The BBC have revealed details of their festive highlights for Christmas 2018 and it’s the usual anticipated mix of special episodes of favourite specials and one offs.
Bringing explosive drama and intrigue to BBC One is the much anticipated return of iconic drama Luther, Sarah Phelps’ adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders, plus a six-part drama adaptation of 19th century classic Les Misérables.
Take That mark their 30th anniversary with a special one off programme for BBC One and we’ve a mix of animated adventures and family fun with Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Zog and David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang, as well as an innovative interpretation of Richard Adams’ bestselling novel Watership Down.
There are familiar BBC One festive favourites galore including specials from Call The Midwife, Doctor Who, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Hold the Sunset, Still Open All Hours, EastEnders and Strictly Come Dancing, plus a live special of multi award-winning hit show Not Going Out and brand new comedy Click & Collect; and celebrating 20 years, the stars of Goodness Gracious Me alongside celebrity fans of the hit BBC Two series discuss some of the award-winning show’s most memorable sketches.
In documentary, the illustrious careers of comedian Billy Connolly, writer Andrew Davies and storyteller Raymond Briggs are explored; and natural history programming includes frozen action Spy In The Snow, Gordon Buchanan’s Grizzly Bear Cubs and Me, Christmas Sky with Chris and Michaela and Snow-Wolf.
From Advent to New Year, we’re celebrating Christmas with a diverse range of religious programming that offers worship, conversation, reflection and music; allowing audiences to partake in the festive season in their own personal way.
Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, says: “Once again this year, Christmas promises to be a very special time on the BBC. We’ve got a wonderful array of stars to keep everyone entertained, with the very best in drama, entertainment, comedy and documentaries over the festive period. There is something for everyone and I know our audiences will enjoy the fantastic range of magical treats on offer across the BBC.”
A special array of talent will bring their work to the BBC this year with some of the biggest names of stage and screen represented across BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and online on BBC Three. Alongside established names there will be new performances from up and coming stars and programmes for all ages.
Multi-award-winning crime drama series Luther makes its long-awaited return to BBC One. DCI John Luther, played by Idris Elba, is once more called to immerse himself in the deepest depths of human depravity in a new four-part series written by Neil Cross.
In Doctor Who, a terrifying evil is stirring from across the centuries of Earth’s history as Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz bring in the New Year in spectacular style.
As Poplar prepares for Christmas, the nuns travel to the Mother House to elect a new mother superior. Sister Julienne is the obvious replacement and must face this possibility as her future at Nonnatus House hangs in the balance, in this year’s Call The Midwife, one of our best-loved dramas.
Adapted for the screen by Tom Bidwell and directed by Noam Murro, Watership Down is a tale of adventure, courage and survival as a band of rabbits flee the certain destruction of their home. Across two feature-length episodes on BBC One, we’ll follow stout-hearted brothers Hazel and Fiver voiced by James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult, as the rabbits journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, towards the hope of a better life.
Multi award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies’ six-part drama adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic Les Misérables, delves deep into the many layers of Hugo’s story, starring Dominic West as Jean Valjean, David Oyelowo as Javert and Lily Collins as Fantine. The distinguished British cast also includes Adeel Akhtar and Olivia Colman as Monsieur and Madame Thénardier, Ellie Bamber as Cosette, Josh O’Connor as Marius and Erin Kellyman as Éponine.
The next instalment in the collection of Agatha Christie stories for BBC One is Sarah Phelps’ adaptation of The ABC Murders, Christie’s classic 1936 title. The three part drama sees Poirot, played by John Malkovich, as he attempts to thwart a killer that’s travelled the length and breadth of Britain via the railway network. Rupert Grint stars alongside Malkovich as Inspector Crome.
Christmas is rarely a quiet time in Albert Square and this year is no exception when at least one person is left with blood on their hands in EastEnders. New Year kicks off in dramatic style for Mel and Ray as their wedding day arrives but what does Mel have in store for her deceitful groom? As the bride-to-be puts the final pieces of her plan into place, she comes to a disturbing realisation.
Mark Gatiss brings the Christmas ghost story tradition back to life with The Dead Room for BBC Four starring Simon Callow, which tells the tale of a long-running radio horror series of the same name.
Animated adventure Zog sees author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler’s accident-prone dragon come to life featuring a stellar voice cast including Sir Lenny Henry, Tracey Ullman, Hugh Skinner, Patsy Ferran and Kit Harington. There’s more family fun with The Midnight Gang, adapted from David Walliams’ book and starring Alan Davies, Haydyn Gwynne and David Walliams.
Amongst a raft of comedy and entertainment specials, Michael McIntyre’s Big Christmas Show returns once more stuffed with big stars, big laughs and big surprises and Strictly Come Dancing returns for an all-star Christmas spectacular.
Hit BBC One entertainment show All Together Now is back, with a star-studded celebrity special set to get the nation joining in.
Stephen Merchant and Asim Chaudhry star as two mismatched neighbours in BBC One comedy Click & Collect and one of the UK’s best-loved bands mark their 30th anniversary with Take That and Us.
It’s Christmas once again in the Brown household as comedy favourite Mrs Brown’s Boys returns with two festive episodes alongside Christmas comedy specials of Hold the Sunset, The Young Offenders and Still Open All Hours. Meanwhile, comedy legend Ken Dodd is remembered in BBC Two’s How Tickled We Were.
Celebrating 20 years, Goodness Gracious Me – 20 years innit!, features exclusive interviews with its stars and creators alongside other comedians who are fans of the series as the show’s ten most memorable sketches are revealed.
There’s plenty more comedy on BBC Two with a fourth series of Two Doors Down, as well as festive specials from Upstart Crow, QI, Mock the Week and Live at the Apollo.
With the party season fast approaching, Nadiya’s Party Feasts sees her sharing favourite celebration dishes, while Mary Berry once more opens her kitchen up to some of TV’s best-loved faces in Mary Berry’s Christmas Party, as well as a seasonal special of Mary Berry’s Country House.
There are more delicious treats being served up as Gregg Wallace visits the Quality Street factory which produces a staggering 2 million tins of festive chocolate assortments a year, Cherry Healey goes behind the scenes to learn how the the Royal Mail produces Christmas stamps and historian Ruth Goodman is on the trail of the Christmas turkey in Inside The Christmas Factory.
In natural history programming; the Spy Creatures are back to take us on a journey across the globe and revel how living in the snow tests animals to the limit in Spy In The Snow; on BBC Two, Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan take viewers on a Christmas adventure to explore some of nature’s greatest celestial wonders and winter wildlife in Christmas Sky with Chris and Michaela; The “Xmas” Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan sees Romesh get an insider’s guide to the Canadian Arctic Circle; dramatised natural history special Snow-Wolf follows the odyssey of an extraordinary mother wolf through the frozen heart of Europe; Gordon Buchanan’s Grizzly Bear Cubs and Me sees the natural history expert help six orphaned bear cubs in the snowy Russian wilderness.
The arts are celebrated this festive season with an emotional portrait of illustrator and storyteller Raymond Briggs and An American in Paris on BBC Two; and Pappano’s Arias and Swan Lake from the Royal Opera House on BBC Four.
Andrew Davies: Rewriting the Classics discovers how the acclaimed writer and creator of some of the most iconic and successful British small-screen dramas of the past fifty years – turns one art form into another.
Weaved around private interviews, along with contributions from some of the greatest names in comedy and popular culture, Billy Connolly: Made in Scotland finds Billy returning to Scotland to reveal the influences and motivations that turned him from being Billy Connolly the welder into Billy Connolly The Big Yin.
For music lovers, Fleetwood Mac: A Musical History on BBC Four celebrates the iconic band, while Bros: After the Screaming Stops offers a fascinating insight into one of pop’s original boy bands. Plus, there are four Top of the Pops specials including the traditional Christmas Day and New Year’s Day editions on BBC One as well as The Story of Top of the Pops 1987 over on BBC Four.
Over on BBC Two, Gregory Porter and friends enjoy a seasonal cocktail of music and song in Merry Christmas Baby, while Petroc Trelawny hosts the traditional New Year’s Day Concert from Vienna.
On BBC One, Aled Jones celebrates Christmas in Edinburgh with a thousand Songs of Praise viewers in the McEwan Hall and My Faith And Me sees four public figures explore their relationships with religion and faith.
The Queen’s Christmas Message will as ever be a highlight of Christmas Day. And this year Christmas worship on BBC One will broadcast live from two glorious settings: Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve from Buckfast Abbey in Devon and Christmas Morning Live from Oldham Parish. BBC Two celebrates the festive season with the return of much-loved Christmas Eve tradition, Carols From King’s, as well as Christmas At St Paul’s, with unprecedented access to the iconic cathedral.
Merry Christmas from the BBC.
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