A ten hour production of War and Peace with John Hurt and Lesley Manville will dominate New Year’s Day on BBC Radio 4.
Starring John Hurt, Simon Russell Beale and Lesley Manville, the epic dramatisation by Timberlake Wertenbaker will start at 9am and conclude at 9:30pm. The station is offering a companion to the audio broadcast via Twitter, with a live running commentary on the dramatisation itself, including family trees, maps and historical trivia.
Also, a 90-minute Archers special of Lynda Snell’s Christmas show Blithe Spirit will be broadcast as a drama within a drama – a first for the long running programme – on Boxing Day.
Other highlights over the festive period include Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s apocalyptic adventure Good Omens, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby cast away on Desert Island Discs, and the final episode of John Finnemore’s Cabin Pressure with Benedict Cumberbatch.
Plus, Brian Cox and Robin Ince mull over the Christmas story in Infinite Monkey Cage, Celia Imrie and Julian Rhind-Tutt star in Nigel Slater’s Eating For England, Nigel Molesworth brought to life by Imelda Staunton in The Molesworth Report and David Attenborough returns to World Tweet Of The Day.
The Christmas Day bird will be the New Zealand Robin, which is aptly all black.
Gwyneth Williams, Controller, BBC Radio 4 says: “I’m thrilled to have such a rich collection of programmes to bring to Radio 4 listeners over the festive season. Join us on New Year’s Day for the journey through War And Peace – arguably the greatest book ever written. Travel with us to a different, surreal dimension deep in the imaginations of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett in Good Omens. And take a last unmissable flight with John Finnemore and his celebrated cast in Cabin Pressure. I hope you enjoy these specially commissioned treats alongside annual favourites such as the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols and, of course, a trip to Ambridge that you might not quite expect.”
Comedy highlights include the return of Dead Ringers; the impression show to take the stuffing out of Boxing Day with Jon Culshaw, Jan Ravens, Duncan Wisbey, Lewis MacLeod and Debra Stephenson; Count Arthur Strong, whose invitation to star in the local pantomime gets him excited about a possible return to the stage, David Sedaris: The Santaland Diaries and a special series of 15 minute comedies including characters from In and Out of the Kitchen, Clare in the Community and Ed Reardon’s Week.
BBC Radio 4 Extra will have a curated archive of festive programmes, Just William, Sid and Dora (with Sid James), The Army Show (with Spike Milligan), Blackpool Night (with Morecambe and Wise), Adrian Mole and We Three Kings with Ian Hislop.