Doctor Who New Year’s special, Shaun the Sheep, A Very British Scandal lead BBC Christmas line-up
James R | On 25, Nov 2021
Doctor Who will return for a New Year’s Day special, the BBC has officially announced.
The special will be the first of three final outings for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, following the current six-part run, titled Flux. After those three instalments, Whittaker will step away from the TARDIS, along with current showrunner Chris Chibnall, with the latter to be replaced by Doctor Who veteran Russell T Davies.
The New Year’s special will feature a host of guest stars including Aisling Bea, Adjani Salmon and Pauline McLynn.
It leads a bumper line-up of TV for the Christmas period on the BBC, which will also include a new Aardman special featuring Shaun the Sheep.
The Flight Before Christmas will see the Wallace and Gromit sidekick take centre stage once more in a Santastic adventure, which sees Shaun’s seasonal excitement turn to dismay as everyone learns the true value of Christmas.
There’s more animated adventure on offer in the form of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s beloved story Superworm, narrated by Olivia Colman with Matt Smith playing the hero with other voices including Patricia Allison and Rob Brydon.
In live-action territory, Sarah Phelps’ A Very British Scandal, starring Claire Foy and Paul Bettany as the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, will recount one of the most notorious legal cases of the 20th century. Psychological thriller The Girl Before, adapted from the novel of the same name by JP Delaney, tells the story of Jane, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who moves into a strange house designed by an enigmatic architect played by David Oyelowo.
Around the World in 80 Days is a new adaptation of the classic novel from Jules Verne and stars David Tennant, Ibrahim Koma and Leonie Benesch as the intrepid threesome Phileas Fogg, Passepartout and Abigail ‘Fix’ Fortescue. New thriller The Tourist starring Jamie Dornan charts one man’s search for his identity through the vast and unforgiving Australian outback.
Death In Paradise fans are in for a festive treat as Danny John-Jules returns to the Saint Marie police force to assist DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little) in another mystery on the sun-soaked Caribbean island, while the nuns of Nonnatus House are preparing for a winter wedding between Lucille and Cyril (Leonie Elliott and Zephryn Taitte) as well as having an influx of expectant mums in Call the Midwife.
Worzel Gummidge will return for two new episodes – Twitchers and Calliope Jane – created by and starring Mackenzie Crook, alongside Bill Bailey as Mr Peregrine and Nneka Okoye as Calliope Jane. Over in Albert Square, love is in the air as two EastEnders couples prepare to marry: Denise and Jack, (Diane Parish and Scott Maslen) and Chelsea and Gray (Zaraah Abrahams and Toby-Alexander Smith).
Natural history lovers can look forward to unwrapping two new films from David Attenborough – Attenborough’s Wonder of Song in which David chooses some of his favourite recordings from the natural world; and Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyard where he is joined by Professor Ben Garrod and a team of archaeologists at a quarry in Swindon.
The Weakest Link will also make a return to BBC One this year. With brand new host Romesh Ranganathan, there will be a Christmas special in which he is joined by eight celebrities hoping to win £50,000 for their chosen charity, and an additional four episodes stripped across a week.
Mrs Brown’s Boys will present another two visits to Finglas this season. At Christmas, Agnes (Brendan O’Carroll) has become a non-singing member of the choir, and Dermot (Paddy Houlihan) and Buster (Danny O’Carroll) have organised a benefit night for a rather unusual cause; whilst New Year brings about fresh starts in the Brown house, and an unexpected visitor has a unique investment opportunity.
Lee Mack’s Not Going Out sees Lee and Lucy (Sally Bretton) take a visit to the Panto, the star of which is Lucy’s teenage crush, Jason Donovan, and The Ghosts of Button House think Santa has stopped off early when Mike and Alison (Kiell Smith-Bynoe and Charlotte Ritchie) find a man sleeping in a tent in the grounds.
Strictly Come Dancing will see couples compete in some fab-yule-ous routines for the Christmas glitterball, alongside dazzling group numbers and performances from Jamie Cullum, Sheridan Smith and Gary Barlow.
As is traditional, a lone chorister of King’s College Cambridge sings the opening verse of Once in Royal David’s City, heralding the service of music, readings and prayer in Carols From Kings, and this year’s Midnight Mass will come from St Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham. The Christmas Day Eucharist will come live from Coventry Cathedral and Katherine Jenkins will host a celebration of Christmas from Westminster Abbey. On 1st January, the BBC will also broadcast the Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message.
It’s holiday season at The Repair Shop, where the dedicated team of craftspeople are ready to lovingly restore some treasured Christmas keepsakes, while brand new host Sarah Pascoe sets challenges for some well-known faces in two episodes of The Great British Sewing Bee. And there are three yuletide outings for MasterChef – MasterChef: The Professionals Rematch Special, a MasterChef Christmas Cook-Off, and a Champions Special.
Over on BBC Two, MR James’ The Mezzotint, adapted by Mark Gatiss, stars Rory Kinnear, Robert Bathurst, Frances Barber, John Hopkins, Emma Cunniliffe, and Nikesh Patel. T
There’s also Beauty and the Beast: A Comic Relief Pantomime for Christmas, an adaptation of the classic tale written by Ben Crocker and The Dawson Bros, an extended (by one minute) episode of Mandy, starring Diane Morgan, in which she tries to discover the true meaning of Christmas, and a lost episode of the Morecambe & Wise Show will be broadcast for the first time in 50 years.
Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer, along with Ted the fishing dog and some fantastic surprises, head to the rivers Eden and Tyne where their mission is to catch an elusive English salmon for Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Christmas Fishing, while Sir Quentin Blake will fill a 30 foot canvas with some of the most-loved characters and key moments from his career in Quentin Blake: The Drawing of My Life.
On BBC Four, Professor Jonathan Van Tam will be joined by scientists who have all had vital roles to play in the Covid-19 pandemic in the 2021 Christmas Lectures from The Royal Institution.
And there’ll be lots of classic Christmas specials to stream on BBC iPlayer from The Royle Family, The Vicar of Dibley, Call the Midwife and Doctor Who to Miranda, Absolutely Fabulous, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Not Going Out and My Family.
Charlotte Moore, BBC’s Chief Content Officer says: “Christmas 2021 is a time to reunite with friends and family once more, and this year’s line-up of must-see shows will bring everyone together to share the festive season on the BBC. There’s a stocking full of special programmes to enthral and enchant featuring your favourite stars and characters, whatever your mood. The BBC is the place to be entertained this Christmas and New Year.”