The best arts and culture programmes on TV and radio this Christmas

Kirsty Wark chooses her festive highlights from Carmen to TS Eliot

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RUDOLF NUREYEV: DANCE TO FREEDOM

Saturday 19 December BBC2

I was just six when Nureyev defected and I can remember the intrigue and excitement. This drama documentary promises to be fascinating. The mix of love, betrayal, espionage, danger and the genius of Nureyev is irresistible. Add to that interviews plus extraordinary archive and you have an unmissable Christmas treat.


 CARLOS ACOSTA’S CARMEN

Christmas Day BBC4

Like Nureyev, Carlos Acosta is a true star. I was lucky enough to watch him rehearse this production: his physicality is electrifying, and what he demands from the other dancers immense. This is a pared-down Carmen and it marks Acosta’s retirement from classical dance. It will be an emotional affair as Darcey Bussell presents his final performance on the main stage at Covent Garden.


OLD POSSUM’S BOOK OF PRACTICAL CATS

Christmas Day Radio 4

How wonderful to have a new production of a radio programme first broadcast on Christmas Day in 1937. Close your eyes, curl up by the fire and purr quietly as Jeremy Irons brings to life the much-loved characters of Macavity, Old Deuteronomy, Mungojerrie and all the others…


DRAMA: THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK

Christmas Day Radio 4

More wonderful characters, courtesy of Lewis Carroll. Tony Robinson is the perfect person to narrate a new adaptation of the surreal tale. I hope it all gets a bit weird and wonderful as Tony and the motley crew chase the Snark, accompanied by specially composed music and songs. 

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