Thursday 24 May 2018

Festive favourites

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Republic of Telly

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December 21

The RTE Sports Awards

RTE One, 9.45pm

It's been another eventful year in Irish sport. Darragh Maloney presents this live awards ceremony that looks back on the highs and lows of 2013 and honours outstanding achievements.

Among the nominees for the Sports Person of the Year are 50km walking world champion Rob Heffernan, Dublin football star Michael Darragh Macauley and Jonny Sexton, who shone for Leinster, Ireland and the Lions.

Strictly Come Dancing Final

BBC1, 6.30pm

After 12 weeks of glitz, glamour and hectic competition, 'Strictly 2013' comes to a head as Sophie Ellis-Bexter, Abbey Clancy and Susanna Reid fight it out to be crowned this year's champion.

Len Goodman, Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood will be scoring each performance, but it's the public's votes that will ultimately decide the outcome. Presented by Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly.

The Bible

TV3, 9pm

Roma Downey and husband Mark Burnett's ambitious mini-series based on the Holy Bible has gone down very well in the US, despite the odd moment of controversy. The producers insisted the striking resemblance between the actor who played Satan and Barack Obama was entirely unintentional, and let's hope so.

The show will air on five days over Christmas and will include segments on Noah, the Exodus and the life of Christ.

December 22

The Whale

BBC1, 9pm

Martin Sheen heads the cast of this new drama based on the extraordinary story that inspired Herman Melville to write 'Moby Dick'.

In the late summer of 1819, the whaler Essex left Nantucket for the whaling grounds off South America. The crew was hoping for a lucrative trip, but in November 1820 the ship was rammed and sunk by a giant sperm whale. Jonas Armstrong and Adam Rayner co-star.

December 23

John Bishop's Christmas Show

BBC1, 9pm

Comic John Bishop hosts an evening of festive humour and music from the stage of the Lyceum Theatre in London's West End.

Bishop will be giving us his own salty recollections of Christmas, and will welcome guests including Jason Manford, Nina Conti, Lee Nelson, Tim Vine and our own David O'Doherty. He'll also try a spot of dancing when he's joined on stage by the Tiller Girls.

Republic of Telly Christmas Special

RTE Two, 9.30pm

Kevin McGahern, who has done a good job since taking over as host of the irreverent magazine show, is joined by Jennifer Maguire and Bernard O'Shea for this special festive edition.

They begin by celebrating Christmas in time-honoured fashion -- by inviting the relatives over and having a big row in front of them. We hear Christmas confessions from expats in Australia, and the Rubberbandits take part in a musical finale.

Christmas Eve

Coming Home for Christmas

TV3, 8pm

Since the economic crash, Dublin Airport has once again become a very emotional place at Christmas, with thousands of returning emigrants enjoying tearful reunions with their loved ones.

In this documentary, Andrea Hayes visits the airport to witness these special moments as families are reunited, and talks to some of the returning travellers about their experiences abroad.

The Mario Rosenstock Show

RTE Two, 10pm

Impersonator extraordinaire Mario Rosenstock returns with this festive edition of his topical satire show, filmed in front of a live studio audience and featuring a range of surprise guests as well as your favourite characters, from Miriam O'Callaghan and Joan Burton to Michael D Higgins, Willie O'Dea, Louis Walsh, Enda Kenny, Daniel O'Donnell, Vincent Browne and, of course, Roy Keane.

Christmas Day

Doctor Who

BBC1, 7.30pm

In his last ever performance as Doctor Who before Peter Capaldi takes over, Matt Smith rescues Clara from a family Christmas dinner to address a gathering crisis in deep space. The universe's most dangerous species, including Cybermen, Sontarans and Daleks, have gathered in the orbit of a small planet in response to a mysterious message. Jenna Coleman and Orla Brady co-star.

Downton Abbey

UTV, 8.30pm

Debutante Rose is to be presented at Buckingham Palace, and the family and staff are preparing Grantham House for a busy social programme.

Martha Levinson arrives from New York with Cora's disgraced brother in tow, but when the Crawleys are implicated in a new scandal, Robert tries to protect both the royal family and his own. Hugh Bonneville stars.

Bear's Wild Weekend with Stephen Fry

Channel 4, 8.30pm

Stephen Fry is not your typical man of action, but in this unlikely adventure he teams up with outdoorsman Bear Grylls for a weekend of trials and tribulations in the high Italian Dolomites.

Over two days, Fry travels on the skids of a helicopter, climbs down a terrifying, 500ft waterfall and takes his life in his hands when he abseils down the side of a towering cliff face.

Seamus Heaney

TG4, 8.45pm

Special edition of 'Imeall' celebrating the life and work of the late Seamus Heaney, who died on August 30.

The show visits the rolling farmlands of Bellaghy, Co Derry, where the Nobel Prize-winning poet grew up and which inspired so many of his most celebrated poems. There are contributions from close friends including Paul Muldoon and Ciaran Carson, as well as music and recollections from piper Liam O'Flynn.

The Tractate Middoth

BBC2, 9.30pm

Everyone loves a Christmas ghost story, and this drama based on a tale by PD James looks suitably creepy.

Mark Gatiss directs his 'Sherlock' co-star Una Stubbs in a thrilling story set in a fusty London library. When two young men arrive in search of an ancient Hebrew text, they inadvertently summon malevolent ancient spirits. John Castle and Louise Jameson co-star.

Mrs Brown's Boys

Christmas Special

RTE One, 9.25pm

Nobody knows what Bono wants for Christmas. He's already posted his letter to Santa, but no one knows what was in it, so the redoubtable Mrs Brown is determined to move heaven and earth to find out what is in that letter.

Meanwhile, at her family games night, Agnes struggles to keep her temper in check when no one plays by her rules. Brendan O'Carroll stars in the first of two festive specials.

St Stephen's Day

At Your Service -- To the Rescue

RTE One, 8pm

In this hour-long festive special, John and Francis Brennan take on possibly their biggest challenge to date.

Sixteen-year-old Conor Dillon has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, but the respite centre that's so very important to him and others is in desperate need of a makeover.

The Brennans are given less than a week and a non-existent budget to radically modernise the centre, and a lot of people are depending on them to succeed.

Still Open All Hours

BBC1, 7.45pm

David Jason made his name co-starring opposite Ronnie Barker in the 1970s sitcom 'Open All Hours', and 28 years after that series finished he returns in this brand new episode.

It's been some years since Granville inherited the corner shop from his miserly Uncle Arkwright, and he now runs it with the help of his son, Leroy, a confident young man who's much more popular with the ladies than his dad ever was.

Death Comes to Pemberley

BBC1, 8.15pm

Lavish costume drama based on a story by PD James that imagines what happened to Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy after 'Pride and Prejudice' ended.

Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years, have a young son and are very happy. But when the Bennets come to stay at the Pemberley estate, their happy reunion is interrupted when one of the guests is murdered. Anna Maxwell Martin stars.

Reality Bites: Missing You

RTE Two, 9pm

One of the great lifelines for emigrants and their families back home in recent years has been the availability of Skype. The visual messaging tool has enabled far-flung families to keep in face-to-face touch from opposite ends of the world, and this edition of 'Reality Bites' compiles Skype calls to and from Ireland over a period of six months to follow a group of immigrants as they struggle to keep abreast of matters at home.

December 27

Celebrity Come Dine With Me

Channel 4, 8pm

The usual motley collection of quasi-celebrities assembles for this festive cooking contest.

Former 'Made in Chelsea' star Hugo Taylor, former 'EastEnders' regular Daniella Westbrook, choreographer Louis Spence and 1980s pop star Sinitta do battle by entertaining each other over successive nights in a patchy contest that includes dodgy outfits, clashing egos and some very bad cooking. Dave Lamb provides the commentary.

Dermot Morgan: Fearless Funnyman

RTE One, 9.50pm

It's 15 years since Dermot Morgan died at the age of only 45. Most remember him for 'Father Ted', but before he found international fame as the hapless priest on Craggy Island, he'd earned his comedy stripes on the stand-up circuit, on the 'Live Mike' and in the 1980s radio satire 'Scrap Saturday'.

In this tribute, friends and colleagues including Oliver Callan, Pat Shortt and Pauline McLynn look back on Morgan's life and work.

Irish Independent

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