BBC schedule: BBC reveals Christmas and New Year schedule - with host of favourites returning for specials
Strictly Come Dancing and Call the Midwife will return over the festive period, as the BBC announces its Christmas and New Year shows.
Last year, Strictly’s Christmas special proved a ratings hit, claiming the most viewers outside of the Queen’s festive message.
The celebrity dancing show saw pop star Anne-Marie and her professional dance partner Graziano Di Prima win, watched by an average of 5.8 million viewers, according to figures from the BBC.
Call The Midwife Christmas Special, another BBC staple, third place in terms of BBC ratings with 4.7 million viewers in 2021, also returns.
In its 75-minute festive show, the midwives move the maternity clinic into new premises, as the period show covers December 1967.
BBC One sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys, which is often a ratings hit despite being pilloried by many critics, returns with specials over Christmas and New Year.
Last year it did not feature in the top 10 for overnight viewing figures. In 2020 3.8 million viewers tuned in.
The Bafta-winning comedy Detectorists also returns after a five-year break for a 75-minute special.
The show’s writer and director Mackenzie Crook stars alongside Toby Jones to offer fans an update on the lives of metal detecting hobbyists Lance and Andy, as their Danebury Metal Detecting Club is in trouble.
There will also be specials of The Graham Norton Show, EastEnders, Bad Education, Ghosts, Malory Towers, Great British Sewing Bee, Motherland, Sir David Attenborough’s Dynasties II and Frozen Planet II, The Cleaner, The Repair Shop, Antiques Roadshow and Inside No 9.
There will be game show specials of Blankety Blank, The Weakest Link, House Of Games, The Hit List, Question Of Sport, Pointless, The Wheel, University Challenge, Would I Lie To You and QI.
Elsewhere, Happy Valley returns for its third and final series, set in West Yorkshire and starring Sarah Lancashire as Sergeant Catherine Cawood.
She discovers the remains of a gangland murder victim in a drained reservoir, which leads her to her nemesis, the murderer and sex offender Tommy Lee Royce, played by James Norton.
The six-part series will be the final chapter of the Happy Valley story, created by Sally Wainwright.
Meanwhile, the final chapter of the trilogy His Dark Materials will also be broadcast over the Christmas period, starring Ruth Wilson and James McAvoy.
The adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel is a co-production between the BBC and US station HBO.
There will also be another adaptation of JK Rowling’s Cormoran Strike crime fiction series, which she wrote under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
Strike: Troubled Blood sees Strike, played by Tom Burke, visit family in Cornwall when he is called on to solve a mysterious cold case.
Charlotte Moore, BBC chief content officer, said: “Nothing brings people across the UK together like Christmas on the BBC and this year we’ve got a world-class line-up like no other.
“Get ready to escape and be entertained with an incredible range of new festive shows across every genre. Live or on demand, there’s something for everyone.
In music news, Sir Cliff Richard will chat to Sara Cox in Cliff At Christmas about his 64-year career as he performs some of his Christmas classics, new songs and best-loved hits.
Top Of The Pops returns for a Christmas Day special hosted by Radio 1’s Clara Amfo and Jack Saunders as does Jools’ Annual Hootenanny.
Eurovision runner-up Sam Ryder will host a New Year’s Eve party for the first time.
Elsewhere, an animated film based on Charlie Mackesy’s best-selling book, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse will also be released, and Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s intergalactic story, The Smeds And The Smoos, will be made into a half-hour special.