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Coming up on TV and on radio this Christmas

18 December 2020

Highlights of the best TV and Radio over the next two weeks


Katherine Jenkins’s Christmas Spectacular from the Royal Albert Hall (Christmas Eve, 2.15pm, ITV)

Katherine Jenkins’s Christmas Spectacular from the Royal Albert Hall (Christmas Eve, 2.15pm, ITV)

TV HIGHLIGHT: A Wartime Christmas A modern-day family volunteer to experience the deprivations of Christmasses during the Second World War (1-2/2).

Wednesday 23 December and Christmas Eve 9pm, Channel 5


RADIO HIGHLIGHT: The Moon That Night A drama about a family who arrive at a country church for a service on Christmas Eve, and find that a homeless single mother and her child have moved in. There is a clash between the family’s Christmas plans and its liberal-Christian principles.

Christmas Eve 2.15pm, Radio 4


TELEVISION: Sunday 10am (BBC1) A Very Country Christmas Ellie Harrison and Angellica Bell celebrate Christmas traditions in Devon and Cornwall (3/3).

11am (BBC1) Sunday Worship A service from Winchester Cathedral for the fourth Sunday of Advent.

1.15pm (BBC1) Songs of Praise: The UK’s favourite carol At St Paul’s Cathedral, Aled Jones reveals the top ten carols, chosen in a viewers’ poll.

Monday 7pm (BBC1) Marcus Rashford: Feeding Britain’s children The Manchester United footballer talks of his own experiences of child poverty.

BBC/Paul CooperMarcus Rashford: Feeding Britain’s children (Monday 21 December, 7pm, BBC 1)

8.50pm (BBC1) The Vicar of Dibley in Lockdown The Revd Geraldine Granger judges a mask competition, and Hugo steps in to give a sermon (3/3). A compilation of the series on Wednesday at 11.50pm.

Tuesday 7pm (BBC1) The Goes Wrong Show: The nativity Cornley Polytechnic Amateur Drama Society stages a nativity play funded by a corporate sponsor — but the show descends into chaos.

9pm (Sky Arts) The Sound of Music: Live! An adaptation of the musical from 2013, starring Carrie Underwood.

Wednesday 8pm (BBC4) A Christmas History of Sacred Music Sir Simon Russell Beale explores how the sound of Christmas has evolved in response to changing ideas about the nativity (repeat).

Christmas Eve 5.30pm and Christmas Day 6.55am (BBC2) Carols from King’s The annual celebration, televised since 1963.

Christmas Eve 2.15pm (ITV) Katherine Jenkins’s Christmas Spectacular from the Royal Albert Hall The Welsh singer performs a popular carols and seasonal favourites.

2.35pm (C4) It’s a Wonderful Life The classic Hollywood film starring James Stewart as a man who is contemplating suicide until he meets his guardian angel.

11.45pm (BBC1) Midnight Mass from Clifton Cathedral The RC Bishop of Clifton, the Rt Revd Declan Lang, celebrates mass from his cathedral in Bristol.

Christmas Day 10am (BBC1) Christmas Day Eucharist Gospel-style worship, live from the Church of God of Prophecy, Birmingham, led by Bishop Paul McCalla.

7.40pm (BBC1) Call the Midwife It is Christmas, 1965: Sister Monica is hospitalised after a fall, a young woman suffers repeated miscarrriages, and a circus comes to town.

9pm (Nat Geographic) Lost Cities of the Old Testament Albert Lin visits long-lost cities using satellites and space-age technology.

11.40pm (BBC1) On Christmas Night Ashley Banjo reads the story of the first Christmas from St Luke’s Gospel.

Boxing Day 2.40pm (ITV4) Ben-Hur The Oscar-winning epic film starring Charlton Heston.

Sunday 9.10am (BBC1) Sunday Worship From Llandaff Cathedral, led by the Precentor Canon Mark Preece.

1.20pm (BBC1) Songs of Praise The soul singer Mica Paris talks to Mark De-Lisser about her faith and love of gospel music.

3.45pm (BBC1) The Sound of Music The 1965 film starring Julie Andrews.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday 9pm (BBC1) Black Narcissus A three-part adaptation of Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel about a group of Anglican nuns in the Himalayas (1-3/3).

Bank Holiday Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 8pm (BBC4) Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: Planet Earth — a user’s guide Professor Chris Jackson, Dr Helen Czerski, and Dr Tara Shine travel back in time, examining reasons for changes in the earth’s climate (1-3/3).


RADIO: Friday 6.30am (R3) Breakfast Petroc Trelawny announces the winner of the BBC Carol Competition.

8pm (Classic FM) The Classic FM Concert with John Suchet John Suchet presents an evening of Christmas music from the choral composer and conductor John Rutter. It was recorded in St Albans Cathedral on 23 October.

Sunday 8.10am (R4) Sunday Worship From the smallest city in the UK, St David’s, led by Canon Leigh Richardson.

9am, 1pm and 4pm (R3) EBU Christmas around Europe Seasonal music, introduced by Sara Mohr-Pietsch, from London, Helsinki, and Budapest.

10.30am (R4) Heart and Soul A look why at the identity and colour of Jesus has taken on a new significance in this year of protest and change.

3pm (R3) Choral Evensong A repeat of last week’s service from Hereford Cathedral.

Monday 9am (R4) Start the Week Andrew Marr and guests explore Church and State.

marc marnie/edinburgh festivalJames MacMillan concludes his series Faith in Music by examining Edward Elgar and Leonard Bernstein (Mondays, 4pm, R4)

4pm (R4) Faith in Music James MacMillan talks about Edward Elgar and his religious upbringing (3/4).

4.30pm Beyond Belief Ernie Rea is joined by Tina Beattie, Mona Siddiqui, and Archbishop Anba Angaelos to discuss Mary, a highly revered figure in both Christianity and Islam (5/7).

8pm (Classic FM) The Lord’s Taverners Carol Concert with the Stars Familiar music and carols, conducted by Nicholas Cleobury.

Tuesday 2pm (R3) Afternoon Concert Live from Temple Church, London, Ian Skelly presents contemporary Christmas carols.

8pm (Classic FM) The Prince’s Foundation Carol Concert Recorded at St Paul’s, Knightsbridge, in aid of the Prince’s Foundation.

Wednesday 9am (R4) The Reith Lectures Mark Carney concludes the series by arguing that the roots of the climate-change emergency lie in a crisis of values (4/4).

2pm (R3) Afternoon Concert Professor Brian Cox joins the BBC Symphony Orchestra to explore some of the questions of what it means to be mortal in an eternal universe in a concert recorded at the Barbican this month.

3.30pm (R3) Choral Evensong From Royal Holloway, University of London, recorded on 15 September.

Christmas Eve 2pm (R3) Afternoon Concert A celebration of the divine wonder of infancy for Christmas Eve.

3pm (R4) A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols The traditional service from King’s College, Cambridge (repeated at 1pm, Radio 3, Christmas Day).

9pm (R4) Something Understood Mark Tully examines what strength can be taken from poets and philosophers to create joy and light in times of darkness.

9pm (R2) The Twelve Films of Christmas James King counts down the top 12 Christmas films of all time, as voted for by listeners.

11pm (R4) Once in Royal David’s City Former choristers describe their memories of opening the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols with the solo first verse of “Once in royal David’s city” (repeat).

11.30pm (R4) Midnight Mass Live from Manchester Cathedral. The preacher is the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker.

Christmas Day 9am (R4) Christmas Service The Revd Richard Carter and the Revd Catherine Duce lead a socially distanced retelling of the Christmas story, A Draught in the Stable, recorded in St Martin-in-the-Fields, Hackney City Farm, and Trafalgar Square.

11am (R4) You’re Dead to Me Greg Jenner and guests explore the history of the Victorian Christmas.

1pm (Classic FM) The Nation’s Favourite Carol The result of this year’s poll of listeners’ 30 favourite carols.

2pm (R2) The 40 Most Played Christmas Songs of the Century with Gary Davies The Top 40 festive records heard on UK radio and TV, and in shops, pubs, restaurants, and more.

3.05pm (Classic FM) A Royal Christmas Nicholas Owen with this year’s royal carol concert, held on 15 December in the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace.

An abridged version of John Barton’s A History of the Bible is read by Hugh Bonneville in Book of the Week (Monday 28 December to Friday 1 January, 9.45am, R4 FM)

4pm (R4) Drama: Star Child Patrick Barlow’s comedy play is a new take on the nativity story.

12.15am (R4) Christmas Meditation Frank Cotttrell-Boyce reflects on the uniqueness of this year’s festivities.

Sunday 8.10am (R4) Sunday Worship The Archbishop of Canterbury preaches from Lambeth Palace to mark the 850th anniversary of the murder of Thomas Becket.

3pm (R3) Choral Evensong A repeat of last week’s service from Royal Holloway, University of London, recorded on 15 September.

Monday to Friday 9.45am (R4 FM) Book of the Week: A History of the Bible: The Book and its faiths Hugh Bonneville reads an abridged version of John Barton’s story of the Bible and of the two faiths that hold it sacred. (1-5/5).

Monday 4pm (R4) Faith in Music James MacMillan considers Leonard Bernstein’s complex faith life and religious roots (4/4).

4.30pm (R4) Beyond Belief Ernie Rea and guests explore Beethoven’s interest in God and Eastern religions (6/7).

Wednesday 3.30pm (R3) Choral Evensong From Canterbury Cathedral and recorded on 13 October, to mark the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket.

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