The BBC have confirmed their Christmas line-up for 2014. The highlights include the return Doctor Who, Miranda’s final episodes and a re-telling of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot.
The Incredible Adventures Of Professor Branestawm
Harry Hill makes his acting debut as Professor Branestawm in this family film, adapted from Norman Hunter’s classic children’s books by actor and author Charlie Higson.
Professor Branestawm is the original mad professor, an absent-minded inventor who is oblivious to the chaos his hare-brained creations cause when they go wrong – which they always do. If it weren’t for the efforts of his long suffering housekeeper Mrs Flittersnoop (Vicki Pepperdine) and his dim but loyal best friend Colonel Dedshott (Simon Day), the professor would long ago have blown himself to smithereens.
Set in the picturesque English landscape of days gone by, the hour-long special sees local schoolgirl Connie (Madeline Holliday), come to the professor’s rescue when evil businessman Mr Bullimore (Ben Miller) and local councillor Harold Haggerstone (David Mitchell) unite to have Branestawm kicked out of the village for being a dangerous menace.
It has become a Christmas tradition for the BBC to adapt a David Walliams book for the festive season, and this year sees an adaptation of The Boy in the Dress.
The Boy In The Dress is the story of Dennis, a 12 year-old boy who lives in an ordinary house, in an ordinary street, in an ordinary town, but he feels different. His mum has gone off with a roofer and he lives with his dad (Steve Speirs) and brother. Everything is boring and grey. Dennis wants to escape to some sort of magical world, and discovers it in the most unexpected place – Raj’s newsagent.
A chance view of Kate Moss on the cover of a fashion magazine introduces Dennis to a whole new world of colour and creativity. Thankfully he has an ally in Lisa, the coolest girl in school, who decides to teach him everything she knows about the world of fashion and clothes. Dennis is enthralled, and after a little persuasion from Lisa tries on a dress she has created. Soon they decide to try and pass Dennis off as ‘Denise’, Lisa’s French pen pal. But can a boy wear a dress, and what will his Headmaster Mr Hawthorn think if he finds out – let alone Dennis’s dad, his best friend Darvesh and his school football team-mates?
The stellar ensemble cast stars Billy Kennedy, Jennifer Saunders,Tim McInnerny, Meera Syal, James Felicity Montagu, David Walliams – and an extra special cameo appearance from international supermodel Kate Moss.
Very little of is known about this year’s Doctor Who Special which sees Nick Frost as Santa Claus. Written by Steven Moffat, the episode sees the Doctor and Clara trapped on an arctic base and under attack from terrifying creatures.
Screenwriter Richard Curtis has adapted Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot. Mr Hoppy (Dustin Hoffman) lives a quiet retiree’s life, tending to his balcony garden, pottering to the shops and back and secretly being passionately, hopelessly in love with his downstairs neighbour, Mrs Silver (Judi Dench).
From their first meeting in a cramped lift he is utterly captivated by her sparkle and warmth, and he regularly fails to tell her this during their neighbourly chats over the balcony. When he finds that she is distraught because her beloved tortoise Alfie doesn’t appear to be growing, Mr Hoppy spots a chance to make his true love happy, and maybe even get closer to her in the process.
But when Mr Pringle (Richard Cordery), another neighbour, sets his more lascivious sights on Mrs Silver, Mr Hoppy’s world crumbles. Stoically, he continues with his cunning plan to make Alfie miraculously grow and finally wins his way into Mrs Silver’s heart – only to find that he had been there all the while.
Fresh from his performance in the superb Happy Valley, Steve Pemberton has penned a new three-part retelling of Mapp and Lucia.
It is mid-summer in Tilling and Miss Elizabeth Mapp, the town’s resident schemer and woman of great self-importance, is anticipating a special guest. As is the accepted tradition in Tilling, Mapp is leasing her beautiful Queen Anne House to Mrs Emmeline Lucas (known to her friends as Lucia) for the summer months.
But on this occasion Mapp has bitten off more than she can chew. Lucia is the resident queen of her home town; vain, selfish, imperious and, in short, a glorious snob. Recently widowed, she sees Tilling as the perfect place to end her grieving and reintegrate herself into society, ably assisted by her devoted best friend Georgie Pillson.
Whilst Mapp hopes to ‘run’ Lucia and mete her out to her fellow Tillingites, Lucia is her own woman, who can charms and bully her own way into their lives. The residents of Tilling can only watch as Mapp pits herself Lucia in an ever-spiralling warfare which spans garden produce, bridge and a fund-raising fete. Tilling cannot possible contain these two women – let battle commence and the worst woman win!
Call the Midwife moves closer to present day as the Christmas episode sees the story open in 2005.
Jennifer Worth is at home preparing for Christmas with husband Philip, and as she reminisces about her youth at Nonnatus House, the drama cuts back to 1960.
Rehearsals are underway for the Sunday School Christmas Concert, and while Chummy tries to choreograph dancing snowflakes, Trixie sets to work designing a Father Christmas outfit for Fred to wear.
Chummy is enlisted to help run a poorly managed Mother And Baby home, and with Patsy’s help succeeds in bringing some Christmas joy into the residents’ lives.
John Bishop’s Christmas Show rolls on for a second year featuring performances from Ella Henderson, George Ezra and Jack Whitehall. Along the same lines Michael McIntyre presents his very Christmassy show.
We’re not fans but Mrs Brown’s Boys returns for two festive specials this year.
Agnes reacts badly when Rory announces that husband Dino is buying him plastic surgery for Christmas. And things go from bad to worse when Agnes gets the wrong end of the stick about exactly what sort of nips and tucks Rory will be having.
Winnie receives some bad news when Jacko’s brother Willie passes away, prompting her to make a life-changing decision. Could Winnie’s announcement spell the end of her and Agnes’s lifelong friendship?
Meanwhile, Buster Brady has delivered Agnes a magical new Christmas Tree which is sure to restore Agnes’s festive spirit. If only it would co-operate…
Following the news that her she will be ending her sitcom the BBC have chosen Christmas for Miranda bow out in two final episodes.
The episodes pick up where the last series ended, seeing Miranda pondering both of her proposals. Can Miranda finally learn to accept herself and find contentment and if so, will it be alone or with somebody? Join us for one last chance to hang out with Miranda, Stevie, Penny, Tilly and Gary.
Following on from a pilot episode last Christmas, Sir David Jason reprises his role as Granville in the updated comedy Still Open All Hours.
The Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special sees performances from Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Aljaž Skorjanec. Lisa Riley and Robin Windsor, Rachel Stevens and Tristan MacManus. Louis Smith and Aliona Vilani. Chris Hollins and Iveta Lukosiute and Russell Grant and Joanne Clifton.
Bruce’s Hall of Fame sees Sir Bruce Forsyth takes to the stage to celebrate his career. Joining Sir Bruce in paying tribute to their inspirations are EastEnders actress Jessie Wallace; jazz-pop singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum; comedian and actor Jason Manford; actor Ben Miller; English tenor and actor Alfie Boe; and impressionist Jon Culshaw. Bruce’s Hall Of Fame puts a modern twist on the most famous acts of all time, and gives a chance for today’s stars to pay homage to their heroes and find out what it’s like to perform as their showbiz legends would have done.
This year’s 2-part Top Gear Special sees the trio head to South America. The usual habitat for a Porsche 928, a Lotus Esprit and a Ford Mustang is the civilised world of tarmac, but in the hands of Jeremy, Richard and James, these three sports bred machines face swamps, deserts, forests, beaches and ski slopes as they try to get to the southernmost city in the world, in order to stage an epic game of car football against Argentina. Along the way there are broken bones, epic backdrops, mechanical calamities and cows, plus a climax that wasn’t exactly the one that was expected.
The Wrong Mans returns for a welcome 2-part final episode as James Corden and Matthew Banyton reprise their roles as our hapless heroes. Now 4,000 miles from home, Phil is relishing the chance to reinvent himself, but Sam pines for his old life. But some distressing news from back home forces them to make a difficult choice: hide in the shadows and be forgotten forever or brave it in a world that doesn’t even know they are alive. First there’s just the small issue of busting out of a high-security Texan jail. After asking for help in all the wrong places, the boys soon discover that the road to Bracknell is longer and more perilous than they imagined, and it looks ever more unlikely they will get home in time for Christmas and reclaim their lives.
Narrated by Simon Callow, Rik Mayall: Lord Of Misrule salutes Rik Mayall and celebrates his part in the UK’s comedy history, using rare and unseen archive footage, and talking to the people who knew or admired him: including Michael Palin, Simon Pegg, Lenny Henry, Ben Elton, Alexei Sayle, Christopher Ryan, Tim McInnerny, Jools Holland, Ruby Wax and Greg Davies.
Julie Walters: A Life on Screen celebrates Julie Walter’s 40 year career. Contributors include Victoria Wood, with whom she took her first steps in television and who she worked with on many memorable shows; Willy Russell who wrote Educating Rita and Rupert Grint, whose mother she played in the Harry Potter franchise.
Choirmaster Gareth Malone returns with a new 2-part documentary that sees him put together a new Military Wives Choir super-choir to stage a very special Prom, in association with the National Theatre’s Warhorse team. The Choir: New Military Wives follows the process from finding singers to taking to the stage at the Proms.
Victoria Wood has penned a brand new musical this Christmas entitled The Day We Sang. That Day The one-off musical drama is set in Manchester, 1969. It’s the story of Tubby (Michael Ball) & Enid (Imelda Staunton), two lonely middle-aged people who grab a second chance at life, reconnected by the power of music. They meet at a reunion of the Manchester Children’s Choir who made the iconic Columbia recording of Nymphs and Shepherds in 1929.
Other notable BBC festive highlights include Lee Mack’s Not Going Out, Charlie Brooker’s 2014 Screenwipe and a QI Special.