BBC Radio releases bumper Christmas line-up


BBC Radio has a star-studded line-up this Christmas which includes Sir David Attenborough's music collection from his travels, a festive cook-off with Great British Bake Off star Nadiya Hussain and some new recordings of Ivor Novello works not heard for 100 years.

Bob Shennan, director of BBC radio and music, has released the content highlights for Christmas and New Year, with Carey Mulligan, Glenda Jackson and Olly Murs also topping bills across the broadcaster's stations.

BBC Radio 3´s Sunday Feature on Christmas Day will be Sir David Attenborough - World Music Collector, showing a new side to the nature presenter as he shares music from decades of global travel.

Sir David Attenborough
Sir David Attenborough reveals his music collection (BBC)

Sir David's collection includes recordings he made of harpists in Paraguay, songs from Borneo longhouses, drumming in Sierra Leone, gamelan music in Java, Aboriginal didgeridoo players and palace music from Tonga - all made during expeditions for his wildlife programmes.

He said: "I'm delighted that the music I recorded, all over the world, half a century ago, is coming to light at last. I'm enjoying listening to it very much and I hope the Radio 3 audience will enjoy it too - and the stories of how I met the players and singers who shared with me their fascinating and wonderful music."

Nadiya's Festive Family Feast on BBC Radio 2 sees the home baker welcome wine expert Olly Smith to her home, where the pair will talk through her favourite seasonal recipes including salmon kedgeree and gingerbread cake.

Nadiya Hussain
Nadiya is cooking up a Christmas feast (Anthony Devlin/PA)

She said of the programme, which airs on December 21: "My birthday is on Christmas Day, so it's always a big day in my house as we usually all gather for a huge feast. It'll be great fun giving Radio 2 listeners lots of tips and recipes as they prepare for the festivities, plus I'm really looking forward to welcoming Olly to my home."

From Boxing Day, BBC Radio 3 will feature Ivor Novello as its composer of the week in a first in its over-70-year history, with special recordings from the BBC Concert Orchestra and segments from behind the scenes in Novello's London theatre world.

Some of the work has not been heard in around 100 years and songs including Up There, Megan and First Up are not available commercially, offering listeners a rare Christmas treat.

Ivor Novello
Ivor Novello will be Composer Of The Week (AP)

Hollywood actress Carey Mulligan is one of BBC Radio 4´s Today programme festive guest editors, whose topics will include dementia and the effect of war on Iraqi children.

She said: "I am so excited and honoured to be guest-editing the Today Programme. It's a privilege to work with the excellent team of journalists and producers at the BBC, and together we will be talking about several issues close to my heart and meeting some fascinating people."

Glenda Jackson's celebrated Old Vic performance as King Lear, her first stage role in 25 years, will be adapted for a Boxing Day airing on BBC Radio 4, where she will be joined by cast-mates Celia Imrie as Goneril, Jane Horrocks as Regan, Harry Melling as Edgar and Rhys Ifans as the Fool.

Glenda Jackson
Glenda Jackson's King Lear is coming to radio (BBC)

Meanwhile, the station has a varied collection of guests for its episodes of Desert Island Discs - Kirsty Young's festive castaways will be Bruce Springsteen on December 18, choirmaster Gareth Malone on Christmas Day and New Year's Day will be Sir Kenneth Grange, who designed the Intercity 125 train, the parking meter, the Kodak Instamatic camera and the Kenwood mixer.

Music fans can listen out for the winner of Sound Of 2017 on BBC Radio 1, which announces its longlist for the most promising new talent on November 28, Radio 1Xtra's Hot For 2017 list of names from the world of black music tipped to make it big next year and Olly Murs will be Radio 1´s Live Lounge festive guest in a show titled Olly ChristMurs.

BBC Radio 6 Music is welcoming Three Wise Women; Natasha Khan who performs as Bat For Lashes, Laura Marling and Annie Nightingale, who will each present their own show about their musical inspirations and highlights of the past year.

Laura Marling
Laura Marling is one of the Three Wise Women (BBC)

Further Radio 4 highlights will be Just A Minute Does Panto!, a Gardeners' Question Time Christmas Day special from 10 Downing Street and some exclusive Christmas short stories from No.1 Ladies Detective Agency author Alexander McCall Smith.

BBC Radio 2 is joined by Gareth Malone on Christmas Eve for his favourite choral music, Paul Gambaccini will tell the story of Kenny Everett's friendship with The Beatles and the Friday Night Is Music Night concert will be six scenes from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol starring Mark Gatiss as Scrooge.

Radio 3´s Private Passions series has secured Archbishop of York John Sentamu for Christmas Day to reveal his musical choices while Doctor Who fans can look forward to 10 episodes of the adventure series Demon Quest on Radio 4 Extra over the Christmas period, featuring the fourth incarnation of the Time Lord played by Tom Baker.

Gareth Malone
Gareth Malone presents some of his choral favourites (BBC)

Comedian Russell Howard makes his debut on 5 Live on Christmas morning and the station's content also includes Danny Baker looking back at some of his favourite guests of the year and Judge Rinder taking listeners through the finer points of divorce law on Christmas Day.

Shennan said: "During this festive period BBC Radio will remain a crucial and continuous soundtrack to the lives of our listeners. From Radio 1 to Radio 5 Live and our digital stations, our teams have created Christmas schedules which will surprise, move and entertain them, with content expertly curated and carefully tailored to their tastes."