The 39 Steps Christmas 2008, BBC1 – Feature-length adaptation by Lizzie Mickery of John Buchan’s spy thriller set in the run-up to the outbreak of the first world war. Stars Rupert Penry-Jones as Richard Hannay, Alex Jennings as Captain Kell, Eddie Marsan as Scudder, Patrick Kennedy as Harry Sinclair and Lydia Leonard as Victoria Sinclair. The 39 Steps also stars David Haig as Sir George Sinclair, Patrick Malahide as Professor Fisher, Stephen Elder as the Vicar, Werner Daehn as Ackerman and Peter Stark as Engel.
Around The World In 20 Years (previously listed as Eighty Days Revisited) Christmas 2008, BBC1 – One-hour off special in which Michael Palin takes a dhow journey from Dubai to Bombay, 20 years after he made the same trip in Around the World in 80 Days.
Behind The Scenes Of The Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special 2008, BBC1 – A look at the making of the Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special, featuring interviews with Ruth Jones, James Corden, Mathew Horne, Joanna Page, Rob Brydon, Alison Steadman, Larry Lamb and Melanie Walters.
Aled’s Christmas Carols ITV1 – Aled Jones visits Assisi, Bethlehem and the first world war battlefields of Belgium to learn about the origin of carols.
Christmas Cooks Challenge Monday 15 December 2008 ITV1 – Daily series with Antony Worrall Thompson.
Xtra Factor: Best and Worst 2008 Monday 15 December 2008, ITV1 – A week-long series of highlights with Holly Willoughby.
Blackadder Rides Again Christmas 2008, BBC1 – Documentary marking the 25th anniversary of the historical sitcom featuring Edmund Blackadder and his sidekick Baldrick. Features interviews with Rowan Atkinson, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Richard Curtis, Ben Elton, Miranda Richardson, Tim McInnerny and Tony Robinson.
Best 2009 – Biographical drama about how alcoholism destroyed the career of footballer George Best and led his mother Anne from being a teetotaller to becoming an alcoholic, too. Stars Tom Payne and Michelle Fairley as George and Anne, with Lorcan Cranitch as George’s father Dickie. Written by Terry Caffola.
Born Survivors 2009, BBC3 – Second four-part series of documentaries. Features Kizzy: Sex, Prams And Exams, on teenage pregnancy; Vodka, Homework And Me featuring young people who abuse alcohol; My 22 Stone Dad And Skinny Me exploring anorexia; and My Life On The Game about a girl who works as a prostitute to fund her drug habits.
The Day Of The Triffids 2009, BBC1 – A two-part drama based on the 1951 scifi novel by John Wyndham, adapted by Patrick Harbinson.
The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency BBC1 – Six-part series based on Alexander McCall-Smith best-selling novels set in Botswana, featuring Precious Ramotswe, the proprietor of the country’s only female-owned detective agency. Stars Jill Scott as Precious, Anika Noni Rose as her faithful secretary Mma Makutsi,, Desmond Dube as flamboyant hairdresser BK, Lucian Msamati as JLB Matekoni and Paterson Joseph as fellow private detective Cephas Buthelezi.
Iran and the West BBC2 – Three-part documentary series on Iran and its relationship with the western world.
Comedy Showcase autumn 2009, Channel 4 – A new six-part run of pilot comedies.
All Star Mr & Mrs ITV1 – A Christmas special edition of the quiz fronted by Philip Schofield and Fern Britton, featuring Ronan Keating, Terry Venables and Tamzin Outhwaite and her actor husband Tom Ellis.
The Krypton Factor ITV1 – Revival after 13 years of the mental and physical game show, with Ben Shephard as the host.
The Sarah Jane Adventures BBC1 – A third series of the Doctor Who spin-off starring Elisabeth Sladen.
Jam and Jerusalem BBC1 – A third series of the Women’s Institute comedy written by Jennifer Saunders, starring Saunders, Sue Johnston, Maggie Steed, Pauline McLynn and Sally Phillips.
Doctor Who At The Proms Christmas 2008, BBC1 – A concert of music from the scifi series at London’s Royal Albert Hall, hosted by Freema Agyeman with a guest appearance by Catherine Tate.
Doctor Who – The Next Doctor Christmas 2008, BBC1 – A special episode set in 1851 in which The Doctor (David Tennant) comes face to face with another Doctor, played by David Morrissey. With Dervla Kirwan as Miss Hartigan and Velile Tshabalala as Rosita.
Dustbin Baby Christmas 2008, BBC1 – A one-off drama adapted from Jacqueline Wilson’s novel Dustbin Baby, about April Richards, a girl who has been raised in care after being discovered as a baby in behind a pizza parlour. Stars Juliet Stevenson, David Haig and Dakota Blue Richards. Adapted by Helen Blakeman.
Jonathan Creek December 2008, BBC1 – A Christmas special of the drama starring Alan Davies as the creator of magic tricks who becomes embroiled in crime solving. The Grinning Man features Sheridan Smith as sceptical Joey Ross and Stuart Milligan as illusionist Adam Klaus.
Lark Rise To Candleford BBC1 – A Christmas special begins a second 11-part series of the drama series adapted by Bill Gallagher from Flora Thompson’s literary trilogy depicting 19th-century life in the Oxfordshire hamlet of Lark Rise and the neighbouring market town of Candleford. Stars Olivia Hallinan, Julia Sawalha, Dawn French, Brendan Coyle and Mark Heap, with Sheridan Smith guesting as Cinderella Doe in the festive special, and new characters hotelier James Dowland played by Jason Merrills and post office worker Minnie played by Ruby Bentall.
The Royle Family – The New Sofa BBC1 – Christmas special starring Ricky Tomlinson, Sue Johnston, Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash.
Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special BBC1 – Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly present performances by Jill Halfpenny, Kelly Brook and Alesha Dixon, plus music from Russell Watson.
Top Of The Pops Christmas Day/New Year’s Eve BBC1 – Two special editions of the pop show, hosted by Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates.
Wallace And Gromit – A Matter Of Loaf And Death December 2008, BBC1 – A new comedy animation featuring Wallace And Gromit by Nick Park. Features the voices of Sally Lindsay and Peter Sallis.
Around The World In 80 Faiths BBC2 – Series in which part-time Anglican vicar Peter Owen Jones explores the world’s religions and observes the most important rituals of 80 of the world’s faiths.
Maestro – The Inside Story BBC2 – Documentary about Sue Perkins’s success in the celebrity conductor competition.
Rab C Nesbitt Christmas Special BBC2 – A one-off 45-minute special starring Gregor Fisher as the string vest-wearing Glasgow philosopher. With Elaine C Smith as his wife Mary “Mary Doll” Nesbitt, Andrew Fairlie as Gash, Tony Roper and Barbara Rafferty as Jamesie Cotter and Ella, Gary Lewis as Mary’s old boyfriend, Frank, and Kathleen McDermott as Lorna. Written by Ian Pattison.
Shooting Stars Night BBC2 – Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer present a celebration of their comedy quiz show, beginning with a documentary featuring contributions by Will Self, Ulrika Jonsson, Lenny Henry, Amanda Donohoe, Michael Winner, Paul Whitehouse, Tim Healy, Charlie Higson, Johnny Vegas, Matt Lucas, Gary Rhodes, Noel Fielding and Martine McCutcheon. Followed by a brand-new edition.
Star Of Bethlehem – Behind The Myth BBC2 – Documentary in which astronomers reveal new evidence to support the view that the story of the Star of Bethlehem was based upon a real event.
TOTP2 Christmas Special BBC2 – Eight new editions of the archive music show linked by Steve Wright.
The Truth About Carols BBC2 – Documentary fronted by composer Howard Goodall featuring performances by folk star Bella Hardy, the Purbeck Village Choir and the Truro Cathedral Choir.
Crooked House Christmas 2008, BBC4 – Three-part supernatural drama set on the site of the demolished Geap Manor, which is reputedly haunted. Written by Mark Gatiss who stars as a museum curator alongside Derren Brown as Sir Roger Widdowson, Lee Ingleby as Ben, Philip Jackson as Joseph Bloxham, Ian Hallard as Felix de Momery, Jennifer Higham as Ruth, Julian Rhind-Tutt as Noakes, Andy Nyman as Duncalfe, Jean Marsh as Lady Constance de Momery, Samuel Barnett as Billy, Anna Madeley as Katherine and Daniela Denby-Ashe as Hannah.
Prog Rock Britannia – An Observation In Three Movements BBC4 – Feature-length documentary about progressive rock music featuring bands such as Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Caravan and Egg. Contributors include Robert Wyatt, Mike Oldfield, Pete Sinfield, Rick Wakeman, Phil Collins, Arthur Brown, Carl Palmer and Ian Anderson. Narrated by Nigel Planer.
Sacred Music – The Story Of Allegri’s Miserere BBC4 – Simon Russell Beale tells the story of one of the most popular pieces of sacred music ever written, plus a performance of the piece by the award-winning choir The Sixteen, conducted by Harry Christophers.
Ten Best Sacred Christmas Classics BBC4 – Musicians and music-lovers talk about 10 much-loved pieces of Christmas music. Features Billy Bragg, Katherine Jenkins, Reverend Giles Fraser, Michael Portillo, Trevor Pinnock, Stephen Cleobury, Jonathan Ansell, Sharon Clarke, Robert Saxton and David Soul.
Clash of the Santas Sunday 21 December 2008, ITV1 – One-off comedy drama reuniting competitive brothers in law Colin (Robson Green) and Howie (Mark Benton). With Alex Rimmer.
Dancing On Ice at Christmas Thursday 25 December 2008, ITV1 – Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean compete against each other as they train two teams of Dancing on Ice stars. Team Torvill – Clare Buckfield, Suzanne Shaw and Zaraah Abrahams – takes on Team Dean – Chris Fountain, Duncan James and Kyran Bracken. Hosted by Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.
The Alan Titchmarsh Christmas Show Sunday 21 December 2008, ITV1 – Features Julie Walters, Andrea Bocelli and Will Young.
Agatha Christie’s Marple: Nemesis Sunday 28 December 2008, ITV1 – Features guest stars Dan Stevens, Johnny Briggs, Laura Michelle Kelly, George Cole, Adrian Rawlins and Lee Ingleby.
Britain’s Weirdest Phobias Tuesday 30 December 2008, ITV1 – Documentary featuring people afraid of knees, peas, tree roots and snow.
Who Dares Sings! Saturday 27 December 2008, ITV1 – A Christmas edition of the singalong game show hosted by Denise Van Outen and Ben Shephard.