Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker entertained millions with their inimitable brand of comedy - from gags, sketches and unique monologues to spectacular music numbers. The Two Ronnies Sketchbook reunites the comedy legends behind their famous desk as they reveal their own personal memories from one of the most impressive comedy catalogues in mainstream entertainment. Great chemistry, great music and great fun.
Imagine stumbling upon this little surprise cabin and shed, nestled in the snowdrifts! Bob Ross shows you how easy it is to paint it.
Griff Rhys Jones reveals how Dickens created the idea of a traditional family Christmas through one of his best-known books, A Christmas Carol. From the moment it was published in 1843, the story of miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge captured the imagination of Victorian Britain. Santa Claus, Christmas cards and crackers were invented around the same time, but it was Dickens's book that boosted the craze for Christmas, above all promoting the idea that Christmas is best celebrated with the family.
Interviewees include former on-screen Scrooge, Patrick Stewart, and writer Lucinda Hawksley, great-great-great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens himself.
Drama adaptation of Charles Dickens's much-loved tale of a young orphan boy. Sikes escapes back to London with a badly wounded Oliver, where he is nursed by Nancy. Sally tells Mrs Corney about the letter, the locket and Oliver's mother. Rose continues her search for Oliver, but is discovered by Monks, who immediately tells Brownlow of her secret mission.
Brothers-in-law and drinking buddies Alexander Armstrong and Giles Coren choose the booze that will give them their Christmas spirit. From mulled wine and fizz, eggnog and sloe gin to brandy and Boxing Day hangover cures, together these 12 drinks are the festive selection pack that will ensure their family's Christmas is full of good cheer.
For Alexander Armstrong and Giles Coren Christmas is about enjoying time with their families. In their case, that means each other since they are brothers-in-law. Just like the rest of us, they spend much of the festive season indoors eating and drinking.
Every year Britons spend over £10 billion on alcohol at Christmas. And every year, exactly what is drunk in the Armstrong-Coren family is the subject of some debate. Alexander is usually hosting and he likes to push the boat out, spoiling his guests with the finest booze he can get his hands on. Giles does not really see the point of splashing out on wine since everyone's already a bit squiffy by the time they sit down for lunch. As far as he is concerned a bottle or four of something cheaper would do just as well.
This year Giles and Alexander intend to settle this controversy once and for all. They are going to put together their definitive Christmas selection pack. But theirs will not come in a net stocking with a cardboard Santa at the top. It will come in bottles. However, just like the traditional selection pack, overconsumption may cause nausea.
They look for twelve different festive drinks they can agree on. Sometimes they find the winner in a category together, other times they champion different things. In some categories they source their contenders, in others they make their own creations from scratch. Together their festive dozen represents everything they need to ensure they are brimming over with the spirit of Christmas.
We all love a good quiz. So here's a question - when did ordinary contestants turn into the pro-quizzers of today? Giving the answers are Victoria Coren Mitchell, Judith Keppel, Chris Tarrant, Mark Labbett, Nicholas Parsons and many more. Narrated by Ben Miller.
In a special seasonal edition of his acclaimed series, film critic Mark Kermode celebrates one of the most perennial of all genres: the Christmas movie. Mark unwraps a glittering selection of Christmas cinematic treats, from much-loved classics to hidden gems, Hollywood blockbusters to international films, and reveals the film-making techniques and storytelling secrets that make them so successful.
Mark demonstrates how, as with all great genres, a key to the success of the Christmas movie lies in its adaptability. Christmas cinema embraces a remarkable range of styles and themes, from fairy tale fantasy to high-octane action, family drama to horror. But a great Christmas movie does more than simply set its story in the festive season. It captures something magical – the Christmas spirit – and in this programme, Mark shows you how.
TUESDAY 22 DECEMBER 2020
TUE 19:00 James May: The Reassembler (b086t7c9)
James May: The Christmas Reassembler
Much like Santa Claus, James May has spent the year in his workshop getting ready for Christmas, in a festive special in which he reassembles his favourite childhood Christmas present.
But this isn't just any Christmas present, this is the one that changed his life and sent him on to a path of mechanical intrigue and reassembly. This is the Hornby Flying Scotsman with realistic chuffing sounds which James ripped open on Christmas Day 1972.
Laid out in all its 138 tiny component parts, James lovingly reassembles the train as well as his memories of Christmases and toys past. From the exhilarating remagnetising of the motor's magnets to some thrilling wheel-quartering amidst a backdrop of James's continued bafflement of electricity, we watch as James rebuilds the entire train set and hopes at the end his Christmas wish will come true and the train will start up and realistically chuff into the night.
TUE 19:30 The Joy of Painting (m000qpfk)
A Mild Winter’s Day
Winter scenes don’t have to be cold! With a touch of the sun’s warmth, painter Bob Ross turns the chill of winter into a golden day.
TUE 20:00 Yes, Minister (b0074qsm)
Sitcom about a British government minister and the advisers who surround him. The seasonal festivities at the Department of Administrative Affairs are overshadowed by rumours of a cabinet reshuffle. But a leadership election and the Eurosausage affair could lead to great things for Jim Hacker.
TUE 21:00 Mother Love (m000qpfm)
Wedding bells sound for Kit and Angela. But Kit's mother's hatred for his father, her estranged husband Alex, threatens their happiness.
Adapted by Andrew Davies for TV from Domini Taylor's novel.
TUE 22:45 Face to Face (m000qpfq)
Dame Diana Rigg
Sir Jeremy Isaacs talks to actress Dame Diana Rigg, who became an overnight success when she starred as Avengers girl Emma Peel in the 1960s, and went on to award-winning lead roles in Medea, Mother Courage and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
TUE 23:20 Lucy Worsley's Christmas Carol Odyssey (m000c5y4)
In this festive treat featuring the Kingdom Choir and Hampton Court Choir, Lucy Worsley reveals that there’s much more to our best-loved carols than meets the eye. She reveals how their stories add up to a special kind of history of Christmas itself. In the ancient past, the wassail, a pagan fertility ritual, gave us door-to-door carol singing. Wassailing was also an integral part of an older midwinter festival that was adopted by Christianity when it came to Britain, and was rebranded as ‘Christmas’.
Religion, however, soon turned its back on carols. They were far too frivolous for the Puritans, who wanted to ban Christmas altogether. French Catholics on the other hand didn’t mind fun and frolics, and Lucy crosses the channel to learn a French renaissance jig, written by a dancing priest in the 16th century. The tune she dances to went on to become the carol Ding Dong Merrily on High in the 19th century.
In strict Protestant Britain, the carol survived outside the Church and new ones turned up in some surprising places. Lucy visits the British Library, where she discovers an 18th-century children’s book that contains a little memory game called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Christmas carols could also be politically dangerous and subversive. British Catholics were oppressed for generations after the Reformation, but one Catholic scribe, John Francis Wade, hid a coded message of support for a Jacobite rebellion in the carol O Come All Ye Faithful.
Eventually, the Church of England couldn’t resist the power of the carol, and finally opened its doors to all of them, thanks to a chance pairing of words and music in Hark the Herald Angels Sing, performed in the programme by the renowned gospel ensemble, The Kingdom Choir. In the 20th century, Ralph Vaughan Williams’s passion for English folk music took him to the villages of Surrey. Here, Lucy meets a folk singer who tells the tale of an elderly farm labourer, Henry Garman, who sang a tune for Vaughan Williams, which became O Little Town of Bethlehem.
Finally, in the snowy Austrian Alps, Lucy discovers the simple story of a young parish priest with a poem in search of a tune. When he found one, the result was Silent Night. During the First World War, this simple carol would become a hymn for peace during the famous Christmas truce of 1914. Silent Night also reminds us that carols are, and have always been, ‘popular music’, music for the people, fulfilling an enduring need to celebrate and sing together at Christmas.
TUE 00:20 The Last Igloo (m000cr9s)
Documentary that follows a lone Inuit as he hunts, fishes and constructs an igloo. It tells the story of skills that are disappearing and of how climate change is affecting the lives of Greenland's indigenous people.
With its focus on the ingenious craft of igloo building before it becomes too late to record it, this is a meditative and poetic sensory immersion in a landscape of ice and snow, an elegy to a world that is melting away.
TUE 01:50 Top of the Pops (b09jc3k1)
The 1984 Christmas special of the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 25 December 1984. Featuring Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Howard Jones, Duran Duran, Nik Kershaw, Culture Club, Thompson Twins, Jim Diamond, Wham!, Paul Young, George Michael and Band Aid.
TUE 02:50 The Joy of Painting (m000qpfk)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today
WEDNESDAY 23 DECEMBER 2020
WED 19:00 The Two Ronnies Sketchbook (b007cbdq)
Reunited before Ronnie Barker passed away in 2005, the comedy legends return behind their famous desk to give an insight into the backstage stories behind some of their classic moments and their own personal memories from one of the most impressive comedy catalogues in mainstream entertainment.
WED 19:30 The Joy of Painting (m000qpgm)
Snow-covered trees and shrubs appear to be dressed in finest lace among the soft glows of winter. A unique Bob Ross painting!
WED 20:00 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.
WED 21:00 Mother Love (m000qpgp)
Furious that Alex has moved on after the death of his new wife, how will Helena deal with the next betrayal?
Conclusion of Andrew Davies's drama, adapted for TV from Domini Taylor's novel.
WED 22:45 Mark Lawson Talks To... (b0155b4t)
Mark Lawson talks to the revered actress Dame Diana Rigg about her life and 50-year career on stage and screen. In this thoughtful interview she explores her early years in India, her conflicted feelings about being seen as sexy and the pleasures of professional success into her 70s.
Rigg rose to prominence as proto-feminist Emma Peel in The Avengers and her feisty Bond girl won over 007 in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. She has brought her RSC training and psychological insight to a number of distinguished performances including Medea, Mother Love and Rebecca. Her versatility has been showcased in comic turns on The Morecambe and Wise Show and Extras and musical numbers in Evil Under the Sun and the Stephen Sondheim musical Follies. She continues to pursue her passion for the theatre and a varied career that has brought 'no regrets at all'.
WED 23:45 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!
WED 00:45 Country Christmas (m000qcx8)
American country musician Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren Akins present CMA Country Christmas 2020.
Packed full of performances from some of the biggest names in country music, expect festive classics and country favourites from Dan + Shay, Darius Rucker and Lindsey Stirling, Florida Georgia Line, Gabby Barrett, Kelsea Ballerini, Lady A, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw and host Thomas Rhett.
WED 01:25 The Joy of Painting (m000qpgm)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today
WED 01:55 James May: The Reassembler (b086t7c9)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 on Tuesday
WED 02:25 A Christmas History of Sacred Music (b00wvdcj)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
THURSDAY 24 DECEMBER 2020
THU 19:00 Fanny Cradock Cooks for Christmas (p05jvml9)
Your Christmas Cake
The inimitable Fanny Cradock takes traditional recipes and uses her practical know-how to make Christmas cookery easier.
Fanny gives you two recipes to choose from, the traditional black plum cake and an unusual 'white' Christmas cake. There is advice, too, on making almond paste and icing the cake.
THU 19:15 The Joy of Painting (m000qpg1)
Experience the mystique of snowflakes gently tumbling in the silence of the forest. Join painter Bob Ross for this lovely winter masterpiece.
THU 19:45 Viva Las Vegas (b0078tvq)
Lucky Jackson needs money to get an engine good enough to enter his car into the Vegas Grand Prix. He earns the money working as a waiter but loses it again and has to enter the hotel talent contest. His opponent in the contest is the beautiful hotel swimming instructor Rusty Martin. Lucky doesn't just want to win the money; he wants to win her heart.
THU 21:05 Elvis: The Rebirth of the King (b09kkkbx)
The widely accepted Elvis narrative is that the Vegas period was the nadir of his career, but this film argues that Elvis reached his peak both as a singer and performer in the first few years of his Vegas period. He became, in those short years, the greatest performer on earth. The film tracks this five-year renaissance with some of his key musical and artistic collaborators of the period, including the creator of his most memorable jumpsuits, to celebrate the greatest pop reinvention of all time.
THU 22:05 TOTP2 (m000qpg3)
A TOTP2 special, first broadcast in 1997 to mark the twentieth anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. Features performances by Cher, Bryan Ferry, Danny Mirror, Shakin' Stevens, Alison Moyet and the King himself.
THU 22:55 ...Sings Elvis (b00pqcg3)
2011 marked the 75th anniversary of Elvis Presley's birth and was celebrated by a host of performances by artists covering the King's classic songs culled from the BBC archives.
Some of Britain's biggest stars were introduced to rock n roll as teenagers via their idol Elvis, and Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones and John Cale all pay their tribute. The original songwriters of some of Elvis's greatest hits perform their own versions of classic tracks, including Carl Perkins singing Blue Suede Shoes and Mac Davis doing In the Ghetto.
Other artists paying homage from across five decades include The Deep River Boys, the Stylistics, Boy George, Alison Moyet, Pet Shop Boys and Robbie Williams. There will be jumpsuits, pelvic thrusts, brilliant tunes ... and Glen Campbell's Elvis impersonation.
THU 23:55 All Aboard! The Sleigh Ride (b06t3psw)
In a Slow TV Christmas special, BBC Four rigs a traditional reindeer sleigh with a fixed camera for a magical journey across the frozen wilderness of the Arctic. Following the path of an ancient postal route, the ride captures the traditional world of the Sami people who are indigenous to northern Scandinavia and for whom reindeer herding remains a way of life.
Filmed in Karasjok, Norway - 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle - this journey takes us through breathtaking scenery not normally glimpsed by anyone other than the Sami. Deliberately unhurried, the rhythmic pace of the reindeer guides us along an epic two-hour trip that takes us over undulating snowy hills, through birch forests, across a frozen lake and past traditional Sami settlements.
Facts about the reindeer, natural history, Sami culture and the Arctic climate are delivered by graphics and archive stills embedded into the passing landscape. With no commentary, music or presenter - just the crunching of snow and the soft tinkle of a reindeer bell - this hypnotic sleigh ride is an enchanting experience to put everyone in the Christmas spirit.
THU 01:55 The Joy of Painting (m000qpg1)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:15 today
THU 02:20 Elvis: The Rebirth of the King (b09kkkbx)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:05 today
FRIDAY 25 DECEMBER 2020
FRI 19:00 TOTP2 (b00wyhgr)
Mark Radcliffe digs deep into the Top of the Pops archives to bring some festive performances.
FRI 19:40 Royal Opera All-Star Gala (m000qphh)
Antonio Pappano conducts a stellar cast of singers in favourite arias, duets and choruses from operas by Rossini, Donizetti and Puccini, along with the thrilling finale of Bizet’s Carmen.
Italian baritone Vito Priante offers haircuts as the Barber of Seville, and Lisette Oropesa dazzles with her flawless soprano coloratura before being joined by American tenor Charles Castronovo for some heartwarming comedy in Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love. Mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshina starts out as Cinderella celebrating her good fortune and then magically transforms into femme fatale Carmen for the tragic finale of Bizet’s great opera. The drama increases with Kristine Opolais singing the role of doomed diva Tosca, with Canadian baritone Gerald Finley joining her for the searing Te Deum from Puccini’s masterpiece.
The chorus and orchestra of the Royal Opera House are arrayed throughout the stalls of the fabulous auditorium at Covent Garden to maintain social distancing.
Presented by Katie Derham.
FRI 21:10 Maria by Callas (m000qphk)
Documentary film that for the first time tells the life story of legendary Greek/American opera singer Maria Callas, completely in her own words. Tom Volf’s account, which took four years of painstaking research to assemble, includes performances, TV interviews, home movies, family photographs, private letters and unpublished memoires – nearly all of which have never been seen before.
Maria by Callas reveals the essence of an extraordinary woman who rose from humble beginnings in New York City to become a glamorous international superstar and one of the greatest artists of all time.
FRI 23:05 Florence Foster Jenkins (b084zbf0)
Based on a true heartwarming story. In the autumn of 1944, as war rages in the Pacific, New York heiress and founder of the Verdi Club Florence Foster Jenkins devotes her life to music with the unswerving support of her eminent actor and monologist husband St Clair Bayfield. Delighted to provide support for other musicians, she is finally inspired by a Lili Pons recital to revive her own singing career, despite having very little talent in that regard.
FRI 00:50 Ice Dream: Lapland's Snow Show (m0001v0s)
On the edge of the Arctic Circle some of the biggest names in art and architecture - including Zaha Hadid, Anish Kapoor, Yoko Ono, Tatsuo Mihijima and Future Systems - recently gathered to produce an extraordinary collection of artworks made of ice and snow. See ice harvested by chainsaw, flaming vodka coursing through Hadid's ziggurat (and threatening to melt it) and Anish Kapoor get cross as his 'Red Solid' begins to look more like a pink slush puppy. Charlie Luxton investigates.
FRI 01:20 Electric Proms (b00850nd)
Paul McCartney performs a selection of old Beatles hits plus newer solo songs at the Roundhouse in London.
FRI 02:20 What We Were Watching (m000qpgh)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:20 on Saturday