This Christmas Radio 4 brings a new adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Chivalry on Christmas Day, with a stellar cast including Glenda Jackson and Kit Harington.
Another storytelling special from Radio 4 sees Simon Russell Beale read the second volume of Philip Pullman’s acclaimed The Book Of Dust trilogy, The Secret Commonwealth.
Further highlights include Christmas Meditation with Sally Phillips which sees Sally reflecting on the meaning of Christmas, and comedy special A Very John Kearns Christmas, which sees two-time Edinburgh Comedy Award winner John Kearns sharing genuine audio recordings of his family’s Christmas dinners gone by. In a Museum Of Curiosity Christmas special, John Lloyd and Bridget Christie will be joined by Glyn Johns, Shazia Mirza and JK Rowling.
On Christmas Eve, A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols comes as always from King’s College, Cambridge, and on Christmas Day Radio 4 broadcasts a special episode of Three Vicars Talking, featuring Reverends Richard Coles, Kate Bottley and Giles Fraser discussing the busiest times of the clerical year. The Today programme once again welcomes Guest Editors, who this year includes Greta Thunberg, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Grayson Perry, Charles Moore, and George The Poet.
Three Sisters Rewired (1/2)
Saturday 14 December, 2.45pm-3.45pm
Three Sisters Rewired is a radical reworking of Chekhov.
This is not a faithful modernisation of the Russian original - it's a complete overhaul, exploring how, even in the modern world, isolation and stagnation are the daily lot of many women still.
Set in 21st century Yorkshire, Moscow becomes London. On an isolated farm, three sisters - Olivia, Maisie and Iris - struggle to survive on a financially draining farm, with intermittent internet, and a pervading sense of dislocation from the real world.
The cast is a mix of Deaf, disabled and non-disabled actors. The flute is played by Deaf flautist, Ruth Montgomery, who taught herself to play through the vibrations of the instrument.
In episode one we meet Olivia, Maisie and Iris on Iris’ 20th birthday. Olivia, the eldest, is single and a teacher in an all-girls school. Maisie works the farm, and is unhappily married to local teacher, Kevin. Iris is a vlogger, hoping army boy Tyrone - or maybe Sean - will take her to the bright lights of London.
Cast: Olivia ….. Genevieve Barr Maisie ….. Lara Steward Iris ….. Alexandra James Angus ….. Jonathan Keeble Natalie ….. Steph Lacey Anna ….. Kay Purcell Victoria ….. Alexandra Mathie Tyrone ….. Tachia Newall Sean ….. Chris Jack
Original music by Alice Trueman Flute played by Ruth Montgomery
Sign Language Interpreters: Jude Mahon, Beverly Roberts, Kate Labno, Jan Guest
Written and directed by Polly Thomas and Jenny Sealey
Producer: Eloise Whitmore
Executive Producer: Jeremy Mortimer
A Naked/Graeae Theatre production for BBC Radio 4
Pictured above: Lara Steward, Alexandra James and Genevieve Barr. Image credit: Simon Bray
What If People Stopped Buying Stuff And Started Making It?
Tuesday 17 December, 11.30am-12pm
What do we really understand about the stuff we own? What does it mean to us, and what would the world look like if everybody started to buy less and make more?
Writer and occasional knife-maker Tim Hayward meets the crafts people and repairers who are challenging themselves and others to think harder about the things they buy, use and throw away. How has consumerism warped our relationship with the objects we use every day, and how would our lives be different if we understood how stuff was made?
Barnaby Carder - aka Barn the Spoon - is a green woodworker and 'spoon tramp' working out of his Hackney shop, while over in Herefordshire Joel Black and Holland Otik run a community pottery and blacksmiths forge. Other contributors include Laura James, who co-founded the Cambridge Make Space; Clarry Elliot, who helped set up the Leeds Repair Cafe, and designer and cabinet maker, Poppy Booth.
A homemade world might seem like a sweet, nostalgic place, but the contemporary rise of making is having complex and unpredictable results.
Producer: Michael Umney
A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 4
Friday 20 December, 11.30am-12pm
The world premiere of an incredible lost Jane Austen novel, full of wit, flirtation and dastardly behaviour - and completely cooked up on the spot by the UK's finest improv troupe.
All the cast know is that they will perform a story in the style of Jane Austen, based on a title suggested by the studio audience. Be prepared for anything from Strictly Come Darcy to Mansfield Shark.
Austentatious are Amy Cooke-Hodgson, Graham Dickson, Charlotte Gittins, Cariad Lloyd, Joseph Morpurgo, Andrew Hunter Murray, Rachel Parris and Daniel Nils Roberts, with violin by Oliver Izod.
Producer: Jon Harvey
A Naked production for BBC Radio 4
Sunday 22 December, 7.15pm-7.45pm
John Shuttleworth in, Your Very Good Elf
John Shuttleworth’s wife, Mary, has cancelled Christmas because their children, Karen and Darren, have decided to spend Christmas Day elsewhere, so instead of preparing for the big day John finds himself taking down the Christmas tree and putting away the chocolate brazils. He is naturally upset at this turn of events, so when Joan Chitty phones for help because her Christmas tree is broken, John happily offers to take the Shuttleworth tree around to Joan’s as a replacement.
John is happy that he is able to decorate a tree after all, and has taken his spirit level to ensure the tree is straight. Once the fairy lights are switched on John is happy to enjoy a mince pie with Joan and have a sing-song. However, Joan, wearing a rather skimpy fairy outfit, gets a little too over excited during the music and falls over, breaking the tree!
John beats a hasty retreat to the garden centre, where he is enjoying some solitude in one of the garden chalets when Ken Worthing turns up wearing an elf outfit. Apparently there is chaos in the grotto and Santa has run away. This could be the perfect chance for John to finally enjoy Christmas by playing the role of Santa – so long as Ken can secure his petrol money as a fee...
Written and performed by Graham Fellows
Producer: Dawn Ellis
A Chic Ken Production for BBC Radio
Last Christmas (1/5)
Monday 23 December, 9.45am-10am
Curated by Greg Wise and Emma Thompson, this collection of personal essays reflects on the true meaning of Christmas.
The ten selected writers who will be reading their reminiscences of Christmas past include Meera Syal, Lyse Doucet, Emma Thompson, Greg Wise and Deborah Frances-White.
Each writer draws on the themes of kindness, acceptance and tolerance, and takes us from Queensland to Pennsylvania to the Black Country and beyond. More sobering memories come from the 'jungle' in Calais; a small village in Rwanda; and London's inhospitable streets.
Abridged by Richard Hamilton
Producer: Elizabeth Allard for BBC Radio 4
The Secret Commonwealth (1/10)
Monday 23 December, 12pm-12.15pm
Simon Russell Beale reads the second volume of Philip Pullman’s acclaimed The Book Of Dust trilogy.
It is 20 years since the events of La Belle Sauvage: The Book Of Dust Volume One unfolded, and saw the baby Lyra Belacqua begin her life-changing journey. It is seven years since readers left Lyra and the love of her young life, Will Parry, on a park bench in Oxford’s Botanic Gardens at the end of the groundbreaking, bestselling His Dark Materials sequence.
Now, in The Secret Commonwealth, we meet Lyra Silvertongue. And she is no longer a child...
The second volume of Philip Pullman’s The Book Of Dust sees Lyra, now 20 years old, and her dæmon Pantalaimon, forced to navigate their relationship in a way they could never have imagined, and drawn into the complex and dangerous factions of a world that they had no idea existed.
They must travel far beyond the edges of Oxford, across Europe and into Asia, in search for what is lost - a city haunted by dæmons, a secret at the heart of a desert, and the mystery of the elusive Dust.
Reader: Simon Russell Beale
Writer: Philip Pullman
Abridger: Doreen Estall
Producer: Michael Shannon for BBC Radio 4
In Their Element
Monday 23 December - Friday 27 December, 1.45pm-2pm
In Christmas week, which marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Mendeleev's Periodic Table, Andrea Sella celebrates our discovery and exploitation of chemical elements.
In each programme, aired daily on Radio 4, we hear about the various ways these elements have changed our world, and the often surprising ways we use them today. Some elements remain plentiful, while others are in low supply. And each of the five elements explored in this series - Silver, Aluminium, Gold, Helium and Strontium - play a big role in Christmas gifts.
Presenter: Andrea Sella
Producer: Louisa Field for BBC Radio 4
Beyond Belief: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
Monday 23 December, 4.30pm-5pm
Although it was written nearly 70 years ago, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe still regularly appears in the UK’s top ten favourite children’s books and has sold over 100 million copies in 47 different languages.
The book is, of course, set in the magical land of Narnia, where the White Witch has cast a spell to make sure that winter is everlasting and Christmas never comes. This changes when four siblings - Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmund - stumble into Narnia through the back of a wardrobe and defeat the Witch, with the help of the mighty lion, Aslan.
For some readers, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is an allegory of the story of Jesus; many others view it simply as a good yarn. To discuss the religious message behind the book - and whether or not it really matters - host Ernie Rea is joined by three authors: Lucy Mangan, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Francis Spufford.
Extracts are read by former Coronation Street and Broadchurch actress, Julie Hesmondhalgh.
Presenter: Ernie Rea
Producer: Helen Lee for BBC Radio 4
Museum Of Curiosity
Monday 23 December, 6.15pm-7pm
The Museum Of Curiosity is a Rose d’Or winning panel show in its 14th series hosted by John Lloyd (Blackadder, Spitting Image, Not The Nine O’Clock News, QI).
Each series is ‘curated’ by a different comedian - the Museum’s current curator is Bridget Christie (A Bic For Her, Netflix's Stand Up For Her and the Rose d'Or winning Bridget Christie Minds The Gap).
Last Christmas the Museum reunited four of its previous curators (Sally Phillips, Lee Mack, Jimmy Carr and Jo Brand) for its first Christmas special. This year John and Bridget return with a special extended edition featuring music producer Glyn Johns, comedian Shazia Mirza and novelist JK Rowling.
Glyn Johns is a music producer who has worked with The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Eagles, Bob Dylan, Joan Armatrading and Eric Clapton, to name but a few.
Shazia Mirza is a multi-award-winning comedian who is currently touring her latest show Coconut which talks about her experiences fending for herself (and her fellow islanders) on Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls. She won Columnist Of The Year for her writing in The New Statesman.
JK Rowling is the best-selling author behind the Harry Potter phenomenon. The books have won multiple awards, sold over 500 million copies and been translated into over 80 languages. She also founded children’s charity Lumos, was made an OBE in 2001 and has a gold Blue Peter badge.
The Museum’s exhibits were catalogued by Mike Shephard, Mike Turner and Emily Jupitus of QI.
Producers: Anne Miller and Victoria Lloyd
A BBC Studios production for BBC Radio 4
Christmas Compass (1/4)
Tuesday 24 December, 6.15pm-6.30pm
New Christmas stories from around the globe by Alexander McCall Smith. A letter kick starts a voyage of discovery, an intrepid reporter remembers the importance of kindness, a grieving woman finds comfort in an unlikely setting, and retirement uncovers surprises for a detective.
Read by Kelly Macdonald, Thierry Mabonga, Meera Syal and Adam Courting.
Producers: Claire Simpson, Eilidh McCreadie and Gaynor Macfarlane
A BBC Scotland Production for BBC Radio 4
A Festival Of Nine Lessons And Carols
Tuesday 24 December, 3pm-4.30pm
A live broadcast from the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge.
For millions listening around the world, A Festival Of Nine Lessons And Carols 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. This year the Festival is conducted by King's College's recently-appointed Director of Music, Daniel Hyde.
This year’s service celebrates the musical contribution of several former Directors of Music, including Sir David Willcocks, Sir Philip Ledger and Sir Stephen Cleobury, who retired last October after 37 years, and died recently.
A new carol has been commissioned for the service every year since 1983. The specially-composed carol for 2019, The Angel Gabriel, is by former Organist and Master of the Music at York Minster, Philip Moore.
Once In Royal David's City (desc. Cleobury) Bidding Prayer read by the Dean Sussex Carol (arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams) First lesson: Genesis 3 vv 8-15, 17-19 read by a Chorister The Truth From Above (Vaughan Williams/arr. Christopher Robinson) Second lesson: Genesis 22 vv 15-19 read by a Choral Scholar Angels From The Realms Of Glory (arr. Reginald Jaques) Ding Dong Merrily On High (arr. Willcocks) Third lesson: Isaiah 9 vv 2, 6-7 read by a representative of the Cambridge churches It Came Upon The Midnight Clear (desc. John Scott) O Little Town Of Bethlehem (Sir Henry Walford Davies) Fourth lesson: Isaiah 11 1-4a, 6-9 read by the Chaplain There Is No Rose (Dame Elizabeth Maconchy) The Lamb (John Tavener) Fifth lesson: Luke 1 vv 26-35, 38 read by a member of College staff The Angel Gabriel (2019 commission - Moore) Joys Seven (arr. Cleobury) Sixth lesson: Luke 2 vv 1-7 read by a representative of the City of Cambridge Silent Night (arr. Cleobury) Candlelight Carol (John Rutter) Seventh lesson: Luke 2 vv 8-17 read by the Director of Music While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night Away In A Manger (arr. Cleobury) Eighth lesson: Matthew 2 vv 1-12 read by the Vice-Provost Coventry Carol (Kenneth Leighton) Sir Christèmas (William Mathias) Ninth lesson: John 1 vv 1-14 read by the Provost O Come, All Ye Faithful (desc. Willcocks) Collect and Blessing Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (desc. Ledger)
Organ voluntaries: In dulci jubilo (BWV 729) (Bach) Final from Symphonie VI (Louis Vierne)
Director of Music: Daniel Hyde Organ Scholar: Dónal McCann Chaplain: The Revd Andrew Hammond Dean: The Revd Dr Stephen Cherry
Producer: Philip Billson for BBC Radio 4
Great Lives: Enid Blyton
Tuesday 24 December, 4.30pm-5pm
Journalist Janice Turner, a former winner of the British Press Award for Interviewer Of The Year, is nominating Enid Blyton.
Turner recently wrote a sweet and sensitive article about packing up the contents of her parents’ house. “The experience was almost unbearable,” she began. Among the items passed down from the attic were a sledge, various Jackie annuals, “and a heavy trunk of 60 Enid Blytons.”
Earlier this year, a commemorative coin featuring Blyton was rejected because of the controversy that continues to swirl around her work, which includes The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, and 24 books about Noddy.
Joining Turner and presenter Michael Parris to discuss Blyton’s life and career in this Christmas Eve edition of the programme is biographer and author of The Real Enid Blyton, Nadia Cohen.
Presenter: Michael Parris
Producer: Miles Warde for BBC Radio 4
With Great Pleasure At Christmas
Wednesday 25 December. 8am-9am
Clare Balding shares her life told through books she loves, with her readers Hugh Bonneville and Alice Arnold, and songs from the musicals Wicked and The Greatest Showman sung by West End star Kerry Ellis.
Wonderfully funny pieces by Bill Bryson and PG Wodehouse, visionary landscape writing by Robert Macfarlane, a moving extract from War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, poems by Yeats and Emily Dickinson - all wrapped up in a gorgeous reading by Hugh of Village Christmas by Laurie Lee.
Clare herself reads the epilogue from Roz Savage's Stop Drifting, Start Rowing, an account of one woman rowing across the Pacific alone. For Clare, it's been particularly influential in terms of decisions she's made in her life.
A stirring new version of If performed by Deanna Rodger honours the wider achievements of women in sport. Kerry Ellis also sings In the Bleak Midwinter for Clare, and that bleakness is reflected in a deeply moving piece by Caitlin Moran, acknowledging that Christmas can be a time of loss and remembered happiness as well as a time of joy.
Performed as part of the mystery plays, the Coventry Carol is from the Pageant of the Shearman and Taylors and tells the story of the Slaughter Of The Innocents. A copy of the manuscript survived a fire in Birmingham Library in 1879 by sheer chance.
Musician Ian Pittaway describes seeing the play in the ruins of Coventry cathedral in the 1980s - the drama was so powerful it still moves him to tears. The carol was sung on Christmas Day in 1940 in a live broadcast to the Empire just six weeks after the bombing of Coventry that destroyed the city's cathedral.
Journalist Donna Marmestein tells of how the carol transformed how she felt about loss in her family; composer and performer Tori Amos describes what inspired her cover version of the song; and Amy Hanson from the Small Steps Charity talks about how much her mother loved the carol. The children from the school her charity supports in Kenya sing their version of the song.
Roxanne Burroughs explains about how her daughter Kaitlyn came to have the carol sung at her funeral. The soloist is Samantha Lewis; early music is from The Night Watch; Reading Phoenix choir and Southern Voices sing the carol and the children's choir is from the Rehabilitation centre Immanuel Afrika in Nairobi, Kenya.
Producer: Sara Conkey for BBC Radio 4
Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show Christmas Special!
Wednesday 25 December, 11.30am-12pm
Arthur sets about launching Malcom's singing career. Starting with some Christmas caroling, a bigger stage awaits as the much loved radio sitcom returns to Radio 4 on Christmas Day. The attempted musical festivities are served up by Count Arthur Strong's Radio Repertory Company and their host of regular characters.
Steve Delaney stars as Count Arthur, supported by Mel Giedroyc, Alastair Kerr, Dave Mounfield and Terry Kilkelly as Malcom.
Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show! has comprised seven series and nine specials since first airing in December 2005. Highlights include winning the Sony Radio Award for Best Comedy in 2009 and being voted as the Best Radio Sitcom by the British Comedy Guide in 2016, and again in 2018.
The long-running radio series broadcast until 2012, when the character stepped on to BBC TV for three series of the Bafta-nominated and critically acclaimed TV sitcom, Count Arthur Strong. Since then, Count Arthur has returned to BBC Radio 4 annually with his celebrated Christmas specials. In August 2019, Count Arthur Strong's TV sitcom featured in the top three of the Most Missed TV Shows of the 21st Century poll conducted in the Radio Times.
Producer: Richard Daws
A Komedia 7 Digital production for BBC Radio 4
Pick Of The Year
Wednesday 25 December, 12.15pm-1pm
BBC News’ Europe Editor Katya Adler, and an as-yet-unconfirmed co-host, present a selection of BBC radio highlights from the past year.
Throughout the programme, we enter Forest 404, while Pippa Evans hits the high notes and John Humphrys says farewell. We also look back on the various award-winning dramas and documentaries that provided the most memorable radio moments of 2019.
Presenters: Katya Adler, TBC
Producer: Stephen Garner for BBC Radio 4
Three Vicars Talking
Wednesday 25 December, 1.15pm-1.45pm
Three Vicars Talking is back for a Christmas Day special.
Reverends Richard Coles, Kate Bottley and Giles Fraser swap shop talk about one of the busiest times of the clerical year. As well as getting ready for Christmas like the rest of us, they also have to prepare for advent, attend numerous school nativity plays, and officiate at midnight mass in front of their biggest congregations of the year.
Presenters: Rev. Richard Coles, Rev. Kate Bottley and Rev. Giles Fraser
Producer: Neil Morrow for BBC Radio 4
A Time To Dance
Wednesday 25 December, 2.15pm-3pm
Dramatist Lucy Gannon invites us into her retelling of the Christmas tale, a story which surprised her in the writing. While she was expecting the gentle story we all know, she instead discovered something altogether different.
In A Time To Dance we meet two helpless people facing an uncertain future… and an unexpected stranger - an elderly shepherd, who has carried guilt and grief for a lifetime.
Starring Nikesh Patel (Indian Summers; Four Weddings) as Joseph, and Karl Johnson (Mum; Hot Fuzz) as Isaac.
Cast: Isaac ….. Karl Johnson Joseph ….. Nikesh Patel Mary ….. Scarlett Courtney The Narrator ….. Jessica Turner Heli ….. Clive Hayward Ben ….. Will Kirk Sam….. Greg Jones Angel ….. Shaun Mason Innkeeper’s wife ….. Lucy Reynolds
Written by Lucy Gannon
Sound design: David Chilton
Produced and Directed by Allegra McIlroy for BBC Radio 4
Neil Gaiman’s Chivalry
Wednesday 25 December, 4pm-4.30pm
Amongst the storytelling specials on Radio 4 this Christmas is the tale of Mrs Whitaker, who finds the Holy Grail in a charity shop. Along the way she meets her dear friend Mrs Greenberg for macaroons, and becomes the focal point of Sir Galaad’s most important quest.
It’s a delightfully quirky, funny, and sweet story, mixing the gentle normality of Mrs Whitaker’s chats with her best friend, discussing grandchildren over home-made macaroons, with the very lightly touched upon everyday loneliness of bereavement, and a visit from a handsome young man who says he’s called Galaad. He comes asking for the Grail, and ends up helping out with the gardening and heavy lifting around the house.
Neil Gaiman created Mrs Whitaker in his late 20s, and she was very much inspired by his grandmothers.
Starring Glenda Jackson as the Narrator and Mrs Whitaker, and Kit Harington as Sir Galaad.
Neil Gailman says: “I love short stories. Short stories are amazing for writers and they’re great for readers. You start out and at the end of the week you have a finished short story and it’s all done; there’s an enormous feeling of accomplishment.
"As a reader, the idea of being able to go into a magical, wonderful, different world; to experience all the joys that literature can give you and be done in time for tea is also a magical sort of delight.”
Cast: Narrator ….. Glenda Jackson Mrs Whitaker ….. Glenda Jackson Sir Galaad ….. Kit Harington Mrs Greenberg ….. Jessica Turner Marie ….. Lucy Reynolds
Sound design ….. David Chilton
Written by Neil Gaiman
Produced and Directed by Allegra McIlroy for BBC Radio 4
A Very John Kearns Christmas
Wednesday 25 December, 5pm-5.30pm
Christmas might be the only time of year you set fire to your pudding - but isn’t it just another day?
A programme about home, memory and ritual. Two-time Edinburgh Comedy Award winner John Kearns pulls up his sleigh to share genuine audio recordings of his family’s Christmas dinners gone by.
Listen as his family picks over the bones of Midnight Mass, dissects jokes with abandon, mourns the quality of fish and chips and pays its respects to discontinued bus routes.
The tapes are interspersed with Kearns’ singular stand up, running through the litany of his Christmas morning, pondering Gary Lineker signing a Christmas card to his wife, and marvelling at George Ridgeley writing Last Christmas in front of Match Of The Day.
Light up the fire, extinguish the pudding, pop the kettle on and settle into a Very John Kearns Christmas.
Producer: Andy Goddard
An SPG production for BBC Radio 4
Christmas Meditation with Sally Phillips
Thursday 26 December, 12.15pm-12.30am
Just after midnight on Boxing Day, actress and comedian Sally Phillips reflects on the meaning of Christmas at the end of a special day.
For some, it will be quiet and spent alone; for others, it will be a long day spent entertaining family and friends. In a personal reflection on what it means to Sally, she’ll capture some of her thoughts and feelings at this festive time of year.
Presenter: Sally Phillips
Producer: Alexa Good for BBC Radio 4
Today Guest Editors
Thursday 26 - Tuesday 31 December, 6am-9am (7am- 9am Boxing Day and Saturday)
BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme welcomes five Guest Editors who will take over the programme during the festive period. For the past 16 years, the programme has handed over the editorial reins to high-profile public figures during the week between Christmas and New Year.
This year’s line-up includes:
Greta Thunberg - 16-year-old environmental activist
Baroness Hale of Richmond - President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Grayson Perry - Turner Prize-winning artist
Charles Moore - Columnist and former Editor of the Daily Telegraph
George the Poet - Rapper, spoken word artist and acclaimed podcast host
They will each guest edit the Radio 4 Today Programme between 26 and 31 December. Each programme will include an interview with the guest editor.
Beginning the Guest Editor takeover series is Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry, who will examine stereotypes and conventional thinking.
Next up is Baroness Hale, who invites Today to her home in Richmond, Yorkshire, and gives us a tour of the Supreme Court. She has also asked us explore the issue of coercive control.
On 28 December, life-long BBC critic and former Editor of the Daily Telegraph Charles Moore will focus on freedom of expression.
On 30 December listeners will hear from 16 year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
The Nobel Peace Prize nominee has commissioned reports from the Antarctic and Zambia, as well as a Mishal Husain interview with the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney.
Closing the Guest Editor series will be rapper, spoken word artist and acclaimed host of Have You Heard George’s Podcast? on BBC Sounds, George the Poet, who will report from Uganda and explore issues around identity, questioning the idea of ‘value’ and how society apportions it.
Each editor will have the support of Today producers and reporters to bring their ideas to air. The usual day and night editors are on hand to make sure the material meets the BBC’s editorial guidelines.
The Today programme has welcomed various guest editors over the years, including His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, Angelina Jolie, Commons Speaker John Bercow, David Dimbleby, Sir Lenny Henry, Nicola Adams, Tracey Emin, Professor Stephen Hawking and Sir Richard Branson.
BBC Radio 4 Publicity
Ghost Stories From Ambridge (1/3)
Monday 30 December, 6.15pm-6.30pm
On a biting December night, in the darkened attic of Lower Loxley, Jim Lloyd enthrals an assembly of Ambridge residents with three chilling ghost stories from the turn of the last century: The Room In The Tower by E.F. Benson, The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs, and Lost Hearts by M. R. James.
Narrator: John Rowe (pictured)
Abridged by Jeremy Osborne and Jeremy Howe
Produced and Directed by Charlotte Davey and Mel Ward for BBC Radio 4
Saturday 28 December, 2.30pm-3.30pm
A mad-cap satire on the division of Ireland, by the godfather of British comedy, Spike Milligan.
Starring Ed Byrne, Pauline McLynn, Kate Harbour, Jane Milligan and featuring Barry Cryer as The Author. Adapted from Spike Milligan's classic comic novel, by Ian Billings.
Published in 1963, Puckoon became a publishing phenomenon, has never been out of print and has sold more than six million copies. It's a satire on the futility of national borders and inadequacy of bureaucrats, filled with wonderful one-liners and madcap scenes which fall into one another, and remind us of the author’s great days writing the Goons.
In 1924, the Boundary Commission is tasked with creating the new official division between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Through incompetence, dereliction of duty and sheer perversity, the border ends up running through the middle of the small town of Puckoon.
Houses are divided from outhouses, husbands separated from wives, bars are cut off from their patrons, churches sundered from graveyards. And in the middle of it all is poor Dan Milligan, our feckless protagonist (played by Ed Byrne), who is taunted and manipulated by everyone to try and make some sense of this mess.
Cast: Ed Byrne Barry Cryer Pauline McLynn Kate Harbour Jane Milligan Wilf Scolding Colm Gleeson Tom Alexander David Shaw-Parker
Adapted by Ian Billings
Director: Dirk Maggs
Producer: David Morley
A Perfectly Normal production for BBC Radio 4
Wednesday 1 January, 11.30am-12pm
Award-winning Martin Jarvis performs the first of two PG Wodehouse comic classics, live on-stage. Jeeves as stand-up!
Bertie is pressurised by his intimidating Aunt Agatha to "save the family reputation" and prevent an uncle from making a potentially embarrassing marriage. Bertie fails in his mission. Can the inimitable Jeeves come to the rescue?
A packed house at The Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, Surrey rocks with laughter as Martin Jarvis entertains playing Jeeves, Bertie and the rest.