Entertainment & Arts

BBC Radio Christmas highlights 2015 revealed

Jeremy Irons
Image caption Oscar-winning actor Irons will read the original five poems along with the further ten which make up the Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats

Jeremy Irons reading TS Eliot, Mary Berry and the radio premiere of Calendar Girls are among the highlights of BBC Radio this Christmas.

Irons will read TS Eliot's Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats poems on BBC Radio 4, 78 years after their first broadcast on Christmas Day.

Calendar Girls will be performed by the cast of The Archers with the addition of Sian Phillips.

And Mary Berry has invited Radio 2 into her home to share recipes and music.

On Christmas Day in 1937, nearly two years before the book was published, five of TS Eliot's Practical Cats poems were broadcast as readings by Geoffrey Tandy on BBC Radio.

This year, Oscar-winning actor Irons will read the original five poems along with the further 10 which make up the Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats.

Also on BBC Radio 4, is the premiere of Calendar Girls, a radio version of the highly successful film and stage play.

It will be performed by the cast of The Archers as part of their Ambridge amateur dramatics performance in a full separate programme.

Actress Sian Phillips will join the cast and she called the role a gift.

"Had I been asked to name a most wonderful, surprising Christmas gift, never could I have conjured up an invitation to spend Christmas in Ambridge. When I heard those words I cried an immediate and joyful 'Yes!' After all I'm at home in Borsetshire... What a gift!"

Actor Michael Sheen and lawyer Miriam Gonzalez Durantez are the first guest editors to be announced for the Today programme over the festive period.

Gonzalez Durantez will be joined by The Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Begum and Jamie Oliver to discuss the issues of encouraging children to eat a healthy diet.

Image caption Berry will play music including Dean Martin, Perry Como, Shakin' Stevens and Wham! along with her own choices of hymns

Meanwhile Liza Tarbuck will join The Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry for lunch at her house on Christmas Eve for BBC Radio 2.

They will share her favourite Christmas recipes and share the music that sound-tracked her childhood.

Berry said she was "looking forward to showing Liza around my kitchen and sharing a few of my family traditions, including my recipe for the perfect mince pies, which really are quite special".

Also on Radio 2 are shows hosted by Paul O'Grady, Alan Carr and Christmas lunch with Kylie Minogue, where she will play her favourite festive songs.

And Paul Gambaccini will celebrate 50 years of The Sound of Motown with a rare interview with the founder of Motown Records, Berry Gordy.

On Radio 3, actor Alec Baldwin and Eddie Izzard will share their favourite classical music in separate programmes on Essential Classics on Radio 3.

Radio 4 Extra has been given exclusive access to the Queen of Crime's personal Dictaphone tapes which will be broadcast in Agatha Christie: Speaking Her Own Words.

On 6 Music Roisin Murphy, Laurie Anderson and electro artist Peaches have been announced as the station's Three Wise Women, taking control of the playlist.

Across Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Sunday 27 December they will present their own two-hour shows and select their favourite 6 Music programming for the year for the rest of the evening and overnight.

The Chemical Brothers will also join Lauren Laverne for a three-hour special for 6 Music's Chemical Christmas.

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