BBC Radio and BBC Sounds deliver listening delights and superlative soundtracks this Christmas

Whatever you are doing, wherever you are and whoever you are with this Christmas and New Year, tune into BBC Radio for audio delights and the perfect soundtrack to this yuletide season, and listen to your favourite shows any time on BBC Sounds.

Published: 25 November 2021
Updated: 25 November 2021
Our audio content will entertain, surprise and keep listeners company as we mark the end of the year and welcome 2022. With brilliant storytelling, thoughtful moments and the best in music, comedy and sport, BBC Radio and BBC Sounds have the ultimate festive pick ‘n’ mix this Christmas and New Year.”
— Charlotte Moore, BBC Chief Content Officer

Introduction

BBC Sounds

  • Christmas podcast specials including Teach Me A Lesson with Ed Sheeran, Tony Bellew Is Angry with Romesh Ranganathan, Pressed, You’re Dead To Me, Uncanny, Building Queertopia and Fortunately... with Fi and Jane.
  • Boxset dramas available to binge on including chilling new medical drama SteelHeads starring Jessica Barden.
  • Escape with audiobooks and adaptations such as How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie and The Princess Bride by William Goldman.
  • Soundtrack the festivities with music mixes from Charli XCX, Big Narstie, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Nadia Jae, Baby Queen and more.

Pop Music Radio

  • On Radio 1 Clara Amfo unveils her Hottest Record Of The Year on Radio 1’s Future Sounds, and in The Official Chart (24 December) Scott Mills unveils the Christmas Number 1.
  • Big Narstie invites listeners to the ultimate 1Xtra Boxing Day party, and the station brings in the New Year with 12 hours of the biggest tunes from the Noughties hosted by their presenting family.
  • Christmas Day and Boxing Day on Radio 2 brings specials from Human League, Pet Shop Boys and Westlife, Gospel from Mica Paris, plus Trevor Nelson joins the BBC Concert Orchestra for a Soul Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall with guests including Chic’s Kimberly Davis, Basement Jaxx vocalist Vula Malinga, soul singer Tony Momrelle, and Ivor Novello-winning producer Troy Miller.
  • Tom Daley makes his Radio 2 presenting debut and New Year’s Eve brings shows from Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Romesh Ranganathan and Michelle Visage.
  • Asian Network Certified Throwback on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, with mixes to soundtrack listeners’ festivities; and there’s a network takeover from some of 2021’s successful applicants of BBC Asian Network Represents - the station’s biggest ever talent search (26 December and 2 January).
  • On BBC Radio 6 Music, there are Festive Takeover shows (20 - 24 December) from Kelis, Arlo Parks, Robert Plant, Common & Robert Glasper and Jarvis Cocker. Queermas returns on Christmas Eve with mixes and specials from Lynks, HE.SHE.THEY. and Sherelle; and Best Of… New Music Fix looks back at the stand-out releases from 2021 on New Year’s Eve.

Radio 3, Orchestras and Choirs

  • Radio 3 features favourite festive sounds from Petroc Trelawny in his live Christmas Morning special, plus seasonal music editions of In Tune, Late Junction and a special Midnight Slow Radio. Experience a walk through the empty streets of Venice at midnight, a Christmas concert live from Vienna’s Musikverein and the results of the annual Carol Competition.
  • Also on Radio 3, Sound Walks With Horatio Clare take listeners on an aural journey to the summit of the Four Peaks; Private Passions’ guest is John Cleese, and a special Christmas read-a-long of classic festive prose with Robert Webb and Nina Sosanya.
  • Radio 3 celebrates the 150th anniversary of Verdi’s much-loved opera Aida, looking at the story of this masterpiece from an Egyptian perspective through the eyes of historian Flora Willson.
  • Singer-songwriter Laura Mvula invites listeners into her music room to play some of her favourite music that's got her through 2021.
  • HRH The Prince of Wales joins Ian Skelly and the BBC Singers for a special programme celebrating the 21st anniversary of the reintroduction of the role of Royal Harpist with a performance of Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony Of Carols.
  • The BBC Singers join forces with the GSMD Jazz Band for A Roaring Christmas, a celebration of festive favourites from the 1920s.
  • BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus come together for a concert featuring Benjamin Britten’s captivating cantata, St Nicholas.
  • BBC National Orchestra of Wales spreads seasonal cheer with Handel’s Messiah and a concert of popular carols with readings from much-loved BBC Wales presenters.
  • Singer and presenter Jamie MacDougall joins the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra bringing their annual Christmas At The Movies to Glasgow’s City Halls.
  • The BBC Philharmonic bring festive fun with Hacker & Dodge from CBBC and CBeebies, broadcast across all England BBC Local Radio stations.

Radio 4, 4 Extra and 5 Live

  • Radio 4’s Today Programme welcomes seven Guest Editors who will take over the programme during the festive period: Raheem Sterling, England and Manchester City professional footballer; General Sir Nick Carter, Outgoing Chief of Defence Staff; Mina Smallman, former Church of England archdeacon, mother of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry; James Rebanks, Cumbrian farmer and bestselling author; Dr Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace; Jacky Wright, Chief Digital Officer and Corporate Vice President at Microsoft US; and Lord Dobbs, Conservative peer and author of House Of Cards.
  • On Radio 4, Joanna Lumley and Roger Allam return for more acclaimed comedy in Conversations From A Long Marriage At Christmas Again (pictured above). Meanwhile The Archers are set to promenade in The Ambridge Mystery Plays.
  • John Finnemore and Samantha Bond star in Moominland Midwinter; there’s the first radio adaptation of The Princess Bride, and Jessica Barden stars in a near-future thriller, SteelHeads, the latest offering in Radio 4’s Limelight drama strand.
  • Stephen Graham narrates a moving true story in Walking On Jupiter, and Anita Anand charts the efforts of British soldiers to get an Afghanistan interpreter and his family to safety.
  • A Love Actually edition of The Reunion features Richard Curtis and others; Barry Humphries chats with Miriam Margolyes and Rob Brydon; plus Sandi Toksvig welcomes guests including Krishnan Guru-Murthy.
  • Podcasts specials ranging from the frightening, festive and funny also come to Radio 4 courtesy of Uncanny, Fortunately with Fi & Jane, and You’re Dead To Me.
  • Radio 4 Extra places The Snow Queen at the centre of a collection of fantasy dramas, and there’s further Moomin-related treats.
  • On 5 Live on Christmas Day Stacey Dooley presents a Christmas Special, joined by friends and special guests as they celebrate together; Scott Mills’ Today will feature a festive Upside Down Quiz, special guests, laughs and plenty of other surprises.
  • Over 24 hours of sport on 5 Live, starting from 11pm on Christmas Day, including live coverage of The Ashes and a Boxing Day packed with football.

BBC World Service

  • From BBC World Service there’s a behind-the-scenes look at Sir Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! The Arts Hour New Year Comedy Special returns, plus a special edition of Heart And Soul with Italian Tenor Andrea Bocelli.

BBC Local Radio

  • Local BBC Radio’s Make a Difference campaign has teamed up with Ed Sheeran, Duran Duran and a number of other music stars in a new feel-good campaign, to thank key workers like, nurses, teachers, binmen and more making a difference, in a special week of programmes across England this Christmas. At 9am daily, from Monday 27 December to Friday 31 December, Local BBC Radio is saying thank you to some of the nation’s hero key-workers by setting them up to meet and put their questions to their favourite music heroes.

BBC Sounds

BBC Christmas Sounds graphic

Ed Sheeran joins Greg James and Bella Mackie for a very special festive edition of Teach Me A Lesson, only on BBC Sounds. Comedian Romesh Ranganathan is the latest guest on Tony Bellew Is Angry, as he reveals his seasonal annoyances. Cracking Christmas editions from podcast favourites including Pressed, You’re Dead To Me, Uncanny, Building Queertopia and Fortunately... with Fi and Jane also feature as part of BBC Sounds festive offering.

Chilling new medical drama SteelHeads starring Jessica Barden is among a number of bingeable boxsets, such as Fake Heiress and The Battersea Poltergeist, available to feast on during the holidays. Podcast highlights will be curated around winter listening for those who want to discover our most popular storytelling series on Sounds including Nuremberg, 13 Minutes To The Moon, Have You Heard George’s Podcast? and The Missing Cryptoqueen.

Christmas content on BBC Sounds provides listeners with an excuse to cosy up and escape or to soundtrack their winter walks with audiobooks and adaptations, including How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie and The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

Unmissable Sounds, from Grounded With Louis Theroux, The Birthday Cake Game and a new series of Wheel Of Misfortune, offer some festive joy, while sporting fans can get their fix with MOTD Top 10, That Peter Crouch Podcast and Sport’s Strangest Crimes, which feature alongside a collection of Christmas picks, all wrapped up on BBC Sounds.

Find just the right music to accompany whatever the season brings with Christmas Sounds, including festive specials from Charli XCX, Big Narstie, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Nadia Jae and Baby Queen. The All Day Christmas mix is on hand with an extensive catalogue of classic Christmas songs, while the Christmas Chill series offers listeners an escape with mindful mixes A Winter Walk and A Choral Christmas. Soundtracking New Year workouts is The Pace Setter mix with motivational anthems, paired with The Morning After Mix offering recovery music for rest and restoration ahead of and as we move into 2022.

Music Mixes

BBC Sounds has all your festive musical needs covered with Christmas specials. from popular mixes including Charli XCX's Best Christmas Ever filled with perfect pop bangers for the ultimate Christmas playlist, to Sophie Ellis-Bextor's Christmas Kitchen Disco packed with festive feel-good tunes, and A Timeless Christmas from 1Xtra’s R&B Chill with Nadia Jae, selecting a mix of smooth classics from R&B legends (available on BBC Sounds from 22 November). 

Big Narstie guides listeners through his top tips for a Narstie Xmas Night Out, Baby Queen hosts a Gameplay Christmas special, featuring epic video game soundtracks and Laufey presents Happy Harmonies, a celebration of carols, classics, contemporary hits, and a brand new duet with dodie (available on BBC Sounds from 6 December).

The Christmas Movie Mixtape sees Radio 1's film expert Ali Plumb pick out some of the most loved songs from holiday movie favourites and for the musically curious, the new Late In The Day series curates Laid Back Christmas Gems with the best alternative and off-beat festive music (available on BBC Sounds from 22 November).

The Christmas Chill series offers a more calming Christmas experience for listeners to escape to, with mixes such as A Winter Walk featuring festive jazz and seasonal soundscapes, an hour of choral music to set the mood with A Choral Christmas and The Winter Sleeping Forecast, taking listeners on a voyage into the winter nights with gentle instrumental music (available on BBC Sounds from 22 November).

All Day Christmas on BBC Sounds is available from 20 December with over six hours of festive treats tailored to soundtrack the perfect Christmas Day.

To get listeners ready for 2022, the Pace Setter Mix New Year special will be brimming with motivational anthems to soundtrack January workouts while The Morning After Mix Recovery Music will feature a carefully crafted mix of calm music, offering rest and restoration for the New Year.

On top of all that, music lovers have plenty to explore this season with an array of Music Mix Boxsets featuring handpicked and curated mixes including:

  • Cillian Murphy's Limited Edition
  • Big Narstie’s Narstie Night Out
  • Pace Setter
  • Sophie Ellis Bextor’s Kitchen Disco
  • 1Xtra’s R&B Chill
  • 6 Music Artist In Residence
  • Mindful Mix
  • The Morning After Mix
  • Late in the Day
  • Charli XCX’s Best Song Ever The Playlist
  • Radio 1’s Movie Mixtapes

AM2

BBC Radio 1

Clara Amfo
Clara Amfo

This Christmas, BBC Radio 1 will be bringing the best of festive cheer to listeners, from showcasing a new roster of DJs over the Christmas period to exclusively revealing this year’s Christmas Number One on Christmas Eve.

Thursday 16 December

Clara Amfo’s Hottest Record Of The Year

6pm-8pm

Every weekday at 6pm, Clara Amfo unveils her Hottest Record In The World on Radio 1’s Future Sounds. It’s a slot known for breaking some of the most exciting new music on the planet.

This December, she will be counting down through her Top 20 Hottest Records from the past 12 months, as voted for by Radio 1’s listeners, before revealing which track has earned the coveted title of Hottest Record Of The Year.

Bring Me the Horizon and YUNGBLUD's Obey was crowned Hottest Record Of The Year in 2020, beating the likes of Billie Eilish and Royal Blood to the top spot.

Voting will open on Thursday 2 December and close on the Thursday 9 December..

  • Presenter: Clara Amfo
  • Producer: A BBC Audio production

BS

Friday 24 December

Scott Mills Reveals The Official Christmas Number 1

4pm-6pm

The Christmas Number 1 will be revealed on The Official Chart on Radio 1 with Scott Mills.

  • Presenter: Scott Mills
  • Producer: A BBC Audio production

BS

Saturday 25 December

Greg’s Rogue Promises

5pm-7pm

Radio 1 Breakfast host Greg James will be revisiting all of the rogue promises he has made to listeners this year.

Greg James has made a habit of making spontaneous promises to listeners on air, from the mundane to the ridiculous. Sometimes he delivers, but often he does not. In this two-hour special, Greg will be looking back through some of the more rogue promises he has made throughout 2021, and seeing which - if any - he can finally follow through on.

  • Presenter: Greg James
  • Producer: A BBC Audio production

BS

Scott Mills and Chris Stark’s Christmas Number 2s

Scott Mills
Scott Mills

7pm-9pm

Scott Mills and Chris Stark will be revisiting some of the greatest songs to narrowly miss out on a coveted Christmas Number 1.

Scott Mills and Chris Stark’s Christmas Number 2s will be celebrating all the bangers that didn’t quite make the festive top spot, providing the soundtrack to the evening on Christmas Day with music, lols and festive fun.

  • Presenters: Scott Mills and Chris Stark
  • Producer: A BBC Audio production

BS

Pressed

Available on BBC Sounds from Friday 24 December

Your faves, Mariam Musa and Adeola Patronne are keeping it real on everything and anything that has them pressed about the Christmas season. From online pressure to share lavish gifts, to dealing with festive family drama and navigating your first Christmas with a new partner. The girls will sleigh the Pressed Hotline with Naughty or Nice themed voicenotes on all things Christmas dilemmas and story times.

BBC Studios TalentWorks and Unheard by VAMP Production for BBC Sounds

RC

BBC Radio 1Xtra

Over the festive period BBC Radio 1Xtra brings listeners a schedule packed full of guest takeovers, special co-hosts and exclusive mixes, showcasing the hottest names in Black music and entertainment.

Friday 24 December

Kenny Allstar, Kan D Man and DJ Limelight Special

9pm-11pm

On Christmas Eve Kenny Allstar, Kan D Man and DJ Limelight showcase the best rap from across the UK, simulcast on 1Xtra and Asian Network.

  • A BBC Audio production

Friday 24 - Sunday 26 December

Stocking Filler Mixes

4am-6am

1Xtra showcases 10 Mixes from some of the hottest new and emerging community station DJs.

  • A Silver Music Entertainment production

Saturday 25 December

Jerry’s Gospel Breakfast

7am-11am

Jeremiah Asiamah hosts a very special Christmas Day Gospel show with an exclusive live performance.

  • A BBC Audio production

Sunday 26 December

Remi and Cuppy Christmas Special

7am-11am

1Xtra’s Remi Burgz is joined by world renowned Nigerian DJ and producer Cuppy for a special Christmas takeover.

  • A BBC Audio production

Big Narstie Boxing Day Special

10pm-1am

Big Narstie invites listeners to the ultimate Boxing Day party.

  • A BBC Sounds production

Friday 31 December

Noughties New Year’s Eve

9pm-9am

1Xtra brings in the New Year with 12 hours of the biggest tunes from the Noughties hosted by the 1Xtra family.

An Unedited production.

FM (all 1Xtra)

BBC Asian Network

BBC Asian Network will be celebrating the power of collaboration this festive season.

On Christmas Eve, Kan D Man and Limelight will simulcast with Kenny Allstar on 1Xtra, showcasing the best in rap from across the UK.

Throughout Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, Asian Network Certified Throwback mixes will soundtrack listeners’ Christmas festivities and will be available both on air and on demand on BBC Sounds.

On Monday 26 December and Sunday 2 January, there will be an exciting network takeover from some of 2021’s successful applicants of BBC Asian Network Represents - the station’s biggest ever talent search which took place earlier this year. And on Saturday 1 January, The Best in Asian Network Live Music will help to usher in the new year with good music and good vibes.

  • DJ Limelight & Kan D Man & Kenny Allstar is a PMG production
  • Asian Network Throwback Mixes are a BBC Audio production
  • Asian Network Represents is a Somethin Else production
  • The Best in Asian Network Live Music is a BBC News production

RC2

BBC Radio 2

Trevor Nelson's Soul Christmas

Radio 2 has a Christmas schedule packed full of music delights featuring country, gospel, disco, hip hop, soul, reggae, pop and musicals and each presented by a sparkling array of festive hosts including Romesh Ranganathan, Mica Paris, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and many more! There are specials with Westlife, Pet Shop Boys and Human League, plus champion diver Tom Daley makes his Radio 2 presenting debut.

Thursday 23 December

CMA Country Christmas

9pm-10pm

CMA Country Christmas rings in the holiday season annually with a night full of festive classics and one-of-a-kind musical performances. The event is filmed in Nashville and, now in its 12th year, the 2021 Christmas special will be hosted by Gabby Barrett and Carly Pearce. There will be music from some of today’s biggest Country Music stars including Jimmie Allen, Brett Eldredge and Carrie Underwood.

  • Presenters: Gabby Barrett and Carly Pearce 
  • Producer: Mark Hagen for BBC Audio

KA

Saturday 25 December 

Mica’s Gospel Christmas

6am-8am

Prepare to have your soul stirred and heart lifted as Radio 2 takes you to church. Join Mica Paris for the perfect start to Christmas morning, with the gospel… according to music! 

Soul diva Mica brings a joyous playlist of incredible vocal performances from the biggest stars and choirs that raise the roof. She fell in love with music through the gospel records played at home by her family and the songs she heard in church, where her singing talent was first discovered. 

Mica released her first gospel album in 2020 and since then has rediscovered more of the music that first brought her joy. In this programmes she shares her Christmas favourites and uncovers new gems from a constantly evolving and influential genre.

With powerful performances powered by faith, soul and a love of music, we’ll hear from Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson and many more. Plus, there’s a brand new live festive performance from one of our brightest contemporary gospel choirs.

  • Presenter: Mica Paris 
  • Producer: Rebecca Maxted for BBC Audio

KA

Good Morning Christmas

8am-10am

Reverend Kate Bottley brings the cheer on Christmas morning with carol singing, listeners’ Christmas greetings and a joyful Pause For Thought from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

With a specially curated mix of your favourite festive songs and sing-a-long carols Kate delivers the perfect soundtrack for Christmas morning, whether you’re peeling the spuds, opening gifts or hitting the road to visit family and friends.

She’ll be hearing from some of those special helpers who make this special day go smoothly - our Christmas Champions - and to complete the magic, the twinkly stars at top of the tree are some joyous carols specially recorded with a choir for today’s programme.

  • Presenter: Reverend Kate Bottley
  • Producer: Rebecca Maxted for BBC Audio

KA

Junior Choice with Anneka Rice

10am-12pm 

It really is the most wonderful time of the year, as Anneka is back with a bumper bag brimming full of musical delights, both old and new, as she provides the perfect accompaniment to Christmas morning with the joyous Junior Choice, live from Wogan House.

From Disney to Ernie, Puff The Magic Dragon to White Horses, and maybe even a little Baby Shark for your Festive Fayre. There’ll be sing-along favourites for kids of all ages and it’s all up to the listeners who will get to choose the tunes. So whilst they’re peeling the spuds, scoring those brussels sprouts and wrapping the last of the presents, Anneka would love them to get in touch to let her know what they’re up to and what they’d like to hear on the radio - just email anneka@bbc.co.uk 

Junior Choice first went on air on Saturday 30 September 1967 - the first weekend of the brand new Radio 1 and Radio 2 - and was presented by Leslie Crowther. The show succeeded the old Light Programmes Children's Favourites, and in those early Radio 1 and 2 days it was a simultaneous broadcast on both stations. In February 1968 Ed Stewart, or Stewpot as he became known to children everywhere, took over as presenter and he stayed with the show for the next 11 years, until he handed the Junior Choice mantle to Tony Blackburn.

  • Presenter: Anneka Rice
  • Producer: Julie Newman for BBC Audio

KA

Paul O’Grady

12pm-2pm

Once again, Paul hosts his annual Christmas Day show from his home in Kent with a suitably seasonal playlist. Assuming his dogs and animals will allow, Paul welcomes a socially distanced performance from the Radio 2 Choral Society, a festive Lost TV Theme, and two Christmas Triples. And instead of enduring producer Malcolm's mum's awful mince pies, he'll be sampling her famous Christmas cake! Plus, there’s a seasonal Cocktail Recipe and special messages from the Radio 2 family of presenters. Paul returns to his regular Sunday slot on 9 January, 2022.

  • Presenter: Paul O’Grady
  • Producer: Malcolm Prince for BBC Audio

KA

Richie Anderson's Festive Boy Bands v Girl Bands

2pm-5pm

Richie Anderson's Festive Boy Bands vs Girl Bands is back with another holiday edition of his top pop passion, celebrating the world's biggest boy bands and girl bands.

Through the decades acts such as The Jackson 5, Destiny’s Child, Take That, Spice Girls, Westlife and One Direction and Little Mix have dominated the UK Top 40 and got us all singing along. 

Join Richie on Christmas Day for a joyful rundown of some of the best pop songs of all time as he speaks with some famous friends and adoring fans who will pick the boy band or girl band song they love most.

Presenter: Richie Anderson

Producer: BBC Audio

KA

Gary Davies - 70 Xmas Number Ones

5pm-7pm

This year sees the unveiling of the 70th official Christmas Number One. Gary Davies takes listeners through the very best of those mega-selling singles over the past seven decades, with all-time classics from the greatest pop legends including The Beatles, Queen, Michael Jackson, Cliff Richard, Tom Jones, Spice Girls, The Human League, Pink Floyd, and more. Plus he’ll throw in a few obscure nuggets and novelty hits from bands and artists many of us have probably forgotten all about.

Only one song with Christmas in the title has topped the chart on December 25th during the whole of the 21st century so far. Find out what that was along with loads of other facts, stats and trivia galore throughout the show. Gary will also reveal who’s entered the history books as 2021’s newly crowned festive chart-topper. It’s the perfect celebration of music’s most prestigious annual chart honour.

  • Presenter: Gary Davies
  • Producer: Lee Thompson for Listen

KA

Human League: Don’t You Want Me at 40 - with Gary Davies

7pm-8pm

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Human League's Dare album, a game-changer in the pop landscape whose influence continues through the bloodline of pop to the present day. Following two albums which didn’t sell well and a band restructure, the gradual success of the album saved the band from being dropped by their label and reversed their fortunes dramatically. More recently it was voted one of the best albums of the 80s by Radio 2 listeners.

To give the album one last push for the Christmas market, the record label decided to release Don’t You Want Me as a single - against the band’s wishes who did everything in their power to stop it. The song would be the Christmas Number One of 1981 and topped the American charts, sent the parent album, Dare, to Number One. It remains one of the biggest-selling singles of all-time, with an iconic and groundbreaking video to match.

Gary Davies, who championed Human League right at the start of their career, pays a trip to Sheffield to speak to Phil Oakey, Joanne Catherall and Susan Sulley about what actually happened 40 years ago.

Still in school, Joanne and Susan recall having to ask for permission from their headteacher so they could travel to London to perform on Top Of The Pops! They explain why they didn’t partake in Band Aid, talk about encounters with George Michael, Madonna, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury and their memories of filming the Don’t You Want Me video on a wet cold night in a muddy field in Slough. Above all, they are grateful that the single was released after all and that it has kept the Human League in business 40 years later.

Fans of 80s pop culture will be enthralled hearing stories of one of the decade’s most influential and successful bands as they are reunited with the BBC presenter who helped them get there.

  • Presenter: Gary Davies
  • Producer: Ste Softly for Mostest Productions

KA

Westlife’s Christmas Pop Party

Westlife
Westlife

8pm-10pm

Get your Christmas jumper on and cut yourself a chunky slice of the Yuletide log as, for the first time ever, all four members of Westlife takeover BBC Radio 2 for a full two hours, with the perfect Christmas show for all the family.

Mark Feehily of Westlife said: “I can’t wait to spend Christmas with the Radio 2 listeners. Myself and the boys are going to be playing some festive fun games and spinning as many of our favourite Christmas songs as we can fit in. Put it in your diary, make sure you’ve got your cosiest Christmas jumper on and join us - everyone is invited to Westlife’s Christmas Pop Party on BBC Radio 2.”

Expect lots of laughter as Mark, Kian, Shane and Nicky recall Christmases growing up in Ireland, their Christmases as young pop stars and now their festive tasks as parents. They will each pick their favourite festive songs, including recent pop bangers from the likes of Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande, alongside classics by Michael Bublé, Wham! and more. And there’s Christmas quiz fun llisteners can join in with and a special live performance of a Christmas song exclusively for this show. 

  • Presenters: Westlife
  • Producer: Ste Softly for Mostest Productions

KA

Trevor Nelson’s Soul Christmas

10pm-12am

Rhythm Nation’s Trevor Nelson curates a soul show at the Royal Albert Hall this Christmas.

After bringing the house down in 2019, Trevor returns to the spectacular surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall this year. He is bringing together a host of special guests, including Chic’s Kimberly Davis, Basement Jaxx vocalist Vula Malinga, soul singer Tony Momrelle, Corinne Bailey Rae and Ivor Novello-winning producer Troy Miller.

They will be performing re-imagined and re-scored iconic tracks, with a little help from the incomparable BBC Concert Orchestra.

Trevor says: “I’m so excited to be back at the Royal Albert Hall to bring my Soul Christmas to the Radio 2 listeners. It’s going to be all killer, and no stocking filler!” 

Tune in and dance along to soul and R’n’B with a classic festive twist this Christmas on Radio 2.

  • Presenter: Trevor Nelson
  • Producer: Joe Haddow for Spiritland productions

KA

Sunday 26 December

Phantom At 35

1pm-3pm

In this two-hour documentary, star of stage and screen Luke Evans celebrates 35 years of the hit musical Phantom Of The Opera. He looks back at the original production with its epic songs, theatrical effects, set and costume design, choreography and captivatingly complicated storyline. The programme features interviews with some of the key cast and crew who ensured the musical kept bringing back audiences time and time again.

Following an upheaval that no-one could have predicted, listeners will hear from the current company and discover how Phantom returned with a vengeance following the Covid lockdown. Listeners will join them at the show’s 35th anniversary performance at its home in Her Majesty's Theatre, London, and discover how Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber led the way in the early days by joining forces, and how their paths still cross 35 years into possibly the most iconic musical ever. 

  • Presenter: Luke Evans
  • Producer: Ffion Rees for Telesgop

KA

Festive Reggae with Rodigan

5pm-7pm

David ‘Ram Jam’ Rodigan MBE returns to Radio 2 for this two-hour reggae special on Boxing Day. He will take a trip down memory lane with hits from artists including Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, The Wailers and UB40. He’ll also be joined by a host of great guests, including reggae legend Jimmy Cliff.

Janet Kay, the first British black female to have a reggae song at the top of the UK charts, will talk to him about her 45 years in the industry, and close friend Freddie McGregor will share how he enjoys the festivities at this time of year in Jamaica. 

David Rodigan has spent 40 years as Britain’s most celebrated reggae DJ. He’s the undisputed champion of the genre and as famous in Jamaican dance halls as he is in London's super clubs.

  • Presenter: Dave Rodigan
  • Producer: Claire Solan for Somethin’ Else

KA

Musicals - The Greatest Show

7pm-9pm

Tonight is a celebration of the nation’s favourite songs and performers from the world of musical theatre. Hosted on radio and television by multi-award winning performer Sheridan Smith, Musicals: The Greatest Show puts the songs, the shows, and the stars, back on stage at the world famous London Palladium.

Highlights include Amanda Holden and Sheridan Smith performing I Know Him So Well from Chess. The song, originally performed by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson, reached Number 1 in the UK Pop Charts in 1985 remains the best-selling song by a female duo.

Nicole Scherzinger sings Never Enough from The Greatest Showman, with her performance recorded in Los Angeles. Exclusively for Radio 2, Josh Groban sings The Impossible Dream from Man Of La Mancha, with his vocal performance recorded in Los Angeles, and Elaine Paige performs (exclusively for Radio 2) Sunset Boulevard’s As If We Never Said Goodbye. Elaine made her Broadway debut in Sunset Boulevard in 1996. 

Gavin Spokes, from the West End production of Hamilton, performs You’ll Be Back; Michael Ball performs You Can’t Stop The Beat from Hairspray and Sheridan Smith performs Don’t Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl.

There's an exclusive first performance by Ivano Turco of Only You, Lonely You from Cinderella (which is due to open in London in 2021); the cast of SIX The Musical performing SIX; Ramin Karimloo sings The Music Of The Night from The Phantom Of The Opera; the three West End lead actors of MAMMA MIA! – Mazz Murray, Kate Graham and Jo Napthine - perform Dancing Queen.

Aisha Jawando of the West End production of TINA, The Tina Turner Musical performs The Best; Lea Salonga performs I Dreamed A Dream from Les Misérables, with her performance recorded in Manila. Layton Williams of Everybody's Talking About Jamie performs The Wall In My Head.

Sam Tutty sings You Will Be Found from Dear Evan Hansen, alongside members of the West End cast; Nicole Raquel Dennis of Dreamgirls with And I Am Telling You and Kerry Ellis sings Defying Gravity from Wicked.

Exclusively for Radio 2, Christine Allado and Alexia Khadime perform the Oscar-winning song When You Believe from The Prince Of Egypt, and Jac Yarrow performs Any Dream Will Do from Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. 

First broadcast in January 2021.

  • Presenter: Sheridan Smith
  • Producer: Phil Critchlow and Andrew Wyke for TBI productions

KA

Pet Shop Boys, Takeover

Pet Shop Boys
Pet Shop Boys

9pm-12am

The Pet Shop Boys don’t do Christmas like anyone else. Their 1987 Christmas chart-topper, Always On My Mind, was the most unlikely festive hit, and so Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe’s Radio 2 takeover tonight will continue in that same vein as they keep the party going just as the tunes of the season are put into storage for another year.

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe say: “Pet Shop Boys takeover BBC Radio 2 for three hours of our favourite music, personally chosen and presented by us, Neil and Chris!”

Expect no Christmas songs, but do expect a party playlist like no other. Neil and Chris will be playing disco hits, synth-pop gems, the odd showtune and a fair share of Chris’ personal Northern Soul favourites. Three hours in which there will be no mourning the end of another Nöel… quite the opposite. Only Pet Shop Boys could get away with this!

  • Presenters: Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe
  • Producer: Ste Softly for Mostest Productions

KA

Monday 27 December

Scott Mills

9.30am-12.30pm

Scott Mills is in all this week, from Monday to Friday. Across the week, Daisy May Cooper - award winning actor and co-creator of the BBC TV series This Country - chooses some of her favourite tunes in the final Tracks Of My Years for 2021.

Gloucestershire-born Daisy won a Bafta in 2018 for Best Female Comedy Performance, playing Kerry Mucklowe in this hugely popular series which she co-wrote and starred in with her younger brother, Charlie Cooper. After an earlier role as a young mother in the ITV series Doc Martin, Daisy returned to the West Country working as a cleaner with her brother. For a while the siblings lived together and their experiences would later form part of their writing for This Country.

Thanks to the success of series one, two further series followed. In 2019 she played Peggotty in The Personal History Of David Copperfield, and in 2020 she had a part in Armando Iannucci's space comedy Avenue 5. Daisy also appeared with her father, Paul, on Celebrity Gogglebox.

Scott also has the daily love song dedications plus another round of PopMaster. To get in touch with the show email Scott.Mills@bbc.co.uk

  • Presenter: Scott Mills
  • Producer: Phil McGarvey for BBC Audio

KA

Tom Daley 

Tom Daley

Noon-2pm

Spend two hours in the company of Britain’s most decorated diver, Olympic champion Tom Daley, and the songs that inspire him to make a splash. He’ll be talking about his musical passions, his family life, his love of knitting… and the highs and lows of his remarkable career.

Tom Daley says: "I’m so excited for my Radio 2 presenting debut so come spend two hours with me this December. I’ll be playing my favourite music, having a little chat, and finding out what you’re all up to."

  • Presenter: Tom Daley 
  • Producer: Jessica Rickson for BBC Audio

KA

Joe Lycett

5pm-8pm

For the third Christmas in a row, award winning stand-up comedian and TV presenter Joe Lycett will be keeping the nation entertained at teatime from Monday through to Friday this week. He’ll be broadcasting live from his home city of Birmingham.

Expect plenty of fun, laughs and festive cheer as Joe guides listeners through that funny week between Christmas and New Year. Joe wants to hear from you, so to get involved in the show simply email joe@bbc.co.uk

  • Presenter: Joe Lycett
  • Producer: Dan Markham for Audio Always

KA

My Life In A Mixtape

8pm-9pm

From Monday to Thursday this week, Radio 2 brings another chance to hear for episodes of My Life In A Mixtape featuring Ant & Dec, Oti Mabuse, and David Walliams and Vicky McClure.

Tonight, celebrating 30 years together, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly bring their unique warmth, charm and humour to Radio 2 as they select the tracks that have been the soundtrack to their long and illustrious career. Listeners will discover the very first time they sang together, and which pop song they think should be listened to at least twice a year for the good of one’s health!

From saving a musical icon from taking a Royal tumble to missing the Queen Of Pop actually taking a royal tumble, it's a joyous journey through 30 years of a great friendship. Their selection includes music from Happy Mondays, Madonna, Inspiral Carpets and Shirley Bassey. 

On Tuesday, Strictly Come Dancing Champion and all round wonderful human, Oti Mabuse, has created a very personal mixtape. With Dame Shirley Bassey being one of her earliest memories, music has always played a huge part in her life. From Miriam Makeba to Dua Lipa and back to Bon Jovi, listeners will discover it would be hard to be grumpy in Oti’s company and impossible not to dance! As she journeys from childhood to the present day hearing the music that has been the soundtrack to her life, the music and stories she tells feel like the perfect companion for a winter’s night.

On Wednesday, author, actor and comedian David Walliams delves into his music collection to create a very personal mixtape. With each song evoking memories of people and places, he journeys from childhood to the present day playing the tunes that have been the accompaniment to his life.

His choices include music from Kate Bush, K.D. Lang, Elton John, Louis Armstrong and Jungle Book. From hearing about a Bond legend who was lucky enough to have David’s mum offer to make him a Shepherds’s Pie to the song he would have loved to have written for his son, to revealing which album he could listen to for the rest of his life, there’s lots to discover.

And on Thursday, actor Vicky McClure has raided her entire record collection to create a very personal mixtape. Each song evoking a memory of a time, a person or place, she travels from childhood to present day playing the tunes that have been the soundtrack to her life.

With legendary artists like Queen, The Carpenters and Aretha, Vicky admits she ‘is an old soul’, but throw in Missy Elliot, Beyonce, Usher and Kylie and listeners will realise she’s an old soul who can dance! Vicky’s selection is a wonderful mix of legendary singers and pop icons, woven together with warmth.

  • Presenters: Ant & Dec, Oti Mabuse, David Walliams, Vicky McClure
  • Producer: Roslyn McCuish for BBC Scotland

KA

Thursday 30 December

The Country Year with Ashley McBryde

 9pm-10pm

American country music singer-songwriter Ashley McBryde presents this look back at the country year of 2021 with exclusive performances from the artists including Luke Combs, Eric Church, Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde and many more.

  • Presenter: Ashley McBryde
  • Producer: Mark Hagen for BBC Audio

KA

Friday 31 December

My Platinum Year

12pm-2pm

Presenters from the Radio 2 family look forward to the unmissable events of 2022.

During the year, ABBA will reunite in the form of ‘Abbatars’, The Faces release new music, Elton John will restart his farewell tour for the last time and hopefully crowds will return to Glastonbury in the music world.

On stage and screen, Bridgerton, Top Gun, Indiana Jones and The Railway Children are back to entertain us, and the hit stage musical Wicked will be filmed. The UK will host UEFA Women's Euro 2022 and The Commonwealth Games, the BBC is 100 years old and Her Majesty The Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee - what a bumper year it will be.

Zoe Ball and Jo Whiley are your musical guides, talking to Elton John, ABBA and more, while Claudia Winkleman looks into her mystical TV set and onto the big screen, Elaine Paige is already singing along to the songs from the hit musicals that will grace this country's stages, and Jeremy Vine forecasts some big wins in the sports arenas and, finally, will talk to the experts about the BBC Centenary and the major events around the Royal Celebrations.

  • Producer: Mark Simpson for BBC Audio

KA

Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Kitchen Disco

Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Kitchen Disco
Sophie Ellis-Bextor

7pm-9pm

Following her incredible Kitchen Disco Danceathon - Radio 2’s 24-hour challenge for this year’s BBC Children in Need – Sophie returns with the ultimate playlist to make your New Year’s party go off with a bang! Whether you’re headed out, or throwing your own disco in your kitchen, Sophie will have two packed hours of feel-good party tunes to get you in the dancing mood.

Plus, celebrating 20 years since her debut solo single, Sophie presents 2001 – A Dance Odyssey – a massive megamix of huge dance tunes from the year 2001. Get ready to travel back in time and throw some shapes! 

  • Presenter: Sophie Ellis-Bextor
  • Producer: David Manero for Listen

KA

Romesh Ranganathan's Non-Stop Hip Hop New Year Classics

9pm-11pm

Following Romesh's new Radio 2 series earlier this year - For The Love Of Hip Hop - he returns tonight to help get the New Year's Eve party started with his personal pick of the ultimate hip hop hits.

Romesh rolls out the biggest hip hop tunes of all time in a non-stop mix, featuring only the best from the earliest days of the genre to the biggest tracks of 2021. Two hours of nothing but party bangers, including favourites from Jay-Z, Biggie Smalls, 50 Cent, Missy Elliot, Nicki Minaj, Beastie Boys, De La Soul and many more. He'll be keeping the chat to the minimum and the music to the maximum, although there'll still be room for plenty of his stories and trademark humour.

  • Presenter: Romesh Ranganathan
  • Producer: Micky Curling for Folded Wing

KA

Michelle Visage’s Fabulous New Year Party

11pm-1am

There's only one way to see out the old and bring in the new this New Year's Eve and that is with Michelle Visage. She will be playing the most fabulous party anthems that no party should be without. Expect two hours packed with floor fillers old and new, handpicked by the hostest with mostest, Ms Visage, and guaranteed to fill you with optimism for the year ahead.

Michelle will be playing tracks from the likes of Madonna, Queen, ABBA, Black Eyed Peas, Chic and more and she wants to pack this show with as many shoutouts from all over the UK as possible. Dress up, apply glitter and turn the kitchen into your ballroom. Leave 2021 in style and make your grand entrance in 2022.

  • Presenter: Michelle Visage
  • Producer: Ste Softly for Mostest productions

KA

BBC Radio 3

Nina Sosanya and Robert Webb
The Seven Ages Of Christmas: Readers Nina Sosanya and Robert Webb

BBC Radio 3 presents a special Christmas showcase of the best in music, drama, and alternative sound. Travelling across the world, from the peaks of Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland through to the glittering concert halls of Vienna, Radio 3 celebrates the sounds and stories that make Christmas so magical.

Sunday 12 December

Private Passions: John Cleese

Noon-1pm

Michael Berkeley’s guest is John Cleese. With music by Tchaikovsky, Scott Joplin and John Williams.

John Cleese has been making the nation laugh for more than 50 years. First rising to prominence in the 70s with Monty Python and Fawlty Towers, he now has a second generation of fans, discovering for themselves his unique combination of surreal humour, verbal pyrotechnics and farce.

Recorded with Michael Berkeley while John was in Britain to work on the script of the musical version of A Fish Called Wanda, this special in-conversation looks back on his childhood in Weston-super-Mare and the physical awkwardness that made him stand out from an early age - “six feet of chewed string" - as one of his teachers remarked.

Cleese remember his fateful early decision not to be a lawyer but to try comedy instead, and he shares what he has learned about the strange unconscious process of creativity.

Music choices include Tchaikovsky, Scott Joplin and John Williams, as well as comedy sketches by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore – and his favourite sketch from his own career, a double-act with Rowan Atkinson, “Beekeeping”.

  • Presenter: Michael Berkeley
  • Producer: Elizabeth Burke for Loftus Media

EB2

Monday 13 - Friday 17 December 

In Tune Mixtape: The Coventry Mixtapes

7pm-7.30pm

In Tune ends each day with a specially curated and uninterrupted half hour sequence of music, featuring an eclectic mix of classical favourites and lesser-known gems, as well as jazz, folk and world music.

As the Christmas celebrations reach their full height, the In Tune Mixtape focuses attention on this year’s UK City Of Culture, with music of all styles reflecting the many diverse aspects of the City of Coventry.

Each mixtape will include music associated with the city, featuring musicians and composers who grew up or were educated in Coventry, music written for and about the city including its world famous Cathedral, seasonal favourites performed by Coventry musicians, Coventry’s hugely influential 2 Tone record label, and the Medieval Christmas staple - the Coventry Carol.

  • Producer: Helen Garrison for BBC Radio 3

EB2

Saturday 18 December

Music Planet

4pm-5pm

Kathryn Tickell is joined by singer Fay Hield for a visit to a pub in Sheffield to experience the Yorkshire carolling tradition, which goes back to the early 19th century when the church authorities took offence at the strong, earthy singing that the locals enjoyed.

The singers simply made for the pubs instead, and these informal sessions still go on, lockdowns permitting. A unique repertory of carols has survived in the pubs, with different words and unique variations on the familiar carol melodies.

Kathryn also introduces highlights from the European Broadcasting Union’s 2021 Christmas Music Project, with songs from across Europe.

  • Presenter: Kathryn Tickell
  • Producer: Roger Short

This Classical Life Christmas Special

12.30pm-1pm

For this year’s This Classical Life Christmas special Jess Gillam is joined by the tenor Nicky Spence, fresh from his appearance in Wagner’s The Valkyrie at English National Opera. They’ll be donning their Christmas jumpers and sharing some of their favourite seasonal tracks, creating an eclectic playlist from well loved classical pieces to surprises from across the musical spectrum.

  • Presenter: Jess Gillam
  • Producer: Andy King for BBC Radio 3 

EB2

Sunday 19 December

EBU Christmas Across Europe

11am–3pm and 4pm–11pm

A day-long festival of Christmas music and singing from across Europe and Canada in the European Broadcasting Union’s annual Christmas music day. Choirs and ensembles come together to celebrate the wonder of Christmas.

First we travel to Russia with the Moscow Synodal Choir, then to Tallinn in Estonia with Vox Clamantis, and then from Leipzig in Germany, we hear Saint-Saëns, and from Riga in Latvia, music by Handel. In the evening, expect to hear music from the Dnish National Vocal Ensemble, as well as Bach’s Christmas Oratorio performed in Vancover.

11am, Moscow: the Moscow Synodal Choir sing Russian liturgical music ranging from a 16th-century stichera of Czar Ivan the Terrible in honour of the Vladimir, Icon of the Mother of God to music of the present century.

12pm, Tallinn: live - Vox Clamantis sing music by Arvo Pärt and Cyrillus Kreek.

1pm, Leipzig: the MDR Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform Christmas music by Rheinberger, Britten and Saint-Saëns’ Oratorio de Noël, op. 12.

2pm, Riga: live - Christmas music by Handel and his contemporaries 

4pm, Athens: the ERT Chorus sing a selection of traditional Greek Christmas songs.

5pm, Piteå, Sweden: the Erik Westberg Vocal Ensemble sing Praetorius and traditional Swedish Christmas songs.

6pm, Copenhagen: the Danish National Vocal Ensemble sing Christmas music by Sandström, Nørgård and Nielsen.

7pm, Berlin: The Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Rinaldo Alessandrini, perform Bach cantatas and concertos.

8pm, Stuttgart: The SWR Vocal Ensemble with a programme of Scandinavian Christmas music.

9pm. Vancouver: Early Music Vancouver and Suzie LeBlanc perform Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

10pm, Sofia: Gli Accordati Vocal Ensemble perform music by Lassus, Gesualdo and Jannequin.

  • Producer: Tony Sellors

EB2

Midnight Slow Radio: Venice Between The Bells 

Midnight - 12.30am

There are 107 bell towers in Venice. Wherever you go in the city the passage of time is measured by the echo of bells across rooftops. But the biggest bell of them all - the Marangona in St. Mark's Basilica - only stirs into sound twice a day: at midday and midnight.

This Christmas soundscape takes you from the chime of Marangona at midday, along lapping canals and whispering alleyways, across piazzas and bridges, around the city, until the deep, resonant sound of the Marangona brings the day to an end.

  • Producer: Martin Williams for BBC Radio 3

EB2

Tuesday 21 December

The Essay: The Meaning Of Ritual

10.45pm-11pm

The writer and journalist Madeleine Bunting explores the decline and re-birth of ritual.

Madeleine Bunting was eight years old when her godmother took her final vows as a nun. After sitting through the interminable church service, the little girl was baffled and confused. She could not see the point of the long and tiresome ritual. However, this was to be the start of her own fascination with such tradition.

This BBC Radio 3 series explores aspects of ritual throughout this week, including public and private Christmas rituals, and asks what the Covid pandemic has taught us about their significance. 

Monday 20 December

In this Essay, Madeleine asks why ritual has been such a pervasive feature of human societies and whether the 21st century may see much of it disappear. Or, she wonders, are we witnessing the creation of new forms of ritual which are both personal and meaningful 

Tuesday 21 December 

The Christian liturgical year marks times of work and rest and punctuates the seasons. But in secular Britain, the writer Madeleine Bunting asks, what rituals have taken its place?

Wednesday 22 December

Rituals such as the State Opening of Parliament and Royal weddings and funerals have survived the decline of ritual in other areas of life relatively unscathed. We take pride in their military precision and the way they showcase the UK to the world.

But, as the writer Madeleine Bunting asks in this Essay, do certain rituals also have a sinister side? In particular, do the annual Remembrance Day commemorations serve as much to assuage guilt and promote forgetting, as to honour the dead?

Thursday 23 December

Rituals marking key life events, such as births and deaths, are probably among the oldest we know. Yet, says the writer Madeleine Bunting, during her own lifetime some of these rituals have changed enormously, becoming far more individualistic than they used to be. Others - in particular, those marking the transition to adulthood such as confirmation or bar mitzvah - are now only observed by a small minority and have not been widely replaced.

Taking in a West African perspective, Madeleine welcomes the demise of certain rituals; yet, she asks, does it mean that communities have also lost something precious?

Friday 24 December

In her final Essay, the writer Madeleine Bunting explores the work of the Korean-born philosopher Byung Chul-Han, who passionately argues that the decline of traditional ritual has potentially disastrous consequences. Ritual, he believes, creates a sense of belonging.

  • Presenter: Madeleine Bunting
  • Producer: Kristine Pommert for CTVC productions

EB2

In Tune Christmas Special

5pm-7pm

Throughout the year, Radio 3’s In Tune programme, presented by Sean Rafferty and Katie Derham, hosts live performance every weekday from some of the world’s finest classical, folk, jazz and world music artists. The In Tune Christmas Special live from the BBC’s Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House is the highlight of the In Tune year.

It’s a Christmas party celebration like no other, where both Sean and Katie are joined by not only some of the show’s greatest performer friends, but also by a live audience of In Tune listeners. Welcoming the festive season with music from across the eras - this is a show not to be missed. 

  • Producer: Jeremy Evans

EB2

Friday 24 December

Words And Music: The Seven Ages Of Christmas

6.15pm - 7.30pm 

Christmas - the most wonderful time of the year, according to the popular song. Whether or not you agree may depend on your age. Taking its cue from Shakespeare's Seven Ages Of Man, Words And Music explores the differing attitudes to Christmas from different age groups - from the baby in a manger to wide-eyed, Santa-obsessed youngsters; blasé teenagers to relationship-stymied 20 and 30 somethings; life-weary parents to grumpy anti-Christmas scrooges.

Readers Nina Sosanya and Robert Webb delve into a Christmas stocking of poetry and prose covering all ages, including Jane Austen's Emma, cash-strapped teenager Adrian Mole, singletons Queenie and Bridget Jones, 11 year-old Anne of Green Gables, eight year-old Kevin, who finds himself unexpectedly Home Alone for Christmas, fastidious planner Delia Smith, T.S. Eliot's Magi, and the ultimate Christmas humbug, Ebenezer Scrooge himself. 

The music ranges from medieval carol lullabies for the Christ child to Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, Simon and Garfunkel, and Mariah Carey.

From the contemplative and spiritual to raucous party fun, whatever your view of Christmas, there will be something that chimes with your festive outlook.

  • Presenters: Nina Sosanya and Robert Webb 
  • Producer: Graham Rogers for BBC Radio 3

EB2

Late Junction Christmas Eve Collaboration Session

11pm-1am

Late Junction invites three artists who have never worked together before to come together at Christmas for an exclusive collaboration session, recorded in person at Maida Vale. Featuring the electronic artist Mira Calix, the Shards choir led by Kieran Brunt and the Guatemalan cellist Mabe Fratti.

Hosted by Verity Sharp.

  • Producer: Katie Callin for Reduced Listening

EB2

Saturday 25 December

Breakfast with Elizabeth Alker

7am–9am

The breakfast team is joined by Elizabeth Alker with an especially festive mix featuring an extended all-Noel Croissant Corner, an unashamedly Francophile Christmas celebration of the great chanson singers such as Charles Trenet, Tino Rossi and Edith Piaf, all in Christmas mode.

Each piece of classical music in this morning’s programme will segue into a popular carol from that country and there will also be a merry mix of folk and unclassified music to set the scene for Christmas day.

  • Presenter: Elizabeth Alker
  • Producer: Paul Frankl for BBC Radio 3

EB2

Christmas Morning Live - with Petroc Trelawny

9am–1pm

Whether celebrating with family or spending the time on your own, Christmas Day gains an extra sparkle with Petroc Trelawny’s special live programme from BBC Broadcasting House.

Petroc has assembled the perfect selection of festive guests, including star pianist Stephen Hough, to brighten and enliven Christmas morning with great music and heartwarming moments.

As well as featuring music that celebrates the Christmas traditions around the globe, Petroc will be playing personal favourites such as Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia On Christmas Carols and Handel’s Messiah, and listeners will be able to message the show to request seasonal music of their choice for their Christmas morning.

In addition, a series of specially commissioned readings from celebrity Christmas diaries give an insight into Christmas’s past and present, and in the best traditions of present giving, there will be a surprise or two.

  • Presenter: Petroc Trelawny
  • Producer: Richard Denison for BBC Radio 3

EB2

Sound Of Cinema Christmas Special: Come Together At Abbey Road 

3pm-4pm

Sound Of Cinema marks the 90th anniversary of one of the most famous of all recording studios, London’s Abbey Road.

Presenters Matthew Sweet and Louise Blain team up for a special programme reflecting Abbey Road’s important and illustrious history of making music for film - and more recently for video games. Together they tour the building, taking a keen interest in the legendary Studio 1, meeting some of the important figures who have shaped soundtrack recordings.

The programme is lavishly illustrated with music from the Abbey Road catalogue. Abbey Road began its venture into film in the early 80s and quickly attracted the likes of Miklós Rózsa, John Williams and Stephen Spielberg, Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner etc. It continues to play a major role in music for international film. One of the first major scores to be recorded there was Raiders Of The Lost Ark, soon followed by the likes of Star Wars, The Last Emperor, RoboCop, Aliens, The Hobbit, Skyfall, The Shape Of Water, and so on. 

Matthew reflects both on those early days, in conversation with those responsible for some of its historic recordings, and on more recent developments.

He joins Hollywood composer James Newton Howard (Hunger Games, Kong Kong, The Dark Knight) who is currently recording his latest score there, and he talks to musicians and technicians about working life at the studios and on Abbey Road’s distinctive acoustic features. Meanwhile, Louise explores its current links with the world of gaming, where titles such as Final Fantasy, and more recently Call Of Duty, have passed through the doors. 

  • Presenters: Matthew Sweet and Louise Blain
  • Producer: Chris Wines for BBC Radio 3

EB2

Saturday 25, Sunday 26, Monday 27, Tuesday 28 December

Four Peaks Sound Walk - Scotland: Ben Nevis (1/4)

Andy Fell and Horatio Clare at Scafell Pike
Andy Fell and Horatio Clare at Scafell Pike

4pm-5pm

A four-part Christmas special based around the Four Peaks, Horatio Clare tackles some of the defining mountains of the British landscape.

Glen Nevis is the starting point as Horatio Clare walks towards the huge rampart of Ben Nevis. With surrounding mountains like sleepers tangled in their bedding of mist, it’s a sweet and gentle start to the climb of Scotland and Britain’s highest mountain.

Hunched and cragged with round heavy shoulders, it is approached on the bridle path - the route used by thousands of hikers every year.

  • Presenter: Horatio Clare 
  • Producer: Jeremy Evans for BBC Radio 3

EB2

Saturday 25 December

Opera on Radio 3: Humperdinck’s Hansel & Gretel

6.30pm-10pm

When Engelbert Humperdinck's sister asked him to write music based on Hansel and Gretel for her children to sing at Christmas, she started her brother on the path to one of the most enduring and best-loved classics of opera.

After its 1893 premiere, Humperdinck's fairy tale opera immediately became a holiday season favourite: in a seamless thread of memorable tunes, the post-Wagnerian score (which never takes itself too seriously) effortlessly evokes the careless joys and dreams of childhood - as well its darkest fears. And, of course, in the end the none-too-frightening forces of evil are triumphantly overcome.

In this archive recording of the acclaimed 2008 Royal Opera House production, a starry cast is headed by Angelika Kirchschlager and Diana Damrau as the siblings at the heart of the Grimm tale, Thomas Allen is their hapless father and, in one of her signature roles, Anja Silja plays the Witch. Strauss and Mahler were among the first conductors to champion Hansel and Gretel and it was a great favourite too of Sir Colin Davis, who was in the pit for this performance.

Presented by Suzy Klein in conversation with John Deathridge, and including contributions from cast and conductor.

Hansel......Angelika Kirchschlager (mezzo-soprano)

Gretel......Diana Damrau (soprano)

Gertrud......Elizabeth Connell (soprano)

Peter......Thomas Allen (baritone)

Witch ......Anja Silja (soprano)

Sandman/Echo......Pumeza Matshikiza (soprano) 

Dew Fairy/Echo......Anita Watson (soprano) 

Tiffin Boys' Choir

Tiffin Children's Chorus

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Colin Davis (conductor)

  • Presenter: Suzy Klein
  • Producer: Emma Bloxham for BBC Radio 3

EB2

New Music Christmas Special

10pm-12am

Tom Service introduces new music of mystical beauty and calm contemplation to round off Christmas Day, including the 3rd String Quartet ('Christmas Quartet') by Peteris Vasks, and the 4th Symphony by Arvo Pärt.

  • Presenter: Tom Service
  • Producer: Philip Tagney for BBC Radio 3 

EB2

Sunday 26 December

Private Passions: Valentina Harris 

12pm-1pm

The cookery writer Valentina Harris tells Michael Berkeley about her romantic childhood in Tuscany and offers her tips for making the most of Christmas leftovers, Italian style.

Over the last 40 years Valentina Harris has done more than anyone else to convince the British public that there is a lot more to Italian food than pizza and spaghetti bolognese. Her television series and her more than 50 books have brought her passion for Italian food, wine and culture to a huge audience.

She tells Michael Berkeley about her romantic childhood in Tuscany, chooses a romantic song by Georgio Gabor for her aristocratic Italian mother, and Stravinsky for her father, who taught her to speak English without a trace of an accent. Valentina also describes her horror of tinned spaghetti on toast when she arrived in England in the 1970s, and shares her tips for using up Christmas leftovers, Italian style.

We hear music from the great gourmet Pavarotti, and a celebration of Italian food by Rossini.

  • Presenter: Michael Berkeley 
  • Producer: Jane Greenwood for Loftus Media

EB2

Early Music Show Christmas Special 

2pm-3pm

Using the words of the favourite 19th Century English carol Good King Wenceslas, Hannah French explores the music, food and traditions of Christmas in Bohemia.

The carol tells the story of the Bohemian king, Saint Wenceslaus I, going on a journey and braving harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Saint Stephen. During the journey, his page is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather, but is enabled to continue by following his master’s footprints, step by step through the deep snow. Saint Stephen’s Day - 26 December - celebrates the saint who is credited with being the first Christian martyr.

Hannah is also joined by food writer and philanthropist Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines MBE to unpack some of the Yuletide traditions still practiced in the Czech Republic. As a child Lady Milena, with the help of Sir Nicholas Winton, escaped Nazi-occupied Prague in 1939 on the last train to leave the city.

Hannah’s other guest is singer and language coach Jarmila Karas, and together they will also explore some of the traditional Czech music associated with Christmas and pieces related to Saint Stephen by Bach, Sheppard, Telemann and Zelenka.

  • Presenter: Hannah French
  • Producer: Les Pratt for BBC Radio 3

EB2

Sunday Feature: Aida At 150

7.15pm-8pm

This year, Verdi’s operatic masterpiece Aida celebrates its 150th anniversary. It’s one of the most famous operas in history - and every year, plays to packed houses across the globe. Yet this quintessentially Italian grand opera in high Romantic style actually made its debut in 1871 at Cairo’s Khedivial Opera House, having been personally commissioned by the Egyptian Khedive, Ismail the Magnificent.

A century and a half after Aida's premiere, historian Flora Willson tells the history of Aida from an Egyptian lens. She untangles how Cairo gave birth to Verdi's operatic masterpiece, how Aida's relationship with the Egyptian psyche has developed over the next century and a half - and how the work continues to influence and affect how the nation and its music are perceived abroad.

Flora explores the story of the Khedivial Opera House, a building constructed at the heart of 19th-century Cairo's theatre district, and talks to experts in Egyptian history and politics to find out how the European genre of opera was a key part of Khedive Ismail's plans for a modern, powerful Egypt - a country that, he declared, was "no longer part of Africa. It is part of Europe".

What the Khedive requested from Verdi, though, was a "purely ancient and Egyptian opera" - and what Verdi composed resulted from his research into "authentic" Egyptian music, architecture and customs. We hear a performance of traditional Zar music - and discuss the complex and difficult question of how European composers, musicians and directors have appropriated Egyptian culture.

Contributors include the rising star of the opera stage, Egyptian soprano Fatma Said - whose acclaimed voice has taken her from Cairo to the hallowed boards of La Scala in Milan.

  • Presenter: Flora Willson
  • Producer: Steven Rajam.for Overcoat Media

EB2

28 and 29 December

Laura Mvula’s Music Room

Laura Mvula
Laura Mvula

10pm-11pm

Singer-songwriter Laura Mvula invites us into her music room to play some of her favourite music that's got her through 2021. We'll hear classical masterpieces from Edward Elgar, William Walton and Samuel Barber, gorgeous gospel from Hezekiah Walker and contemporary jazz from the likes of Theo Crocker and Lucky Daye.

  • Presenter: Laura Mvula
  • Producer: Nick Taylor

Saturday 1 January

Late Junction New Year’s Eve Special 

12am-1am

Radio 3 welcomes in the new year with a special edition of Late Junction. Jennifer Lucy Allen is joined by the electronic artist Gazelle Twin (aka Elizabeth Bernholz) to share their predictions and advice for 2022 through a specially selected playlist.

  • Presenter: Jennifer Lucy Allen
  • Producer: Rebecca Gaskell for Reduced Listening

EB2

New Year’s Day Concert, Live From Vienna

10.15am -1pm

The annual New Year’s Day concert given by the Vienna Philharmonic at the Vienna Musikverein is a moment to remember the past and look forward to the coming year with hope and optimism.

For the first time since the start of the Covid pandemic, the traditional highlight of the Viennese calendar will be performed in front of a live audience in the glittering Musikverein concert hall. But those of us not lucky enough to be there in person can still enjoy the swirling waltzes, rousing marches and uplifting polkas, as Petroc Trelawny introduces the concert live from Vienna.

Led from the podium by conductor Daniel Barenboim in a programme the mixes old favourites and new discoveries which celebrate amongst other things: mythical beasts, exotic locations and unexpectedly… newspapers.

The orchestra say the concert is a New Year’s day greeting to people all over the world in the spirit of hope, friendship and peace.

Broadcast live from the Musikverein, Vienna.

  • Producer: Brian Jackson for BBC Radio 3

EB2

BBC Orchestras and Choirs

Hacker And Dodge
Hacker And Dodge

From an extra-special programme with the BBC Singers and HRH The Prince of Wales, to a soulful Christmas concert with Trevor Nelson and the BBC Concert Orchestra, the BBC Orchestras and Choirs celebrate the festive season with a range of Christmas classics, contemporary carols and much-loved work from some of the world’s greatest composers, past and present.

Friday 3 December

Christmas Tales with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

7.30pm

Live at the Barbican Centre

The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus come together at the Barbican for a festive concert featuring Benjamin Britten’s captivating cantata, recounting St Nicholas’ life from birth to death.

As a child one Christmas Eve, Gerald Finzi climbed a local hill and heard the church bells ring out over his beloved Gloucestershire. This inspired his ‘Christmas Scene’, imagining Christ’s nativity in an idyllically frozen, picture-postcard English countryside setting. It is performed here in its 1956 chamber orchestra arrangement.

From frozen Finland, Jean Sibelius’s Rakastava (The Lover) opens this wintry concert, based on folk stories from Karelia.

Jean Sibelius - Rakastava

Gerald Finzi - In Terra Pax (1956 chamber orchestra version)

Benjamin Britten - Saint Nicolas

BBC Symphony Orchestra 

BBC Symphony Chorus

Sakari Oramo - conductor

Neil Ferris - assistant conductor

Finchley Childrens Music Group - trebles

Ailish Tynan - soprano

Robin Tritschler - tenor

Benson Wilson – baritone

SJ4

Tuesday 7 December

Handel’s Messiah with the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales 

7pm

Live from St David’s Hall, Cardiff 

Conductor John Butt joins the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for Handel’s Messiah. Joining the orchestra to play multiple roles in the story - as angels, friends, souls in purgatory, and even demons - are the BBC National Chorus of Wales, performing for the first time with Principal Conductor, Ryan Bancroft, alongside the RWCMD College Chorus. 

Firmly established as a Christmas tradition for audiences across the globe, Handel’s Messiah is a true celebration of the nativity. 

George Frideric Handel - Messiah, HWV 56

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

John Butt - conductor

Rhian Lois - soprano 

Helen Charlston - mezzo

Hiroshi Amako - tenor

Matthew Brook - bass

BBC National Chorus of Wales

SJ4

Friday 10 December

A Roaring 20s Christmas with the BBC Singers 

7.30pm

Live at Milton Court Concert Hall and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 17 December

Nikolas Kok conducts the BBC Singers and the GSMD Jazz Band in a concert celebrating the roaring 1920s, embodying the spirit of the jazz age.

In this musical party, the BBC Singers explore the irresistible melodies and toe-tapping rhythms of the masters of the dance band - rhythms that brought about new sounds, new dances and a new social order. Among the treasures of the ‘original’ roaring 20s and 30s were songs that would become Christmas classics a few decades later.

Programme to include: 

Debroy Sommers - Savoy Christmas Medley

John Frederick Coots - Santa Clause Is Coming To Town

Walter Donaldson - Because My Baby Don’t Mean ‘Maybe’ Now

Richard Rogers - The Blue Room

Irving Berlin - Cheek To cheek

James Price Johnson - Charleston

Noel Coward - If Love Were All

Nat D. Ayer - If You Were The Only Girl (In The World)

Ray Henderson - If I Had A Talking Picture of You

Cab Calloway, Irving Mills and Clarence Gaskill - Minnie The Moocher

Felix Bernard - Winter Wonderland

Nikolas Kok - conductor

BBC Singers

GSMD Jazz band

SJ4

Sunday 12 December 

Christmas At The Movies with the BBC SSO

3pm

Live at City Halls, Glasgow 

BBC Radio Scotland, Saturday 25 and Friday 31 December 

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra perform their annual burst of big screen magic with Christmas at the Movies at Glasgow’s City Halls, with music from Hollywood’s Golden Age, John Williams blockbusters, Disney favourites, and a few surprises.

Singer and presenter Jamie MacDougall joins the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra for this festive concert. 

Jamie MacDougall - singer and presenter

Roderick Dunk - conductor 

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

SJ4

Carols For Christmas with BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales 

3pm

Live from St David’s Hall, Cardiff

The BBC National Chorus of Wales and their Artistic Director Adrian Partington are joined by BBC NOW Brass for a selection of popular carols, plus readings by BBC Wales presenters.

Adrian Partington - conductor 

BBC National Chorus of Wales

BBC National Orchestra of Wales (Brass)

Organist - Jane Watts

Presenter - Claire Summers

Readers:

Dot Davies

Ian Hunt 

Roy Noble

Eleri Sion

Address & Blessing - Roy Jenkins

SJ4

Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 December 

Christmas Celebrations with BBC National Orchestra of Wales 

7.30pm

Live from St David’s Hall, Cardiff

Elin Llwyd presents a Christmas celebration full of seasonal cheer with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conductor Grant Llewellyn and Caroline Sheen to perform festive favourites for the whole family to sing along to.

BBC National Orchestra of Wales 

Grant Llewellyn - conductor

Elin Llwyd - presenter

Caroline Sheen - singer

Trystan Llŷr Griffiths – tenor

SJ4

Thursday 16 December

Live Afternoon Concert with the BBC Philharmonic

2pm

Live on BBC Radio 3

BBC Philharmonic with conductor Ludovic Morlot and soprano Claire Booth. 

A live Afternoon Concert presented by Tom McKinney featuring seasonal music by contemporary composers.

Dai Fujikura - Ghost Of Christmas 

George Benjamin - A Mind Of Winter

Judith Weir - Winter Song 

Thea Musgrave - Songs for a Winter’s evening

SJ4

Friday 17 December

Christmas Classics with the BBC SSO

7.30pm

Live at The Music Hall, Aberdeen

BBC Radio Scotland, Friday 24 December repeated on Saturday 25 December.

Jamie MacDougall and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra are joined by conductor for Roderick Dunk for their traditional Christmas celebration full of seasonal favourites and Christmas orchestral magic. They perform special performances of magical orchestral classics, and favourite Christmas carols presented by Jamie from the stage of The Music Hall, Aberdeen.

Jamie MacDougall - singer and presenter

Roderick Dunk - conductor

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

SJ4

Wednesday 22 December

Contemporary Christmas Carols

2pm

Live at Temple Church and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

The BBC Singers perform live from Temple Church with a festive afternoon of contemporary Christmas carols, conducted by Owain Park.

Ashley Grote - Lord of the Dance 

John Tavener - Rocking

Richard Allain - Dormi, Jesu!

Matthew Owens - The Holly And The Ivy

Francis Pott - Balulalow

Judith Bingham - Tu Creati Domine

Marcel Dupré - Variations Sur Un Vieux Noël

Jamie W. Hall - Lisa’s Carol

Paul Edwards - No Small Wonder

Errollyn Wallen - Peace On Earth 

Tim Sutton - Quittez, Pasteurs

Hafliði Hallgrímsson - Christ Was Born On Christmas Day 

Michael Nicholas - Twas In The Year That King Uzziah Died

Tobias Frank - Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes

Traditional arr. Stuart Nicholson - I Saw Three Ships

Owain Park - conductor

Ashley Grote - organ

SJ4

Friday 24 December

On Christmas Night with the BBC Singers

7.30pm, BBC Radio 3

To mark the 21st anniversary of the reintroduction of the role of Royal Harpist, HRH The Prince of Wales joins Ian Skelly to introduce a special performance of Benjamin Britten’s popular collection of carols for harp and voices, Ceremony Of Carols.

The sopranos and altos of the BBC Singers are joined by Catrin Finch, who in 2000 was the first holder of the title Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales – a role that had not previously been filled since the reign of Queen Victoria.

Britten: Ceremony Of Carols

Sopranos and Altos of the BBC Singers

Catrin Finch - harp

Grace Rossiter - conductor

SJ4

Friday 24 and Saturday 25 December

The BBC Philharmonic Christmas Concert

Broadcast on local BBC Radio stations across England.

CBBC’s Hacker and Dodge and friends join the BBC Philharmonic for festive fun to be broadcast across all England local radio stations on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

SJ4

BBC Radio 4

a Moomin holding a gas light, standing on floating ice.
Moominland Midwinter. Image Credit: Moomin Characters™

Festive charm and spellbinding stories aplenty are on offer from Radio 4 this December - from Joanna Lumley and Roger Allam in the acclaimed comedy, Conversations From A Long Marriage; to John Finnemore and Samantha Bond in an adaptation of Moominland Midwinter.

A fresh take on Joseph’s story and the first radio adaptation of The Princess Bride also feature. In The Archers resident thespian Lynda Snell leads promenade performances of two Mystery Plays, The Nativity and The Passion. A moving, true story about surviving suicide by writer Thomas Worthington is narrated by actor Stephen Graham.

BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme welcomes seven Guest Editors who will take over the programme during the festive period. Taking over the editorial reins this year are Raheem Sterling, General Sir Nick Carter, Mina Smallman, James Rebanks, Dr Jane Goodall, Jacky Wright and Lord Dobbs.

Glittering guests across the schedule include chef Prue Leith as Desert Island Discs’ latest castaway, and Barry Humphries with Miriam Margolyes and Rob Brydon in With Great Pleasure At Christmas.

The cosiest of chats return in a new series of Sandi Toksvig’s Hygge - her first guest is journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy. The Reunion gets romantic as Richard Curtis and other come together to reflect on the festive hit film, Love Actually. Broadcasters and spouses Clare Balding and Alice Arnold are guests of Fi and Jane in the Fortunately Christmas Special.

LM

 

Available on BBC Sounds from 10 December

Walking On Jupiter, narrated by Stephen Graham

Stephen Graham
Walking On Jupiter - Stephen Graham

Walking On Jupiter is a true story about surviving suicide – narrated by Stephen Graham.

This nine-part podcast series follows Thomas before during and after his deaths. Deaths, is not a mistake. He attempted suicide and died, twice. This is his raw, honest and sometimes tragically funny story of the battle that takes place inside and outside of his own head.

Credits:

Writer - Thomas Worthington

Sound - Munzie Thind @ GCRS

Music - Dan Jeffries courtesy of Wake The Town

Music Supervisor - Dom Bastyra

Executive Producer - Mark Whelan

Producer - Charlotte Worthington

Editor, Proofreader and general rock - Greg Ormrod

Special, special thanks to: Vicki Maguire, Shaun Musgrove, Hannah Walters, Big Margy Wortho, Stevie Rowing-Parker & Different Gravy A.F.C.

  • Producer: Charlotte Worthington for BBC Radio 4

Sunday 19 December

Desert Island Discs

Pru Leith
Pru Leith

11am-11.45am

Lauren Laverne’s castaway is the chef, restaurateur, writer and broadcaster Dame Prue Leith.

Back in 2017 she was contemplating a quieter life, but then everything changed: she accepted the role of judge on The Great British Bake Off, and at the age of 77 she was suddenly a weekly presence in millions of homes, reaching a new generation of fans.

She recalls how she fell in love with food in her early 20s when she was living in Paris, and remembers her early adventures as a caterer, running her business from a bedsit and washing lettuces in the bath. She also reflects on how The Great British Bake Off has changed her life, and offers some timely advice for anyone anxious about their Christmas cooking schedule.

This episode is repeated Friday 24 December at 9am.

And on Boxing Day at 11am (repeated on 31 December at 9am) Lauren’s castaway is the television presenter, producer and writer Richard Osman.

  • Presenter: Lauren Laverne
  • Producer: Paula McGinley for BBC Radio 4

Radio 4 Publicity

Monday 20 December

Joseph And The Three Gifts - An Angel’s Story 

(1/5)

12pm-12.15pm

Anyone who’s heard the story knows the name - Joseph. He’s there, somewhere, in every nativity play; pictures of him and his family drop daily through the letter box every December. For many, Joseph is a character who lives in the margins of the Christmas story. But this re-telling is different. Here, Olivier Award-winning actor Alex Jennings, in the character of a surprisingly witty and guileful angel Gabriel, tells the story from Joseph’s perspective.

In the first episode Nazareth carpenter Joseph, having had an initial dreamlike encounter with Gabriel and receiving some astonishing instructions, has to put up with small town tittle-tattle when his fiancée Mary becomes pregnant. It can’t be so. They ignore the gossip and get married anyway. But Gabriel and co have further plans for them.

Award-winning author Brian Sibley places Joseph firmly in the forefront, as an ordinary man is caught up in extraordinary events.

  • Music by A-Mnemonic
  • Director: Martin Jarvis
  • A Jarvis & Ayres Production for BBC Radio 4

SH2

Tuesday 21 December

The Missing Hancocks

6.30pm-7pm

The Missing Hancocks recreates those episodes of the classic Hancock's Half Hour that have been wiped or lost from the archive.

The first modern sitcom, Hancock's Half Hour made stars of Tony Hancock, Sid James and Kenneth Williams, and launched Ray Galton and Alan Simpson as one of the most successful comedy-writing partnerships in history. But 20 episodes of the show were missing from the BBC archives. Now, after four highly successful series, the final batch of those episodes have been lovingly re-recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC Radio Theatre.

Tonight's episode: When Hancock throws a noisy party, his neighbours - full of the Christmas spirit - take him to court.

Written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, and with the classic score re-recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra, the show stars Kevin McNally, Kevin Eldon, Simon Greenall, Robin Sebastian and Margaret Cabourn-Smith. The Christmas Eve Party was first broadcast on 28 December, 1954.

Written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.

Music recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Levon Parikian.

  • Produced by Neil Pearson and Paul Sheehan
  • A BBC Studios Production for BBC Radio 4

SH2

Wednesday 22 December

Conversations From A Long Marriage At Christmas Again

6.30pm-7pm

Once more, listeners are party to Joanna Lumley and Roger Allam’s Christmas plans, in Jan Etherington’s award winning two-hander comedy, produced by Claire Jones.

The audience joins them as Joanna breathily compliments Roger, "How do you get it so perfect every time?" His reply - "Hot goose fat and regular tossing" - reveals that they are enjoying his signature roast potatoes. They’re spending a quiet Christmas with Peter and Sally, but this snowballs into an extravagant house party when Peter is offered a rich friend’s country pile and invites other couples.

Their recently widowed friend Marian is anticipating her pregnant daughter Rosie’s arrival, but as Rosie cancels and Peter changes the arrangements yet again. Joanna picks up a flyer which offers her and Roger ‘a kind and important Christmas, rather than a glitzy gorgefest’. Can they get back to a Christmas they actually want?

Starring Joanna Lumley and Roger Allam (pictured at the top of the Christmas Press Pack)

Written by Jan Etherington.

  • Production co-ordinator Beverly Tagg
  • Produced and directed by Claire Jones
  • A BBC Studios Production for BBC Radio 4

SH2

Friday 24 December

Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show! 

Count Arthur Strong
Count Arthur Strong

11.30am-12pm

How long will Arthur last in the role of Father Christmas this year? His annual attempt to spread festive cheer in a department store falls short - but will he be a great redeemer in the Christmas Special of the much-loved family sitcom?

Count Arthur Strong returns with his stumblings through life in this 2021 Christmas Special, recorded in front of a live audience at the Exeter Barnfield Theatre. Count Arthur creator Steve Delaney is ably assisted by his radio repertory company - Alastair Kerr, Mel Giedroyc and Terry Kilkelly, with Paul Putner being invited into the cast, along with Dorothy Daws and Alfie Delaney.

  • A Komedia Entertainment Ltd production for BBC Radio 4

Dead Ringers

Dead Ringers cast
Dead Ringers cast

6.15pm-7pm

The BBC is required to cover news from a range of sources, and that includes other universes. Nick Robinson and Martha Kearny look back at the weird and wonderful events that have taken place in other worlds. Who knows what has happened in other universes in 1921?

Perhaps Manflu is a deadly epidemic? Perhaps Britain becomes the 51st state? Or maybe Greta Thunberg opens a coal mine? All will be revealed in this pan-universal episode.

With Jon Culshaw, Lewis Macleod, Jan Ravens, Debra Stephenson and Duncan Wisbey.

  • Producer: Bill Dare
  • Production Coordinator: Sarah Sharpe
  • A BBC Studios Production for Radio 4

SH2

With Great Pleasure at Christmas

9pm-10pm

Barry Humphries is joined at home by his friends Miriam Margolyes and Rob Brydon for some lively conversation as they exchange some of their favourite pieces of poetry and prose, including extracts from Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. A surprise guest interrupts the festive gathering with their very own Christmas magic!

  • Producer: Sarah Blunt for BBC Radio 4

JH

The Reunion: Love Actually

10pm-10.45pm

Kirsty Wark reunites some of the cast and crew of the 2003 Christmas film Love Actually, including director Richard Curtis.

Love Actually was the 2003 Christmas-themed romantic comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis, who also cast his daughter as Lobster Number 2 in the final nativity scene.

It featured a stellar ensemble cast, but also a supporting group of actors who’ve gone on to have highly successful careers in film. With multiple overlapping storylines, the film drew inspiration from Robert Altman’s Short Cuts and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and features numerous memorable scenes and one-liners. The film was a box-office success, grossing $246 million worldwide and receiving a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture (Comedy).

Following Tony Blair's resignation as Prime Minister, pundits and speculators commented on the anti-American shift in Gordon Brown's cabinet as a 'Love Actually moment' - referring to the scene where Hugh Grant's character speaks up against the American President, played by Billy Bob Thornton.

  • Producer: Karen Pirie
  • Series Producer: David Prest for Whistledown productions

Saturday 25 December

Gardeners' Question Time

7am-7.45am

Accompanying you on this festive morning, Kathy Clugston hosts this week's gardening panel show. Bob Flowerdew, Christine Walkden and Matthew Pottage are on hand to answer all your gardening queries.

  • Producer: Hannah Newton
  • Assistant Producer: Bethany Hocken
  • A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4

JH

Moominland Midwinter

11am-12pm

By Tove Jansson.

Adapted by Robin Brooks.

With John Finnemore and Samantha Bond.

Moomintroll wakes in the middle of winter, when the rest of his family are hibernating and Moominvalley is deep in snow. Anxious and alone, he is forced to venture out into a frozen world, where he has to find new friends, cope with new dangers, and learn to live in a new and hostile environment.

Gradually he learns to accept the strange and sometimes frightening conditions in which he finds himself. He survives the Great Cold, and comes to terms with his failure to learn to ski (a useful lesson for listeners of all ages). He makes many mistakes, and when refugees arrive in Moominvalley, fleeing the cold, will he do the right thing - or is it all a bit much?

Cast:

Moomintroll ….. John Finnemore

The Narrator ….. Samantha Bond

Too-ticky ….. Rakie Ayola

Little My ….. Clare Corbett

The Hemulen ….. Richard Goulding

Moominmamma ….. Ann Bryson

Sorry-oo ….. Farshid Rokey

Salome / Snorkmaiden ….. Jasmine Naziah Jones

Squirrel / Fillyjonk / Wolf / Moominpappa ….. David Holt

  • Director / Producer: Fiona McAlpine
  • Sound Design: Lucinda Mason Brown
  • An Allegra Production for BBC Radio 4

SH2

The Princess Bride

The Princes Bride cast
The Princes Bride cast

(1/7)

3.15pm-4.15pm

“This is my favourite book in all the world, though I have never read it.” When William Goldman discovers The Princess Bride by S Morgenstern is not the swashbuckling fantasy his father read him as a child, but is in fact a patchy and extensive historical satire, he sets out to create the 'Good Parts' version...

A tale of true love and high adventure featuring a fighting giant that loves to rhyme, a swordsman on the ultimate quest for revenge, a pirate in love with a princess, a princess in love with a farm boy and a prince in love with war.

First a novel, then a film, now an audio experience: The Best Bits Of The Good Parts Version by Stephen Keyworth.

A two-part dramatisation of swashbuckling adventure, plus five bitesize backstories which can be enjoyed as stand-alone stories or to enhance the experience of the drama.

The Dramatisation: Part One

Buttercup is the most beautiful woman in the world and she’s in love with a farm boy who is about to become the most notorious man in the world...

Cast:

Buttercup … Ruby Barker 

Fezzik … Tyler Collins

Inigo… Emun Elliott

Vizzini… Maryam Hamidi

Count Rugen … Robin Laing

Goldman Snr / Father / Roberts …Crawford Logan

Westley … Lorn Macdonald

Prince Humperdinck / William Goldman…Grant O’Rourke

Countess …Rosalind Sydney

  • Directed by Kirsty Williams for BBC Radio 4

SH2

Fortunately with Fi & Jane - Christmas Special

5pm-6pm

In a special Christmas Day edition of the podcast, Fi Glover and Jane Garvey are joined by broadcasters and spouses Clare Balding and Alice Arnold. The two of them share a festive conversational meander, covering thoughts on their careers so far, a glimpse of Christmas in their household and reflections on the year gone by.

  • Presenters: Jane Garvey and Fi Glover
  • Producer: Sam Peach for BBC Radio 4

JH

Uncanny

A deserted house in the country
Uncanny - Christmas Special

11.30pm-12am

On BBC Sounds from Wednesday 22 December

Case 10: Don’t Sleep In This House.

Christmas 1974, and two young climbers stumble across an abandoned house in the Scottish mountains. It’s a bothy - a safe shelter for hunters and climbers out in the wilds of the highlands, but Phil and Jimmy are about to experience the most terrifying night of their lives, alone in the middle of nowhere.

Is a violent spirit determined to drive them out into the freezing night? Years later, Phil tells Danny Robins his story and about how he researched the house, discovering others had had similar experiences there. What's going on? Danny investigates.

  • Written and presented by Danny Robins
  • Producer: Simon Barnard
  • A Bafflegab Production for BBC Radio 4

SH2

You’re Dead To Me: Medieval Christmas

You re Dead To Me Christmas Yule

On BBC Sounds from Friday 17 December

In this special episode, Greg Jenner and his guests discover why the Christmas period was much longer in medieval Europe. They also discuss the food and drink people enjoyed (no Christmas turkey yet!), the origins of the famous Nativity scene, why Christmas plays and carols were surprisingly rowdy, and how anointing children as temporary bishops could occasionally backfire...

  • Producer: Cornelius Mendez
  • A production by The Athletic for BBC Radio 4

EO

Sunday 26 December

The Ambridge Mystery Plays

Carole Boyd as Lynda Snell
The Ambridge Mystery Plays: Carole Boyd as Lynda Snell

(1/2)

3pm-4pm

The Nativity

Queen of Ambridge amateur theatricals Lynda Snell takes charge of this brand new adaptation of the Mediaeval dramas. Join the cast of The Archers in a unique promenade production around Ambridge, telling the Christmas story with warmth, humour and festive cheer.

Cast:

First Angel / Messenger …. Sunny Ormonde

Second Angel / third Shepherd / 3rd King…. Katie Redford

God / Simeon …. Carole Boyd

Isaiah / Herod …. Timothy Bentinck

Mary …. Molly Pipe

Joseph …. Nick Barber

First Shepherd / Second King …. Ryan Kelly

Second Shepherd / Second Soldier …. Trevor Harrison

First King / First Soldier … Charlotte Martin

Other parts played by members of the company.

The second of The Ambridge Mystery Plays, The Passion, follows on Sunday 2 January at 3pm.

  • Adapted by Nick Warburton
  • Executive Editor: Jeremy Howe
  • Technical Producers: Andy Partington and Vanessa Nuttall
  • Production Coordinators: Sally Lloyd and Andrew Smith
  • Director: Kim Greengrass for BBC Radio 4

SH2

Radio 4 Today Guest Editors

Monday 27 December - Monday 3 January (no programme on Sunday)

Monday to Friday 6am-9am; 7am-9am Saturday

  • Raheem Sterling: England and Manchester City professional footballer
  • General Sir Nick Carter: Outgoing Chief of Defence Staff
  • Mina Smallman: former Secondary School Principal and Church of England archdeacon, Mother of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry
  • James Rebanks: Cumbrian farmer and bestselling author
  • Dr Jane Goodall: Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace
  • Jacky Wright: Chief Digital Officer and Corporate Vice President at Microsoft US
  • Lord Dobbs – Conservative peer and author of House Of Cards

Details of England and Manchester City footballer, Raheem Sterling’s, programme will be announced in the coming weeks. Sir Nick’s programme will ask how one moves on from such a huge career role, and include reports on Afghanistan and alternative ways to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among ex-service personnel.

Mina Smallman will highlight the role of chaplaincy in times of need, examine support for victims of crime and look at the Reclaim These Streets movement. James Rebanks will work with the Today team to look at the role urban farms can play in creating healthier communities and Dr Jane Goodall will use her programme to look at the links between poverty and climate change, discuss the interaction of science and faith, and our search for hope.

Jacky Wright will look at whether we are teaching the right skills for the jobs of the future, and finally, Lord Dobbs wants listeners of Today to learn more about how to beat prostate cancer. Lord Dobbs was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year. It has devastated his family, having killed his father and brother, but his own disease was caught early. His programme will also include a reappraisal of the Christmas story from the perspective of Joseph.

They will guest edit the Radio 4 Today Programme between Monday 27 to Monday 3 January. Each programme will include an interview with the guest editor themselves. Each editor will have the support of Today producers and reporters to bring their ideas to air and to make sure they adhere to BBC Editorial guidelines. The Today programme has welcomed a variety of Guest Editors over the years, including Prince Harry, Greta Thunberg, David Hockney, Angelina Jolie, Lord Mervyn King, Baroness Trumpington, Benjamin Zephaniah, Melinda Gates, George the Poet and Professor Stephen Hawking.

Owenna Griffiths, Editor of the Today Programme, says: “Each year on Today the guest editors bring novel ideas, surprising perspectives and, on occasion, a little sparkle to the programme. This year is no exception and I’m absolutely thrilled these guest editors have agreed to spend some time with us to help illuminate and make sense of the world we live in."

Sandi Toksvig's Hygge

(1/5)

6.15pm-6.45pm

Joining Sandi Toksvig in her cosy log cabin today is Channel 4 news anchor and reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy. Over a mug of warm spiced wine they explore the concept of Hygge and talk about Australian Christmasses, escaping the news, playing music and discussing who he likes to wake up with every morning.

Starring: Sandi Toksvig

Guest: Krishnan Guru-Murthy

Additional material...Rajiv Karia and Tasha Dhanraj

Sandy’s guests later in the series are Lyse Doucett, Gina Miller, David Blunkett and Andy Hamilton.

  • Producer: Julia McKenzie
  • Production coordinator: Katie Baum
  • A BBC Studios Production for BBC Radio 4

SH2

Tuesday 28 December

By Your Side

8pm-8.40pm

When Anita Anand took a call from a former military officer, she had no idea how the story would develop. His interpreter was trying to escape Afghanistan and he was hunted by the Taliban. This documentary follows what happened next in this dramatic story. It reflects the confusion, fear and desperation experienced by those trapped in Afghanistan.

Through the bond between the interpreter Naqeeb and the British soldiers he worked with, we chart the efforts to get Naqeeb and his family to safety. The story takes unexpected twists as events develop, and throughout it all, Anita is at the end of the phone documenting what’s happening - and with Radio 4 listeners playing a crucial role.

  • Presenter: Anita Anand
  • Producer: Sue Mitchell for BBC Radio 4

JH

Friday 31 December

SteelHeads

Joleen Kenzie (Jessica Barden)
Joleen Kenzie (Jessica Barden)

(1/5)

2.15pm-2.45pm and available in full as a box on BBC Sounds

When a young British tennis pro, Joleen Kenzie (Jessica Barden), is diagnosed with a rare terminal illness, she has herself cryogenically frozen at an experimental lab in Seattle, in the hope that one day - perhaps hundreds of years into the future - there will be a cure and she can be revived.

She awakes to find a world in chaos...

From the creators of The Cipher and Passenger List, a chilling new medical thriller inspired by true events.

Starring Jessica Barden (End of the F***ing World), SteelHeads is an audio fiction that captures the absurdity and vulnerability of the world today, of this unique moment in history. It’s Blade Runner meets Never Let Me Go.

Co-creator/Writer Brett Neichin is the author the fiction podcast for BBC Sounds, The Cipher.

Co-creator/Writer/Director: John Scott Dryden is the creator and director of the fiction podcast Passenger List starring Kelly Marie Tran, and the historical epic drama Tumanbay. He is also executive producer and director of The Cipher.

SteelHeads is the latest title in the Limelight strand of dramas from Radio 4.

Cast:

Joleen ….. Jessica Barden

Remi ….. Khalid Laith

Kit ….. Symera Jackson

Luther ….. Bruce Lester Johnson

Izzy ….. Lizzie Stables

Lucinda/Esme ….. Annabelle Dowler

Wayne ….. Daniel Ryan

Padma ….. Jennifer Armour

Earl ….. Kerry Shale

Oscar/Jamar ….. Jason Forbes

Richard ….. Eric Meyers

Andrei ….. Andrew Byron

Summer ….. Gianna Kiehl

Dre ….. Earl R Perkins

Sue ….. Laurel Lefkow

Greg ….. Christopher Ragland 

Stolya ….. Yanina Hope

Written & Created by Brett Neichin and John Scott Dryden.

Script Editing by Mike Walker

Sound Design by Steve Bond

Sound Editor, Adam Woodhams

Assistant Producer, Eleanor Mein

Additional casting by Janet Foster

Trails by Jack Soper

  • Produced by Emma Hearn
  • Director and Executive Producer, John Scott Dryden
  • A Goldhawk production for BBC Radio 4

SH2

Radio 4 Extra

An illustration of a frosty tree under a moon.
Image Credit: Getty

Sunday 19 December

Classic Stories - A Christmas Carol

1pm-4.30pm

A full-length reading of the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge, his ghostly visitations and festive redemption. Read by Sean Baker.

Radio 4 Extra Publicity

 

Tuesday 21 December

The Forum - Moomin Creator Tove Jansson

11am-11.40am

To complement Moominland Midwinter on Radio 4, Radio 4 Extra presents a collection of programmes about Scandinavian children's literature focussing on the author Tove Jansson.

This begins with The Forum: Moomin Creator Tove Jansson, the life and work of Finnish–Swedish author and illustrator of the Moomins. Further Scandinavian delights will include Letters From Tove and What the Scandinavians Know About Children's Literature

Radio 4 Extra Publicity

Sunday 26 December

The Snow Queen

Gingerbread houses and Christmas trees
Radio 4 Extra Christmas - Childrens

4pm-5pm

The Snow Queen is the centrepiece in Radio 4 Extra’s collection: Wonder… at Christmas on BBC Radio 4 Extra. A sparkling, vintage production of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, starring Diana Rigg and narrated by Dirk Bogarde.

There’s a double helping of Neil Gaiman, with his Norse Mythology luring us into a world of gods and monsters, and a dark adventure in the magical land of faerie, in Stardust.

From the imagination of John Masefield comes The Midnight Folk, a breathtaking quest to find a boy’s long-lost family treasure. And the storyteller Andri Snær Magnason enchants us with terrifying tales harking back to a pre-Christian era, in Iceland’s Dark Lullabies.

Radio 4 Extra Publicity

BBC Radio 5 Live

Colin Murray
Colin Murray

This Christmas, as well as keeping listeners up to date with the latest news, BBC Radio 5 Live combines big name specials with a huge festive schedule of live sport. The likes of Stacey Dooley, Scott Mills and Elis James & John Robins all present shows, while listeners can look forward to over 24 hours of sport from 11pm on Christmas Day.

Saturday 25 December

5 Live Breakfast with Colin Murray

7am-9am

Hosting his annual festive edition of 5 Live Breakfast, Colin Murray will set up your Christmas Day with special guests, plus the day’s news and sport headlines.

  • Presenter: Colin Murray 
  • Producer: Catherine Norman for BBC 5 Live News production

JH4

Stacey Dooley Christmas Special

Stacey Dooley
Stacey Dooley

9am-11am

Stacey Dooley presents a Christmas Special where she’s joined by friends and special guests as they celebrate Christmas Day together on 5 Live. 

  • Presenter: Stacey Dooley
  • Producer: Francesca Bent for Little Dooley

JH4

Elis James and John Robins

11am-12pm

Elis and John present an hour of laughs, as Elis pops round to John's house for some top quality #Christmas #Content

  • Presenter: Elis James and John Robins 
  • Producer: Dave Masterman for Audio Always

JH4

Scott Mills

1pm-3pm

Scott Mills’ Christmas Special will feature a festive Upside Down Quiz, special guests, laughs and plenty of other surprises.

  • Presenter: Scott Mills
  • Producer: Emlyn Dodd for Banana Stand

JH4

5 Live News with The Queen’s Christmas Message

3pm-3.30pm

5 Live News, including the Queen’s Christmas message.

  • Presenter: TBC
  • Producer: A BBC 5 Live News production

JH4

Laura Whitmore

4pm-6pm

5 Live airs some of Laura Whitmore’s best Under The Spotlight interviews from this past year.

  • Presenter: Laura Whitmore 
  • Producer: Francesca Bent for TBI Media

JH4

The Ashes

11pm-7am

Live coverage of The Ashes in Australia.

Full, live and uninterrupted commentary of all the Ashes Test matches are on 5 Live Sports Extra.

  • Presenter: The Test Match Special team
  • Producer: Lou Sutton for BBC 5 Live Sport production

JH4

Saturday 26 December

5 Live Breakfast with Eleanor Oldroyd

7am-9am

5 Live Breakfast with Eleanor Oldroyd kicks off a Boxing Day filled with sport.

  • Presenter: Eleanor Oldroyd
  • Producer: Catherine Norman for BBC 5 Live News production

JH4

5 Live Sport

12pm-3pm

Football build-up and live updates from the early kick-offs.

  • Presenter: TBC 
  • Producer: Lou Sutton for BBC 5 Live Sport production 

JH4

5 Live Sport: Live Premier League Football

3pm-5pm

Live coverage of a 3pm Premier League game, with updates from around the grounds. 

  • Presenter: TBC
  • Producer: Lou Sutton for BBC 5 Live Sport production

JH4

606

6pm-8pm

Listener calls with Robbie Savage and Chris Sutton.

  • Presenter: Robbie Savage and Chris Sutton
  • Producer: Lou Sutton for BBC 5 Live sport production

JH4

The Ashes

11pm-7am

Live coverage of The Ashes in Australia. 

Full, live and uninterrupted commentary of all the Ashes Test matches are on 5 Live Sports Extra.

  • Presenter: The Test Match Special team
  • Producer: Lou Sutton for BBC 5 Live sport production

JH4

Teach Me A Lesson with Greg James and Bella Mackie

Greg James and Bella Mackie
Greg James and Bella Mackie

Only on BBC Sounds - from Wednesday 22 December

Ed Sheeran pops round to Greg and Bella's to talk about his school days (and maybe shake some sleigh bells) for a very special festive edition of Break Time.

In this BBC Sounds exclusive episode - recorded in Greg and Bella's spare room - one of the biggest pop stars on the planet will answer listeners' emails, share his memories of school Christmas concerts and reminisce about his favourite teachers. 

Greg and Bella will also hear more of your crazy stories from school, and share more of those bonkers urban myths.

  • Producer: Heather Davies
  • A Banana Stand production for BBC 5 Live and BBC Sounds

AM2

Tony Bellew Is Angry 

Tony Bellew is angry - artwork

On BBC Sounds from Tuesday 14 December

Tony Bellew gets together with comedian and good mate Romesh Ranganathan to find out what winds him up at Christmas in this special festive episode of his podcast, Tony Bellew Is Angry.

Think of it as therapy, with laughs. After all, who doesn’t lose it at least once this time every year?

  • Producer: Mike Holt
  • An Orion Publishing Group production for BBC 5 Live and BBC Sounds

EO

You're Not My Mum: The Stepmum's Side

On BBC Sounds from Thursday 16 December

You’re Not My Mum looks at the minefield that is Christmas. We’ll hear from stepmums about their experiences of everything from navigating the school nativity play with grandparents and step-grandparents, to who’s buying what for whom without treading on the ex’s toes.

There will be advice on how stepmums can get mentally fit for Christmas and also take a step back from the things they can’t control.

With input from listeners on their Christmas successes, and the times when they’ve had to reach for the fizz at 11am...

  • Producer: Uma Doraiswamy
  • A BBC 5 Live News production for BBC Sounds

JH

BBC Radio 6 Music

Kelis, Arlo Parks, Robert Plant, Robert Glasper & Common, Jarvis Cocker
Kelis, Arlo Parks, Robert Plant, Robert Glasper & Common, Jarvis Cocker

BBC Radio 6 Music welcomes Kelis, Arlo Parks, Robert Plant, Common & Robert Glasper and Jarvis Cocker to each present a Festive Takeover show, in the week leading up to Christmas.

Queermas returns on Christmas Eve, with artists Lynks, HE.SHE.THEY. and Sherelle starting the weekend’s festivities right with three hours of party tunes. Plus 6 Music rounds up the best tracks released in 2021 on New Year’s Eve with Best Of… New Music Fix.

Saturday 18 December

Radcliffe and Maconie

Johnny Marr on stage
Johnny Marr

8am-10am

Marr-y Christmas! Mark and Stuart warm up for the festive season and welcome guitar legend Johnny Marr to the show to discuss his latest music.

With four songs just released on his new EP, Fever Dreams Pt 2, Johnny discusses his forthcoming double album, Fever Dreams Pts 1-4 - which is released in February 2022. It will be his first solo studio album since 2018’s Call The Comet.

As well as enjoying a successful solo career, Johnny is well known for his collaborations and work with other bands. He was a founding member of influential Manchester indie outfit The Smiths and an integral part of their distinctive sound. Since The Smiths split in 1987, Johnny has brought his infamous guitar style to a host of bands, playing with the likes of The The, Modest Mouse and The Cribs.

He also recently worked with Hans Zimmer and Billie Eilish on the score and theme song for the latest Bond movie, No Time To Die. Johnny talks to Mark and Stuart about the making of his new album and his plans for 2022, including a tour with Blondie.

Plus, Mark and Stuart bring listeners lots of festive cheer and chat, with Christmas tunes from artists including Stevie Wonder, Teenage Fanclub and The Ronettes.

  • Presenters: Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie
  • Producer: Lorna Skingley for 7digital

Monday 20 December

6 Music’s Festive Takeover - Kelis

Kelis
Kelis

10.30am-1pm

American singer, songwriter and chef Kelis plays some of her favourite tracks, both old and new. Expect music by The Weeknd, SZA, Quincy Jones and Minnie Riperton.

The final 30 minutes of the show is a dedicated party playlist - getting listeners warmed up for the weekend, however they choose to spend it.

Kelis released her debut album Kaleidoscope in 1999, which went gold in the UK. Her hit song Milkshake, which appeared on her 2003 album Tasty, was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2004. Her 2006 album, Kelis Was Here, was also nominated for a Grammy Award in 2007.

Kelis is also a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, which she attended between 2006 and 2010. She performed at the 6 Music Festival in Manchester in 2014. Her latest single Midnight Snacks was released in 2021.

  • Presenter: Kelis
  • Producer: Helen Hobday for BBC Audio

Available on BBC Sounds from Tuesday 21 December

Building Queertopia

Merry Queermas! Shane and Chelcee are joined by special guests as they celebrate Queermas in Queertopia. Who are we inviting over to celebrate? What’s the dress code? What traditional ‘Queermas’ music will be played in Queertopia? And how do we make this Queermas the most inclusive ever?

  • Assistant Producer: Tatum Swithenbank
  • Producer: Gráinne Morrison for BBC Sounds

EO

Tuesday 21 December

6 Music’s Festive Takeover - Arlo Parks

Arlo Parks
Arlo Parks

10.30am-1pm

Mercury Music Prize 2021 winner Arlo Parks takes over the 6 Music airwaves this morning. She plays a selection of her favourite new musical discoveries, some familiar favourites and the odd festive treat - including tracks by Yo La Tengo, Beach house and MF DOOM.

Arlo Parks says: “What’s so cool about getting to take over 6 Music is that it’s a radio station I grew up listening to. I enjoy being a little bit of a curator, because in my day to day life I’m always making playlists.

"The beautiful thing about music is that it soundtracks moments, it lifts you up and it reminds you of things - there’s this nostalgia to it. There’s also an excitement surrounding it, so it’s lovely to be able to give you guys an insight into my world of music and my year in music.” 

The final 30 minutes of the show is a dedicated 80s office party playlist, featuring classics of the era including tracks from Prince, David Bowie and Tina Turner.

Arlo Parks is a British singer-songwriter and poet from West London. She released her debut EP in April 2019 and was longlisted as a breakthrough act in the annual poll of music critics, BBC Sound Of, in 2020. Her debut studio album, Collapsed In Sunbeams, was released in 2021 to critical claim, peaking at Number Three on the UK Albums Chart. As well as winning her the Mercury Music Prize in September this year, the album was also nominated for Album of the Year at the 2021 Brit Awards. She also received Brit Award nomination for Best New Artist and Best British Female Solo Artist this year.

  • Presenter: Arlo Parks
  • Producer: Helen Hobday for BBC Audio

Wednesday 22 December

6 Music’s Festive Takeover - Robert Plant

Robert Plant
Robert Plant

10.30am-1pm

Former lead singer of Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant, presents his festive takeover. 

Robert is one of the greatest front men in rock and roll history. Alongside Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page, John Bonham and John Paul Jones, he is the genius behind such iconic songs as Whole Lotta Love, Stairway To Heaven and Black Dog.

Led Zeppelin sold over 300 million album worldwide, and have won multiple awards - including Grammy and Ivor Novello awards. Following Zeppelin’s demise, Robert has worked with a kaleidoscope of musicians across the globe, from Mali to Mississippi and most recently released his second collaborative album with bluegrass legend Alison Krauss, called Raise The Roof. The record comes 14 years after their award-winning debut, Raising Sand.

Today, Robert takes over the 6 Music decks to put listeners in the party mood with his own personal selection of tracks.

  • Presenter: Robert Plant
  • Producer: Adam Dineen for BBC Audio

Thursday 23 December

6 Music’s Festive Takeover - Common & Robert Glasper

Common and Robert Glasper
Common and Robert Glasper

10.30am-1pm

Hip hop icon Common and jazz superstar Robert Glasper, who are close friends, join forces on 6 Music for their festive takeover. They’ll share highlights from their record collections, including tracks they’ve enjoyed recently as well as some of their older favourites.

Common is a Grammy, Academy and Golden Globe Award-winning American rapper and actor. He released his first album, Can I Borrow A Dollar, in 1992, and his subsequent, acclaimed albums include Like Water For Chocolate, Electric Circus and Be. He is also known for his acting roles in films including Just Wright, The Odd Life Of Timothy Green and Selma. His latest album, A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2, was released in September this year.

Robert Glasper - who has also won multiple Grammy Awards - is an American pianist, songwriter and producer. He is known for his albums including Canvas, In My Element and Black Radio and Black Radio 2. He performed at the 6 Music Festival in Camden in 2020.

Common and Robert Glasper collaborated together on the theme song for Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices – a TV series which saw Black celebrities and artists reading children’s books from Black authors.

  • Presenters: Common and Robert Glasper
  • Producer: Helen Hobday for BBC Audio

Friday 24 December

6 Music’s Festive Takeover - Jarvis Cocker

Jarvis Cocker
Jarvis Cocker

10.30am-1pm 

Jarvis Cocker makes a welcome return to 6 Music to present his Festive Takeover. He’ll be rifling through the record racks and dusting off some of his favourite curiosities to get listeners in the party spirit this Christmas Eve. Whether your panettone, pandoro, pudding or pie (of the mince kind), there’s room at the table for all with Cocker’s Christmas Cracker.

Singer, songwriter, musician Jarvis Cocker is best known as the frontman of the rock band Pulp, who rose to prominence in the mid-1990s. Pulp, whose hit singles include Common People and Disco 2000, won and were nominated for numerous awards, including Ivor Novello and Brit Awards, as well as the Mercury Prize - which they won in 1996 for their album Different Class.

Jarvis has recently released his album Chansons d’Ennui Tip-Top - a companion piece to Wes Anderson’s film The French Dispatch. He also has his unique take on a memoir scheduled for 2022, titled Good Pop Bad Pop.

Jarvis presented Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service on 6 Music between 2010 and 2017.

  • Presenter: Jarvis Cocker
  • Producer: Adam Dineen for BBC Audio

Queermas - Lynks

Lynks
Lynks

9pm-10pm

Themed meal deal sandwiches aside, Lynks generally hates Christmas. But they are determined to put this aside and bring an hour of reluctant festive hedonism to the 6 Music Queermas party.

Lynks is a South London based electro-punk provocateur, notable for their Leigh Bowery-esque masks and extravagant live show. They recently covered Lauren Laverne’s New Music Fix show here on 6 Music.

Tonight, Lynks will be transporting listeners away from the relentless drudgery of ‘Christmas cheer’ into the thoroughly untraditional world of Lynksmas. Expect queer bangers, elastic basslines and probably a sleigh bell or two in this exclusive festive mix.

  • Presenter: Lynks
  • Producer: Adam Hudson for BBC Audio

Queermas - HE.SHE.THEY.

HE.SHE.THEY.
HE.SHE.THEY.

10pm-11pm

The globe-trotting, inclusive rave HE.SHE.THEY. continue the 6 Music Queermas party, soundtracking listeners’ yuletide tonight.

HE.SHE.THEY., co-founded by Sophia Kearney and Steven Braines, is a record label, fashion house and inclusive party for everyone, specialising in house and techno. From DJs to performers, HE.SHE.THEY. are about giving a platform to those who push boundaries - and encouraging their partygoers to do the same.

The collective have held parties all over the world, including in London, Paris, New York, Ibiza, Berlin, LA, Mumbai and Oslo. Their roster of performing artists has included Maya Jane Coles, Honey Dijon, Ellen Allien and more.

Tonight, HE.SHE.THEY. supremo Sophia will be bringing listeners an hour of bangers, joined by Steven Braines’ auntie - Sandra of Drag Hag TV fame.

  • Presenter: HE.SHE.THEY.
  • Producer: Adam Hudson for BBC Audio

Queermas - Sherelle

Sherelle
Sherelle

11pm-12am

Just when it seemed Queermas couldn’t get any bigger, Sherelle takes to the decks to soundtrack listeners through to Christmas day itself.

The London-born artist is a leading light in the new generation of DJs, bringing her unique take on higher BPM dance music to ever increasing audiences.

Since she exploded onto the wider scene with her 2019 Boiler Room set, Sherelle’s ferocious fusion of jungle and footwork has seen her play on both sides of the Atlantic and hold a residency on Radio 1.

Sherelle says: “The show will be the much needed pick-me-up to get all the last bits of seasonal holidays done. It will feature a really nice mix of the most merry of basslines to get you into the groove.”

  • Presenter: Sherelle
  • Producer: Adam Hudson for BBC Audio

Friday 31st December

Best of… New Music Fix

12am-5am

6 Music looks back at the best music, which was released in 2021. Best Of… New Music Fix will be packed with this year’s stand-out tracks, so tune in, sit back and reflect on yet another year of outstanding music.

A selection of the tracks from each programme will feature in a Best of… New Music Fix playlist, which will be broadcast from 4am-5am and then available on BBC Sounds.

New Music Fix is broadcast each Friday (12am-5am) on 6 Music and sees Steve Lamacq, Lauren Laverne, Mary Anne Hobbs and Tom Ravenscroft bring listeners their top new music recommendations for the week.

  • Producer: Dom Tyerman for Somethin’ Else

BBC Radio World Service English

BBC World Service English has an array of festive treats in store for listeners this year, from a behind the scenes look at Sir Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!, to a special edition of Heart and Soul with Italian Tenor Andrea Bocelli.

There will be the yearly Correspondents’ Look Ahead, and returning favourite The Arts Hour New Year Comedy Special, featuring numerous international comedians, as well as the World Service New Year’s Day Concert from the BBC’s iconic Maida Vale studios in London.

Also to come is a special edition of The Cultural Frontline, featuring leading names from film, music and fashion talking about gifts of art they have received and how those gifts have changed their lives.

The Forum looks at the Antarctic Treaty and discusses protecting the icy continent, and there is a documentary about the ‘Travelling Telescope’ - a gathering place set up for people to observe the wonders of the night sky.

World Service will also broadcast A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols with the world-renowned chapel choir from King’s College, Cambridge.

Saturday 18 December

Parcels of Care

Three siblings in a bombed out building with care parcels
The Weekend Documentary: Parcels of Care

12pm-1pm GMT

Seventy five years ago, when aching hunger dominated people’s lives in post-war Europe, a food parcel seemed like a miracle. Particularly when it had come all the way across the Atlantic from the United States. And there’s one type of parcel that changed people’s lives across continents: The C.A.R.E. parcel.

In 1945, the American relief organisation C.A.R.E. set out to ease the suffering of starving Europeans after the Second World War. It developed into an extraordinary relief programme with a unique concept: a person-to-person approach where American individuals could name a recipient.

Surprisingly Germany, the former enemy, was also blessed with this kindness. American journalist Susan Stone finds out why and the legacy it left.

Travelling back in time, she unpacks the parcels’ past: the friendships they sparked, the nations they shaped and the acts of charity they inspired.

She also looks beyond the image of America as a benevolent country and discovers how the (seemingly innocent and well-meant) food parcels were drawn into the complexities of the Cold War. As we will hear, even young girls played their part within global politics - or could be affected by it, such as Cynthia in America and Maria in Poland, whose friendship developed through C.A.R.E. parcels.

Susan reveals why C.A.R.E. parcels are still remembered today, what made the organisation so successful and hears the story behind a tin of lard unopened for 60 years after it had been shipped to Europe.

Voiceovers by: Thomas Baecker, Neil McCaul and Christine Kavanagher.

  • Presenter: Susan Stone.
  • Producer: Sabine Schereck for BBC World Service Production

ES

Sunday 19 December

Heart and Soul: Travelling Telescope

Maasai with telescope at night, and elephants
Travelling Telescope: Maasai and elephants. Image Credit: Daniel Chu Owen

1030-1100 GMT

Most people will never look through a telescope. When Chu Owen met Kenya’s official astronomer Susan Murabana during a solar eclipse, they pledged to change that. In this Heart And Soul, we hear how their falling in love gave birth to the Travelling Telescope - a gathering place for people to look through a telescope and observe the wonders of the night sky.

Now, as they make tentative steps to travel once again following the pandemic, they observe how gathering around the telescope offers an opportunity to express feelings of grief, of hope, of finding solace for earthly problems in the vastness of the universe. "This year has deepened my belief in the power of astronomy as a mental discipline, as a way of thinking, feeling and clarifying in a world where there has been crisis," says Susan.

We meet the Kenyan singer Silayio, who has long-wanted to look through the telescope. She describes how she discovered astronomy following a friend’s suicide, which led her to question her Christian faith and go in search of a new system of belief. "I believe that astronomers are the prophets of our time," she says.

Susan describes her own journey as a Kenyan woman passionate about science and astronomy. “Astronomy has always given a profound other dimension to my life in spite of the resistance I’ve met. My faith in the cosmos has always been bigger than those feelings of rejection I’ve encountered."

What unites all those who we meet around the telescope is a feeling of awe and wonder. But there’s something more, says Chu, "Being able to trace those familiar constellations, name them, it offers comfort."

  • Producer: Sarah Cuddon for Falling Tree productions

ES

Tuesday 21 December

In The Studio: Nutcracker! Choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne

11.30am-12pm GMT

We follow the internationally celebrated choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne as he reimagines his popular work Nutcracker! for Autumn 2021.

Taking Tchaikovsky’s ballet, and in a set heavily influenced by the lavish Hollywood musicals of the 1930s, Sir Matthew Bourne’s production is a spectacle as it journeys between Dr. Dross’ drab orphanage, through a shimmering, ice-skating winter wonderland and into the mouth-watering Sweetieland full of dancing sugar-coated goodies.

Complete with newly refreshed delectable sets and costumes, combined with sparkling new choreography, Luke Whitlock explores with Bourne how this reinvention comes about.

From preparations way ahead of the opening night of the tour, to then heading to London to light up the Christmas Season, the creative process for Bourne doesn’t stop.

  • Presenter and producer: Luke Whitlock for BBC World Service Production

ES

Thursday 23 December

The Forum: Antarctic Treaty: Protecting The Icy Continent

Two penguins on a snowy ascent
The Forum: The Icy Continent

10am-10.50am GMT

It’s widely regarded as the most successful treaty in the world, and it was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War. The Antarctic Treaty, which came into force in 1961, protects what is one of the most unspoilt places on earth, from mining, from military activity and allows only scientific exploration and peaceful pursuits.

It was thanks to the treaty and research carried out in Antarctica that scientists identified a hole in the ozone layer in the 1980s, but it’s been most powerful as a symbol of what can be achieved to create peace between nations and give wilderness protection.

So what has made this treaty so effective, and can it still hold up today in a world which is hungry for minerals - and where an increasing number of states are seeking to project their technological and scientific prowess in Antarctica?

Joining Bridget Kendall is Birgit Njaastad, the Chair of the Committee for the Environmental protection of the Antarctic, and for more than 25 years a Norwegian Polar institute environmental expert; Professor Alan Hemmings, a specialist on the geopolitics of the Antarctic from the University of Canterbury New Zealand, and Dr Jessica O’Reilly, Associate Professor of International Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington in the United States, and the author of The Technocratic Antarctic. With poetry and song about the Antarctic by the New Zealand poet Bill Manhire.

  • Presenter: Bridget Kendall.
  • Producer: Anne Khazam for BBC World Service Production

ES

Friday 24 December

A Festival Of Nine Lessons And Carols

3pm-4.30pm GMT

Held in the candlelit Chapel of King's College, Cambridge, this service marks for many people around the world the beginning of Christmas.

It is based around nine Bible readings which tell the story of the loving purposes of God.

They are interspersed with carols old and new, sung by the world famous chapel choir, who also lead the congregation in traditional Christmas hymns.

  • Producer: Ben Collingwood - a Radio 4 and BBC World Service co-production

ES

Saturday 25 December

The Cultural Frontline: The Gift That Changed Me

10.30pm-11pm GMT

The Cultural Frontline presents a special edition of the Art That Changed Me. Featuring leading names from film, music and fashion talking about the gifts of art (films, poems, paintings, photos, etc) they have received and how those gifts have changed their lives.

  • Producer: Mugabi Turya for BBC World Service Production

ES

Sunday 26 December

Heart And Soul: Andrea Bocelli: Faith And Music

10.30am-11am GMT

Andrea Bocelli is a multi-award winning Italian tenor who has sold over 75 million records worldwide. Blind from the age of 12, singing was always his passion, but he never could have dreamt his life would turn out as it has.

When asked what he puts his success down to, he lists his talents, hard work, and overall his belief and faith in God. A strong Catholic, Bocelli has even performed for three popes at the Vatican, and his faith lead him to establish the Andrea Bocelli Foundation where he helps people in impoverished and disaster-stricken parts of the world. Much of his music has a spiritual air to it, and has sustained Bocelli through the ups and downs of life.

This Christmas, Heart And Soul on the BBC World Service will present a special one-on-one interview with Andrea Bocelli, presented by Rome based journalist Colm Flynn. The programme will be recorded in the historic Italian city of Florence and will feature some of Bocelli's much-loved music, as well as the story of his life and faith.

  • Producer: Colm Flynn for BBC World Service Production

ES

Friday 31 December

Correspondents Look Ahead

10am-11am GMT

The BBC’s top journalists get together to predict the key events and trends for 2022.

As the developed world recovers from the Coronavirus pandemic, what are the risks for poorer countries - and will the global economic rebound continue? What chances are there for a dramatic breakthrough on the climate when world powers meet at Cop27 in Egypt?

The American public will get their first chance for a verdict on the Biden administration in the mid-term elections - alongside a general election in Brazil, while France will choose its new president. And it's predicted that at some point in the year, India will become the world’s most populous country. How will this change our view of the world?

  • Producer: Ben Carter for BBC World Service Production
  • Editor: Hugh Levinson

ES

Saturday 1 January

World Service New Year’s Day Concert

7pm-8pm GMT

From the BBC’s iconic studios at Maida Vale in London, Georgia Mann presents the World Service’s annual concert, featuring members of the BBC New Generation Artists scheme past and present.

Founded in 1999 with the aim of nurturing and promoting some of the world’s finest young musicians at the start of their international careers, the list of NGA alumni is now well over a hundred and includes some of the biggest names in classical music, including trumpeter Alison Balsom, pianists Igor Levit and Benjamin Grosvenor, violinists Alina Ibragimova and Lisa Batiashvili, soprano Fatma Said, the Quatuor Ebene, and many more.

Participants are offered the chance to make studio recordings, perform with the BBC’s orchestras, and at many of the UK’s most prestigious venues and festivals including London’s Wigmore Hall and the BBC Proms.

Today, a chance to hear from award-winning British mezzo-soprano Helen Charlston, Swedish violinist Johan Dalene - at 21, one of the youngest ever NGAs - and superstar jazz bass player Misha Mullov-Abbado, a New Generation Artist from 2017 to 2019 and now one of the biggest names on the scene.

  • Producer: Juan Carlos Jaramillo for World Service Production
  • Editor: Emma Bloxham

ES

Saturday 1 January

The Arts Hour New Year Comedy Special

8pm-9pm GMT

The Arts Hour celebrates the New Year with a festive feast of laughter.

South African comedian Tumi Morake hosts an international line up of some of the best global comics, enjoying the funnier side of life after another challenging year.

Join presenter Nikki Bedi and Tumi Morake for this New Year celebration as they share a joke with some of the world’s funniest comedians.

  • Producers: Andrea Kidd and Lucy Collingwood for BBC World Service Production
  • Editor: Rebecca Stratford

ES