The BBC has announced details of its Christmas schedule, with a number of Dickensian-themed programmes among the seasonal fare on offer.
Ray Winstone, Gillian Anderson, David Suchet and Douglas Booth star in a new BBC1 adaptation of Great Expectations, while Dickensian spoof series The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff on BBC2 begins with a Christmas special featuring Robert Webb, Katherine Parkinson, Stephen Fry, David Mitchell, Celia Imrie, Pauline McLynn and Johnny Vegas.
Also on BBC2, Sue Perkins examines Charles Dickens’s marriage through the eyes of his wife, Catherine, in Mrs Dickens’s Family Christmas, while Armando Iannucci on Dickens sees the comedy writer and satirist using David Copperfield as a case study to analyse the development of Dickensian language and characters.
Dickens isn’t the only author getting a revamp for Christmas – there are two treats for children, in the form of Mary Norton’s The Borrowers, starring Stephen Fry, Victoria Wood and Christopher Eccleston, and animated adventure in The Gruffalo’s Child, featuring the voices of Shirley Henderson, Helena Bonham Carter, Rob Brydon, Robbie Coltrane, James Corden, John Hurt and Tom Wilkinson, both on BBC1.
The channel sees the return of some comedy stalwarts, too. There are two new episodes of 90s sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, starring Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield and Jane Horrocks, while David Jason – once a Christmas fixture as Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses – returns in The Royal Bodyguard as a former soldier who finds himself out of his depth when he’s put in charge of security for the royal family.
And while there’s no sign of the other Royle Family this year, the show’s star, Sue Johnston, is among the cast of new 90-minute BBC1 comedy Lapland, about a Christmas-obsessed family heading off to spend the festive season in the home of Santa Claus.
Entertainment specials include a tribute to the late Jimmy Savile in the form of a one-off edition of Jim’ll Fix It, presented by Shane Richie, the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special and Top Gear’s seasonal outing, which sees Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May driving British cars, full of British goods, on a trade mission to India.
Last, but for many viewers, by no means least, the Doctor Who Christmas special – The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe – finds the Time Lord in a setting very reminiscent of Narnia, alongside comedian Bill Bailey and Outnumbered’s Claire Skinner.