Katie Derham introduces a special retelling of the Christmas story through the music of John Rutter, whose immensely popular carols bring pleasure to millions around the world. Recorded at Dorchester Abbey and conducted by Rutter himself, the programme features some of the composer's best loved music alongside other Christmas favourites close to his heart.
Rutter reflects on some of the stories surrounding his work, such as the Picasso painting which inspired his ever-popular Shepherd's Pipe Carol, written when he was just sixteen.
Gerald Finley and Elin Manahan Thomas are the soloists, with the Aurora Orchestra, the Children's International Voices of Enfield and John Rutter's own choir, the Cambridge Singers.
Extracts from the Nativity story in the King James translation are read by Simon Russell Beale.
The Kirov Ballet, under conductor Valery Gergiev from the Maryinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, present a complete performance of Swan Lake, their most enduringly popular classical ballet and much loved for its lush romantic score and heartbreaking love story. Prima ballerina Ulyana Lopatkina is outstanding in the challenging dual role of Odette, the white swan and Odile, her black swan rival. Presented by Darcey Bussell.
Archive compilation celebrating the songbook of the brothers Gibb, with contributions and covers from the likes of Al Green, Esther Ofarim, Take That, Dionne Warwick, Steps, Rita Coolidge, Aaliyah and others, performing hits such as To Love Somebody, Words, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?, How Deep Is Your Love, Heartbreaker and More Than A Woman.
Humorous fantasy about a young man who falls in love with a statue of Venus in a department store window. His wildest dreams are fulfilled when the figure comes to life at his kiss, but he already has a fiancee, who is unwilling to share him with a shop decoration. A Broadway hit with music by Kurt Weill.
A night dedicated to the music of 007. Conductor Carl Davis and the Philharmonia Orchestra create a concert bringing together the iconic theme tunes from the James Bond films, including Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever, From Russia with Love, GoldenEye and many more. Honor Blackman, who played the legendary Pussy Galore, leads us on the journey through the world of Bond across the 50 years and 23 films. Featuring Strictly Come Dancing vocalist Lance Ellington and Mary Carewe as the soloists in a concert performed at the Royal Festival Hall in London.
Simon Sebag Montefiore charts Rome's rise from the abandonment and neglect of the 14th century into the everlasting seat of the papacy recognised today. His story takes us through the debauchery and decadence of the Renaissance, the horrors of the Sack of Rome and the Catholic Reformation, through to the arrival of fascism and the creation of the Vatican State. By taking us inside Rome's most sensational palaces and churches and telling the stories behind some of the world's most beloved art, Sebag Montefiore's final instalment is a visual feast.
WEDNESDAY 26 DECEMBER 2012
WED 19:00 The Two-Thousand-Year-Old Computer (b01hlkcq)
In 1901, a group of divers excavating an ancient Roman shipwreck near the island of Antikythera, off the southern coast of Greece, found a mysterious object - a lump of calcified stone that contained within it several gearwheels welded together after years under the sea. The 2,000-year-old object, no bigger than a modern laptop, is now regarded as the world's oldest computer, devised to predict solar eclipses and, according to recent findings, calculate the timing of the ancient Olympics. Following the efforts of an international team of scientists, the mysteries of the Antikythera Mechanism are uncovered, revealing surprising and awe-inspiring details of the object that continues to mystify.
WED 20:00 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (b01pjqpk)
2012: The Modern Alchemist
Air: The Elixir of Life
The medieval alchemists made elements react to create magnificent shows, enthralling kings and commoners alike, but their secrets were never revealed until now.
In the first of this year's Christmas Lectures, Dr Peter Wothers explores what the alchemists knew about the air we breathe and reveals how our modern knowledge of these elements can be used to control fire, defy gravity and harness the power of a lightning storm. Peter is joined by the cast of the musical Loserville and is helped in his exploration of the 118 modern elements by a periodic table made from audience members at the Royal Institution.
WED 21:00 Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson (b01pgrk2)
Moomintroll and the Moomin family are characters loved by children and parents worldwide who have grown up listening to Finnish writer Tove Jansson's delightful stories about a group of philosophical trolls who face a range of adventures in Moominland.
This documentary reveals the strong autobiographical slant in the Moomins series as it traces the author's own extraordinary story from living the bohemian life of an artist in war-torn Helsinki to becoming a recluse on a remote island in the Gulf of Finland.
Enjoying unprecedented access to Jansson's personal archive, the film reveals an unconventional, brave and compelling woman whose creative genius extended beyond Moominland to satire, fine art and masterful adult fiction - not least her highly regarded The Summer Book. With home movie footage shot by her long-term female lover and companion, it offers a unique glimpse of an uncompromising fun-loving woman who developed love as the central theme of her work.
WED 22:00 Legends (b00fzv3y)
Roy Orbison - The 'Big O' in Britain
Roy Orbison was the best singer in the world. That's what Elvis Presley said, and he should know.
To mark the 20th anniversary of Orbison's death, this programme celebrates the extraordinary talent of 'The Big O' and his relationship with his most loyal and enduring fans, British musicians and the British public. Through a combination of interview and archive, it charts Orbison's career in Britain, from the sell-out tour with the Beatles that sky-rocketed him to international superstardom, right up to the collaboration with lifelong friend George Harrison on the Travelling Wilburys project in the late 1980s. Effortlessly cool, musically sophisticated, Orbison was a rock and roll legend, whose legacy continues to captivate both the listeners and performers of today.
WED 23:00 Neil Diamond: Hot August Night (b00mpq6h)
A triumphant homecoming show from the reinvigorated Neil Diamond, filmed at Madison Square Garden, New York City in August 2008.
In front of an adoring crowd, Diamond performs signature songs like Sweet Caroline, I Am...I Said and Forever in Blue Jeans, while also taking the audience back across the Brooklyn Bridge to the neighbourhood where he started out as a young songwriter at the dawn of the 60s.
WED 00:00 Arena (b01nd5qd)
The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour
Magical Mystery Tour Revisited
Arena presents the greatest Beatles story never told - the making of Magical Mystery Tour - full of fabulous Beatles archive material never shown before anywhere in the world.
Songs you will never forget, the film you have never seen and a story that has never been heard. In 1967, in the wake of the extraordinary impact of Sgt. Pepper, The Beatles made a film - a dreamlike story of a coach daytrip, a magical mystery tour. It was seen by a third of the nation, at 8.35pm
on BBC1 on Boxing Day - an expectant public, hoping for some light entertainment for a family audience.
However, Magical Mystery Tour was greeted with outrage and derision by middle England and the establishment media.
'How dare they', they cried. 'They're not film directors. Who do they think they are?' they howled. Where were the four lovable moptops of Help! and A Hard Day's Night?
What propelled The Beatles to make this surreal, startling and - at the time - utterly misunderstood film?
Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour!
WED 01:00 Arena (b01nbz1s)
The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour
'The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour
Arena presents the greatest Beatles story never told, a blockbuster double-bill.
Fully restored to the highest technical standard with a remixed soundtrack, Magical Mystery Tour comes out of the shadows and onto the screen.
By the end of 1967, The Beatles had achieved a creativity unprecedented in popular music. Their triumphant summer release, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, was both avant garde and an instant hit. It went straight to No.1 in June and remained there for the rest of the year.
They immersed themselves in the fiercely radical art of the new counterculture and decided to make a film on their own terms, not as pop stars but as artists.
Roll up Roll Up for the Mystery Tour!
WED 01:55 Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson (b01pgrk2)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today
WED 02:55 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (b01pjqpk)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
THURSDAY 27 DECEMBER 2012
THU 19:00 The Man who Discovered Egypt (b01f13f4)
Documentary about English Egyptologist Flinders Petrie, the pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology. Ancient Egypt was vandalised by tomb raiders and treasure hunters until this Victorian adventurer took them on. Most people have never heard of him, but this maverick undertook a scientific survey of the pyramids, discovered the oldest portraits in the world, unearthed Egypt's prehistoric roots - and in the process invented modern field archaeology, giving meaning to a whole civilisation.
THU 20:00 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (b01pp64k)
2012: The Modern Alchemist
Water: The Fountain of Youth
Medieval alchemists wrote of a mysterious fountain of youth, whose waters could rejuvenate anyone who drank them. But can water really be magical?
In the second of this year's Christmas Lectures, Dr Peter Wothers drinks from the fountain and finds out whether the elements lurking in the water can restore his youth. Along the way he discovers how exploding balloons could solve the energy crisis, how water contains the remains of the most violent reactions on Earth and that the real secret to eternal youth might be drinking no water at all.
Peter is joined in his quest by Paralympic champion cyclist Mark Colbourne and finds out what happens when the two most reactive elements on the periodic table, caesium and fluorine, meet each other.
THU 21:00 Len Goodman's Dancing Feet: The British Ballroom Story (b01pjqpm)
Len Goodman, the head judge of Strictly Come Dancing, takes to the dance floor to discover the golden age of ballroom and recalls the time when Britain went ballroom barmy.
In the early 20th century millions enjoyed dancing. Graceful movement was everything as we grappled with the waltz, the tango and each other. Len also reveals a surprising world of scandal and outrage - a time when ballroom was considered radical and trendy. What was it about ballroom that people enjoyed so much and why did we eventually turn our backs on what Len considers the greatest dance form of all?
Len visits Blackpool, the spiritual home of ballroom, and demonstrates some popular steps with professional dancer Erin Boag. He discovers how the smart set danced the night away at the Cafe de Paris and returns to a favourite dance hall from his youth, the Rivoli in south London.
Len talks to dancers, singers and musicians who remember the golden age and discovers the people who introduced 'rules' to ballroom - the dance leaders and teachers who were concerned that ballroom was out of control and needed new regulations to govern steps, movement and music.
THU 22:00 Strictly Ballroom (b00749zg)
Offbeat satire in which a young ballroom dancing sensation causes uproar among the traditionalist Australian Dance Federation when he tries out some radical new steps.
His new routine horrifies all but the ugly duckling of his dance class who's just waiting to blossom. When she persuades him to partner her, he discovers a true soulmate who dares to be daring on the dance floor.
THU 23:30 Doris Day - Virgin Territory (b0074rwd)
Doris Day has often been dismissed as an actress and overlooked as a singer, despite career highs such as Calamity Jane and Pillow Talk. Covering her early years as a band singer, and her troubled private life, this documentary re-evaluates one of the screen's most enduring legends.
THU 00:30 Originals (b0074rrd)
Tammy Wynette - 'Til I Can Make it on my Own
Profile of the late country legend, including performances of many of Tammy's greatest songs. Contributors include husbands George Jones and George Richey, Elvis Costello, Allison Moorer, Bill Drummond of the KLF and actress Anna Chancellor.
THU 01:30 Arena (b01pjlhv)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 on Saturday
THU 02:30 Sounds of the 70s 2 (b01jv6sd)
Disco - Ain't No Stopping Us Now
Disco was all pervasive in the mid and early 70s. And while towards the end of the decade punk stole the headlines, disco still had the high street. Everyone was into it and getting down on it at the local discotheque. Join us in a celebration of all things disco including performances by The Jacksons, Thelma Houston, Sylvester, Carl Douglas, George McCrae, Sister Sledge, McFadden and Whitehead, Eruption and Gloria Gaynor.
THU 03:00 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (b01pp64k)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
FRIDAY 28 DECEMBER 2012
FRI 19:00 Horizon (b00vv0w8)
LIST OF THIS WEEK'S PROGRAMMES
Asteroids - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Famed for their ability to inflict Armageddon from outer space, asteroids are now revealing the secrets of how they are responsible for both life and death on our planet.
Armed with an array of powerful telescopes, scientists are finding up to 3,000 new asteroids every night. And some are heading our way.
But astronomers have discovered that it's not the giant rocks that are the greatest danger - it's the small asteroids that pose a more immediate threat to Earth.
Researchers have explained the photon propulsion that send these rocks across space, and have discovered that some asteroids are carrying a mysterious cargo of frost and ice across the solar system that could have helped start life on Earth.
FRI 20:00 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (b01pp6bq)
2012: The Modern Alchemist
Earth: The Philosopher's Stone
For centuries alchemists have tried to turn base metals into gold. But is such a feat even possible?
In the final Christmas Lecture, Dr Peter Wothers explores the elements within the earth and discovers just how difficult it is for chemists to extract the planet's greatest treasures. He discovers how our knowledge of the elements can allow us to levitate, turn carbon dioxide into diamonds and maybe turn lead into gold.
Peter is joined by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Professor Sir Harry Kroto and together they find out whether a member of the audience is really worth their weight in gold and what happens when you set fire to a diamond.
FRI 21:00 The Richest Songs in the World (b01pjrt5)
Mark Radcliffe presents a countdown of the ten songs which have earned the most money of all time - ten classic songs each with an extraordinary story behind them. Radcliffe lifts the lid on how music royalties work and reveals the biggest winners and losers in the history of popular music.
FRI 22:30 Mr Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO (b01n3yf4)
Documentary which gets to the heart of who Jeff Lynne is and how he has had such a tremendous musical influence on our world. The story is told by the British artist himself and such distinguished collaborators and friends of Jeff as Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Tom Petty, Joe Walsh, Olivia and Dhani Harrison, Barbara Orbison and Eric Idle.
The film reveals that Lynne is a true man of music, for whom the recording studio is his greatest instrument. With access to Lynne in his studio above LA, this is an intimate account of a great British pop classicist who has ploughed a unique furrow since starting out on the Birmingham Beat scene in the early 60s, moving from the Idle Race to the multimillion-selling ELO in the 70s and then, with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and George Harrison, as a key member of the Traveling Wilburys.
FRI 23:30 ELO Live at Wembley 1978 (b0074smf)
Captured live at London's Wembley Arena in 1978, this space-age show will live forever in rock history as, quite literally, out of this world - featuring a pioneering laser display, the first of its kind that set a precedent for subsequent rock shows. Songs include Standing in the Rain, Night in the City, Turn to Stone, Tightrope, Telephone Line, Rockaria, Wild West Hero, Show Down, Sweet Talkin' Woman, Mr Blue Sky, Ma Ma Ma Belle, Livin' Thing and Roll Over Beethoven.
FRI 00:30 The Richest Songs in the World (b01pjrt5)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today
FRI 02:00 Mr Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO (b01n3yf4)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:30 today
FRI 03:00 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (b01pp6bq)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
(Note: the times link back to the details; the pids link to the BBC page, including iPlayer)
... Sings Bee Gees 23:05 TUE (b0110js7)
... Sings Bee Gees 02:25 TUE (b0110js7)
A Musical Nativity with John Rutter 19:00 TUE (b018nwbv)
Arena 21:00 SAT (b01pjlhv)
Arena 03:00 SAT (b01pjlhv)
Arena 23:55 MON (b01l4929)
Arena 00:00 WED (b01nd5qd)
Arena 01:00 WED (b01nbz1s)
Arena 01:30 THU (b01pjlhv)
Barry Manilow at the BBC 00:55 MON (b01hrb2y)
Cleopatra 19:00 SUN (b01k2gyk)
David Bowie and the Story of Ziggy Stardust 00:50 SUN (b01k0y0n)
Doris Day - Virgin Territory 23:30 THU (b0074rwd)
ELO Live at Wembley 1978 23:30 FRI (b0074smf)
Horizon 19:00 FRI (b00vv0w8)
It's Slade 01:50 SUN (b01pf7kr)
James Bond 50th Anniversary Gala Concert 00:55 TUE (b01p97hp)
Johnny Cash at Christmas 01:00 SAT (b018snk4)
Legends 22:00 WED (b00fzv3y)
Len Goodman's Dancing Feet: The British Ballroom Story 21:00 THU (b01pjqpm)
Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson 21:00 WED (b01pgrk2)
Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson 01:55 WED (b01pgrk2)
Mr Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO 22:30 FRI (b01n3yf4)
Mr Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO 02:00 FRI (b01n3yf4)
Neil Diamond: Hot August Night 23:00 WED (b00mpq6h)
Nigel Slater: Life Is Sweets 21:00 MON (p00y4hd1)
Norman Wisdom: His Story 20:00 MON (b00vhmqq)
Omnibus 22:55 SUN (b0074kgk)
One Touch of Venus 23:35 TUE (b0078865)
Originals 00:30 THU (b0074rrd)
Rome: A History of the Eternal City 02:55 TUE (b01pdt0s)
Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 20:00 WED (b01pjqpk)
Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 02:55 WED (b01pjqpk)
Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 20:00 THU (b01pp64k)
Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 03:00 THU (b01pp64k)
Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 20:00 FRI (b01pp6bq)
Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 03:00 FRI (b01pp6bq)
Slade at the BBC 02:40 SUN (b01pdt89)
Sounds of the 70s 2 02:30 THU (b01jv6sd)
Strictly Ballroom 22:00 THU (b00749zg)
Swan Lake 20:00 TUE (b00pkzmf)
The Beach Boys: Live at Knebworth 01:50 SAT (b01p2q5s)
The Genius of David Bowie 23:50 SUN (b01k0y0q)
The Man who Discovered Egypt 19:00 THU (b01f13f4)
The Prince and the Showgirl 19:00 SAT (b00bx026)
The Richest Songs in the World 21:00 FRI (b01pjrt5)
The Richest Songs in the World 00:30 FRI (b01pjrt5)
The Two-Thousand-Year-Old Computer 19:00 WED (b01hlkcq)
Tom Jones at the BBC 23:00 SAT (b00vz5ml)
Tom Jones at the BBC 02:55 MON (b00vz5ml)
Top of the Pops 00:00 SAT (b01phjlp)
Top of the Pops 00:30 SAT (b01phjlr)
Top of the Pops 19:00 MON (b01pl8lq)
Top of the Pops 19:50 MON (b01ppl1x)
Top of the Pops 23:05 MON (b01pl8lq)
Top of the Pops 22:15 TUE (b01pl8lq)
Ultimate Number Ones 22:00 MON (b01nwfxv)
Ultimate Number Ones 01:55 MON (b01nwfxv)
imagine... 22:00 SAT (b00t15v1)