A celebration of the 80th birthday of entertainer Tommy Steele OBE, Britain's first Rock 'n' Roll star who has enjoyed a highly successful career in music, stage and screen. In this intimate retrospective, Tommy Steele is in conversation with Bill Kenwright. Reflecting on his career highlights to date, Tommy describes his experience of early Rock ‘n’ Roll, what it was like to appear in West End in musicals Singing In The Rain and up to and including his highly successful current tour of The Glenn Miller Story, his film career, and also his work as an author and sculpture.
Monday 19 and Monday 26 December, 10-11pm
Producer: Elliot Davis for Wise Buddah
Nadiya's Festive Family Feast
Nadiya Hussain invites listeners for a festive family feast in the run-up to Christmas on Radio 2.
Recorded exclusively at her home, join Nadiya and Olly Smith for a fun filled two hours of sizzling, slicing and dicing for the whole family.
Nadiya creates a feast for the whole family to enjoy from her salmon kedgeree to her gingerbread cake, especially for her radio show. And the great thing is listeners will be able to make the entire menu at home. The recipes will be available on the Radio 2 website, so everyone at home can create their very own festive spread with minimum effort for maximum effect, with a dash of the Nadiya Hussain magic.
As Nadiya cooks her delicious food, Olly chats to her about her life and family, her baking and her books…..plus Olly creates a celebratory non-alcoholic punch for the whole family to enjoy, especially for Nadiya’s birthday on 25 December.
The pair will also be letting rip with their favourite songs, making a playlist fit for a festival with a surprise or two along the way.
Nadiya says: “My birthday is on Christmas Day so it’s always a big day in my house as we usually all gather for a huge feast! It’ll be great fun giving Radio 2 listeners lots of tips and recipes as they prepare for the festivities, plus I’m really looking forward to welcoming Olly to my home”.
Wednesday 21 December, 8-10pm
Producer: Jodie Keane for the BBC
When Kenny Met The Fab Four
The Beatles’ iconic 1966 US tour not only propelled the Fab Four to mega-stardom; it also marked the start of one of the most fascinating friendships in entertainment history.
In the 50th anniversary year of those concerts, Paul Gambaccini tells the story of Kenny Everett’s friendship with The Beatles – which all started when a little-known pirate radio DJ was invited to tour with the world’s biggest band to file reports for Radio London.
The programme will uncover many colourful stories through both little-heard archive of Kenny and members of the band as well as fresh interviews. This includes the tale of how Kenny inspired lyrics to one of the group’s most memorable hits - thanks to a twilight stroll on a golf course near John Lennon’s Weybridge home.
Also hear how Brian Epstein sailed out to Radio London’s boat to personally give Kenny a copy of one of The Beatles’ much-hyped new singles so he had the first exclusive radio play. Plus discover how Kenny produced two Beatles records, and became John and Yoko’s confidante after the band split. Contributors include Kenny’s former wife Lee Everett Middleton, US DJ and Kenny’s roommate on the 1966 Beatles tour Ron O’Quinn, former Capital Radio presenter Nicky Horne and famed Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick. Also remembering Kenny is former Capital Radio presenter and Kenny’s old pirate Radio London partner Dave Cash (‘Kenny and Cash’). The interview took place earlier this year, before his untimely death in October.
Paul says: "Kenny Everett was the greatest radio presenter of my lifetime. The Beatles were the greatest group. I hope that when we put them together the result is at least good!
“I have done several programmes about my old friend Kenny Everett before, but never one taking this angle. This is fascinating. I love to learn, and I have learned about one of my friends and heroes from working on this show."
Wednesday 21 December, 10-11pm
Presenter: Paul Gambaccini
Producer: Wise Buddah
Martha Reeves’ Soul Christmas
Singer and Motown star Martha Reeves hosts a Christmas soul special, playing her favourite festive music and sharing memories from Christmases past.
Martha rose to stardom in the early 1960s as the lead singer of Motown girl group, Martha Reeves And The Vandellas. Arriving to audition at Motown’s headquarters but without an appointment, Martha began answering phones and worked as an admin assistant in the label’s A&R department until her big break came. Then, when Mary Wells didn’t turn up to a session, Martha stepped in, calling her friends to join her and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas was born. They provided backing vocals to Marvin Gaye and other Motown acts before having their own international hits including (Love Is Like a) Heat Wave, Nowhere to Run and Jimmy Mack.
In her Christmas special for BBC Radio 2, Martha unwraps her soundtrack to the festive season - a selection of festive Motown hits from her former label-mates including Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes, plus soulful Christmas classics, carols and seasonal R’n’B treats. With music from Otis Redding, The Ronettes, Mahalia Jackson, James Brown and many more.
Martha also shares her memories of childhood Christmases in Detroit, of the Motown Christmas parties thrown by labe boss Berry Gordy and of her own festive performances on TV, on tour and at the White House.
As well as her Motown career and TV, film and theatre appearances, Martha served as a councillor in Detroit from 2005 to 2009. In 2011 Martha performed at the White House alongside Sheryl Crow and Jamie Foxx in a celebration of Motown. She was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame last year and continues to perform both solo and with The Vandellas.
Thursday 22 December, 8-10pm
Producer: Lorna Skingley for Smooth Operations
Friday Night Is Music Night
In this special festive edition of Friday Night is Music Night, bells will be rung, carols will be sung, poems will be read and snow balls will be flung.
Mark Gatiss stars as Scrooge in a new surround sound adaptation of A Christmas Carol in this special Friday Night Is Music Night recorded at the Royal Festival Hall, London.
The concert includes six scenes from the Dickens classic, recorded in a new process that aurally puts the audience into the supernatural world of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The music will feature Christmas favourites from Katie Melua and Shaun Escoffrey, together with West End stars John Owen Jones (Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera) Rosalie Craig (The Light Princess, Beggars Opera) Louise Dearman (Wicked) plus the 24 voices of the Georgian Choir, 12 Capital Voices and the 70-piece BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Richard Balcombe.
Among the music, White Christmas, Sleigh Ride, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, the Jose Feliciano classic - Felice Navidad, A Winter's Tale, River and the carols, O Holy Night, Carol of the Bells and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
Friday 23 December, 8-10pm
Presenter: Ken Bruce
Producer: Anthony Cherry for the BBC
A Carpenters’ Christmas With Petula Clark
In this special programme, Petula Clark – a lifetime friend of Richard and Karen Carpenter – tells the story of their music for Christmas including their seminal single, Merry Christmas Darling, and their landmark album, Christmas Portrait.
Petula says: “The Carpenters and Christmas; for many, they go hand-in-hand. Like most of us, they’d grown up listening to seasonal albums by the likes of Percy Faith and Spike Jones, and both Karen and Richard had sung in their school choirs, performing Christmas songs every year. Once they’d made a name for themselves with hits like We’ve Only Just Begun, Superstar and (They Long To Be) Close To You, it was just a matter of time before they turned their talents to Christmas. And, with their unique sound - Karen’s warmly expressive voice and Richard’s diverse talents as arranger, producer, pianist and composer - what they produced became Christmas classics.”
The programme features choice selections from The Carpenters’ two Christmas albums released in 1978 and 1984.
Saturday 24 December, 4-5pm
Producer: Malcolm Prince for the BBC
Gareth Malone’s Choral Classics
On Christmas Eve the nation's favourite choirmaster, Gareth Malone, presents two hours of his favourite choral music.
Gareth (pictured), who is best known for TV shows such as The Choir and Military Wives and his latest series, Gareth’s Best In Britain, presents a personal selection of music, playing a mix of festive tunes including gospel pieces, classical works by Bach, Handel and Byrd, modern a capella groups The Swingles and Pentatonix, and some favourite Christmas carols.
Gareth will be joined by special guest - Grammy-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre, one of the most popular voices in choral music today. Eric talks to Gareth about the process of writing for the voice, his ‘virtual choirs’ which brought together hundreds of people to sing together online, and picks two of his favourite Christmas pieces.
Gareth says: "Christmas is my favourite time of year for music and singing because it really does bring everyone together. It’s such a pleasure to be presenting this show on BBC Radio 2 on Christmas Eve - playing a mixture of the music I love, and I'm looking forward to sharing some seasonal cheer."
Christmas Eve, 10pm-midnight
Producer: Jo Wheeler for Just Radio Productions
Christmas Of Many Country Colours
What better way to welcome Christmas in than to transport listeners to the Smoky Mountains for a traditional country Christmas in the company of Dolly and her younger sister Stella Parton, plus members of their family.
They relive childhood memories, including a very special present of a wedding ring hidden on the Tree, but who was it for? Stella teaches listeners how to make chocolate gravy, with a little twist. There will be a Christmas sing-a-long, lavish parades and a spectacular “Dixie Stampede” which will include a live Nativity Scene. The Appalachian Mountains will be alive with festive fervour, the whole area will light up like a brilliant bauble, and as they do take their holiday season seriously, there’s even a snow machine at hand in case nature doesn’t provide the picture postcard.
Dolly says: “The joy I feel during the Christmas season makes my heart sing because of the love and sweet Christmas memories I have of family and friends from my childhood, to create experiences we all remember forever.”
So pull up a chair close to the fire and for the next two hours enjoy a Christmas of Many Country Colours.
Christmas Eve, 8-10pm
Presenter: Baylen Leonard
Producer: Julie Newman for the BBC
Barry Humphries: Barry’s Forgotten Musical Christmas
Australian comedian Barry Humphries presents a two-hour festive edition of his critically acclaimed BBC Radio 2 vintage music show, Barry's Forgotten Musical Masterpieces. In this special, Barry channels the ghost of Christmas Past and aims to transport listeners to bygone eras with a selection of his favourite 78 r.p.m. and festive recordings from Christmases and New Year’s Eves past.
Barry says: “For two hours on Christmas Day I shall be channelling the ghost of Christmas Past and aiming to transport listeners to bygone days with a selection of my favourite long-forgotten, festive recordings. As well as re-living childhood memories, I shall be paying tribute to the earliest recording stars and celebrating the birth of radio.”
Music on the programme will include tracks by The Comedian Harmonists, Billy Williams, Jack Hylton, Arthur Tracy and Vera Lynn among many others.
Sunday 25 December, 6-8pm
Producer: Clair Wordsworth for Strauss House Productions
Good Morning Christmas With Clare Balding
Clare Balding celebrates Christmas Day with festive music and conversation. Her guest is the comedian Barry Humphries and her faith guest is the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
There will be live music from gospel choir AVE directed by Ken Burton, singer songwriter Kelvin Jones and from counter tenor Michael Chance.
Christmas Day, 8-10am
Producer: Janet McLarty for the BBC
Bryan Adams Rocks!
Canadian rock legend Bryan Adams presents a two-hour selection of some of his all-time favourite classic rock tracks.
Bryan says: “Having been a rock musician and massive fan of rock music for as long as I can remember, I am really looking forward to spending two hours with the BBC Radio 2 audience on Boxing Day, sharing some of my all-time favourite rock classics… Hopefully there’ll be something for everyone - from Bowie to The Beatles and Clapton to The Clash.”
Monday 26 December, 12noon-2pm
Producer: Gary Bones for the BBC
Mica Paris - The Sound Of Philadelphia
Mica Paris travels back in time to the 1970s to a land of disco grooves, driving rhythms and lavish orchestrations as she celebrates the Philadelphia sound with two hours of classic soul anthems.
Philadelphia International Records was founded in 1971 by the song writing team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff along with producer Thom Bell. Over the next decade they would re-define soul with a long list of worldwide hits that have lost none of their appeal over the four decades that have passed since their original release. These include If You Don't Know Me By Now, Me & Mrs Jones, Love Train, For The Love Of Money, When Will I See You Again, You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine and Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now - the true sound of Sweet Philly Soul!
Mica says: “I love the soul sounds that came out of Philadelphia in the '70s and I’m so looking forward to celebrating Sweet Philly with the Radio 2 listeners, as well as sharing all my favourite anthems.”
Music on the show will feature artists including Billy Paul, The O'Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, Lou Rawls, Elton John, The Three Degrees, Patti LaBelle and MFSB.
Saturday 31 December, 6-8pm
Producer: Bob McDowall for the BBC
Elvis Dream Concert
Rob Brydon presents a collection of live performances from the King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley and although Elvis never performed live outside of the USA and Canada, he still holds a special place in our hearts as probably the greatest musical attraction and showman there has ever been. He passed through Prestwick Airport, but never trod a British stage or performed for a British audience – but then he didn’t need to.
Now Radio 2 presents the concert that might have been, hosted by Rob Brydon, an Elvis fan and aficionado who reveals some of the background and history of Elvis on the road.
Of the more than 1,600 performances Elvis gave, few were released on record (or on film) so this fantasy concert is made especially for Radio 2 listeners - and is longer than anything ever previously released. It is a unique performance for all listeners and fans to sit back and relish.
Elvis - The Fantasy Concert is a concert that never actually took place - though we wish it had and that we had been there. Compiled from some of his best live performances with his supporting musicians, here are his classic songs and this is Elvis at his best - live, as you never heard him! Elvis is back in the building…