Welcome to a special news update as the BBC have now announced what shows will be airing over the festive period.
Headlining the season will be the debut of four gripping new dramas including Sarah Phelps’ A Very British Scandal, starring Claire Foy and Paul Bettany as the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. The drama recounts one of the most notorious legal cases of the 20th century. Also debuting will be psychological thriller The Girl Before, adapted from the novel of the same name by JP Delaney, tells the story of Jane, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw who moves into a strange house designed by an enigmatic architect played by David Oyelowo.
Elsewhere BBC One will be showing their brand new adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days starring David Tennant, Ibrahim Koma and Leonie Benesch as the intrepid threesome Phileas Fogg, Passepartout and Abigail ‘Fix’ Fortescue. And mystery packed thriller The Tourist starring Jamie Dornan charts one man’s search for his identity through the vast and unforgiving Australian outback in a character-driven drama full of shocking, surprising, funny and brutal turns.
For the first time ever, Death in Paradise gets a Christmas Special with Danny John-Jules returning to the show to assist Ralf Little’s DI Parker. Meanwhile the nuns of Nonnatus House prepare for a winter wedding and an influx of expectant mothers in Call the Midwife.
Doctor Who will be airing a spectacular New Year’s Day special with Aisling Bea and Pauline McLynn joining Jodie Whitaker. Meanwhile, Worzel Gummidge will be returning for two new episodes where Mackenzie Crook’s scarecrow will be joined by Bill Bailey’s Mr Peregrine.
Meanwhile, younger viewers will be please to know that world’s favourite sheep returns to the BBC this year in a ‘Santastic’ adventure Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas, which sees Shaun’s seasonal excitement turn to dismay as everyone learns the true value of Christmas. There’s more animated adventures in the adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s beloved story Superworm narrated by Olivia Colman with Matt Smith playing the hero with other voices including Patricia Allison and Rob Brydon.
Natural history lovers are treated with not one but two brand new films from Sir David Attenborough – Attenborough’s Wonder of Song in which David chooses some of his favourite recordings from the natural world; and Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyard where he is joined by Professor Ben Garrod and a team of archaeologists at a quarry in Swindon.
BBC One will also be airing Christmas Specials of some of their most-loved gameshows. This is headed by the return of The Weakest Link where eight celebrities will be grilled by new host Romesh Ranganathan hoping to win big for their charities. There will also be Christmas specials of The Wheel, The Wall, Blankety Blank, The Hit List and Would I Lie To You?. Meanwhile, singing competition I Can See Your Voice will also return featuring guest panellist Leona Lewis.
Comedy fans will also be pleased to welcome back Not Going Out where Lee and Lucy visit the panto and Ghosts where Santa may have stopped off early to Button House. Mrs. Brown’s Boys also returns for two new episodes both on Christmas Day and at New Year’s.
Strictly Come Dancing’s festive special will see six stars take to the ballroom for the first time including Fred Sireix, Mel Giedroyc and Jay Blades whilst they’ll be music from Jamie Cullum, Sheridan Smith and Gary Barlow. Blades will also be popping up on his home turf as The Repair Shop airs it Christmas Special, meanwhile, there’s also a festive special of The Great British Sewing Bee. Top Gear’s Christmas Special sees Paddy, Freddie and Chris buy surprise cars before setting off on a Christmas themed road trip.
And there are three yuletide outings for MasterChef this year – MasterChef: The Professionals Rematch Special pits four of the chefs from previous series against each other to win challenges judged by Monica Galetti, Marcus Wareing and Gregg Wallace; ten previously judged celebrities return for a MasterChef Christmas Cook-Off, hosted by Gregg and John Torode; and a Champions Special sees five of the winners from the amateur series return to show how far they have progressed since winning the series.
Over on BBC Two, M.R. James’ The Mezzotint, adapted by Mark Gatiss, stars Rory Kinnear, Robert Bathurst, Frances Barber, John Hopkins, Emma Cunniffe, and Nikesh Patel. This haunting tale, set in an old English college in 1922, it is guaranteed to bring some eerie fear to the audience.
There will also be festive laughs with Beauty and The Beast: A Comic Relief Pantomime in addition to Christmas specials of Mandy and Two Doors Down. Meanwhile, a ‘lost’ since 1970 episode of the Morecambe & Wise Show will be broadcast for the first time in 50 years. Also providing festive offerings will be QI, Live at the Apollo, The Ranganation and Frankie Boyle’s New World Order. Meanwhile, Jeremy Paxman returns for the traditional ten episode run of Christmas University Challenge. Further quizzing fun will be provided by Victoria Coren Mitchell and an Only Connect Christmas Special.
BBC Two will also follow Gareth Malone as he heads to Blackburn, where he discovers a huge amount of amateur musical talent as he puts on a Christmas concert celebrating the work of the NHS staff and other keyworkers from the region. The Christmas special of Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing sees the duo head to the rivers Eden and Tyne with their mission to catch an elusive English salmon. Gregg Wallace will also be getting in the seasonal mood as he visits a Christmas Card Factory for Inside the Factory. Foodies will be in luck as the channel will be airing Christmas specials from the likes of Andi Oliver, The Hairy Bikers and Mary Berry.
Sir Quentin Blake remains one of the most iconic illustrators, and for this very special programme, Quentin Blake: The Drawing of My Life, he will fill a 30 foot canvas with some of the most-loved characters and key moments from his career. Featuring contributions from a host of famous faces, Joanna Lumley, Ore Oduba and Peter Capaldi will also read passages from some of the many books he has illustrated.
BBC Two will be sharing some concerts from the vaults, including Adele; Madonna; and Lady Gaga, all At the BBC. And Madonna: Truth or Dare takes a behind-the-scenes look at the 1990 Blonde Ambition tour. The year will also be capped off traditionally by Jools Holland and his annual Hootenanny.