Friday 2 December 2016

It's Dame on: Panti and Mrs Brown lead festive TV schedules

Published 03/12/2015 | 06:00

Panti Bliss
Panti Bliss
Glenroe cast in Christmas shot (1987)
Michael D Higgins
RTE's Emma O'Driscoll

It's tinsel and Christmas baubles at dawn as rival stations TV3 and RTÉ unveil their Christmas schedules.

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The small screen will be packed with drag acts, throwbacks, soap marathons, New Year's concerts and a celebrity pub crawl.

Two formidable dames - Panti Bliss and Mrs Brown - will lead the Christmas charge.

Foul-mouthed matriarch Mrs Brown and her family will return with two Christmas Specials.

TV3 has tasked 'Queen of Ireland' Panti Bliss, aka Rory O'Neill, with addressing the nation with a Christmas message to pause and reflect on the events of the past 12 months.

The following day, Panti will appear on RTÉ 2 giving her review of the year in 'Panti Does 2015'.

Mary Kennedy will kick things off for RTÉ on Christmas Eve as she meets President Michael D Higgins and Sabina Higgins as part of 'Carols from Áras an Uachtaráin'. The programme will feature musicians Imelda May and Mick Flannery.

Both broadcasters are also turning to Daniel O'Donnell for that extra seasonal bump in viewers.

Daniel featured in BBC's 'Strictly Come Dancing' this year and also provided UTV with massive ratings hit 'Daniel and Majella's B&B Road Trip'. He will host RTÉ special 'Daniel O'Donnell and Friends' on St Stephen's night, while TV3 will air 'Daniel O'Donnell: 40 Years of Music & Memories' over the festive period. Aside from Daniel, both stations are tapping into the country music market, with RTÉ airing a programme with Nathan Carter, and TV3 featuring Tommy Fleming.

The most curious programme of the season looks set to be 'Ivan Yates' Celebrity Pub Crawl' in which the Newstalk broadcaster will go on the tear with Eamon Dunphy, Ireland football manager Brian Kerr, hotelier and author Francis Brennan, Renua leader Lucinda Creighton and Labour politician Pat Rabbitte.

RTÉ hopes to tap into our love for all things nostalgic with 'Well Holy God It's Glenroe', which sees the cast and crew remembering the Sunday night drama ritual.

Mike Murphy is also making a return to our small screens, appearing in RTÉ's four-part quiz show 'Play it By Year'.

Over on TV3, the Great Irish Bake Off Christmas Special will feature Fair City actor George McMahon and singer Leanne Moore taking on Lucy Kennedy and Martin King.

The commercial station will also air a special programme 'A Tribute to Tony Fenton - All the Young Dudes', documenting a night of live music at Vicar Street in memory of the late DJ.

Darragh Maloney will be presenting the RTÉ Sport Awards on December 19, celebrating this year's heroes and looking back on the dramatic and memorable moments of 2015.

On Christmas Day, Francis and John Brennan are back to undertake a special Christmas project on At Your Service, while on Christmas Eve, Dublin's iconic Shelbourne Hotel gears up to celebrate its 191st Christmas.

It's good news for soap fans too - a Fair City special on Christmas day sees the Dillons get an unexpected surprise when Neasa arrives home, while TV3's Red Rock will see the dramatic death of a well-known character.

And if you're stuck indoors on New Year's Eve, Kathryn Thomas will be hosting a programme from the VIP lounge at this year's New Year's Eve concert in Dublin's 3Arena.

Irish Independent

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