Christmas 2023 Religious Programming on the BBC TV and BBC iPlayer
There'll be musical celebration, traditional carols, live worship and spiritual contemplation across TV and BBC iPlayer
(Image: BBC/Big Circus Media)
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The BBC will showcase a fantastic selection of festive programming across television and radio this Christmas. Our content will include musical celebration, traditional carols, live worship and spiritual contemplation.
In the second series of My Life at Christmas, journalist and broadcaster Adrian Chiles will meet dancer Oti Mabuse, veteran BBC news reporter and World Affairs Editor John Simpson, and stars of stage and screen Martin and Shirlie Kemp in a 3-part series finding out how their festive memories reflect their lives, careers, family and faith.
BBC One Christmas religion programming begins with Midnight Mass, broadcast live from Portsmouth Cathedral. On Christmas Morning there will be a joyful service of hope, peace and goodwill, live from Manchester Cathedral. The Archbishop of Canterbury will deliver his New Year Message from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, and Songs of Praise will deliver a rich selection of programming from across the country this festive season.
BBC Two’s Carols from King’s will take viewers into the candlelit, fan-vaulted Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge for the much-loved annual celebration of the Christmas story, told through music, readings and prayers.
Radio 2 will begin Christmas morning with a special message from Rev. Kate Bottley, who will also present a curated mix of listeners’ favourite festive songs. That evening, listeners can enjoy an upbeat celebration of gospel music from across the UK and Ireland, hosted by Beverley Knight.
Radio 3 will broadcast a variety of services over the festive period, including a special series of Compline in the run-up to Christmas and a carol service from the chapel of Royal Holloway.
Radio 4 will offer special editions of Sunday Worship on the theme of justice, and an Archive on 4 reflection on 100 years of religious broadcasting on the BBC. The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, leads a service of morning worship on Christmas Day, asking ‘What makes a happy Christmas?’
In addition, there will be further special programming across BBC Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and on local radio.
Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics, BBC Television says: “This Christmas we have a wide variety of programming to get viewers in the festive spirit. I hope that our selection of carols, live worship, faith-inspired music, in-depth interviews and spiritual contemplation will bring viewers together at Christmas as we look forward to the year ahead.”
Tim Pemberton, Head of Religion and Ethics, BBC Radio says: “As we approach the 100th anniversary of the first religious broadcast on BBC radio, I’m delighted to bring listeners the very best of what the BBC’s religious programming has to offer this Christmas – from carols to gospel music, opportunities for worship and reflection, and moments to come together and celebrate the festive season.”
TV and BBC iPlayer
Songs of Praise is reflecting the excitement and joy of the festive season with a rich selection of programming from across the country.
Sunday 3 December
We begin our celebrations on the first Sunday of Advent with Aled Jones hosting final of the BBC Young Chorister of the Year, as six of the best junior and senior choristers perform a favourite Christmas choice.
In a very special programme to celebrate the beautiful music enjoyed at this time of year, Pam Rhodes is joined by fellow hymn expert Andrew Gant as they discuss some of the nation’s most loved carols. Our own Songs of Praise presenters also reveal their favourite carols and what Christmas means to them.
In County Durham, the Rev. Kate Bottley visits a dementia-friendly community where local school children and residents of a care home come together to mark the birth of Jesus as they rehearse their nativity play.
My Life at Christmas with Adrian Chiles
In this second series of My Life at Christmas for advent 2023, journalist and broadcaster Adrian Chiles meets three well-known faces to find out how their festive memories reflect their lives, careers, family and faith.
Ep 1 - Oti Mabuse - Sunday 3 December
Dancer Oti Mabuse recalls her journey from a South African township to becoming a two-time Strictly Come Dancing champion, and how a new arrival this year is going to change her Christmases forever.
Ep 2 - John Simpson - Sunday 10 December
Veteran BBC news reporter and World Affairs Editor John Simpson discusses his family, faith and a career filled with Christmases spent in far flung places across the world - from dangerous war zones and political revolutions to devastating tropical storms.
Ep 3 - Martin & Shirlie Kempm- Sunday 17 December
And Martin and Shirlie Kemp open their garden grotto to Adrian to share their Christmas memories, from the heady days of 80s pop stardom and TV & film success to becoming a family and coping with the loss of loved ones and recovering from ill health.
My Life at Christmas with Adrian Chiles is a Big Circus Media production (3x60) for BBC One and BBC iPlayer. It was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics TV. The Executive Producers are Gareth Collet, Matt Baker and Elliot Falk and the Series Producer is Jim Turner.
Songs of Praise
Sunday 24 December
On Christmas Eve, with a congregation of over 2000 people at the magnificent Sheffield City Hall, Aled Jones leads the carol singing with performances from Katherine Jenkins, Michael Ball, Strictly Come Dancing’s lead vocalist Tommy Blaize and the newly crowned Young Choristers of the Year.
Midnight Mass from Portsmouth Cathedral
Sunday 24 December
The traditional celebration of the First Eucharist of Christmas and Blessing of the Crib, will be broadcast live from the ‘Cathedral of the Sea’ situated in the historic heart of the city of Portsmouth. The Dean of Portsmouth, the Very Revd Dr Anthony Cane, will introduce and lead the service with Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Dr Jonathan Frost preaching. Music will include the well-loved carols O Little Town of Bethlehem, It Came Upon The Midnight Clear and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. The Organist and Master of the Choristers, Dr David Price will lead the Cathedral Choir accompanied by musicians of His Majesty’s Royal Marines Band Service.
Midnight Mass from Portsmouth Cathedral is a BBC Studios Production (1x75’) for BBC One and iPlayer. It was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics TV. The Executive Producer is Catherine Stirk.
Christmas Morning Service from Manchester Cathedral
Monday 25 December
A joyful service of hope, peace and goodwill, live from Manchester Cathedral on Christmas morning led by the Dean, the Very Revd Rogers Govender. The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Prof David Walker, will preach. The wonder of the Nativity; the Journey of Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds will be captured in a liturgy of music and readings. Manchester Cathedral Choir, directed by the Organist & Master of the Choristers, Christopher Stokes, will lead the congregation in some of the nation’s favourite carols, including O Come, All Ye Faithful, Unto Us Is Born a Son and While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night.
Christmas Morning Service from Manchester Cathedral is a BBC Studios production (1x60’) for BBC One and iPlayer. It was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics TV. The Executive Producers are Catherine Stirk and Dawn Payne.
On Christmas Night
Monday 25 December
As Christmas Day draws to a close, a well-known celebrity narrates the story of the first Christmas from Luke's Gospel, when angels appeared to shepherds to proclaim the news of Jesus’s birth. The reading is followed by a familiar carol, performed by a solo singer or choir.
On Christmas Night is a BBC Studios production (1x4’) for BBC One and iPlayer. It was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics TV. The Executive Producer is Catherine Stirk.
Songs of Praise
Sunday 31 December
Completing our festive offering is a New Year’s Eve special hosted by the UK’s most successful mezzo-soprano, Katherine Jenkins. Katherine is joined by an array of celebrated guests including Aled Jones, the Gospel Choir of the Year winner and opera singer Carly Paoli to sing out 2023.
Songs of Praise is a CTVC production for BBC One and BBC iPlayer. It was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics TV. The Executive Producers are Andrew O’Connell and Matthew Napier.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message
Friday 1 January
For his 2024 New Year Message, the Archbishop of Canterbury, explores what it means to serve your community and your country. This year, Archbishop Welby is focusing on those people who personify the notion of “service”, and sometimes even self-sacrifice: the British Armed Forces. He’ll be at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, which has nearly 6000 service personnel, plus hundreds of civilian staff. It’s home to the RAF's Air Mobility Force, and is also where desperately needed humanitarian aid is loaded onto planes and flown to parts of the world experiencing devastating war and conflict as well as natural disaster.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message is a BBC Studios (1x5’) for BBC One and iPlayer. It was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics TV. The Executive Producer is Catherine Stirk.
The candlelit, fan-vaulted Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge is the stunning setting for this much anticipated annual celebration of the Christmas story, told through music, readings and prayers with an invited congregation of college members and guests.
Led by the Dean, the Revd Dr Stephen Cherry, the service begins in the time-honoured way as a solo chorister sings the first verse of Once in Royal David's City. The world renowned choir, directed by Daniel Hyde, sings carols old and new, including Silent Night (arr. John Rutter), In the Bleak Midwinter (Harold Darke), In the Stillness (Sally Beamish) and Child in a Manager (arr. John Rutter). The choir leads the congregation in popular carols, including O Come All Ye Faithful, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. The story of the Nativity is read by members of King’s College in the words of the King James Bible and in poems by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge, Marion Strobel, Thomas Hardy and Walter de la Mare.
Carol’s From Kings is a BBC Studios production (1x75’) for BBC Two and iPlayer. It was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics TV. The Executive Producer is Catherine Stirk.
Source BBC One
December 1, 2023 2:00am ET by BBC One