What's on BBC Two in the UK at Christmas?

[Press Release Originally Published Nov. 29, 2022]



Carols from King’s Christmas Eve

The world-renowned choir, directed by Daniel Hyde, sings carols old and new, from Peter Warlock’s setting of the medieval Adam lay ybounden, to more contemporary music from modern female composers such as Errollyn Wallen with “Peace on Earth” and former King’s College student Judith Weir, whose “Illuminare Jerusalem” is based on a medieval manuscript referencing verses from Isaiah. A special item this year is Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on Christmas Carols” which will mark the 150th Anniversary of one of the UK’s favourite composers.

The choir also leads the congregation in popular carols, including O Come All Ye Faithful, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear and Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.

The service will be introduced by the Dean, the Revd Dr Stephen Cherry. The story of the Nativity is told in the words of the King James Bible and reflected on in poetry read by members of the College.

Carols from King's was inspired by A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols which has been broadcast by the BBC Radio for more than 90 years. The television programme gives viewers an opportunity to enjoy the music in the setting of the of the chapel’s unique architecture, containing as it does the largest fan-vaulted stone ceiling in the world and some of the finest examples of medieval stained glass.

Carols From King’s is a BBC Studios (1 x 75mins) for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. The Producer for BBC Studios is James Whitbourn, the director is Ian Russell and the Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Daisy Scalchi.

Top Of The Pops: Review of 2022

Top Of The Pops returns for a Christmas special hosted by Radio 1’s Clara Amfo and Jack Saunders.

The special will take a look back over the last 12 months delving into Pop music’s biggest stories and showcasing performances from some of the hottest artists of 2022.

Top Of The Pops: Review of 2022 is a BBC Studios (1 x 60) production for BBC One and BBC iPlayer. It was commissioned by Pinki Chambers, Commissioning Editor for Entertainment. The Executive Producer for BBC Studios is Alison Howe.

Cliff at Christmas

Sir Cliff Richard performs against a festive backdrop with musicians and backing singers
BBC Two & BBC iPlayer

In this one-hour special for BBC Two & iPlayer, the multi award winning Sir Cliff Richard chats to Sara Cox at the iconic Abbey Road Studios in London about his incredible 64 year career which has seen more than 130 of his singles, albums and EP’s reach the UK top 20. As one of the UK’s most successful solo artists, Sir Cliff also performs some of his Christmas classics, new songs and best loved hits with some special guests at the recently restored St John-at-Hackney Church.

Cliff at Christmas on the BBC (1x60’) has been commissioned by Kate Phillips in her former role as Director of Entertainment. It is a Penny Lane Entertainment production for BBC Two and iPlayer. Executive Producers are Lee Connolly and Sue Andrew for Penny Lane Entertainment. Katie Taylor is the Commissioning Editor for the BBC.

University Challenge

Christmas University Challenge returns this year for its twelfth series. While the nation's students take a winter break, distinguished alumni of fourteen UK universities and university colleges will put fingers on buzzers instead, hoping they’ve retained at least some of what their alma maters once taught them.

In this short seasonal tournament, these fourteen teams will meet in seven heats, with a place in the semi-finals reserved only for the four highest-scoring winners. They’ll face typically tricky questions on everything from astrophysics to zoology, with an added sprinkling of festive fayre, all asked by Jeremy Paxman in his 29th year as presenter. No prize is on offer, merely honour, glory, and a lifetime of bragging rights.

To be eligible to take part, contestants must have graduated from the institutions they’re playing for, and gone on to achieve success in their field – whether that field be academia, business, sport, or entertainment. This year’s line-up includes author Emma Dabiri (SOAS, London), broadcaster Paul Gambaccini (University College, Oxford), YouTuber Tom Scott (York), newsreader Reeta Chakrabarti (Exeter College, Oxford), playwright James Graham (Hull), paracyclist Neil Fachie (Aberdeen), and leader of Plaid Cymru Adam Price (Cardiff).

Christmas University Challenge is a Lifted Entertainment (part of ITV Studios) (10 x 30min) for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. It was commissioned by Lee McNicholas (Creative Director, Lifted Entertainment North). The Executive Producer is Peter Gwyn and the Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Pinki Chambers.

Richard Osman’s Festive House of Games

In these special festive editions, eight famous faces go head-to-head testing their general knowledge skills in a variety of fun trivia-based games in Richard Osman’s Festive House of Games. Across two weeks, the celebrity contestants – Clare Balding, Ivo Graham, Ugo Monye, Su Pollard, Brian Conley, Scarlett Moffatt, Anneka Rice and Phil Wang - will take on a series of quiz rounds selected by the host, quiz legend, Richard Osman. A winner will be declared following a quick-fire round at the end of the show and they will be taking home a prize and the House of Games Festive trophy.

Will the winning star opt for the much coveted Festive House of Games suitcase, or will the fondue set prove irresistible? Fun, witty, and full of surprises, Richard’s cross-examination of the celebs over the course of the week provides an entertaining watch for all the family as the level of competitiveness and camaraderie grows. And of course, this warm, feel-good festive quiz is perfect for playing along with at home.

Richard Osman’s Festive House of Games is a Remarkable TV (10 x 30min) production for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. The Executive Producer for Remarkable TV is Tamara Gilder and the Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Alex McLeod.


Time to Talk Turkey! Sandi and Alan gather round the tree with Gyles Brandreth, Chris McCausland and Aisling Bea to tear into toys, teddy bears, and other festive topics starting with “T” … featuring personal appearances by the President of the Magic Circle AND probably the world’s most popular bear.

QI is a Talkback (a Fremantle Label) & QI Ltd production (1 x 30m or 45m TBC) for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. The Executive Producer is Piers Fletcher and the Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Sarah Clay.

Live at the Apollo – Christmas Special

The BAFTA nominated Live At The Apollo returns to BBC Two for a highly anticipated seventeenth series with seven brand new episodes. In this special festive edition of the award-winning Live At The Apollo, the fabulous Rosie Jones is your host as she introduces Eshaan Akbar and Cally Beaton to the Stage.

Live At The Apollo is an Open Mic Productions (1 x 30/45mins TBC) production for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. It is directed by Paul Wheeler, the series producer is Anthony Caveney and the Executive Producer is Andrew Beint. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Pinki Chambers.

Jools’ Annual Hootenanny

As has become time-honoured tradition in the UK’s televised celebration of the New Year, Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra take centre stage at Jools’ 30th Annual Hootenanny to welcome 2023 in style. Joined by a starry line-up of artists and special guests from across the ages, they’ll bring the ultimate New Year party to viewers, in the comfort of their own homes. This year’s show will spotlight the most exciting up-and-coming musicians who have been making waves in 2022, as well as artists viewers will know and love.

Jools will also be counting the seconds down to midnight, before the Pipes and Drums of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards play viewers into 2023.

It’s been a landmark year for Jools, with two brand new series of Later…with Jools Holland featuring artists such as Liam Gallagher, Wet Leg, Cat Burns, Poppy Ajudha and Confidence Man in Series 60, and Simple Minds, Arctic Monkeys, Christine and the Queens Presents Redcar, Suede and Hot Chip in Series 61. Jools also celebrated the show’s 30th birthday with a special anniversary episode featuring performances from Robert Plant, First Aid Kit, Michael Kiwanuka, Seasick Steve and Imelda May.

Jools’ Annual Hootenanny (1 x 120 mins) is a BBC Studios production for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. It was commissioned by Jonathan Rothery, Head of Popular Music TV. The Executive Producer is Alison Howe and the Commissioning Executive for the BBC is Dawn Payne.

Frankie Boyle's 2022 New World Order

Frankie Boyle returns with his New World Order end of year special where, with the help of his guests, he’ll dissect the unsettling year that was 2022. The show features Frankie at his satirical best with stand-up, review and discussion – all in an attempt to make sense of the last 12 months. Frankie Boyle’s New World Order is made by Zeppotron, part of Banijay UK.

Frankie Boyle’s 2022 New World Order is a Zeppotron (1 x 45min) for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. It was commissioned by Ben Caudell, Commissioning Editor for Comedy. The Executive Producers for Zeppotron are Christopher Barbour, Peter Holmes & Ruth Phillips and the Commissioning Editors for the BBC are Ben Caudell and Navi Lamba.

Inside No. 9

Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith return with a special festive film from their award-winning anthology series Inside No. 9. Joined by guest stars Shobna Gulati and Simon Callow, they serve up a disturbingly spooky Christmas story set in a mysterious church.

The Bones of St. Nicholas

Dr. Jasper Parkway has booked an overnight stay in a reputedly haunted church on Christmas Eve. However, much to his dismay, he is soon joined by unwanted guests Pierce and Posy, who have even brought their own sleeping bags. Together with the eccentric warden Dick, it doesn’t look like Jasper is going to be lonely this Christmas. Even though sherry, biscuits and Yuletide phantoms are on offer, why is Jasper so keen to be left to his own devices?

Inside No. 9 is produced by BBC Studios Comedy Productions for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. It was written by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, directed by George Kane and produced by Kim Crowther. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Gregor Sharp. The Executive Producers for BBC Studios are Adam Tandy and Josh Cole.


Detectorists, the multi award winning comedy series about metal detecting enthusiasts Andy (Mackenzie Crook) and Lance (Toby Jones), returns for a feature length special.

The Danebury Metal Detecting Club is in trouble; developers are sniffing around, and after losing out on a big finder’s fee, the club is going to need a miracle to help save their beloved scout hall. So when Lance manages to secure a permission to search ten acres of prime, undetected land, it looks like things could be on the up. But when a mysterious relic is unearthed, Lance breaks protocol, threatening his friendship with Andy and the future of the DMDC.

Written and directed by Mackenzie Crook, Detectorists is a Treasure Trove Productions, Channel X North and Lola TV production (1 x 75) for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. It was commissioned by Jon Petrie, Director of Comedy Commissioning.

The Producer is Gill Isles and the Executive Producers are Mackenzie Crook and Lisa Thomas for Treasure Trove / Lola TV and Alan Marke and Jim Reid for Channel X North. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Emma Lawson.

Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!

Choreographer and director Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker offers a distinctive contemporary take on the classic Christmas tale.

With family-sized helpings of Bourne’s trademark wit, pathos and magical fantasy, Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! follows Clara’s bittersweet journey from a darkly comic Christmas Eve at Dr. Dross’s Orphanage, through a shimmering, ice-skating winter wonderland to the scrumptious candy kingdom of Sweetieland, influenced by the lavish Hollywood musicals of the 1930s.

Tchaikovsky’s glorious score and Anthony Ward’s newly-refreshed delectable sets and costumes combine with dazzling choreography to create a fresh and charmingly irreverent interpretation of the classic.

Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! is an Illuminations/New Adventures production (1 x 88’) for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. It was commissioned by Emma Cahusac, Commissioning Editor for BBC Arts. Choreographer and director is Matthew Bourne. Screen director is Ross MacGibbon. Producer is Lucie Conrad.

Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends

On 3 May 2022, Cameron Mackintosh invited many of Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends to join him in London’s West End for a thrilling, joyously staged production. He had specially devised it to celebrate Stephen’s extraordinary talents as a Composer and Lyricist and also honour his great legacy in the theatre Cameron had completely rebuilt and renamed in his honour. All profits from the evening went to the recently formed Stephen Sondheim Foundation which supports new writers.

Featuring an all-star cast including, amongst others, Michael Ball, Helena Bonham Carter, Rob Brydon, Petula Clark, Anna-Jane Casey, Rosalie Craig, Janie Dee, Judi Dench, Daniel Evans, Maria Friedman, Haydn Gwynne, Bonnie Langford, Damian Lewis, Julia Mckenzie, Julian Ovenden, Bernadette Peters, Sian Phillips, Jon Robyns, Clive Rowe, Jenna Russell, Imelda Staunton, Charlie Stemp, Gary Wilmot and Michael D. Xavier. Brilliantly staged by Matthew Bourne, Maria Friedman and Stephen Mear and conducted by Alfonso Casado Trigo, the evening sold out immediately, and demand was so great that the evening was simultaneously live screened at the Prince Edward Theatre 200 metres away.

A year on from the legendary composer and lyricist’s death and with a worldwide premiere on BBC Two this Christmas, now viewers will have their first chance to see the never to be forgotten and most talked about theatrical event of the year.

Charlie Mackesy: The Boy, Mole, Fox, Horse and Me (w/t)

Charlie Mackesy’s book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse has sold eight million copies around the world, and is now a major new animated film. But who is Charlie Mackesy and how did this first-time author create a book that has touched millions? In this moving documentary, Charlie takes us on a journey through his formative years and later-life success. From an idyllic upbringing on a farm in rural England, to the streets of London, we follow Charlie as he traces the events that shaped his artistic imagination and reveals how his best-selling book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse came to resonate around the world.

This intimate portrait illuminates the creative world of Charlie Mackesy and interweaves the story of the success of the book with the present day, as Charlie directs the animated film version of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.

The programme connects the threads between Charlie’s artistic life and formative years, exploring what inspired the wisdoms in the book. With insights and anecdotes from friends Richard Curtis and Bear Grylls, an unexpected story unfolds - of how grief and vulnerability can be turned into a message of strength and compassion that has helped thousands of people.

Charlie Mackesy: The Boy, Mole, Fox, Horse and Me w/t is a Salon Pictures production (1 x 60’) for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. It was commissioned by Alistair Pegg and Mark Bell for BBC Arts. The Producers for Salon Pictures are Nick Taussig and Sophie Harmer. Director is Clare Sturges.

A Ghost Story for Christmas: Count Magnus

A Ghost Story for Christmas: Count Magnus based on M.R James’ short story and adapted and directed for television by Mark Gatiss. Count Magnus is the latest ghost story for Christmas from Mark Gatiss on the BBC, following The Mezzotint in 2021, Martin’s Close in 2019, The Dead Room in 2018, The Tractate Middoth in 2013 and Crooked House in 2008.

Mark Gatiss says: “It’s an absolute thrill to be bringing one of M.R. James’ most beloved tales to life for this year’s ghost story. The Count casts a long shadow and I hope we can all relish being in his thrall this Christmas!”

Set in 1863, Count Magnus tells the tale of the inquisitive Mr. Wraxhall who becomes fascinated by the long-dead founder of a Swedish family, who once made a strange journey to the Holy Land - on most unholy business. Wraxhall is drawn ever deeper into Count Magnus' dark world and discovers that the dreaded aristocrat may not lie easy in his tomb.

Starring Jason Watkins (The Crown, The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies) as Mr Wraxhall, alongside MyAnna Buring (The Witcher, The Responder) as Froken de la Gardie, Krister Henriksson (Wallander, The Fall) as the Narrator, Max Bremer (Bordertown) as Nielsen, Allan Corduner (Topsy-Turvy, Homeland) as the Deacon, and Jamal Ajala (The Witcher) as Gustav.

A Ghost Story for Christmas: Count Magnus is a Can Do and Adorable Media production (1 x 30’) for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. It was commissioned by Mark Bell, Commissioning Editor for BBC Arts. Adapted and directed by Mark Gatiss. Producer is Isibéal Ballance. Distributed internationally by BBC Studios


A new adaptation of Coppélia this winter combines enchanting animation and live action dance in a modern take on the much-loved ballet.

With a world-class cast including Michaela DePrince, Daniel Camargo, Vito Mazzeo, Dame Darcey Bussell and Irek Mukhamedov, this new adaptation sees Dr. Coppelius (Mazzeo) as a cosmetic surgeon, whose lure of superficial beauty poisons the town. Swan (DePrince) must uncover the truth about the popular newcomer who puts her community and the life of her beloved Franz (Daniel Camargo) in danger. Choreographed by Ted Brandsen and featuring an original score composed by Maurizio Malagnini, performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Coppélia, a 1x80’, is a film by Jeff Tudor, Steven De Beul & Ben Tesseur. It is produced by Bruno Felix, Femke Wolting and Janneke van de Kerkhof for Submarine and Adrienne Liron for 3 Minutes West. The Commissioning Editor for BBC Arts is Emma Cahusac.

Marie Antoinette

Created and written by Deborah Davis (The Favourite), Marie Antoinette tells the story of the incredibly modern and avant-garde young queen who was barely 14 years old when she left Austria to marry the Dauphin of France.

Free, independent and feminist ahead of her time, the fearless queen will be played by Emilia Schüle (Ku’damm 56/ 63). Joining Deborah Davis in writing the ambitious drama is Louise Ironside (The Split), Avril E. Russell (All on a Summer’s Day) and Chloë Moss (Run Sister Run). The series is directed by Pete Travis (Bloodlands) and Geoffrey Enthoven (Children of Love).

Produced by Banijay Studios France, CAPA Drama and Les Gens, Marie Antoinette marks the first international deal for this CANAL+ Creation Originale. It is produced by Claude Chelli and Margaux Balsan for Capa Drama, Alban Étienne and Stéphanie Chartreux for Banijay Studios France, and Christophe Toulemonde for Les Gens. Filming has commenced in many prestigious historical places including the Châteaux of Versailles, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Lésigny, Champs, Voisins, and in the emblematic studios of Bry-sur-Marne.

Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Christmas Fishing

Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer sit in a cabin that's been decorated with Christmas lights and a tree. On the table in front of them there's an iced cake with two icing figures fishing.
BBC Two & BBC iPlayer

This Christmas BBC Two has the perfect festive treat for Gone Fishing fans. For the first time in Gone Fishing’s history, the angling duo leave the riverbanks of Britain behind and Paul takes Bob on a dream fishing trip to Norway – the country were Cod is God and a place that truly embodies the traditional spirit of Christmas.

They travel to The Lofoten Islands which are in the arctic circle, 1,000 miles north of Oslo and are made up of majestic mountains, deep fjords, long, surf-swept beaches – the scenery is breath-taking and the historic fishing villages, and the seas around it are teeming with fish.

Neither Paul or Bob have visited Norway before and it’s an angler’s paradise. Paul is like a kid at Christmas, excited at the possibilities of catching species of fish he’s never fished before.

They are on a mission to find a variety of species including: cod (otherwise known as a ‘Norwegian White Gold’ such has been its significance to building the wealth of the nation); halibut, pollock, ling, trout, char and the ultimate prize – an attempt to catch the hard-fighting coalfish, nicknamed cold water cheetahs in the tough waters of the legendary maelstrom.

Along the way Bob surprises Paul with some unique accommodation in the most remote locations they’ve ever experienced – complete with all the trappings you’d expect of a Christmas trip. Bob searches out the most interesting culinary delights from Christmas porridge to traditional Christmas cookies and they meet with locals as well as a very special guest from their past.

Sadly, trusty terrier Ted is unable to join the pair on their festive adventure to Norway but Paul makes sure he is certainly there in spirit …

On this trip they make memories to last a lifetime, both on and off the water and viewers will be left reeling by their adventures.

Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Christmas Fishing, a 1x60’ for BBC Two and iPlayer, is made by Owl Power. It was commissioned by Catherine Catton, Head of Commissioning, Factual Entertainment and Events. The Executive Producer is Lisa Clark and the Commissioning Editor is Max Gogarty.

Snow Dogs: Into the Wild

In this new documentary wildlife film-maker Gordon Buchanan gets close to seven incredible huskies on a treacherous dogsled adventure through Canada’s spectacular Yukon wilderness.

Inspired by Jack London’s novel, The Call of the Wild (1903) it’s been Gordon’s childhood dream to command a team of dogs out in the Yukon wilderness following in the footsteps of the Scottish Klondike gold rush explorers who used these trails over 100 years ago.

Gordon meets his seven sled dog team: Hero; Epic; Vicky; Lucky; Exy; Wookie; and charismatic pack leader Yukon. A complete novice, Gordon must earn the respect of the dogs if he’s to survive blizzard conditions and learn to dodge tree branches and hazardous trail boulders. Will he manage to win the trust of these magnificent dogs and take on one of the toughest challenges of his life: the treacherous Burn Run?

Snow Dogs: Into the Wild is a Hello Halo Productions and Oak Island Films (1x60) for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. It was commissioned by Jack Bootle, Head of Specialist Factual. The Executive Producer for Hello Halo Productions is Wendy Rattray and for Oak Island Films is Ted Oakes and the Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Sreya Biswas and for BBC Scotland David Harron.

Source BBC TWO

December 23, 2022 5:00am ET by BBC TWO  


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