In this programme Fred Dibnah takes a look at mining. His tour takes him from Cornwall to Scotland, exploring how tin, slate, lead, and coal were all extracted from the ground. Along the way he visits old mine workings, drives, winding engines, and descends a mine shaft strapped to the top of the cage.
Following the huge success of the Wartime Farm series - watched by over three million viewers a week during its eight week run - historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologist Peter Ginn are returning to Manor Farm in Hampshire to recreate the conditions of Christmas 1944.
1944 saw the sixth Christmas at war, and shortages were biting deeper than ever. Added to this, Britain's cities were in the grip of the worst German attacks since the Blitz of 1940. Unmanned flying bombs - the dreaded V1 'Doodlebugs' and V2 rockets - rained down, stretching morale and services to breaking point.
Having been set the target of doubling home-grown food production by the government, Britain's farmers had already ploughed up six and a half million additional acres in the drive for additional crops (an area equivalent in size to the whole of Wales). Now, in addition to maintaining food production, it fell to Britain's farmers to come to the aid of the nation's urban dispossessed in their hour of need. Many rural women joined the one million-strong Women's Voluntary Service to provide food, drink and gifts to lift the spirits - especially at Christmas. Ruth finds out how the WVS operated the government's National Pie Scheme.
Beer was seen as so essential to the nation's morale that it was never rationed - but a vital ingredient, barley, was in short supply, so substitutes were needed. Peter calls upon rural crafts expert, Colin Richards, to brew some improvised potato beer for Christmas. Meanwhile, Ruth comes up with innovative presents for children, and ingenious festive decorations made from scraps.
A Christmas church service is enjoyed by the community at Manor Farm, including German prisoners-of-war who, along with Italian POWs, accounted for one in five of the farming labour force in Britain by Christmas 1944, and had become surprisingly well-integrated into some rural communities. Following in the footsteps of many wartime rural farmers, Peter and Ruth transport their gifts, food and beer on a vintage wartime steam train to Chislehurst Caves - 10 miles outside London - where they discover what Christmas was like for some of the 15,000 people who sheltered in the caves.
Following recipes and guidelines issued by the government and the WVS, Ruth cooks an improvised Christmas meal, relying chiefly on rabbit and a glut of carrots from the farm. And the Salvation Army bring musical cheer to the occasion as the team reflect on the impact of what was to be the last Christmas of the Second World War.
Documentary which brings the story of the coach up to date, as it explores the most recent phase of Britain's love affair with group travel on four wheels - from school trips and football away-days to touring with bands and 'magic bus' overland treks to India.
The establishment of the National Coach Company may have standardised the livery and the experience of mainstream coach travel in the 1970s, but a multitude of alternative offerings meant the coach retained its hold on the public imagination, with even striking miners and New Age travellers getting in on a very British act.
Lisbeth Salander undergoes emergency surgery after being attacked by her father, who lies seriously ill in the same hospital. Mikael Blomkvist continues to investigate her case, knowing that she has been framed by the Swedish secret service.
Recovering from her surgery, Lisbeth goes on trial. Mikael races against time to gather information to acquit her, but 'The Section' are one step ahead of him.
Timeshift digs into the archive to trace the extraordinary story of the ultimate sanction. At the beginning of the 19th century you could still be hanged in Britain for offences such as stealing a sheep or shooting a rabbit. Even children as young as seven were sent to the gallows. The last hanging in this country took place as recently as 1964.
By opting for a dispassionate history rather than staging the usual polarised debate, the programme breaks new ground with its fascinating attention to detail, such as the protocols of the public execution or the 'science' of hanging. With contributions from both sides of the argument, it provides an essential guide to a subject that still divides us.
SUNDAY 12 DECEMBER 2021
SUN 19:00 The Chronicles of Erne (m000gb50)
It is autumn and the trees around the Erne slowly transform into oranges and reds. The lowering sun and shorter days bathe the lough in a golden light and shorter days bring spectacular sunsets, where reflections on the water create an endless sky. Autumn is the Erne’s final hurrah before winter takes hold.
Frankie and Eddie Roofe have been fishing on the lough since they were boys, when their dad caught a pike so big it 'looked like an alligator'. Later on, they take part in the annual Erne Pike Classic fishing competition and the pressure is on to repeat their previous success of catching fish over 20lbs in weight.
Autumn is one of nature writer Dara McAnulty’s favourite seasons and the team learn about mushrooms and fungi and the 'wood wide web'. The episode also introduces Joe Kelly, a baker who has moved back from America and juggles running an artisan bakery with spending as much time as possible on his parents' island. And the show travels underground to examine the marble arch cave system carved out by rivers that will eventually flow into the Erne. The caves are a gateway into a hidden world.
As Dermot and Pat Lunny watch a truly spectacular sunset, Dermot talks about his experience with Parkinson's disease and how being on the water helps his mental health. 'It sucks being old,' Pat chimes in 'but on nights like this - well, it doesn’t suck quite as much.'
SUN 19:30 This Cultural Life (m0012j64)
Artist Tracey Emin talks to John Wilson about the experiences that have shaped her life and career.
In a deeply personal interview, Emin speaks about undergoing treatment for cancer, her two abortions and the profound impact that both of these experiences have had on her artistic output. She also discusses the extraordinary effect that a painting by Mark Rothko had on her as a young woman, her affinity with the work of Edvard Munch and her friendship with David Bowie.
SUN 20:00 Les Mis at 25: Matt Lucas Dreams the Dream (b00wyn0c)
Les Miserables is the world's best-loved musical. It has been seen by 57 million people and in 2010 celebrated its 25th anniversary with its two largest ever productions at London's O2 Arena. Matt Lucas, a lifelong fan of 'Les Mis', was invited to fulfil his dream of performing in these shows alongside more than 300 stalwarts from previous productions.
This documentary tells the story of a musical that many thought would fail, but which became a worldwide phenomenon with unforgettable songs like I Dreamed A Dream. We follow Matt as he prepares for the performance of a lifetime, we hear from those involved with the show's creation, including Cameron Mackintosh and Michael Ball, and of course we enjoy wonderful moments from the show itself.
SUN 21:00 Evita: The Making of a Superstar (b0bt4bq6)
Suzy Klein travels deep into the world of musical theatre, and the colourful landscapes of Argentina, to discover the story of one of the West End's most celebrated characters. Intertwining the stories of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's creation with the true story of Eva Peron, she celebrates the extraordinary show in the fortieth year after its creation.
Meeting musical stars including Elaine Paige, Hal Prince and Tim Rice, she hears how the show came into being, all inspired by a face on a postage stamp. She then travels to Argentina, meeting politicians, performers and Eva fans to hear how this intensely divisive figure - loved by the poor, loathed by the rich - became one of the enduring icons of our time.
SUN 22:00 The Sky at Night (m0012j66)
Review of the Year
Chris and Maggie look back at some of the stories they have covered in 2021 in the Sky at Night’s big review of the year.
In February, three missions arrived at Mars. A spacecraft from the UAE settled into its orbit, and rovers from China and the US touched down on the planet’s surface. Nasa’s Perseverance rover sent back stunning pictures of the red planet. We look again at those images and discuss the work of the first extraterrestrial helicopter, Perseverance’s robot buddy Ingenuity.
The Winchcombe Meteorite burst into our atmosphere and onto our screens at the end of March. We look again at the work of the dramatically titled Fireball Alliance – a nationwide group of cameras coordinated by scientists in anticipation of this sort of event. Thanks to them, the precious meteorite was quickly located in pristine condition. Chris reports on the research that has been undertaken since this untouched fragment of the early universe was recovered.
In the summer, we went to the National Space Centre in Leicester to look at the work of, and spectacular pictures taken by, the Juno Mission to Jupiter. There, we also met Professor Emma Bunce, who is one of the leaders of a new mission, called Juice, to Jupiter’s icy moons. Professor Bunce explained that these missions are unavoidably lengthy because of the distances involved and the complexity of the technology. But the potential rewards are enormous. Juice may provide the elusive evidence of extraterrestrial life in our solar system.
Another mission, BepiColumbo - en route to Mercury – was in the news in October, when it made the initial flypast of its target, sending back its amazing first glimpses of the planet. Maggie discovers more about the mission from one of the team, Dr Suzie Imber of the University of Leicester, in an interview recorded specially for this review episode.
In June, we featured the work of the British space industry, and in light of recent space debris stories in the news, we look again at the work of Anglo-Japanese company Astroscale, which talked to the programme about their mission to clean up the congested low earth orbits.
In September, Dallas Campbell discovered the sound of the original Tardis in the bar of the Civic Theatre, Chelmsford, where we held our Question Time edition of the show. It’s where Pete Lawrence was revealed as astronomical consultant to Radio 4’s The Archers, and where he gave us his night sky viewing guide to 2022.
Finally, another first for this remarkable show. We hear a song recorded by Yes founder member Peter Banks and his band Empire in 1974. It is called The Sky at Night and was inspired by the show.
That is all for this year. The Sky at Night is back in 2022, when it starts the sixty-sixth consecutive year in its record-breaking continuous run on air.
SUN 22:30 Animated Shorts: BBC Introducing Arts (m0012j68)
Explore exciting, strange and thought-provoking worlds with broadcaster, gamer and animation fan Elle Osili-Wood. Through abstract designs, 2D animation and stop motion techniques, Elle showcases the next generation of makers with this collection of new short films.
Stories of wellbeing, grief, lockdown and climate change make us think about today’s society and find shared experiences in unexpected places.
SUN 23:30 A Grand Night In: The Story of Aardman (b06t3ys5)
Join Wallace and Gromit for the great British success that is Aardman Animations. Julie Walters tells the story of how Morph, Shaun the Sheep and that cheese-loving man and his dog first came to life. Featuring David Tennant, Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman and many more voices from the world of plasticine.
SUN 00:30 Secrets of British Animation (b0btynjg)
Documentary exploring more than a century of animation in Britain, including the creative and technical inventiveness of the UK's greatest animation pioneers.
The defining characteristic of British animation has always been ingenuity. Unable to compete with the big American studios, animators in Britain were forced to experiment, developing their own signature styles. The documentary uncovers the trade secrets of animation legends like Bob Godfrey, John Halas and Joy Batchelor, Len Lye and Bristol's world-renowned Aardman Animations.
Tracing the development of British animation from the end of the Victorian era to contemporary blockbusters, Secrets of British Animation shows the perseverance and determination that are part of the animator's mindset. Focusing on the handmade tradition of animation in the UK, the programme includes newly-remastered early films from the archive of the British Film Institute.
SUN 01:30 Les Mis at 25: Matt Lucas Dreams the Dream (b00wyn0c)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
SUN 02:30 This Cultural Life (m0012j64)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today
SUN 03:00 The Chronicles of Erne (m000gb50)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today
MONDAY 13 DECEMBER 2021
MON 19:00 University Challenge (m000qs3h)
Durham v Downing Cambridge
It’s the penultimate match of the first round in the Christmas quiz for grown-ups and both teams are doing battle for a place in the semi-finals.
They are the University of Durham, with weather presenter Sarah Keith-Lucas and comedian Ed Gamble, who are playing against Downing College, Cambridge, with the BBC's media editor, Amol Rajan, and their global trade correspondent, Dharshini David.
Jeremy Paxman asks the questions.
MON 19:30 The Joy of Painting (m000qzlq)
Rustic Winter Woods
Go on a hike with Bob Ross into the midst of a snow-covered forest and enjoy the beauty of leafless trees in slumber, with a texture you can almost feel.
MON 20:00 Britain's Lost Masterpieces (b0bgnwy3)
Petworth House in West Sussex is one of the great Baroque treasure houses of England, and Dr Bendor Grosvenor finds two paintings which he feels warrant investigation: a portrait of a lady from Genoa which was once attributed to Rubens, but Bendor is convinced is by Anthony van Dyck, and a portrait of a young cardinal in the style of Titian, which Bendor believes may be by Titian himself.
The restoration of the possible Titian starts to reveal a painting of two halves - the face and upper parts are the work of a very fine painter indeed, but the lower section with a badly painted hand is found to be a later repair with some very crude stitching adding an extra section of canvas to the bottom of the picture.
While work continues, Bendor travels to Italy to look at some Titian masterpieces to support our understanding of his genius. In Titian's home city of Venice, he explains how the peculiar damp climate of the city led to canvas becoming the preferred medium for Venetian painters. He tells us how colour became the defining characteristic of the city's art and how Anthony van Dyck was so struck by Titian's paintings that he spent years in Italy following in his footsteps to study his techniques.
Bendor's final visit is to the city of Genoa, where the Petworth portrait of a lady was painted. He shows us some works by van Dyck made in the city in support of his attribution of the picture to the Flemish master.
Emma Dabiri explores the story of the third Earl of Egremont, who inherited Petworth in 1763 when he was 12. He had 15 mistresses, who all lived in the house, and he eventually had 43 children - all illegitimate. He died leaving no heir. He had a colourful life and was a friend and patron of JMW Turner. His Petworth Emigration Scheme allowed him to support the journeys of his tenants to start a new life in Canada - though, Emma discovers, it was quite advantageous for the earl to reduce his expanding workforce.
Emma also tells the story of the acceptance of Petworth's extraordinary art collection for the nation in lieu of tax - the first time paintings and sculpture had been used in this way. A new act of parliament was required, and Petworth became a pioneering arrangement that has led to similar
MON 21:00 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.
MON 22:00 Stigma (m0012kz0)
A family move into a remote country house on the edge of a stone circle. When they decide to have a stone in their garden moved, they unwittingly unleash an ancient curse.
MON 22:30 What We Were Watching (m000cr9j)
Join Grace Dent on a televisual trip back in time to Christmas 1979 as she immerses herself in the sights, sounds and schedules of 40 years ago. As well as exploring what the nation’s viewers enjoyed watching on the box of delights, Grace sees if she can beat the year’s Mastermind grand finalist, and how well she fares on the Generation Game’s famous conveyor belt game.
With the 1970s a much-maligned period, it’s a surprise to find that the festive fortnight’s top shows had women winning when it came to seasonal goodwill. Penelope Keith and Wendy Craig led the way in sitcoms, Barbara Woodhouse had everyone on their best behaviour, and the most exciting music shows featured classic performances from Kate Bush and Debbie Harry’s Blondie. It was also the year that Tommy Cooper nearly killed off Michael Parkinson on live television, and The Black Stuff boys first went job hunting.
Of course, not all of Auntie Beeb’s programme presents stand the test of time quite so well. Basil Brush has a bizarre duet with Sasha Distel, Kenny Everett’s Blankety Blank appearance is far from being in the best possible taste, and the BBC’s female children’s presenters put dignity to one side as they compete in a beauty contest featuring high kicks and sparkling leotards.
MON 23:30 Timeshift (b0126vfd)
Timeshift invites you to make a reservation in the world of hotels for the super rich. The Savoy, the Ritz, the Dorchester - the very names of Britain's grand hotels spell luxury around the world. The film charts how luxury hotels have met the needs of new forms of wealth, from aristocrats to rock stars and beyond, with comfort, innovation and, above all, service.
MON 00:30 Britain's Lost Masterpieces (b0bgnwy3)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
MON 01:30 Lucy Worsley's Christmas Carol Odyssey (m000c5y4)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today
MON 02:30 Secrets of British Animation (b0btynjg)
[Repeat of broadcast at 00:30 on Sunday
TUESDAY 14 DECEMBER 2021
TUE 19:00 The Joy of Painting (m000qzn7)
Winter at the Farm
Venture into Americana with Bob Ross and discover the serenity of a snow-covered farmhouse and barn on a cold day in January.
TUE 19:30 University Challenge (m000qsjx)
New College Oxford v Reading
It’s the last first-round match in the Christmas series for university alumni, with two teams are up against each other for a place in the semi-finals.
New College Oxford includes political broadcaster Michael Crick and writer and playwright Christopher Hampton, and playing them is the Reading team with Newsnight culture correspondent Stephen Smith and film and TV critic Rhianna Dhillon.
Jeremy Paxman asks the questions.
TUE 20:00 Keeping Up Appearances (b01djtdp)
Sitcom about a snobbish housewife. Hyacinth's social standing at a church function is jeopardised when Daisy tries to encourage Onslow to become more ardent.
TUE 20:30 One Foot in the Grave (b0078p3l)
Love and Death
Victor and Margaret head off for a weekend at the seaside. Victor is presented with a most unusual and unwelcome gift.
TUE 21:00 dinnerladies (p09yhstn)
The factory is losing orders but is thrown a lifeline. The canteen needs to be open 24 hours, but the temporary manager has made everybody walk out.
TUE 21:30 Comedy Playhouse: Where it All Began (b042m95q)
A trip through the Comedy Playhouse archive in the company of the people who made some of the most loved episodes from the original series.
From Steptoe and Son to Last of the Summer Wine, a series of one-off comedy ideas produced some of the most watched comedy series of the last 50 years. With commentary and insider knowledge from June Whitfield, Paul Merton, Hugh Dennis and top writing team Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.
TUE 22:00 Comedy Playhouse (m0012kw1)
Two drivers meet each other halfway down a narrow country lane. Both refuse to give way. When the AA and the RAC arrive and defend their respective members, they only make the situation worse.
TUE 22:25 Comedy Playhouse (m0012kw3)
Vintage comedy. After veterinary surgeon Derek advertises for a new flatmate, Leonora moves in and disrupts his bachelor routine.
TUE 22:55 Timeshift (b0080t62)
Gagging For It - TV's Hunger for Radio Comedy
Since its earliest days, television has looked to radio comedy for the 'next big thing'. Radio hits from Hancock's Half-Hour to Little Britain have become TV classics. But other long-running radio favourites have died a death on the screen. So what makes for a sure-fire transfer? Time Shift investigates, with the help of favourite clips from the archive and insights offered by Jon Culshaw, Clive Anderson, Barry Cryer, Marcus Brigstocke, and Mitchell and Webb.
TUE 23:55 How to Make (m000hbdk)
Zoe Laughlin, designer, maker and materials engineer, is fascinated by the science and technology hidden within the everyday objects we take for granted. In this series she dismantles and dissects three classic items to understand the wonders of form, function and material that go into making them, before building her own truly bespoke versions step by step.
In this episode, Zoe explores an item that is extraordinarily intimate and transports us to other worlds – headphones. With 12 pairs sold globally every second, Zoe is on a mission to build her own unique pair. In search of inspiration, she heads to Hull University to discover an exciting new substance that can turn any surface into a speaker, from a wall to a table and even the bone of your skull. In the depths of an anechoic chamber, she experiences the wonder behind directional sound and ear-tracking technology, which creates a personal sound bubble without the need to wear headphones at all.
A trip back through headphone history reveals the stethoscope-style home contraptions of the 19th century and the game-changing 80s Sony Walkman. Zoe also heads to high-end manufacturers Bowers & Wilkins, climbs into a mock aircraft cabin to explore the principles of noise cancellation, and goes on a trip down one of London’s busiest streets with a billboard-style contraption slung across her body, all in the name of material research. Her final headphones raise the bar high, with a distinctive headband to avoid big hair issues, alongside characterful Plasti Dip connections.
TUE 00:55 Bought with Love: The Secret History of British Art Collections (b0376y1l)
Britain's country houses are home to astonishing world-class art collections full of priceless old masters and more. In this three-part series art historian Helen Rosslyn opens the doors of some of our most impressive country houses to tell the story of how so many great paintings came to Britain and of the adventurous men and women who brought them here.
In the first episode she reveals the immense influence of the 17th-century pioneer collectors such as Thomas Howard, the 'Collector' Earl of Arundel, King Charles I and his entourage known as the Whitehall Group. Rosslyn explores how this group also brought a taste for the Baroque to Britain, commissioning continental artists such as Rubens, Van Dyck and later Antonio Verrio.
Featuring Verrio's extraordinary Hell Staircase at Burghley House in Cambridgeshire, as well as highlights from the collections at Arundel Castle in Sussex and Wilton House in Wiltshire, the series offers not only a visual treat but a surprising narrative to our national treasures.
TUE 01:55 Comedy Playhouse: Where it All Began (b042m95q)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:30 today
TUE 02:25 Britain's Lost Masterpieces (b0bgnwy3)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 on Monday
WEDNESDAY 15 DECEMBER 2021
WED 19:00 The Joy of Painting (m000qzn0)
Join television artist Bob Ross and take a peek through the fog of a snowy morning as the sun awakens, announcing the start of a new day.
WED 19:30 University Challenge (m000qsny)
It’s the first of the semi-finals in the University Challenge quiz for grown-ups. Jeremy Paxman asks the questions.
WED 20:00 Thailand: Earth's Tropical Paradise (b088pcls)
The Central Heartland
In central Thailand's forests, fertile plains and even city streets, nature finds a way of living alongside people. Spirituality can be found in human and animal relationships, both likely and unlikely. This bustling region is known as the nation's rice bowl - but even here, there are magical places to be found.
WED 21:00 Write Around the World with Richard E. Grant (p09nlfbk)
Book and travel lover Richard E. Grant journeys to southern France, visiting the Cévennes mountains, Marseille, Juan-les-Pins on the French Riviera and Grasse in the hills north of Cannes, in the footsteps of writers inspired by the country, its culture and history.
Reading key passages from their books as he goes along, including works by Robert Louis Stevenson, Alexandre Dumas, F Scott Fitzgerald, Elizabeth David and Patrick Süskind, Richard not only learns about the lives of these great authors, but also experiences many of the places immortalised in the literary classics they created.
WED 22:00 Write Around the World with Richard E. Grant (p09nlfbm)
Book and travel lover Richard E. Grant journeys to Andalucia, visiting Granada, the Alpujarras, the Taja Gorge, Almuñécar and Marbella, in the footsteps of writers inspired by the country, its culture and history.
Reading key passages from their books as he goes along, including works by Federico García Lorca, Ernest Hemingway, Laurie Lee and JG Ballard, Richard not only learns about the lives of these great authors, but also experiences many of the places immortalised in the literary classics they created.
WED 23:00 Mark Kermode's Secrets of Cinema (m0001ky5)
Mark Kermode's Christmas Cinema Secrets
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.
WED 00:00 Animated Shorts: BBC Introducing Arts (m0012j68)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:30 on Sunday
WED 01:00 How to Make (m000h3cs)
Designer, maker and materials engineer Zoe Laughlin explores an item so ubiquitous that most of us don’t give it a moment’s thought - the toothbrush. With 200 milion thrown away each year in the UK, she’s on a mission to find a more sustainable solution.
In search of inspiration, she heads to Sweden’s impressive low-impact mega-factory Tepe, where handles made from sugar-cane-based plastic are ahead of the pack. She explores bespoke production techniques, employing 3D-laser sintering, and dips into the archives of the British Dental Association, revealing the light-bulb moment when the modern brush was hit upon in a prison cell.
Turning to toothpaste itself, pioneering scientists are using bio-active glass to get more fluoride to our teeth. Unconventional options used at Lush Cosmetic’s Willy Wonker-style lab get Zoe's taste buds tingling, before she reveals her final toothbrush and alternative 'paste'. Both are uniquely Zoe - and just a bit bonkers - but they could also provide a very real eco-friendly answer to our daily brushing needs.
WED 02:00 Thailand: Earth's Tropical Paradise (b088pcls)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
WED 03:00 Write Around the World with Richard E. Grant (p09nlfbk)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today
THURSDAY 16 DECEMBER 2021
THU 19:00 The Joy of Painting (m000r6h2)
Splendour of a Snowy Winter
Experience the serenity and silence of a fresh, undisturbed snowfall with Bob Ross as he takes you to a lovely cabin, deep in northern country.
THU 19:30 University Challenge (m000qsp5)
It’s the second of the semi-finals in the University Challenge quiz for grown-ups. Jeremy Paxman asks the questions.
THU 20:00 The Culture Show (m0012jfq)
Spielberg at 60
A special edition of The Culture Show that looks at the life and career of Stephen Spielberg, one of the most famous and commercially successful film directors in the world. Marking the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, Spielberg discusses the full range of his work, from Oscar-winning hits to occasional flops, and reveals his own favourite from the films he's made.
With contributions from many who've worked with him, including George Lucas, Sean Connery and Harrison Ford.
THU 21:00 The Color Purple (m0012jfs)
Celie, a poor black girl, fights to hold on to her self-esteem when she is separated from her sister and forced into a brutal marriage. Spanning the years 1909 to 1947 in a small Georgia town, the film chronicles the joys, pains and people in her life.
Adapted by Steven Spielberg from Alice Walker's seminal novel.
THU 23:25 The Sky at Night (m0012j66)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:00 on Sunday
THU 23:55 Horizon (b013pnv4)
Around the world, a new generation of astronomers are hunting for the most mysterious objects in the universe. Young stars, black holes, even other forms of life.
They have created a dazzling new set of supertelescopes that promise to rewrite the story of the heavens.
This film follows the men and women who are pushing the limits of science and engineering in some of the most extreme environments on earth. But most strikingly of all, no-one really knows what they will find out there.
THU 00:55 James May at the Edge of Space (b00lc5ph)
James May always wanted to be an astronaut. Now, 40 years after the first Apollo landings, he gets a chance to fly to the edge of space in a U2 spy plane. But first he has to undergo three gruelling days of training with the US Air Force and learn to use a space suit to stay alive in air so thin it can kill in an instant. He discovers that during the flight there are only two people higher than him, and they are both real astronauts on the International Space Station.
THU 01:25 The Culture Show (m0012jfq)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
THU 02:25 Write Around the World with Richard E. Grant (p09nlfbm)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:00 on Wednesday
FRIDAY 17 DECEMBER 2021
FRI 19:00 University Challenge (m000qsq5)
It’s the grand final of this seasonal competition for alumni from some of the UK’s top universities. Which university will be Christmas University Challenge champions?
Jeremy Paxman asks the questions.
FRI 19:30 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.
FRI 20:00 Top of the Pops (m000l424)
Jakki Brambles, Bruno Brookes and Gary Davies present the pop chart programme, first broadcast on 25 December 1989 and featuring Bros, The Beautiful South and Jason Donovan.
FRI 21:00 Saturday Night Fever - The Ultimate Disco Movie (b09jxjxs)
John Travolta and Barry Gibb star in Saturday Night Fever - The Ultimate Disco Movie, with Bruno Tonioli. This documentary celebrates the 40th anniversary of the 1977 blockbuster dance movie, and sees Strictly Come Dancing's Bruno, who was a young dancer in New York in 1977, walk us through the steps that made the movie legendary. He also revisit the streets of New York where the film was shot and looks back at the success of a film that gave everyone disco fever.
Travolta, Gibb and other members of the cast and crew give gripping accounts of supreme success against a backdrop of setbacks and unexpected twists and turns. Bruno unpacks the skill, athleticism and dedication of Travolta, whose incandescent performance prompted a disco dance craze. We also hear about the potent influence of impresario Robert Stigwood, whose faith in Travolta, and a group who had hit a glitch in their career - The BeeGees, proved visionary.
With clips from the original movie, as well as astonishing access to those involved and rarely seen on-location archive, this programme retells the nail-biting evolution of a groundbreaking US film that originated in the work of a British journalist, saw a director fired, suffered mafia threats, filmed guerrilla style on the streets of Brooklyn, had a newcomer cast, benefited from disco hits written in a weekend and delivered a white suit and a performance from the man who wore it that have gone down in history.
Other interviewees include actors Karen Lynn Gorney, Donna Pesco, Joseph Cali and Paul Pape, producer Kevin McCormick, former head of RSO records Bill Oakes, writer Nik Cohn, director John Badham, dance instructor Denney Terrio, costume designer Patricia von Brandenstein and location manager Lloyd Kaufman.
FRI 22:10 Disco at the BBC (b01cqt74)
A foot-stomping return to the BBC vaults of Top of the Pops, The Old Grey Whistle Test and Later with Jools as the programme spins itself to a time when disco ruled the floor, the airwaves and our minds. The visual floorfillers include classics from luminaries such as Chic, Labelle and Rose Royce to glitter ball surprises by The Village People.
FRI 23:10 The Old Grey Whistle Test (m0012jgw)
Rod Stewart Christmas Concert
From 1976, The Rod Stewart Group perform a Christmas concert on stage at London's Olympia.
FRI 00:05 The Story of Fairytale of New York (b0074f8x)
For the first time in 18 years, all eight members of The Pogues return to the studio where their biggest hit - and the nation's favourite Christmas song - was recorded. The song's producer Steve Lillywhite strips Fairytale down to the basics, and director Peter Dougherty reveals the tricks behind the making of the video - including how a cameo from Hollywood star Matt Dillon stopped The Pogues from almost being arrested. With contributions from Matt Dillon, Nick Cave, Jools Holland and of course Shane MacGowan and The Pogues, it lifts the lid on this seminal track and reveals the secrets behind its making.
FRI 01:00 Top of the Pops (m000l424)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
FRI 02:00 Saturday Night Fever - The Ultimate Disco Movie (b09jxjxs)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:00 today
FRI 03:10 Sounds of the 70s 2 (b01jv6sd)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:30 today