For over 90 years BBC Radio has partnered with the Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields for a Christmas Appeal for their work with homeless people all round the country.
This year the Radio 4 Christmas Appeal has as its theme ‘Small Action, Big Difference’, to acknowledge the precious thoughtful actions made particularly by housing support workers on behalf of their clients. Providing a few personal bits and pieces when they move into their own accommodation, a phone call to make sure they pay their bills in time, a joke when they are low.
In Making a Difference Aasmah Mir reports on some of the lives that have been changed by your donations: among them Kerry-Jo who after the end of a relationship and a breakdown which led to homelessness has moved into a lovely flat in Rotherham where she is being helped by her housing support worker Sam to ‘stand on her own two feet’.
Producer: Kate Howell for BBC Radio 4
Tweet of the Day: The Twelve Tweets of Christmas
Monday 18 December - New Year's Eve, 5.58am, BBC Radio 4 (plus daily podcast)
As the season of goodwill approaches our thoughts turn to crackling fires, being with the family at Christmas and for many, a song or a carol to bring merriment to the colder days. Tweet of the Day has been entertaining early morning listeners to the Radio 4 schedule every day since 2013, but this Christmas for the first time listeners we will be treated to a seasonal delight, the Twelve Tweets of Christmas.
Using as a starting perch the familiar song The Twelve Days of Christmas, the avian offerings will bring a seasonal flypast of birds, from a single French partridge sent by a true love to five goldfinches singing and who knows who will provide twelve drummers drumming.
Producers: Andrew Dawes & Becky Ripley for BBC Radio 4
Monday 18 - Friday 22 December, 9.45-10am, BBC Radio 4
Laurie Lee’s classic memoir Cider With Rosie, his lyrical evocation of an early life in Gloucestershire, launched his writing career in the late fifties and continues to be one of England’s most popular books.
For the festive season, Derek Jacobi reads from a new collection of Laurie Lee’s writings; including newly discovered pieces by his daughter Jessy Lee, which return to the landscape and traditions of his rural home in Slad as well as a changing London last century.
Writer: Laurie Lee
Reader: Derek Jacobi
Abridged and produced by Karen Rose for Sweet Talk Productions
Iceland’s Dark Lullabies
Monday 18 December, 8-8.30pm, BBC Radio 4
An Icelandic Christmas Special.
At the darkest time of the year in Iceland scary creatures come out to play. Storyteller Andri Snaer Magnason used to be terrified by his grandmother's Christmas tales of Gryla the 900 year old child eating hag and her thirteen troll sons - the Yule Lads - who would come down from the mountains looking for naughty children in the warmth of their homes. These dark lullabies partly hark back to a pre-Christian Christmas when people worshipped the Norse gods.
As Iceland opens up to global influences after centuries of isolation Andri travels from farmstead to lava field to find out how these traditions live on; whether the elves still crash your house to throw a Christmas party or the cows still talk on New Year's Eve. And what happens when you have to spend Christmas alone, locked inside Ikea?
Producer: Neil McCarthy for BBC Radio 4
Wednesday 20 and 27 December, 9-9.30am, BBC Radio 4
“O’ Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining…” and so begins the gentle carol of reflection that has touched the lives of listeners around the world.
For The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, it’s the carol that lifted his spirits as he lay in a London hospital battling pneumonia. It is also the hymn that inspired a fellow patient to find faith. In Philadelphia, it is the song that outreach worker Asteria Vives sang when she took Christmas to the homeless, whilst for singer and songwriter Katie Melua it’s the carol that awoke her love of music as an 8 year old child in Belfast. And for Tymara Walker it’s the Christmas family favourite which went viral when she sang it on a Washington subway, eventually reaching a worldwide audience of over 5 million.
Featuring choral conductor and composer Bob Chilcott.
And in the second episode of this new series contributors including Grammy Award-winning artist John Legend and Art Director Neville Garrick talk about Bob Marley's Redemption Song, which has inspired generations around the world.
Producer: Nicola Humphries for BBC Radio 4
Are You Alright In There?
Friday 22 December, 11.30-midday, BBC Radio 4
A one-off special for Christmas 2017, presented by the creators of those inspired modern Ladybird books, Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris.
Toilet books. No, not books about toilets, but the funny or fascinating books that have pride of place on any home’s most exclusive shelf: the safe space, the lock-in. The ones you buy at Christmas: 101 Uses For A Dead Cat, The Meaning Of Liff, Schott’s Miscellanies, The Far Side compilations, the Viz annual, Bunny Suicides, countless TV tie-ins from Monty Python to Mrs Brown, and maybe even The Ladybird Books For Grown-Ups. These are the books that everyone giggles at and passes round when the family get together at Christmas. You don’t share a worthy novel with your finger under a favourite bit, but you do that with Roger’s Profanisaurus. These are the sociable books that bind a nation together once a year over the pickled walnuts - the paper equivalent of Morecambe and Wise.
Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris will write and host this lively documentary and amongst those they will be talking to are John Lloyd (QI, The Meaning Of Liff written with Douglas Adams), Andy Riley (Bunny Suicides), Simon Donald (him off of the Viz and Roger’s Profanisaurus), Ben “Miscellany” Schott, and Neil & Rob Gibbons (the scribes of I, Partridge).
They will also hear from agents, booksellers and publishers about what makes a good stocking-giggler and the difference the humour table can make to a bookshop’s year.
Interwoven with that will be readings, excerpts and recreated bits from the most loved favourites!
Producer: David Tyler for Pozzitive
Friday 22 and 29 December, 6.30-7pm, BBC Radio 4
Jon Culshaw, Jan Ravens, Lewis MacLeod, Duncan Wisbey, and Debra Stephenson star in two festive specials of Dead Ringers.
The Christmas Special
The team celebrates the true meaning of Christmas: political in-fighting, sex scandals and the festering wound of Brexit division.
The End of the World
As a seasonal treat, the team imagines the world on the verge of a nuclear apocalypse. The government only has a few minutes to make a final decision about the new London runway, Thought for The Day consists only of a blood-curdling scream, and You and Yours advises on insurance claims for thermo-nuclear damage.
Producer: Bill Dare for BBC Studios
Michael Palin’s Radio Adventures
Saturday 23 December, 9am-midday, BBC Radio 4 Extra
In a special showcase broadcast from the Radio Theatre John McCarthy meets with Michael Palin to celebrate the actor-adventurer’s remarkable life and career as heard on radio.
Michael Palin has been a Python, a world traveller, author, actor and screenwriter, and often described as 'Britain’s Nicest Man'. However one area which is often overlooked from his long and impressive career are his fascinating radio contributions.
In this programme we hear extracts from his mighty canon of work include his famous diaries, interviews about his comedy and travel work, documentaries about mental illness and dramas we also hear rare footage of the time he tried his hand as a BBC disc jockey, his charity work and a hilarious pythonesque local radio broadcast from a taxi rank.
Recorded in front an enthusiastic audience featuring contributions from comedians Barry Cryer and John Finnermore along with broadcaster Paul Gambaccini we discover Palin’s love for radio and hear a treasure trove of archives on an eclectic mix of subjects - and plenty memories of Monty Python.
Producer: Stephen Garner for the BBC
Archive on 4: Lenny Henry on Richard Pryor - The Making of a Satirist
Saturday 23 December, 8-9pm, BBC Radio 4
Richard Pryor is often hailed as the greatest stand-up comedian of all time. For Lenny Henry, it was Pryor’s fearless comedy in the mid-70s and 80s that inspired him as a young comic. And he remains Lenny’s comedy hero to this day.
But the Richard Pryor that Lenny knows and loves from the 1970s and 80s had a very different act when he first started out in 1960s New York. A self-confessed Bill Cosby clone, charming audiences with his ‘white bread’ humour.
It’s the stuff of legend how Pryor’s biting social satires, salty language, and character-driven routines like the Wino and The Junkie came about when Pryor threw away a lucrative job in Las Vegas and vowed to reinvent himself. But for Lenny, the key to Pryor’s artistic transformation lies in his seven month stay in Berkeley, California. When he arrived in February 1971, revolution was in the air. A hub for American counterculture, there were pitched battles in the streets between activists and the police. Radical students warred with Governor Ronald Reagan. And Berkeley was also home to the Black Panthers and a burgeoning black arts movement.
Pryor made friends with a local radio producer who invited him on the local station KPFA, gave him a recorder so he could brainstorm new material, and taped several of his performances around town.
With these little-heard tapes, Lenny pieces Pryor’s life together during his self-imposed exile. Pryor immersed himself in black history and culture, reading Malcolm X and hanging out with black intellectuals like Ishmael Reed and Cecil Brown. For the first time, Pryor was taken seriously as an artist and we get a fascinating glimpse him recording free verse poetry and writing two satirical screenplays. We also hear Pryor experimenting with edgier material at local clubs and live on air. For example, we hear blistering attacks on police brutality and his response to the 1971 Attica prison rebellion. Which today sound remarkably modern.
Lenny uncovers how Berkeley put Pryor on a trajectory that would enable him to reinvent American culture. When Hollywood came calling, Pryor returned with a new sense of self, with a standout performance in Lady Sings The Blues opposite Diana Ross, and co-writing Blazing Saddles. And experimental spirit of Berkeley would continue to influence Pryor’s grammy-winning LPs, TV variety show, and filmed concerts.
Contributors will include, Novelist and poet, Ishmael Reed; Former poet laureate of California, Al Young; Richard’s widow and keeper of his archives, Jennifer Pryor; Comedian and director, David Steinberg; Emmy nominated actress and comedian, Liz Torres, and Author of Becoming Richard Pryor, Scott Saul.
Producer: Victoria Ferran for Just Radio LTD
Desert Island Discs
Christmas Eve, 11.15am-midday, BBC Radio 4
Kirsty Young’s Christmas castaway is dancer, choreographer and Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli.
Other guests revealing their Desert Island Discs in December will be:
3 December: Tim Martin, businessman and chairman of JD Wetherspoon 10 December: Kelsey Grammer, actor and star of Frasier 17 December: Christine McVie, singer-songwriter and member of Fleetwood Mac
To mark the end of the year in which this iconic show celebrated its 75th birthday, Radio 4 brings highlights from the compilation programme originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra in January 2017, along with new material. 75 Years of Desert Island Discs will be broadcast on 31 December at 11.15am.
Series Producer: Cathy Drysdale for the BBC
Scrooge - The Musical
Christmas Eve, midday-2.30pm, BBC Radio 4 Extra
BBC Radio 4 Extra presents a special festive treat - Leslie Bricusse’s musical adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens tale A Christmas Carol, which theatre expert Sheridan Morley calls a “superlative production”.
Starring in the title role is singer, actor and songwriter Anthony Newley, who began his career in another Dickens adaptation, playing the Artful Dodger in David Lean’s 1948 film Oliver Twist.
Co-starring in Scrooge are Stratford Johns (Z-Cars, Doctor Who) as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Barry Howard (Hi-De-Hi) as Jacob Marley, and Felicity Soper (Romulus My Father, Neighbours) as the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Based on the much-loved 1951 film starring Alastair Sim, Scrooge was recorded at the Palace Theatre in Manchester and first broadcast on BBC Radio 2 in 1995.
Director: Tudor Davies
Music director: David Beer
Producer: John Langridge for the BBC
A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
Christmas Eve, 3-4.30pm, BBC Radio 4
For many around the world, A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, live from the candlelit Chapel of King's College, Cambridge, marks 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.
King’s College Choir has performed a newly written carol at the famous Christmas Eve service A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols every Christmas since 1983. This year’s carol - the 35th carol commissioned by King’s for the Festival - is by Welsh composer Huw Watkins, who studied at King’s as an undergraduate and is now Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music.
The carol, which will be heard in public for the first time on Christmas Eve this year, is a setting of part of the welsh Plygain carol Carol Eliseus, chosen by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
Of the setting, Watkins writes: “I was particularly delighted to have been asked to write this year's new carol, having been an undergraduate at King's in the ‘90s. As a non-Welsh-speaking Welshman, I was also thrilled and slightly daunted when Stephen Cleobury suggested a Welsh text. My mother (a native speaker) has helped me with the sounds and stresses of the words, and I feel like setting this language has unlocked an indefinable Welshness in my music. I wanted to write something pure and somehow artless, and all the time I've had that glorious acoustic in my head.”
The carol continues a tradition dating back to the beginning of Stephen Cleobury’s tenure as Director of Music at King’s, and is part of a long-standing contribution by the College to contemporary choral writing. Commissioned carols from previous years have included Judith Weir’s Illuminare, Jerusalem and John Rutter’s What Sweeter Music, as well as compositions by Jonathan Dove, Judith Bingham, John Tavener, Tansy Davies and many others.
Hymn: Once in Royal David's City (desc. Cleobury) Bidding Prayer read by the Dean In the bleak mid-winter (Darke) First lesson: Genesis 3 vv 8-19 read by a Chorister Adam’s Fall (Richard Elfyn Jones) Love came down at Christmas (Morris Arr. Cleobury) Second lesson: Genesis 22 vv 15-18 read by a Choral Scholar How shall I fitly meet thee? (J.S. Bach) I saw three ships (Arr. Ledger) Third lesson: Isaiah 9 vv 2, 6-7 read by a representative of the Cambridge Churches Illuminare, Jerusalem (Judith Weir) O little town of Bethlehem (Arr. Cleobury) Fourth lesson: Isaiah 11 vv 1-3a, 4a, 6-9 read by the Chaplain A spotless rose (Howells) The Lamb (Tavener) Fifth lesson: Luke 1 vv 26-38 read by a member of College staff Gabriel’s Message (Arr. Pettman) The Linden Tree Carol (Arr. Cleobury) Sixth lesson: Luke 2 vv 1-7 read by a representative of the City of Cambridge Carol Eliseus (Huw Watkins - Commission (world premiere)) Away in a manger (Arr. Willcocks) Seventh lesson: Luke 2 vv 8-16 read by the Director of Music Can I not syng but hoy? (Francis Jackson) God rest you merry, gentlemen (Arr. Willcocks) Eighth lesson: Matthew 2 vv 1-12 read by the Vice-Provost We three kings of Orient are (Arr. Neary) The Magi’s Dream (Whitbourn) Ninth lesson: John 1 vv 1-14 read by the Provost O come, all ye faithful (Arr. Willcocks) Collect and Blessing Hark! The herald angels sing (desc. Cleobury)
Director of Music: Stephen Cleobury
Organ scholar: Henry Websdale
Producer: Philip Billson for BBC Radio 4
The Adventures of a Young Naturalist
Christmas Day - Friday 29 December, 9.45-10am, BBC Radio 4
David Attenborough reads from his account of his 1955 trip to Guyana where he filmed an edition of the successful BBC Zoo Quest series.
Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest Expeditions is David Attenborough's account of some of the incidents from his early career at the BBC as a broadcaster and naturalist. In 1954 he grasped a life changing opportunity which led him to travel the world finding rare and elusive animal species for London Zoo and filming the expeditions for the BBC television series, Zoo Quest. The collection methods may be outdated but the fascination, compassion and respect for the environment, the people and the animals are not.
In this week of readings David Attenborough recounts his adventures in Guyana, Indonesia and Argentina. From shinning up a tree to capture a sloth, to manhandling a disgruntled python, to keeping a growing and various collection of creatures in the bath tub all his stories introduce us to extraordinary places, people and animals This is the story of the early years and of how he made us fall in love with the natural world and how he continues to do so in the seventh decade of his broadcasting career.
Written and read by David Attenborough
Abridged by Richard Hamilton
Producer: Elizabeth Allard for BBC Radio 4
Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show! Christmas Special 2017
Christmas Day, 1.15-1.45pm, BBC Radio 4
Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show! returns to BBC Radio 4 with a celebratory Christmas special of the long running comedy sitcom.
In this year’s Christmas special of Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show! Arthur gets the opportunity to audition for a Christmas production of 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks'. What could possibly go wrong?
The show features former variety star Count Arthur and his erstwhile protégé Malcolm, surrounded by a host of regular characters created by Mel Giedroyc, Alastair Kerr and Dave Mounfield. The long running series first aired on BBC Radio 4 in 2005 and ran for seven series until the former variety star transferred to BBC TV in his eponymous sitcom in 2012.
Producer: Richard Daws for Komedia Entertainment Ltd
Radio Four’s Pen Pals - Fi Glover and Ann Plumley
Christmas Day - Wednesday 29 December, 1.45-2pm, BBC Radio 4
A new series celebrating the phenomenon of the international pen-pal: the art of writing a letter the old-fashioned way, the tentative early forays into a new friendship, and the frisson of glamour when the air mail envelope drops through the letter-box.
Five favourite Radio 4 voices were asked to choose a pen-pal from anywhere in the world. The task was to write six letters in long-hand, and send them through the post. What they wrote about was entirely up to them. But they had to finish before the end of 2017.
In our globally connected world, how much do we really understand the lives of people born thousands of miles away? By trying to understand the individual, we may gain a better understanding of the bigger picture. And as each presenter learns more about their new friend, they also offer a small window into their own world.
Episode 1 (Christmas Day)
The first programme on Christmas Day features Fi Glover and Ann Plumley, an American mother in Ohio, who voted for Donald Trump.
Ann is a former forensic scientist, who gave up her career to raise her daughter. She and Fi compare "mom culture" in Britain and the USA, share parenting worries, and precious memories of childhood. Along the way they discuss the political events of the year: Donald Trump, Brexit and terrorist attacks. Is this the start of a beautiful new friendship? Or is there more to divide than unite them?
Episode 2 (Boxing Day)
Poet, author and broadcaster, Lemn Sissay, chose a secondary-school boy in Northern Ireland as his pen-pal for this new series celebrating the art of letter writing.
Northern Ireland is one of Lemn’s favourite places on earth. Both share a dark struggle and a love of good writing. Last year Lemn ran a workshop at the new Seamus Heaney Centre near Magherafelt, and loved the passion and enthusiasm of the local school children. He’s been writing letters to one of them, Mark Comer, about Harry Potter, being on stage, and scaring children at Halloween.
Episode 3 (Wednesday 27 December)
Lyse Doucet is the BBC's Chief International Correspondent. She first met her pen-pal, Masood Khalili, in the 1980s, when she was a young correspondent covering the early years of war in Afghanistan. He is a poet, a former fighter who survived two suicide attacks and now a diplomat. For Radio Four's Pen Pals the two revisit their friendship through a series of poignant letters, discussing war, poetry and cancer.
Episode 4 (Thursday 28 December)
Scientist Jim Al-Khalili describes himself as a committed rationalist. He's never had a pen-pal before, and chose to explore the life of someone living off-grid on a remote Canadian island, a life very far from his own. Jenny Vester has lived on Lasqueti Island, off the East Coast of Vancouver, for 25 years, and describes herself as a lover of variety and ideas: "One that loves to dance, write, tell stories, dream, walk in the forest and take inspiration from nature".
Jim and Jenny enter into a wide-ranging discussion on the connection between mind and body, living off the grid, zombies and the meaning of life. Their daily lives are poles apart. Will the same be true of their beliefs?
Episode 5 (Friday 29 December)
In the final programme, Louiza Patikas, better known to Radio 4 listeners as Helen from The Archers, discusses stage-craft and Greek life and culture with fellow actress, Angeliki Papoulia.
Louiza is half-Greek and has spent many happy holidays visiting family and soaking up the culture. She has long admired the work of Greek actor and theatre director, Angeliki Papoulia, star of award-winning films Dogtooth, Alps and The Lobster. The two discover a shared love of village life, and a common history in the story of their parents' roles in the political upheavals of 1960s and 70s Greece.
Producer: Deborah Dudgeon for Whistledown productions
The Infinite Monkey Cage Christmas Special: The Science of Magic
Christmas Day, 4-4.30pm, BBC Radio 4
The Infinite Monkey's bring their own brand of yule-friendly science and comedy to the BBC Radio Christmas schedule, and this year with an extra sprinkling of festive magic. Brian Cox and Robin Ince will be joined on stage by some very special guests to look at the science behind some of our best loved magic tricks and illusions. Comedian and actor Diane Morgan, Professor of Psychology and magician Richard Wiseman, and theologian and broadcaster Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou will all be demonstrating how basic human psychology and evolution allow us to see and believe the seemingly impossible.
They'll be exploring how some basic psychology and maths can lead to some truly impressive deceptions, and ask how easy it is to trick the human mind, even a mind like Brian's. Prepare to be amazed.
Producer: Alexandra Feacham for BBC Radio 4
15 Minute Musical
Christmas Day and Boxing Day, 6.15-6.30pm, BBC Radio 4
15 Minute Musicals tell this year’s biggest political stories through music. They feature Dave Lamb (Come Dine With Me) and Pippa Evans (Showstopper! The Improvised Musical) under the musical direction of Richie Webb.
The Legend Of Holy Superior Mother Theresa May And The Magic Money Tree
After her disappointing election result, a heavily disguised Theresa flees London and embarks on a magical fantasy trip around the Emerald Isle to find the tree that will solve all of Britain’s economic problems. Holidaying pilots and politically venomous snakes threaten the success of her mission but our brave heroine ploughs on towards her final showdown with a nice lady called Arlene.
A singsong romp through Ireland’s musical heritage featuring the against-all-odds rise to fame of the UK’s formerly least-known political party.
A Blood Brothers-inspired, separated at birth story, where Jeremy Corbyn and Jacob Rees-Mogg discover that despite being brought up with opposite political ideologies, they actually have one very significant thing in common. We begin with two abandoned children being taken in and cared for by two very different families. After some lively West End numbers charting their chalk and cheese childhoods, Jacob and Jeremy finally meet in parliament where they reveal through a searing ballad their joint desire to not only make their respective parties unelectable but also to join forces and find their common birth mother. Who is she and where will they find her?
Written by Richie Webb, David Quantick and Dave Cohen
Producer: Richard Morris for BBC Studios
Just a Minute: 50 Years in 28 Minutes
Christmas Day, 6.30-7pm, BBC Radio 4
Ever wondered what would have happened if Kenneth Williams had faced Sue Perkins across the Just a Minute desk? Now you can find out, in this special archive celebration of 50 Years of Just a Minute, based on an idea by Paul Merton and lovingly mashed-up by audio wizard Gareth Gwynn.
In this one-off archive programme to celebrate Just a Minute's Golden Anniversary on the airwaves, Nicholas Parsons hosts a version of the popular panel show as you've never heard it before as guests from across the programme's history are brought together for one night only. Listeners of a sensitive nature should be warned that wanton hesitation, repetition and deviation will feature from the start.
Producers: Gareth Gwynn & Victoria Lloyd for BBC Studios
Anansi Boys starring Lenny Henry, Jacob Anderson and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
Christmas Day - Friday 29 December, 11.30pm-midnight and 30 December, 2.30-3.30pm, BBC Radio 4
Anansi Boys comes to Radio 4, as the station continues its dramatisations of Neil Gaiman’s work.
Anansi Boys stars Jacob Anderson (Game of Thrones) as Charlie and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Misfits) as Spider, whilst Lenny Henry plays Mr Nancy and Anansi the spider-god. The stellar cast also includes Tanya Moodie, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Joseph Marcell, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Cecilia Noble, Angela Wynter, Adjoa Andoh, Sheila Atim, Pippa Bennett-Warner and 100 year-old Earl Cameron.
Neil Gaiman said: "I’m delighted to have this amazing cast of actors bring Anansi Boys to life for Radio 4. Anansi Boys started for me over 20 years ago when Lenny Henry and I were working on Neverwhere together. He told me that it was wrong that back then there really weren’t any horror films with black leads, and I said ‘well I’ll write you one’. And then it wasn't a film, but a novel, and it wasn't horror but a strange mixture of mythic family comedy, romance and crime drama (with some scary bits). When I was writing the novel I had Lenny’s voice in my head and I'm delighted that in this dramatisation Lenny is Mr Nancy and Anansi the Spider – to me he is inseparable from this project. But the talent behind the microphone is astonishing. We even got Earl Cameron, a month after he turned 100, to come in and play Dragon.
This is the fifth adaptation of one of my books or stories that Dirk Maggs and Radio 4 have done. I think it's the best of them all."
Returning to the territory Gaiman explored in ‘American Gods’, Anansi Boys is a kaleidoscopic journey deep into mythology. When Fat Charlie's dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie "Fat Charlie." Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can't shake that name, one of the many embarrassing "gifts" his father bestowed -- before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie's life.
Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie's doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who's going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun ... just like Dear Old Dad. And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie. Because, you see, Charlie's dad wasn't just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil. Some said he could cheat even Death himself.
Adapted by Dirk Maggs
Sound design: Wilfredo Acosta
Director: Allegra McIlroy
Producer: Allegra McIlroy for BBC Radio 4
Dr John Cooper Clarke at the BBC
Wednesday 27 - Thursday 28 December, 6.15-6.30pm, BBC Radio 4
The Bard of Salford will be celebrating the most wonderful time of the year by regaling an audience at the BBC's Radio Theatre in London with a mixture of classic and previously unheard poems, jaw-dropping stories and side-splitting jokes in two special Christmas editions of his Radio 4 series Dr John Cooper Clarke at the BBC.
Producer: Joe Nunnery for BBC Studios
Graeae: Midwich Cuckoos
New Year's Eve and Sunday 7 January 2018, 3-4pm, BBC Radio 4
A bold new interpretation of a John Wyndham’s science fiction novel with disabled-led theatre company Graeae and director Jenny Sealey. Working with co-director Polly Thomas, this is the first time a Deaf director has directed a drama on Radio 4.
Professor Zellerby and his 8 year old daughter Michaela, survive the strange blackout of Midwich one afternoon in September 2009. Nine months later some extraordinary children are born. Zellerby starts tracking their amazing development, secretly reporting on them to concerned government authorities. Michaela finds herself caught between her difficult relationship with her father, and the Cuckoo children, who immediately learn to sign and therefore communicate with her better than her own father.
Zellerby... Tyrone Huggins Janet/Charge nurse... Alexandra Mathie Molly/Anthea... Cherlyee Houston Michaela (aged 12)... Annabel Pattison Michaela (aged 18)... Hermon Berhane Boy Cuckoo (aged 12)... Jermaine Anderson Girl Cuckoo (aged 12)... Cassie Campbell Boy Cuckoo (aged 18)... Adam Ali Girl Cuckoo (aged 18)... Terri Donovan Doctor/Carl... Graeme Hawley Neil... Reuben Johnson Dean... Charlie Concannon
Directed by Polly Thomas and Jenny Sealey
Producer: Eloise Whitmore
A Naked Productions/Graeae Theatre collaboration for BBC Radio 4
50 years of Just a Minute: Nicholas Parsons in Conversation with Paul Merton50 years of Just a Minute: Nicholas Parsons in Conversation with Paul Merton
New Year's Day 2018, 6.15-7pm, BBC Radio 4
As part of the special programming celebrating 50 years of Just a Minute, Paul Merton talks to Nicholas Parsons about his life, and his 50 years of hosting Radio 4’s beloved panel show, with guest appearances from some of the many regulars who have appeared over the years.
In a career which started in 1945, Nicholas Parsons has worked with an extraordinary range of people - from the golden age of British cinema in the 50s and 60s, to the seedy glamour of the Windmill Theatre where he rubbed shoulders with the cream of stand-up talent including Bruce Forsyth and Tommy Cooper. He formed a famous double act with the legendary comic Arthur Haynes, and worked with him on both sides of the Atlantic - all before Just a Minute was even thought of. In later years he worked with Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson, guest starred in Doctor Who, and will shortly be heard as the voice of God in a TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens.
Not bad for a lad who started his career as an engineering apprentice on the Glasgow Docks...
Producer: Victoria Lloyd for BBC Studios
Today Guest Editors: Prince Harry, Baroness Trumpington, Tamara Rojo, Benjamin Okri and Artificial Intelligence
TBC, BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4’s Today announces the names of this year’s guest editors who will take over the programme during the festive period. This is the 14th year editorial control of the Today programme will be put in the hands of public figures during the week between Christmas and New Year.
Sarah Sands, Editor of Today, says: “We are delighted by the range of guest editors this year. This Christmas tradition allows our listeners to benefit from the experiences and perspectives of remarkable public figures. We finish with a programme dedicated to AI which gives a glimpse of the future of Today.”
Prince Harry is fifth in line to the British throne, founder and patron of the Invictus Games and a former Apache aircraft commander in the British Army.
A spokesperson for Kensington Palace explains the Prince’s plans saying: “Prince Harry is grateful to have Today’s considerable reach to shine a spotlight on a number of issues that are close to his heart. He is working closely with Today’s team to produce segments on a range of topics, including youth violence, conservation, and mental health.”
Baroness Trumpington is a Conservative Peer who spent four decades in the House of Lords before retiring, she is also former Land Girl who went on to work at Bletchley Park transcribing messages from German submarines for the code breakers during World War II. She will use her editorship to cover issues including the importance of plain speaking in politics and the debate around the legalisation of brothels.
She says: “Three years I was diagnosed with cancer so I am excited to still be on this planet and asked to guest edit the Today Programme with my son Adam in order to hopefully bring a smile to some during the festival season...”
Tamara Rojo CBE is the Artistic Director and Lead Principal Dancer of English National Ballet. Tamara’s editorship will look at funding for the arts, attracting diverse dancers into ballet, and all that goes into staging a huge production like Nutcracker.
Tamara says: “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to guest edit the Today programme this Christmas. I’m looking forward to exploring the vital contribution of the arts to the UK economy, and the rewards that engagement with the arts affords, but also to discussing the very real challenges faced by ballet, and the arts world generally. I’m also very excited to take Radio 4 listeners behind the curtain of our Nutcracker performances as we hear from the team that makes the magic happen on stage.”
Benjamin Okri is the Booker Prize winning Nigerian poet and novelist. He will also be taking over for a day during the Christmas period for what should be a compelling editorship. Okri’s moving poem and eulogy of Grenfell Tower helped raise funds for victims. He is also compiling and anthology of political poems.
The Today Programme’s final guest editor will see Artificial Intelligence climb into the hot seat. The programme will bring together a cast of world experts to explore how far artificial intelligence has infiltrated the home and the workplace, examining to what extent it can already replicate human characteristics like creativity and we will ask whether AI can enhance the Today programme itself, and remove all trace of human error.
The guest editors will be in the studio and their work will account for around half of the programme’s output, with the support of Today producers and reporters who help bring their ideas to air. The usual day and night editors are also on hand to make sure material is newsworthy and meets the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines. As is normal, broadcast dates for each are finalised nearer the time.
Previous guest editors have included: Dame Sally Davies, Carey Mulligan, Sir Lenny Henry, Michael Palin, Lord Sebastian Coe, Prof Stephen Hawking, PD James, Sir Tim Berners Lee, Yoko Ono, Lady Manningham-Buller, David Hockney, Jarvis Cocker, Tracey Emin, Sir Richard Branson, and Melinda Gates.