Array
(
    [query] => 18.205.176.39
    [region] => VA
    [isp] => Amazon.com, Inc.
    [regionName] => Virginia
    [lat] => 39.043800354004
    [lon] => -77.487396240234
    [org] => AWS EC2 (us-east-1)
    [as] => AS14618 Amazon.com, Inc.
    [status] => success
    [country] => United States
    [countryCode] => US
    [city] => Ashburn
    [zip] => 20149
    [timezone] => America/New_York
)
        

Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. TV & Radio
10 December 2020updated 03 Aug 2021 12:59pm

The best of Christmas radio

The audio highlights of the festive season.   

By Anna Leszkiewicz

As someone with a superhuman appetite for Christmas cheer, the first day of December marks the date when I switch over to Classic FM – when the station starts blasting wall-to-wall carols and doesn’t stop until January. Over on BBC Radio 4, the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge (24 December, 3pm) takes on new significance in a year where traditional local singalongs can’t happen, and will be performed to an empty chapel for the first time. Fortunately, this year’s setlist includes such indisputable bangers as “Sussex Carol”, “Adam Lay Ybounden” and the Darke version of “In the Bleak Midwinter”, as well as the usual favourites. For those who like their festive music a little more jazzy, there’s Don Black’s Christmas Crooners (BBC Radio 2, 25 December, 10pm); while Andrew McGibbon investigates how The Sound of Music’s My Favourite Things (BBC Radio 4, 24 December, 11.30am) became a popular classic thanks to John Coltrane’s 1961 reworking on soprano sax.

[See also: How the Brits stole history]

Another victim of the pandemic is that joyfully camp British tradition, the pantomime. Archive on 4 delves into the past with a look back at the strange world of panto (BBC Radio 4, 26 December, 8pm).

In drama, there is a new adaptation of Charles Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood (BBC Radio 4, from 21 December, 10.45am). Pippa Nixon plays Dickens’s daughter Kate, who, in this metafictional take on the unfinished novel, narrates and attempts to resolve the central mystery. Neil Gaiman’s winter fairy tale The Sleeper and the Spindle – a refashioning of traditional stories such as Sleeping Beauty and Snow White – features an all-star cast including Penelope Wilton and Gwendoline Christie, in this adaptation by Katie Hims (BBC Radio 4, 26 December, 3pm).

[See also: Inside the Brain of Jeff Bezos is a blandly positive portrait of one of the world’s most powerful and divisive figures]

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

If, like mine, your Christmas requires seeing Colin Firth or Hugh Grant in a cravat, you’re in luck: comedy, too, has a touch of Austenmania. There’s Austentatious (BBC Radio 4, 31 December, 6.15pm), a comic skit in the style of a “lost Austen ghost story”. And Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders reunite in a one-off special, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane Austen? (BBC Radio 4, 31 December, 11pm), which actually has nothing to do with Austen at all: it picks up the pair’s Nineties send-up of the classic Hollywood thriller. 

[See also: The Telegraph’s Bed of Lies explores crimes of the British state]

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them

Want more recommendations? Sign up to The Dress Down, the New Statesman’s weekly cultural newsletter.

This article appears in the 08 Dec 2020 issue of the New Statesman, Christmas special