BBC Radio reveals eclectic Christmas line-up


BBC Radio has unveiled its eclectic Christmas line-up, with personalities from Jeremy Irons and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa to The Chemical Brothers and astronaut Chris Hadfield joining the festivities.

Leading Radio 4's Christmas Day schedule will be Oscar-winning actor Irons as he recites T.S. Elliott's Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats, revisiting favourites like Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, Old Deuteronomy and Mr Mistoffelees 78 years after the poems were first broadcast in 1937.

Blackadder star Sir Tony Robinson will head up the quest to find Lewis Carroll's mythical beast in a new adaptation of The Hunting of the Snark, while Tim Key's Christmas Poetry Programme, Dead Ringers and a Count Arthur Strong Seasonal Special will lighten the schedule.

Calendar Girls, the story of friends from a Yorkshire WI group who posed for a naked charity calendar, will get its premiere on December 28 to mark the 100th anniversary of the WI with actress Sian Phillips joining The Archer's Lynda Snell for Ambridge's annual Yuletide play.

For the 12th year the Today programme will hand over the editorial reins to public figures during the Christmas and New Year period, with actor Michael Sheen, best known for portraying Tony Blair in The Deal, The Queen and The Special Relationship, and lawyer Miriam Gonzalez Durantez taking over as two of the festive Guest Editors.

Kirsty Young's Christmas castaways will be former commander of the International Space Station, astronaut Chris Hadfield, and Patricia Greene, better known to listeners as Jill Archer, revealing their most-loved recordings on Desert Island Discs.

Exclusive access has been given to sister station Radio 4 Extra to Agatha Christie's personal dictaphone tapes, used while she recorded her autobiography. Combined with fresh interviews with her grandson Mathew Prichard, the Queen of Crime will be explored In Her Own Words to tie in with her 125th anniversary year and the BBC One adaptation of And Then There Were None.

Across the network, musical highlights include soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa discussing her life and music from her Sussex home with Radio 3's Sean Rafferty, while throughout December, Eddie Izzard, John Craven and Alec Baldwin share their favourite classical pieces with Rob Cowan on 3's Essential Classics.

On Radio 2, Christmas Eve preparations will come in the form of The Great British Bake Off's Mary Berry who'll be treating listeners to indulgent recipes, carols and guilty-pleasure hits as she is joined by Liza Tarbuck for Mary Berry: At Home For Christmas, followed by The Eagles's frontman Don Henley taking over Bob Harris's slot for one night only to play his favourite country records.

Providing the soundtrack to your turkey lunch will be Kylie Minogue, whose selection of seasonal anthems bookend the Queen's speech from 2-4pm on Radio 2, while on Radio 1 Greg James will be delaying his family's celebrations to tell us if The X Factor will rule the airwaves once again in a live announcement of the Official Charts Christmas Number One.

For dance music fans, the Chemical Brothers will join Lauren Laverne for a three hour special on 6 Music's Chemical Christmas with Ed and Tom exploring their favourite tracks and discussing two decades of making music together.

There will be festive goodies aplenty on Radio 4's comedy schedule, with two 15 minute musicals and specials from Ed Reardon, Bridget Christie and Pam Ayres.

And if there is room left for a belly-laugh, June Whitfield invites Joanna Lumley into her Wimbledon home for two programmes talking about her comedy career and listening back to gems from the archive as she turns 90 years old in 90 Not Out.