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Coming up in the fortnight ahead on TV and on Radio

22 December 2023


Judy Parfitt as Sister Monica Joan in Call the Midwife (Christmas Day 8.15pm, BBC1)

Judy Parfitt as Sister Monica Joan in Call the Midwife (Christmas Day 8.15pm, BBC1)

TV HIGHLIGHT: Call the Midwife As the Nonnatus House family prepares for Christmas, Sister Monica fears that this could be her last.

Christmas Day 8.15pm, BBC1

RADIO HIGHLIGHT: Sunday Feature: While Shepherds Watched Elizabeth Alker explores the ancient tradition of South Yorkshire carolling, which began in churches, but found a new home in pubs around Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

Christmas Eve 6.15pm, Radio 3

Friday 9am (BBC2) The Bishop’s Wife From 1946, a film in which an angel (Cary Grant) comes to earth to help an Episcopalian bishop (David Niven) and his wife in their quest to raise money for a new church.

10.45am (BBC2) King of Kings The 1961 Hollywood biblical epic, starring Tab Hunter as Jesus.

Saturday 4.30pm (C4) It’s a Wonderful Life A classic film in which a “second-class” angel shows George Bailey (James Stewart) what the world would have been like if he had never been born.

8pm (Sky Arts) Mica Paris: A gospel Christmas The singer is accompanied by a ten-strong gospel choir in classics and contemporary favourites, from St Alfege’s, Greenwich.

Christmas Eve 1.15pm (BBC1) Songs of Praise Aled Jones leads a carol service at Sheffield City Hall, in which the BBC Young Choristers of the Year sing “Silent night”.

2.50pm (BBC1) The Sound of Music Julie Andrews plays Maria, a reluctant nun who discovers her true calling as governess to the von Trapp family.

5.40pm (BBC2) The Hills are Alive with the Kanneh-Masons All nine members of the musical family visit Austria, and perform their own arrangements of songs from The Sound of Music.

BBC/MACLARTY BROWN MEDIA & WAG ENTERTAINMENT/LEN BROWNThe Kanneh-Masons follow in the footsteps of the von Trapp family, in The Hills are Alive with the Kanneh-Masons (Christmas Eve 5.40pm, BBC2)

6.40pm (BBC2) Carols from King’s The annual celebration of the Christmas story from King’s College, Cambridge, led by the Dean, the Revd Dr Stephen Cherry (repeated Christmas Day, 9am).

7.45pm (ITV1) Royal Carols: Together at Christmas The Prince and Princess of Wales attend a carol service at Westminster Abbey, the theme of which is “The hope of new life”, with congregation including midwives, health visitors, and nursery teachers.

11.30pm (ITV1) Christmas Carols Jane McDonald leads a traditional Christmas Eve celebration from St Elisabeth’s, Stockport.

11.40pm (BBC1) Midnight Mass Live from Portsmouth Cathedral. The Dean, the Very Revd Dr Anthony Cane, celebrates, and the Bishop, Dr Jonathan Frost, preaches.

Christmas Day 8am (BBC2) Christmas at St Paul’s A behind-the-scenes look at St Paul’s Cathedral, in the run-up to Christmas (repeat).

10.15am (BBC1) Christmas Morning Service from Manchester Cathedral The Dean, the Very Revd Rogers Govender, leads a live service of word and music; the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, preaches.

3pm (BBC1, BBC2) The King’s Christmas Broadcast The King’s annual address to the nation and the Commonwealth.

11.35pm (BBC1) On Christmas Night The comedian and actor Frank Skinner reads the story of the first Christmas from Luke’s Gospel.

Boxing Day 6.50pm (BBC1) Charles III: The Coronation year A look at the first year of the King’s reign, featuring backstage glimpses of the King and Queen at the Coronation.

Boxing Day to Thursday 8pm (BBC4) Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: The truth about AI Professor Mike Wooldridge, an academic and author who specialises in AI, reveals the huge part that it already plays in our lives, and debates, with experts, the risks and rewards of AI (1-3/3).

New Year’s Eve 1.15pm (BBC1) Songs of Praise Katherine Jenkins hosts a New Year celebration from Sheffield City Hall.

New Year’s Day 12.55pm (BBC1) The Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message Archbishop Welby reflects on the challenges facing the UK.

Wednesday 9pm (C5) HMP Belmarsh: Evil behind bars Former inmates, retired staff, and experts reveal stories of life inside the institution dubbed “Britain’s Guantánamo Bay” (1/2).

Thursday 8pm (BBC2) Digging for Britain Alice Roberts views the conservation work at Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire, which has unearthed a medieval tiled floor, stained-glass windows, and three burials (3/6).

Friday 11.30am (World Service) Heart and Soul Danny O’Connor examines Ireland’s myths and fairy tales.

Saturday 6pm (Classic FM) Carols from St Paul’s Cathedral with Moira Stuart A concert in aid of the Prince’s Trust, recorded on 12 December.

Christmas Eve 6.05am (R4) Something Understood The former Archbishop of York Lord Sentamu talks to Mark Tully about celebrating the eve of a major religious festival (repeat).

8.10am (R4) Sunday Worship The Revd Dr Janet Unsworth explores the compassion of the Christ Child, in a service for the Fourth Sunday of Advent from the Methodist College, Belfast, led by the Chaplain, the Revd Emily Hyland.

9am (R3) Sunday Morning Sarah Walker celebrates Christmas Eve with seasonal tunes from around the world.

3pm (R3) Choral Evensong A repeat of this week’s live service from Norwich Cathedral.

3pm (R4 and BBC World Service) A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols Live from King’s College, Cambridge, the traditional service of music and readings.

5.30pm (Classic FM) Classic FM’s Carols by Candlelight with Aled Jones A candlelit concert from St Bartholomew the Great, London, recorded on 4 December.

6.45pm (Classic FM) The Christmas Story with Stephen Fry The actor narrates a new retelling of the nativity with music by Thomas Hewitt Jones.

11.30pm (R4) Midnight Mass The Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Revd Malcolm McMahon, celebrates and preaches at the live service from his cathedral.

Christmas Day 7am (R4) Christmas Service The Archbishop of York asks “What makes a happy Christmas?”

8am (R2) Good Morning Christmas A festive edition of Good Morning Sunday, presented by Canon Kate Bottley.

1pm (Classic FM) The Nation’s Favourite Carol Will “O Holy Night” reach number one for the eighth year?

1.10pm (R3) A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols A repeat of yesterday’s service from King’s College, Cambridge.

3.05pm (Classic FM) Christmas from Buckingham Palace with Alan Titchmarsh The Choir of the Chapel Royal perform a concert of festive music, recorded on 11 December.

4pm (R4) Drama: Christmas Miracle on Brighton Pier An angel’s final task on earth is to save William McFadden, who, on Christmas Eve, decides that he no longer wants to live.

5pm (Classic FM) The King’s Foundation Carol Concert with Zeb Soanes A traditional carol service from St Paul’s, Knightsbridge, recorded on 14 December.

7.30pm (World Service) The Documentary: Football and faith Three footballers — Crystal Palace defender Joel Ward, former Portsmouth defender Linvoy Primus, and former US international Jaelene Daniels, whose religious beliefs led her to turn down the chance to continue playing for her country — discuss their beliefs.

AlamyFootballer Joel Ward discusses his beliefs in The Documentary: Football and faith (Christmas Day 7.30pm, World Service)

8pm (R2) Beverley’s Great British Gospel Christmas Beverley Knight hosts a celebration of Gospel music from the UK and Ireland.

Christmas Day to Friday 10.45pm (R4) The Other Side of Christmas A collection of classic short stories including a two-part tale by Margery Allingham, and other stories by Thomas Hardy, Hector Hugh Munro, known as Saki, and Edmund Crispin (1-5/5)

Boxing Day 12.15am (R4) Christmas Meditation A reflection on the meaning of Christmas by the Revd Angela Berners-Wilson, the first woman to be ordained priest in the Church of England, 30 years ago next March, who will be in Oberndorf, Austria, this Christmas, as a spiritual tour guide.

Wednesday 4pm (R3) Choral Evensong From Lancing College, West Sussex, recorded on 28 November.

Friday 11.30am (World Service) Heart and Soul Colm Flynn talks to the Roman Catholic tenor Andrea Bocelli, who says his success is because of his belief and faith in God.

New Year’s Eve 6.05am (R4) Something Understood Mark Tully looks at the ancient prayer tradition of the examen (repeat).

8.10am (R4) Sunday Worship The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, preaches at a service from his cathedral in honour of Julian of Norwich.

3pm (R3) Choral Evensong A repeat of the service from Lancing College, West Sussex, recorded on 28 November.

New Year’s Day 4.30pm (R4) Beyond Belief What makes music sacred? The answer changed the life of a student who wandered into York Minster on a Saturday afternoon after football practice (1/7).

Wednesday 4pm (R4) Thinking Allowed Laurie Taylor and guests talk about what life could and should be, and the importance of hope (1/7)

4pm (R3) An Epiphany carol service from Royal Holloway, University of London, recorded on 13 December.

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