The BBC has unveiled an impressive raft of highlights that are set over the festive period.
The ABC Murders
This Christmas, the next instalment in the collection of Agatha Christie stories adapted for the BBC is The ABC Murders. Bafta-nominated writer Sarah Phelps returns to explore the 20th Century through Christie’s work in this adaptation of the classic 1936 title.
John Malkovich leads the cast as Hercule Poirot alongside Rupert Grint as Inspector Crome, Andrew Buchan as Franklin Clarke, Eamon Farren as Cust, Tara Fitzgerald as Lady Hermione Clarke, Shirley Henderson as Rose Marbury, Jack Farthing as Donald Fraser, Bronwyn James in the role of Megan and Freya Mavor as Thora Grey. It’s 1933 and a killer travels the length and breadth of Britain via the railway network. The killer uses the alias ABC, and strikes in a methodical pattern, leaving a copy of the ABC railway guide at the scene of each of murder. As Poirot attempts to investigate he is thwarted on every front. If he is to match his most cunning nemesis, everything about him will be called into question: his authority, his integrity, his identity.
Airing this Christmas as two special feature-length episodes, BBC One’s Watership Down uses Richard Adams’ bestselling novel as its source to bring an innovative interpretation to the much-loved classic. This tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of rabbits as they flee the certain destruction of their home. Led by, stout-hearted brothers Hazel and Fiver, voiced by James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult, the rabbits journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, towards the hope of a better life. The cast also features the vocal talents of John Boyega, Olivia Colman, Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Wilkinson, Gemma Arterton, Peter Capaldi, Mackenzie Crook, Anne-Marie Duff, Taron Egerton, Freddie Fox, Daniel Kaluuya, Rory Kinnear, Craig Parkinson, Rosamund Pike, Jason Watkins, and Gemma Chan.
Multi award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies’ six-part drama adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 19th century classic Les Misérables, will delve deep into the many layers of Hugo’s story, revelling in Jean Valjean and Javert’s cat-and-mouse relationship, against the epic backdrop of France at a time of civil unrest. With striking intensity and contemporary resonance, Hugo’s novel explores the struggles and triumphs of the underclass and the quest for a better life. Les Misérables stars Dominic West as Jean Valjean, David Oyelowo as Javert and Lily Collins as Fantine, Adeel Akhtar and Olivia Colman as Monsieur.
The Midnight Gang
Based on the original book by David Walliams, The Midnight Gang tells the tale of a young boy called Tom who finds himself in the Children’s Ward at Lord Funt Hospital after being hit on the head by a cricket ball. At the hospital he meets a scary porter, the kid-hating matron and newly qualified, and slightly nervous Dr Luppers. Once Tom is moved to the children’s ward, he discovers The Midnight Gang, a secret gang of children who go on midnight adventures in the hospital making dreams come true.When Tom’s wicked headmaster turns up at the hospital to take him back to his boarding school, Tom must find a way to stay in the hospital to fulfil one final adventure for The Midnight Gang. Porter is played by Alan Davies, Matron is played by Haydn Gwynne, Dr Luppers is played by Amit Shah, Headmaster is played by David Walliams, Tom is played by Oliver Zetterstrom, Sir Quentin is played by Mark Heap.
Not Going Out: Live
For the first time ever, Lee Mack’s multi award-winning hit show, Not Going Out, is going out live on BBC One this Christmas.With no room for slip ups or mistakes (no pressure then) Lee (Lee Mack) and Lucy (Sally Bretton) live from their festively decorated living room, nervously discussing the Ding Dong Merrily on Live Christmas Spectacular – the Christmas variety show they’ve been strong-armed into organising to raise money for their children’s school.
Click & Collect
Stephen Merchant and Asim Chaudhry star as two mismatched neighbours driving across the country to pick up the one toy that will make a little girl’s Christmas dreams come true. But will they get there before the shops shut for the festive season? Can they make it back in time for Christmas? And will they manage to avoid driving each other crazy along the way?
When the moonless shadows of London give birth to a new nightmare, DCI John Luther played by Idris Elba is once more called to immerse himself in the deepest depths of human depravity.
While the monstrous and seemingly indiscriminate killings become ever more audacious and public, Luther and new recruit D.S. Catherine Halliday played by Wunmi Mosaku are confounded by a complex tangle of leads and misdirection that seems designed to protect an untouchable corruption. But even as the case brings him closer than ever to the true face of evil, a reluctant Luther is forced to confront the unburied demons of his own recent past. Striding back into the line of fire, he must choose who to protect and who to sacrifice.
Goodness Gracious Me – 20 years innit!
Kiss my chuddies, man, Goodness Gracious Me is 20! And to celebrate this ground shaking, award taking and mould breaking show BBC Two is looking back at some the funniest and most loved moments as we reveal the ten most memorable sketches – decided by comedy fans on a supporting BBC website. We will feature exclusive interviews with its stars and creators alongside other comedians who are fans of the series.
Ken Dodd: How Tickled we were
One-off special that will tell Sir Ken’s story from his boyhood growing up in the 1930’s in Knotty Ash, through his big break into show business and then on to his unrivalled career in entertainment. Poignant and uplifting, the programme features interviews with the people who knew Sir Ken best – friends and family in Liverpool and beyond, and his many colleagues, admirers and fellow-performers from the world of entertainment. The programme also features an interview with Sir Ken’s wife, Lady Anne Dodd.
Mark Gatiss brings the Christmas ghost story tradition back to life with The Dead Room, a chilling new tale for BBC Four. Written and directed by Gatiss, the 30-minute film tells the tale of a long-running radio horror series of the same name. Simon Callow plays Aubrey Judd, the radio series’ veteran presenter and national treasure, who finds that he must adapt to changing times and tastes… But whatever happened to the classic ghost stories? The good old days? Aubrey soon discovers that all is not quiet in the eerie radio studio – and that elements of his own past are not as dead and buried as he perhaps hoped…
There’s also the obligatory Christmas specials of Call The Midwife, Mrs. Brown’s Boys, TOTP, Would I Lie To You? Hold the Sunset, Strictly Come Dancing, The Young Offenders, Two Doors Down, Upstart Crow, Mary Berry’s Christmas Party and a celebrity edition of singing competition All Together Now. Doctor Who will air on New Year’s day