Christmas TV and Radio highlights 2015

By Jon Bauckham, 23 December 2015 - 1:22am

Charles Dickens's characters cross paths in a new 20-part series, while a BBC Radio 4 documentary concludes the history of carol singing

Dickensian episode 1 BBC

Richard Ridings and Caroline Quentin star as Mr and Mrs Bumble in ambitious 20-part series Dickensian (Credit: BBC/Red Planet Productions/Liam Daniel)

Our Christmas pick

Dickensian
Saturday 26 December, 7.30pm, BBC One

This new 20-part period drama reimagines the works of Charles Dickens and connects his tales in a fictional version of 19th-century London. The series features favourite characters including Jacob Marley and the Cratchitts, Fagin and the Artful Dodger, Amelia and Arthur Havisham and the Barbarys of Bleak House. The series stars Stephen Rea, Pauline Collins, Caroline Quentin, Tom Weston-Jones, Tuppence Middleton, Anton Lesser and Omid Djalili.

Also this Christmas

The Great History Quiz
Thursday 24 December, 9pm, BBC Two

This Christmas special hosted by Kirsty Young is dedicated to the Tudor dynasty (1485-1603). The six challenging quiz rounds bring this period and its characters to life and allow viewers to compete against some of the country’s most famous historians. The team captains, Dr Lucy Worsley and Dan Snow, are joined by Horrible Histories consultant Greg Jenner, authors and broadcasters Professor Kate Williams and Dr Anna Whitelock, plus architectural historian Dr Jonathan Foyle.

A Cause for Caroling
Friday 25 December, 2.15pm, BBC Radio 4 Extra

This last episode in a 10-part series presented by Jeremy Summerly concludes the story of the Christmas carol in Britain. In case you missed it, the December 2015 issue of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine features an article on the same topic.

The Quizeum
Friday 25 December, 7pm, BBC Four

In this Christmas special and the last episode in the series, Griff Rhys Jones quizzes historians Kate Williams, Janina Ramirez, Hallie Rubenhold and antiques expert Lars Tharp at the V&A Museum of Childhood in London.

Call the Midwife
Friday 25 December, 7.30pm, BBC One

Travel back to Christmas 1960 with the midwives. The festive season proves to be a difficult time for grieving mother Iris, while the local community prepares for a televised carol concert. However, concern grows as it becomes apparent that Sister Monica Joan has gone missing.

Downton Abbey
Friday 25 December, 8.45pm, ITV

This festive special is the last-ever episode of the period drama. We join the Crawleys at the end of 1925, with Henry settling into the role of husband and Mary trying to build bridges. However, Spratt's moonlighting is threatened, Daisy may have missed her chance with an admirer and Carson discovers that even he is not invulnerable to change. The day Anna and Bates have been waiting for also finally arrives...

And Then There Were None
Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 December, 9pm, BBC One

Aidan Turner, who captured the nation as Poldark earlier this year, returns in this adaptation of the best-selling Agatha Christie crime novel. This three-part series is set in 1939 with Europe on the brink of war. Ten strangers cut off from the mainland discover there may be a murderer among them.

Timeshift
Saturday 26 December, 11.30pm, BBC Four

This documentary examines Ordnance Survey maps. The British institution was originally created for military reasons, but has since become a valuable tool in peacetime for ramblers and adventurers that is now adjusting to the digital age.

Words: Stephanie Brown

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