SAT 19:00 A Christmas History of Sacred Music (b00wvdcj)
Simon Russell Beale takes a journey through Italy, Britain, Germany and Austria as he explores how the sound of Christmas has evolved in response to changing ideas about the Nativity. His story takes us through two millennia of music, from a fragment of papyrus preserving the earliest known piece of Christian music to the stories behind Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night and In the Bleak Midwinter, and the work of popular Christmas composer, John Rutter. Music is performed by Harry Christophers and his choir, The Sixteen.

SAT 20:00 Timeshift (b016pwgw)
Series 11

Of Ice and Men

Timeshift reveals the history of the frozen continent, finding out why the most inhospitable place on the planet has exerted such a powerful hold on the imagination of explorers, scientists, writers and photographers.

Antarctica is the coldest, driest and windiest place on the globe. Only a handful of people have experienced its desolate beauty, with the first explorers setting foot here barely a hundred years ago.

From the logbooks of Captain Cook to the diaries of Scott and Shackleton, from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner to HP Lovecraft, it is a film about real and imaginary tales of adventure, romance and tragedy that have played out against a stark white backdrop.

We relive the race to the Pole and the 'Heroic Age' of Antarctic exploration, and find out what it takes to survive the cold and the perils of 'polar madness'. We see how Herbert Ponting's photographs of the Scott expedition helped define our image of the continent and find out why the continent witnessed a remarkable thaw in Russian and American relations at the height of the Cold War.

We also look at the intriguing story of who actually owns Antarctica and how science is helping us reimagine a frozen wasteland as something far more precious.

Interviewees include Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Francis Spufford, Huw Lewis-Jones, Sara Wheeler, Henry Worsley, Prof David Walton and Martin Hartley.

SAT 21:00 The Killing (b018jdhg)
Series 2

Episode 9

Lund and Strange are in Afghanistan on a mission to track down the killer. Pressing on with the investigation back home, Brix decides to conduct a search at the army barracks. Justice minister Thomas Buch remains hellbent on getting to the bottom of what he believes to be a top-level cover-up and goes out of his way to generate turmoil within the cabinet with his revelations. The cabinet, in turn, is less than impressed. Raben is once again preparing to face a court hearing and, despite pressure from all sides, refuses to retract his inflammatory statement.

SAT 22:00 The Killing (b018jdhj)
Series 2

Episode 10

Lund and Strange return from Afghanistan with new, incontrovertible evidence, while Brix and his team are getting their heads around what appear to be important findings in the investigation. Raben and Jarnvig must reluctantly work together when Louise is in danger. In parliament, rumour has it that the prime minister has plans for a cabinet reshuffle, while Buch develops a new suspicion that someone has been leading him astray - but who and why?

SAT 23:00 American: The Bill Hicks Story (b010j56z)
Legendary Texan outlaw comic Bill Hicks was and still is an inspiration to millions. A true product of the American dream, his rebellious and exhilarating comedy left no stone unturned and his profound observations on American life were a life-changing experience for many who saw him.

The story of a son, a brother and a friend, this funny and critically-acclaimed film is told 'in the round' by the family and peers who knew Hicks best. With captivating photographs animating the scenes of his rollercoaster life - from precocious teenager through the dark years of addiction to his spectacular recovery - Hicks found international fame before his life was tragically cut short by cancer at the age of just 32.

This intimate and emotional portrait is both a revelation for fans, and the perfect introduction for newcomers, to an iconic comedy hero whose timeless material seems to resonate more strongly by the year.

SAT 00:45 The Slap (b0186b58)

Richie is confused by his sexuality and is cracking under the strain of keeping Connie's confidence that Hector raped her.

SAT 01:40 Top of the Pops (b0186b54)

David Hamilton introduces 1976 chart hits by Paul Nicholas, Tommy Hunt, the Kursaal Flyers, Jethro Tull and Showaddywaddy. Legs & Co perform a dance sequence.

SAT 02:10 Tony Bennett's 85th Birthday Concert (b0187wr4)
The truly legendary American singer celebrates his 85th birthday in fine style, with a special concert at the historic London Palladium. Accompanied by his quartet, Tony Bennett moves effortlessly through a repertoire spanning 60 years, with songs such as Steppin' Out With My Baby, The Good Life, Smile and his favourite, I Left My Heart In San Francisco. He is joined for two unique duets, by stellar British singers Cleo Laine and Leona Lewis.

SAT 03:10 Timeshift (b016pwgw)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today]


SUN 19:00 Churches: How to Read Them (b00tx3fg)
The Victorians and After

Richard Taylor discovers how, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, medieval imagery and ritual make a surprise return to Victorian places of worship and plunge the Anglican Church into conflict.

Richard retraces the controversy surrounding this Oxford Movement of Anglo-Catholics and explores their finest churches, showing how some of its most fervent supporters, including William Morris, had a change of heart about the radical restructuring that it brought to ancient buildings.

But the 20th century would bring even more powerful changes. Richard sees how the impact of war is reflected on imagery in our churches and how the First World War brought a return to another medieval practice - the commemoration of the dead. He visits a 21st century church that looks more like a rock venue and he finally finds the perfect place to reflect on what he has learned from his reading of Britain's churches.

SUN 19:30 The Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse (b00x9b7w)
The extraordinary story of comedian Bob Monkhouse's life and career, told through the vast private archive of films, TV shows, letters and memorabilia that he left behind.

SUN 21:00 The Roasts of Christmas Past (b018l57j)
Roasts of Christmas Past explores television's changing relationship with the British Christmas dinner, looking at how TV cooks like Fanny Craddock, Gary Rhodes, Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson have each put their stamp on our annual feast.

How hard is it to give the same old ingredients a new twist every year? Why do so many of us turn to Delia at this special time of year? And why does it have to be turkey?

The documentary looks at the pre-TV history of the meal, the pioneering work of post-war cook Marguerite Patten and the subsequent changes in the style of these shows, which began as lessons and have ended up as entertainment. Do we still follow the recipes - or just envy the lifestyle?

It also examines how TV dramas and comedies have portrayed Christmas dinner, from Coronation Street and Till Death Us Do Part in the 60s through to EastEnders and the Royle Family today. Why is it so often seen as a source of conflict?

Contributors include chefs Rick Stein, Ainsley Harriott and Antony Worrall Thompson, and food experts Prue Leith, Jay Rayner, Stefan Gates and Matthew Fort.

SUN 22:00 The Horizon Guide to Space Shuttles (b0109cc7)
In 2011, after more than 30 years of service, America's space shuttle took to the skies for the last time. Its story has been characterised by incredible triumphs, but blighted by devastating tragedies - and the BBC and Horizon have chronicled every step of its career. This unique and poignant Horizon Guide brings together coverage from three decades of programmes to present a biography of the shuttle and to ask what its legacy will be. Will it be remembered as an impressive chapter in human space exploration, or as a fatally flawed white elephant?

SUN 23:00 imagine... (b017b42j)
Winter 2011

Alan Ayckbourn - Greetings from Scarborough

Sir Alan Ayckbourn is often described as the world's most performed living playwright. Yet it is his popularity that has often led to him being overlooked as a serious dramatist in the UK. As he premieres his 75th play in his seaside theatre in Scarborough, Imagine sets out to discover why Ayckbourn is so popular, and a chorus of distinguished fans explain why he must be recognised as one of the great dramatists of our time.

SUN 00:05 The Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse (b00x9b7w)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today]

SUN 01:35 The Roasts of Christmas Past (b018l57j)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today]

SUN 02:40 The Horizon Guide to Space Shuttles (b0109cc7)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:00 today]

SUN 03:40 Churches: How to Read Them (b00tx3fg)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today]


MON 19:00 The Golden Age of Canals (b01173hf)
Most people thought that when the working traffic on canals faded away after the war, it would be the end of their story. But they were wrong. A few diehard enthusiasts and boat owners campaigned, lobbied and dug, sometimes with their bare hands, to keep the network of narrow canals open.

Some of these enthusiasts filmed their campaigns and their home movies tell the story of how, in the teeth of much political opposition, they saved the inland waterways for the nation and, more than 200 years after they were first built, created a second golden age of the canals.

Stan Offley, an IWA activist from Ellesmere Port, filmed his boating trips around the wide canals in the 40s, 50s and 60s in 16mm colour. But equally charming is the film made by Ed Frangleton, with help from Harry Arnold, of a hostel boat holiday on the Llangollen Canal in 1961. There are the films shot by ex-working boatman Ike Argent from his home in Nottinghamshire and looked after by his son Barry.

There is astonishing film of the last days of working boats, some shot by John Pyper when he spent time with the Beecheys in the 60s, film taken by Keith Christie of the last days of the cut around the BCN, and the films made by Keith and his mate Tony Gregory of their attempts to keep working the canals through their carrying company, Midland Canal Transport.

There is film of key restorations, the Stourbridge 16 being talked about with great wit and affection by one of the leading activists in that watershed of restorations in the mid-60s, David Tomlinson, and John Maynard's beautiful films of the restoration of the Huddersfield, 'the impossible restoration', shot over two decades.

All these and more are in the programme alongside the people who made the films and some of the stars of them. Together they tell the story of how, in the years after 1945, a few people fought the government like David fought Goliath to keep canals open and restore ones that had become defunct, and won against all the odds.

MON 20:00 Top of the Pops (b018jlhy)

Noel Edmonds presents Christmas surprises from the 1976 pop charts, including Thin Lizzy, Barry Biggs, John Christie, Paul Nicholas, Liverpool Express, Status Quo and a Legs & Co dance sequence.

MON 20:30 Only Connect (b00xjrr9)

University Challenge Special

Victoria Coren presents a special edition of the quiz show in which knowledge will only take you so far, as patience and lateral thinking are also vital. Undefeated champions of champions, the Crossworders, risk their reputation by confronting the awesome brainpower of the University Challengers, captained by the illustrious Alex Guttenplan.

It isn't going to be an easy ride for either team, as they try to connect Fortis shareholders with Muntadar al-Zaidi, sabateurs and Nikita Kruschchev.

MON 21:00 Natural World (b00h37zc)

Bears on Top of the World

This moving film reveals the differing fortunes of a mother polar bear, a mother grizzly bear and their newborn cubs, in a rapidly changing world. The shrinking Arctic ice may be making life much tougher for polar bears, but it is offering new opportunities for grizzly bears to the south.

Where once the lives of white and brown bears could not have been more different, in summertime they now meet along shores and islands almost all the way to the North Pole. Amazingly, they have even interbred. This is a remarkable story of how bears, ever intelligent and resourceful, are adapting to a warming world.

MON 22:00 Season's Greetings (b018l5c0)
Adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn's black comedy about eight adults trying to have a happy family Christmas and failing dismally.

MON 23:50 The Golden Age of Canals (b01173hf)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today]

MON 00:50 Natural World (b00h37zc)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today]

MON 01:40 Top of the Pops (b018jlhy)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today]

MON 02:10 Only Connect (b00xjrr9)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:30 today]

MON 02:40 The Roasts of Christmas Past (b018l57j)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 on Sunday]

MON 03:40 The Golden Age of Canals (b01173hf)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today]


TUE 19:00 Timeshift (b00x7c3z)
Series 10

The Golden Age of Coach Travel

Documentary which takes a glorious journey back to the 1950s, when the coach was king. From its early origins in the charabanc, the coach had always been the people's form of transport. Cheaper and more flexible than the train, it allowed those who had travelled little further than their own villages and towns a first heady taste of exploration and freedom. It was a safe capsule on wheels from which to venture out into a wider world.

The distinctive livery of the different coach companies was part of a now-lost world, when whole communities crammed into coach after coach en route to pleasure spots like Blackpool, Margate and Torquay. With singsongs, toilet stops and the obligatory pub halt, it didn't matter how long it took to get there because the journey was all part of the adventure.

TUE 20:10 Top of the Pops (b018l6cb)
25/12/76 - Christmas Day Special

Special Christmas 1976 edition of the pop chart show. Noel Edmonds and Dave Lee Travis introduce Slik, JJ Barrie, Tina Charles, the Wurzels, Demis Roussos, Cliff Richard, ABBA, Elton John & Kiki Dee, Pussycat and Queen, plus a Legs & Co dance sequence.

TUE 21:00 Jerusalem on a Plate (b017znj9)
Internationally-renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi returns to his home town of Jerusalem to discover the hidden treasures of its extraordinarily rich and diverse food culture. He meets and cooks with both Arabs and Jews in restaurants and at home who draw on hundreds of years of tradition to create the dishes that define the city, and explores the flavours and recipes that have influenced his palate. From the humble street foods of hummus and falafel to the cutting edge of Jerusalem cuisine, Yotam uncovers the essence of what makes the food of Jerusalem so great.

Starting in the Old City, Yotam samples the Palestinian fast foods like falafel and hummus that he remembers from his childhood. This is the food that has been feeding the throngs of pilgrims who have visited the city for centuries - loved alike by Jew, Arab and Christian. In the west of the city, Yotam discovers how waves of immigration from the Jewish diaspora from such varying origns as Poland, Hungary, Morocco and Turkey have each brought with them a different flavour, ingredient or technique that adds to the ever-evolving Jerusalem cuisine, keeping it fresh, varied and exciting. Here he eats stuffed aubergine with cinnamon, tries fiery zhoug from Yemen and learns how to make kibbeh soup, a staple of the Sephardic Jewish kitchen.

In both Arab and Jewish homes he discovers the family recipes that have been passed down through generations - recipes such as kollage, a sweet sheep's cheese pastry, or swiss chard with cracked wheat and pomegranate molasses. Finally, he visits some of Jerusalem's trailblazing chefs, discovering how modern Jerusalem cuisine is drawing from all of these influences to create food that is both locally sourced and true to its culinary roots, and at the same time truly innovative. Collaborating with these chefs in the kitchens, Yotam adds his own distinctive flair to the dishes they create.

Through Yotam's eyes we are given an insight into the depth and breadth of the food of Jerusalem and how it is still changing and evolving. Much has changed since his childhood in Jerusalem, and politics is never far away, but Yotam finds that food is sometimes the one area where the different communities can come together.

TUE 22:00 Cruel Sea: The Penlee Lifeboat Disaster (b00794gz)
In December 1981, the Penlee lifeboat was called out to help a stricken coaster off the coast of Cornwall. In hurricane winds and sixty foot waves, the crew of the Solomon Browne made a heroic attempt to rescue those on board the ill-fated Union Star. Using actual radio footage, eyewitness testimony and memories of bereaved family members, this film tells the story of that tragic night.

Originally shown in 2006 to mark the 25th anniversary of the disaster.

TUE 23:00 The Secret Life of Ice (b016fpyy)
Ice is one of the strangest, most beguiling and mesmerising substances in the world. Full of contradictions, it is transparent, yet it can glow with colour, it is powerful enough to shatter rock, but it can melt in the blink of an eye. It takes many shapes, from the fleeting beauty of a snowflake to the multimillion-tonne vastness of a glacier and the eeriness of the ice fountains of far-flung moons.

Science writer Dr Gabrielle Walker has been obsessed with ice ever since she first set foot on Arctic sea ice. In this programme, she searches out some of the secrets hidden deep within the ice crystal to try to discover how something so ephemeral has the power to sculpt landscapes, to preserve our past and inform our future.

TUE 00:00 Jerusalem: The Making of a Holy City (b0186b56)
Invasion, Invasion, Invasion

Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world. For the Jewish faith, it is the site of the western wall, the last remnant of the second Jewish temple. For Christians, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the site of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa mosque is the third holiest sanctuary of Islam.

In episode two, Simon discovers the impact on the holy city of a new faith - Islam. He explores Muhammad's relationship with Jerusalem, the construction of one of Islam's holiest shrines - the Dome of the Rock - and the crusaders' attempts to win it back for Christianity.

He also brings to life lesser-known characters, whose impact still resonates - Al Hakim's destructive delusions of grandeur and Queen Melisende's embellishment of crusader Jerusalem, as well as the notorious stand-off between Saladin and Richard the Lionheart.

The episode ends in the 13th century with King Frederick II, whose groundbreaking power-sharing deal prefigures the tortuous peace negotiations of our own times. Then, as now, peace did not last.

TUE 01:00 Jerusalem on a Plate (b017znj9)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today]

TUE 02:00 Timeshift (b00x7c3z)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today]

TUE 03:00 Top of the Pops (b018l6cb)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:10 today]


WED 19:00 Timeshift (b00dzzdc)
Series 8

Last Days of Steam

The surprising story of how Britain entered a new age of steam railways after the Second World War and why it quickly came to an end.

After the war, the largely destroyed railways of Europe were rebuilt to carry more modern diesel and electric trains. Britain, however, chose to build thousands of brand new steam locomotives. Did we stay with steam because coal was seen as the most reliable power source or were the railways run by men who couldn't bear to let go of their beloved steam trains?

The new British locomotives were designed to stay in service well into the 1970s, but in some cases they were taken off the railways and scrapped within just five years. When Dr Richard Beeching took over British Railways in the 1960s the writing was on the wall, and in 1968 the last steam passenger train blew its whistle.

But while steam use declined, steam enthusiasm grew. As many steam engines lay rusting in scrapyards around Britain, enthusiasts raised funds to buy, restore and return them to their former glory. In 2008, the first brand new steam locomotive to be built in Britain in nearly 50 years rolled off the line, proving our enduring love of these machines.

WED 20:00 Night on Film: An A-Z of the Dark (b018jl97)
An alphabetical look at the dark, featuring everything from bats to vampires. The night comes alive in this unusual mixture of music and archive.

WED 21:00 The Art of the Night (b018jl9c)
Painting at night is difficult and problematic, so why have so many great artists taken on the challenge? Waldemar Januszczak celebrates the nocturnal art of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Velazquez, Hopper and Magritte as he explores art's edgy relationship with the night and tries to discover why the dark adds so much extra drama and mystery to art.

WED 22:00 Night Music: Songs After Dark (b018jl9k)
A show dedicated to the night-time and its lyrical inspiration for many artists takes a nostalgic delve into the BBC archive, with musical luminaries such as Patti Smith, Mercury Rev, Gregory Isaacs, REM and the XX paying homage to the power of the dark.

WED 23:00 Timeshift (b00dzzdc)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today]

WED 00:00 The Killing (b018jdhg)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 on Saturday]

WED 01:00 The Killing (b018jdhj)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:00 on Saturday]

WED 02:00 Night on Film: An A-Z of the Dark (b018jl97)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today]

WED 03:00 The Art of the Night (b018jl9c)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today]


THU 19:00 Sacred Music at Christmas (b00x21sc)
A Choral Christmas

Simon Russell Beale introduces a programme of choral music for Christmas from across the centuries, featuring full performances of some of the works featured in the accompanying documentary. Harry Christophers and his choir, The Sixteen, perform music including JS Bach's harmonisation of the medieval carol In dulci jubilo, A Spotless Rose by Herbert Howells and the Christmas text O magnum mysterium, set as a motet by Tomas Luis de Victoria.

THU 19:30 The Andy Williams Christmas Show (b00phmjh)
It being the season of goodwill and bad jumpers, it is time to relive the best moments from a number of snowy Christmases that came to the NBC Studios in California between 1962 and 1974 for Andy Williams's annual yuletide songfest. With guest appearances from the Osmond Brothers and the Williams Family.

THU 20:10 Top of the Pops (b018m5q3)
26/12/76 - Christmas Special

Second Xmas 1976 special of chart pop in which Tony Blackburn and Jimmy Savile introduce Brotherhood of Man, Billy Ocean, Sailor, the Real Thing, Showaddywaddy, Rod Stewart, Our Kid, Johnny Mathis and Chicago. Plus, another Legs & Co dance sequence.

THU 21:00 Jerusalem: The Making of a Holy City (b018jlj0)
Judgement Day

Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world. For the Jewish faith, it is the site of the western wall, the last remnant of the second Jewish temple. For Christians, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the site of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa mosque is the third holiest sanctuary of Islam.

In the final part of his series, Simon explores how this unique city rose from a crumbling ruin after the crusades to be rebuilt as a world centre of Islamic pilgrimage. He explains how Jerusalem became the object of rivalry between the Christian nations of Europe, the focus of the longing of Jews from all over the world and, ultimately, the site of one of the world's most intractable conflicts.

Starting in the Middle Ages, Simon goes on a chronological journey to trace the revival of the city under the Mamluks and its conquest by the biggest of all the Islamic empires - the Ottomans. He examines how the distinctive national identity of the Arab population evolved under centuries of Turkish Ottoman rule and how the city came to be prized by the great powers of 19th-century Europe. The programme explores the emergence of Zionism and the growing Jewish population of the city and traces the origins of today's nationalist struggle.

THU 22:00 Carole King and Friends at Christmas (b018p1hq)
Recapture the mellow vibe of your favourite easy listening shows from the 60s and 70s with this festive feast of classics old and new. All-time great Carole King plays songs from her recent seasonal album, including Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and Sheffield crooner Richard Hawley mixes self-penned songs with his own take on Silent Night.

An imaginative bill is completed by the perky vocal harmonies of the Puppini Sisters doing Let It Snow, the dreamy widescreen sound of Brighton outfit the Mummers performing White Christmas and the velvet tones of latter day Nat King Cole, Brooklyn-based jazz vocalist Gregory Porter, crooning the Christmas Song.

Choose between your best cardigan or Rat Pack tuxedo, pour yourself an eggnog, get the chestnuts roasting, put your feet up and join the party!

THU 23:00 Easy Listening Hits at the BBC (b011g943)
Compilation of easy listening tracks that offers the perfect soundtrack for your cocktail party. There's music to please every lounge lizard, with unique performances from the greatest easy listening artists of the 60s and 70s, including Burt Bacharach, Andy Williams, Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66, The Carpenters and many more.

THU 00:00 The Joy of Easy Listening (b011g614)
In-depth documentary investigation into the story of a popular music genre that is often said to be made to be heard but not listened to. The film looks at easy listening's architects and practitioners, its dangers and delights, and the mark it has left on modern life.

From its emergence in the 50s to its heyday in the 60s, through its survival in the 70s and 80s and its revival in the 90s and beyond, the film traces the hidden history of a music that has reflected society every bit as much as pop and rock - just in a more relaxed way.

Invented at the dawn of rock 'n' roll, easy listening has shadowed pop music and the emerging teenage market since the mid-50s. It is a genre that equally soundtracks our modern age, but perhaps for a rather more 'mature' generation and therefore with its own distinct purpose and aesthetic.

Contributors include Richard Carpenter, Herb Alpert, Richard Clayderman, Engelbert Humperdinck, Jimmy Webb, Mike Flowers, James Last and others.

THU 01:30 Top of the Pops (b018m5q3)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:10 today]

THU 02:20 Carole King and Friends at Christmas (b018p1hq)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:00 today]

THU 03:20 Jerusalem: The Making of a Holy City (b018jlj0)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today]


FRI 19:00 The Royal Ballet in The Nutcracker (b0074lr9)
The Nutcracker, with its wonderful score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, has over the years become a favourite ballet for all the family. It takes place during a Christmas party where the toy maker Drossellmeyer comes to entertain the children. He gives Clara a nutcracker doll and she immediately falls in love with it. When everyone has gone to bed, Clara comes downstairs to find her doll and suddenly gets involved in a great adventure.

Sir Peter Wright's production for the Royal Ballet is designed by Julia Trevelyan Oman, and the orchestra of the Royal Opera House is conducted by Evgenii Svetlanov.

FRI 21:00 The Joy of Country (b018jmrs)
This celebration of the history and aesthetic of country music tracks the evolution of the genre from the 1920s to the present, exploring country as both folk and pop music - a 20th century soundtrack to the lives of working-class Americans in the South, forever torn between their rural roots and a mostly urban future, between authenticity and showbiz.

Exploring many of the great stars of country from Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams to Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, director Andy Humphries's meditation on the power and pull of country blends brilliant archive and contributions from a broad cast that includes Dolly Parton, the Handsome Family, Laura Cantrell, Hank Williams III, kd lang and many more.

If you have ever wondered about the sound of a train in the distance, the keening of a pedal steel guitar, the lure of rhinestone or the blue Kentucky hills, and if you want to know why twang matters, this is the documentary for you.

FRI 22:05 Country at the BBC (b017zqwb)
Grab your partner by the hand - the BBC have raided their archive and brought to light glittering performances by country artists over the last four decades.

Star appearances include Tammy Wynette, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and, of course, Dolly Parton. All the greats have performed for the BBC at some point - on entertainment shows, in concert and at the BBC studios. Some of the rhinestones revealed are Charley Pride's Crystal Chandeliers from the Lulu Show, Emmylou Harris singing Together Again on the Old Grey Whistle Test and Billie Jo Spears's Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad from the Val Doonican Music Show.

We're brought up to date with modern country hits by kd lang, Garth Brooks, Alison Krauss and Taylor Swift, plus a special unbroadcasted performance from Later...with Jools Holland by Willie Nelson.

FRI 23:35 Dolly Parton: Platinum Blonde (b0074pt7)
Dolly Parton is one of the world's great superstars, feted for her figure as much as for her music. Platinum Blonde goes inside her world to discover the woman under the wigs as she returned to the concert stage in the UK in 2002 after an absence of 20 years. Born into grinding poverty in rural Tennessee, Dolly has risen to the top of her tree in music, films and as a businesswoman who owns her own theme park.

Friends, family and colleagues - including Lily Tomlin, Kenny Rogers, Billy Connolly, Dabney Coleman and Alison Krauss - help tell her story, along with the full and frank views of Dolly herself. With cameo appearances from Sinead O'Connor, Norah Jones, Jonathan Ross and Terry Wogan.

FRI 00:35 The Christmas Session (b00pcnsp)
BBC Four celebrates merry midwinter in unique style, with an exhilarating blend of folk tradition and burlesque fun. Energetic 11-piece Bellowhead and Mercury-nominated alternative folkies The Unthanks get together with the impressive young singers Thea Gilmore and Lisa Knapp, plus other special guests.

Steered by genial host Paul Sartin, the assembled artists perform seasonal songs of their own alongside yuletide favourites, ranging from folk ballads and carols to parlour songs and carousing dance numbers, with everyone coming together for a final knees-up.

Filmed at the atmospheric Shoreditch Town Hall, the setting evokes an old music hall combined with a festive Victorian family parlour, bedecked with garlands, period lamps and fireplace. Even the audience are dressed up in old-fashioned finery and prove themselves ready to kick up their heels.

FRI 01:35 Soul Noel: Gospel and Soul Stars Sing Christmas (b00wvcs3)
A Christmas concert with a difference, as carols, Christmas anthems and the odd pop classic are performed with a gospel and soul twist.

Warm yourself on a winter's night with gospel, soul, reggae, ska and soca versions of classics such as Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Jingle Bells, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and many more.

Filmed at the Porchester Hall in west London, it features UK soul diva Beverley Knight, the multi- talented jazz blues soul singer Carleen Anderson, Lagos-born jazz soul singer Ola Onabule and Birmingham-born Bryn Christopher in a unique celebration of Christmas.

Special guests include the legendary original Southern Blues-singing Golden Gate Quartet, a truly radical jubilee quartet, bringing the swing and groove of jazz into gospel music. Formed in the 1930s, the group still feature two original members. MD Ken Burton leads a stellar choir featuring a range of other top vocalists, all backed by a sizzling soul band.

FRI 02:40 The Joy of Country (b018jmrs)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today]

FRI 03:45 Country at the BBC (b08qgkzv)
Grab your partner by the hand - the BBC have raided their archive and brought to light glittering performances by country artists over the last four decades.

Star appearances include Tammy Wynette, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and, of course, Dolly Parton. All the greats have performed for the BBC at some point - on entertainment shows, in concert and at the BBC studios. Some of the rhinestones revealed are Charley Pride's Crystal Chandeliers from The Lulu Show, Emmylou Harris singing Together Again on The Old Grey Whistle Test and Glen Campbell's Rhinestone Cowboy from The Val Doonican Music Show.

We're brought up to date with modern country hits from Top of the Pops and Later...with Jools Holland.