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Christmas TV and radio

21 December 2018

Neal Street Productions/BBC

Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) in Call the Midwife (Christmas Day, 7.45pm BBC1)

Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) in Call the Midwife (Christmas Day, 7.45pm BBC1)

TV HIGHLIGHT: Call the Midwife A Christmas special in which Sister Julienne’s future at Nonnatus House hangs in the balance. Christmas Day, 7.45pm BBC1


RADIO HIGHLIGHT Archive on 4: How Santa Stole Christmas “Santa Claus is to American material faith what Jesus Christ is to spiritual faith,” a critic has said. Christopher Frayling explores how this has happened, with guests including the Archbishop of Canterbury. Saturday, 8pm Radio 4


TELEVISION: Friday 7pm (BBC2) 100 Years of King’s Carols A look behind the scenes with the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, to mark a century of its Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

PA100 years of King’s Carols (Friday 7pm BBC2) — see under Christmas Eve for other broadcasts

8.30pm (BBC1) Celebrity Mastermind Those questioned include the Revd Richard Coles (1/10).

Saturday 11.35pm (BBC4) Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas A documentary that tells the story of the Jewish songwriters, such as Irving Berlin, who wrote songs for Christianity’s annual festival.

Sunday 11.40am (BBC1) My Faith and Me June Sarpong explains how her faith helped her after an accident, and when her brother took his life (4/4).

12.55pm (BBC1) Songs of Praise: Christmas Big Sing Aled Jones, Katherine Jenkins, and others perform at the McEwan Hall, Edinburgh.

5.50pm (Sky Premiere) Mary Magdalene A 2018 film about Mary, from Magdala, who follows Jesus, and who causes conflict with the other disciples, including Peter.

BBC StudiosIn Celebrity Mastermind (Friday, 8.30 p.m., BBC 1), those questioned include the Revd Richard Coles

9pm (BBC2) Chris and Michaela: Under the Christmas sky Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan travel to the desert in Jordan in search of the Star of Bethlehem: the conjunction of two planets that may have been the basis for the biblical story.

Christmas Eve 5.50pm (BBC2) Carols from King’s The traditional celebration from King’s College, Cambridge (repeated Sunday at 11am, BBC2).

9pm (BBC2) Christmas at St Paul’s A behind-the-scenes look at St Paul’s Cathedral, and its preparations for Christmas.

11.45pm (BBC1) Midnight Mass from Buckfast Abbey Live from the Benedictines, in Devon.

11.45pm (ITV) Christmas Carols on ITV Alfie Boe and others hold an evening of celebration and commemoration.

Steve FanstonePaul Kerensa, in Christmas Meditation (Boxing Day, 12.15am R4)

Christmas Day 10am (BBC1) Christmas Day Service: Live from Oldham Parish Church A celebration of holy communion led by the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker.

Boxing Day, Thursday, and Friday 8pm (BBC4) Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: Who am I? Professor Alice Roberts talks about what it means to be human, and what makes each of us unique (1-3/3).

Sunday 1.50pm (BBC1) Songs of Praise: Christmas Big Sing From the McEwan Hall, Edinburgh, Katherine Jenkins hosts a New Year celebration.

New Year’s Eve 9pm (BBC4) A Day in the Life of Earth Dr Hannah Fry reveals how much our planet changes in 24 hours as it moves, breathes, shrinks, and grows.

New Year’s Day 12.55pm (BBC1) The Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message Archbishop Welby reflects on how communities can be sources of hope.

2.35pm (ITV2) Ben-Hur The 1959 Hollywood epic starring Charlton Heston.

Wednesday and Thursday 9pm (BBC4) Waco: Madman or messiah A look at the 1993 siege at Waco, in Texas, where 76 members of the Branch Davidian religious cult died, including its leader, David Koresh (1-2/2).


RADIO: Friday 1.30pm (World Service) Heart and Soul Will Bond seeks the path of the Jedi.

2.15pm (R4) The Moon That Night A drama in which a family face a clash between their Christmas plans and their liberal-Christian principles.

8pm (Classic FM) The Lord Taverners at Christmas with Catherine Bott The annual Carol Concert with the Stars, recorded on Monday in St Marylebone Parish Church, London.

Saturday and Sunday 3pm (Classic FM) Carols from St Paul’s Cathedral Two concerts, recorded this week in St Paul’s Cathedral (1-2/2).

Sunday 6.05am (R4) Something Understood The Revd Robin Griffiths-Jones, Master of the Temple Church, London, looks at the nativity stories in St Matthew’s and St Luke’s Gospels.

8.10am (R4) Sunday Worship Lord Eames preaches at the Methodist College, Belfast.

3pm (R3) Choral Evensong A repeat of last Wednesday’s service from Bath Abbey.

Christmas Eve 3pm (R4) A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols The traditional service broadcast live from King’s College, Cambridge (repeated Christmas Day at 2pm, Radio 3).

4.30pm (R4) Beyond Belief Ernie Rea and guests discuss the religious and cultural significance of angels (8/9).

BBC/FILMS OF RECORD/GRAHAM LACDAODeputy Head Verger, Esther Anstice, in Christmas at St Paul’s (Christmas Eve, 9pm BBC2)

11.30pm (R4) Midnight Mass Live from St Anne’s RC Cathedral, Leeds.

Christmas Day 9am (R4) Christmas Service A service from Lambeth Palace with the Community of St Anselm, readings, and carols. The Archbishop of Canterbury preaches.

1pm (Classic FM) The Nation’s Favourite Carol Last year’s winner, for the second year in a row, was “O holy night”.

1.15pm (R4) Once in Royal David’s City The stories of former choristers whose treble solos began the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

7pm (Classic FM) The Story of Carols Anne-Marie Minhall reveals the stories behind the most famous carols, one of which has sold more than 150 million copies, while another was written during a hot summer.

Boxing Day 12.15am (R4) Christmas Meditation The comedian Paul Kerensa talks about the traditions behind Christmas.

3.30pm (R3) Choral Evensong Recorded on the feast of St Stephen in Merton College Chapel, Oxford.

Saturday 12.15pm (R3) A Symphony of Psalms Cerys Matthews explores the influence of the Psalms on musicians and composers.

Sunday 8.10am (R4) Sunday Worship A service from Farm Street Roman Catholic Church, Mayfair, in London.

3pm (R3) Choral Evensong A repeat of the Boxing Day service.

New Year’s Eve 4.30pm (R4) Beyond Belief Ernie Rea and guests discuss superheroes (9/9).

Wednesday 3.30pm (R3) Choral Evensong An archive recording from Trinity College, Cambridge, first broadcast January 1996.

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