Boxing Day knees-up or sing-along in the convivial company of Len Goodman. A professional dancer for almost 40 years, the head judge on Strictly Come Dancing since its inception, and a hugely popular Radio 2 presenter in the past year.

As music in all its guises is such an integral part of dance, Len delves into a huge selection from the 1950s right through to the present day - but all of it with one thing in common.

Vanessa Feltz Review Of The Year, Friday 27 December, 12noon-2pm

Vanessa Feltz looks back at an incredible year of news, significant events at Radio 2 and in her own life. She’ll be joined by her Strictly Come Dancing partner James Jordan to discuss what it was like behind the scenes on the series.

Listeners will hear how Radio 2 marked the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid with a special day of programmes which culminated in Friday Night Is Music Night from Biggin Hill Airport with the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Central Band of the RAF.

Traffic and travel presenter Sally Boazman and Vanessa will listen again to their efforts in the Radio 2 presenter choir, singing Dancing Queen as part of 2Day – the network’s day-long celebration of the orchestra.

The programme includes Alison Lapper, the disabled artist and campaigner, who took part in the major Jeremy Vine Show series What Makes Us Human.

Vanessa will play some of the live music from Elton John, Rod Stewart and Paul McCartney which have been a massive part of Radio 2 this year.

The programme will also feature news coverage of the birth of Prince George and she will be speaking to several listeners who had a child on the same day.

Vanessa will look at major news stories and will broadcast two significant obituaries from 2013: that of Radio 2 presenter David Jacobs and Baroness Thatcher.

Johnnie Walker Meets… Annie Lennox, Friday 27 December, 5pm-7pm

Johnnie Walker meets the world-class singer, songwriter, band member and human rights campaigner Annie Lennox. They enjoy an honest conversation about her upbringing in Aberdeen, early days in London with Dave Stewart, the huge success of the Eurythmics, meeting Nelson Mandela and fighting for positive change in the world. Annie also talks frankly about her work as a solo artist.

Katie Puckrik: Yacht Rock, Friday 27 December, 10pm-12midnight

In Katie Puckrik’s Yacht Rock, Katie blends the smartest, deepest cuts in the classic Yacht canon with newer tracks from the modern masters of mellow. Push up the sleeves of your white blazer and pour a Mai Tai, and join Katie on a voyage through some of the smoothest music ever made.

'Yacht Rock' sums up the lush, millionaire’s make-out music of the 70s and 80s, with Steely Dan, the Doobie Brothers, Hall And Oates and Robert Palmer among its blue chip practitioners. The sounds are escapist, soul-inflected, studio musician-injected, and burnished to a high sheen with massed harmonies and a reckless deployment of saxophones and shimmering chimes. No longer derided as yuppie cheese, Yacht Rock is enjoying a reappraisal by a new generation of music lovers inspired by the genre’s sonic sophistication.

Michael Sheen’s 80s, Saturday 28 December, 8pm-10pm

The two-part series presented by one of Hollywood’s leading men takes a nostalgic look back at the 80s from Michael’s point of view. In the first programme, Michael celebrates the New Romantic scene, with songs from Japan, Ultravox and Culture Club. In part two, he plays songs that chart the rest of his teenage years, including music from Alison Moyet, Tears For Fears, U2 and The Cult.

Michael says: “The prospect of doing two live shows on Radio 2 is really exciting - this is the music I grew up to. I was 11 in 1980 and every day of that decade, every crush, every fight, every hope and every heartbreak is inextricably linked for me to its music. It is as much a part of me, I realise now, as the experiences that shaped my life.”

A Night To Remember: Ana Matronic On Disco, Tuesday 31 December, 8pm–10pm (picture available)

Scissor Sister Ana Matronic will be delving into her record collection and bringing listeners two hours of disco music to get them in the mood for New Year's Eve celebrations.

Ana says: “I can't wait to get the party started on New Year's Eve with a great set of disco classics and rare gems. It's such an honour to be able to share my love of these tunes and get in the mix on Radio 2.”

Johnnie Walker Meets… Fleetwood Mac, Wednesday 1 January, 5pm-7pm

Late last year, a packed audience at London’s O2 Arena went wild as Fleetwood Mac welcomed Christine McVie on stage - completing the line-up of the band that produced one of the biggest selling albums of all times - Rumours.

The success of Fleetwood Mac is without precedent considering the varying line-ups. However, the constants include their remarkable drummer and 'big daddy' of the group Mick Fleetwood and the 'quiet man', bassist John McVie. Which is fortunate, as that’s how the band’s name came about, combining their two surnames way back in 1967.

Across two hours, Johnnie Walker speaks to Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and features a rare interview with pianist and singer-songwriter Christine McVie. Listeners will get to hear how they all had their part to play in the jigsaw puzzle of Fleetwood Mac’s enduring success. Despite the sometimes hedonistic lifestyle, divorces and ego clashes, they couldn’t have produced decades of hit records without love and friendship.

Annie Nightingale: Whatever Next?, Wednesday 1 January, 8pm-10pm

Annie Nightingale returns to BBC Radio 2 to curate seven decades of unmissable music from the 1950s through to today.

Annie will bring together an endlessly rich seam of known and budding classics that will cover Fifties crooners, early rock 'n' roll and garage rock, Sixties British invasion and motown, disco, punk and New Wave from the Seventies, Eighties acid house, Nineties indie, hip hop and house from the Noughties and dance and pop genres that will take listeners right up to the newest sounds of 2014.

Harry Shearer’s Vinyl Tap, Thursday 2 January, 8pm-10pm

Actor, musician and comedian Harry Shearer allows us to explore the wonderful world of his record collection and takes us on a tour of his vault.

Through the programme, Harry will hand pick a selection of his favourite tunes from over 10,000 vinyls which he has collected over the years, and shares the stories behind them.

From New Orleans to Brazil and from Ella Fitzgerald to Dave Edmunds, there is something for everyone in Harry Shearer's Vinyl Tap.

Roger Taylor, Saturday 4 January, 3pm-5pm

Queen drummer Roger Taylor delves into his record collection, plays some of his favourite rock tracks and tell listeners the stories behind them. There'll be songs from The Kinks, Foo Fighters, The Pretenders, AC/DC and Joe Walsh, as well as Roger's all-time favourite Queen track.

Roger Taylor says: “I’m really looking forward to dusting off my record collection and playing some of my favourite rock tracks to bring in the New Year.”