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Christmas crackers; Settle back in the best seat in the house and check out our guide to this year's festive film and TV.

best laugh

GAVIN & STACEY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

BBC One, Christmas Eve, 10pm

IF you're a fan of this award-winning series but have seen the first two seasons so many times you can recite the dialogue, then the good news is James Corden and Ruth Jones have crafted a one-off festive special.

It takes place on Christmas Eve and the Wests join the Shipmans for one of Mick's famous turkey dinners. Smithy is elated at the thought of spending his first Christmas with baby Neil. But when he finds out Dave will be tagging along and playing happy families with Nessa, it dampens his spirits. Meanwhile, the eponymous couple have an announcement, which doesn't fill their friends and relatives with goodwill, and Bryn has a heart-to-heart with Jason.

Aside from the excellent Corden and Jones, good support comes from Mathew Horne, Joanna Page, Rob Brydon, Larry Lamb and Alison Steadman.

Although the Beeb have commissioned a third series, we'll have to see if James and Ruth can deliver it next year or if they will take a well-earned rest.

Fingers crossed!

best sci-fi

DOCTOR WHO

BBC Wales, Christmas Day, 6pm

WELL, Whovians everywhere, how do you feel about David Tennant hanging up the keys to the Tardis?

We've all had a month or so to get used to the idea, and you know what?

Life will go on. Back in 1981 when Tom Baker announced he was leaving, fans everywhere went into mourning, but the show is bigger than any actor, and it still went on for another eight years without him.

The same will happen once somebody else takes over as the much-loved alien, although they'll have big shoes to fill, that's for sure.

One person already mooted as a possible replacement is Tennant's Blackpool co-star David Morrissey, who also appears in this Christmas special as a man who may or may not be another Time Lord.

He certainly believes that's what he is.

As those who saw the first two minutes of the episode on Children in Need in November will recall, the Doctor is in Victorian London, all alone after leaving his friends behind on modern-day Earth.

He soon hears a young woman calling his name, but after locating her, finds she actually wants someone else - another dapper gent who answers to the name Doctor, has a Tardis and a sonic screwdriver.

Despite this confusion, the pair join forces to battle two villains - the ruthless Miss Hartigan and one of the Time Lord's most famous foes, the Cybermen.

Velile Tshabalala and Dervla Kirwan also star.

MIDSOMER MURDERS

ITV1, Christmas Eve, 8.30pm

THE festive season may be upon us, but there's more crime afoot in the surprisingly dangerous region of Midsomer.

Detectives Barnaby (John Nettles) and Jones (Welsh actor Jason Hughes) set out on another investigation when there's an explosion at a haulage yard.

The manager used to go to school with Jones, and it seems he's got quite the ruthless reputation nowadays.

Unfortunately, there's more than a spot of arson to contend with, and it isn't long before the bodies start piling up.

This Christmas edition sees Tim Pigott-Smith, Niamh Cusack, Joseph Millson and Judy Parfitt all turning up in Midsomer.

Any regular viewers may well have their suspicions that one of these fine actors is behind the crimes.

ALED JONES' ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS CAROLS

ITV1, Christmas Eve, 11.25am

IT'S a rare celeb that becomes synonymous with a season - but this is where singer turned TV presenter Aled Jones is the exception to the rule.

Aled has become a traditional favourite for Christmas festivities ever since he covered Walking In The Air, from animated film The Snowman, in 1982.

The song reached No 5 in the charts and became an instant festive classic.

To get us all in a Christmas mood, Aled goes in search of the people, places and fascinating stories behind Britain's best loved Christmas carols.

On his journey to uncover the origins of treasured favourites including O Little Town of Bethlehem and Hark The Herald Angels Sing, Aled travels around the world.

This includes a visit to Christ's birthplace, meeting historians, priests and experts, as he investigates our festive musical heritage.

Along the way he reveals his own personal favourite carol and exclusively performs all carols featured in the programme, along with the internationally renowned boys choir, Libera.

STRICTLY COME DANCING

BBC One, December 20, 6.40pm

IT'S the grand final of Strictly Come Dancing - and the end of the most dramatic series in the show's history.

Who would have guessed that so much of the debate this year would have centred on one man - John Sergeant.

It all started innocently enough back in September, when the male celebrities took to the floor for the very first time.

The veteran journalist and his partner Kristina Rihanoff won over the judges and the public with what Bruno Tonioli described as a "cute and cuddly" waltz.

A few weeks in though, it became clear that while the public had taken him to their hearts, Sergeant's charms were wearing a bit thin as far as the judges were concerned.

In week eight, the experts gave him just 12 points for his cha-cha.

The situation got even more heated the following Saturday, when the hotly tipped Cherie Lunghi was given her marching orders while Sergeant sailed on to the next round.

However, that was nothing compared to the media storm that erupted when he announced he was quitting the show.

Of course, now we'll never know if he genuinely could have made the final - or what Arlene Phillips' face would have looked like if he'd actually won.

But there should be plenty more drama in this series finale, which really is wide open.

best animation

NADOLIG PLENTYN YNG NGHYMRU

S4C, Christmas Eve, 7.30pm

ACTOR Matthew Rhys is trying to get into the spirit of Christmas despite sunshine in LA.

Every year, a few days before December 25, the Brothers and Sisters star reads one of his favourite stories, Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales.

The Cardiff-born actor, who played the writer and poet in the biopic The Edge of Love, now lives in Hollywood, but has happy memories of traditional Welsh Christmases.

Tinseltown, despite its name, is bereft of Christmas decorations, and Matthew, 34, yearns for fairy lights and fir trees.

"Christmas in LA is very un-Christmassy," he confides.

"There are no real Christmas decorations up and no one says 'Happy Christmas', they say 'Happy Holidays'.

"The weather is hot so it makes it very difficult to get into the Christmas mood."

Matthew's parents, former headmaster Glyn and special needs teacher Helen, arranged traditional family Christmases every year.

"When I was growing up every Christmas would be in Cardiff or in Fishguard with my mother's family,"

Matthew recalls.

"It was always a traditional family Christmas. All the Christmas boxes were ticked.

"My mother is a Christmas freak. I do miss it and I miss the whole run up to it.

Matthew's sister Rachel now has two young children which he says keeps the "magic" of Christmas alive.

"My mother loves traditions and so Christmas is an important occasion for her and the family. I still get a stocking full of nuts, tangerines and of course, the old favourite, Terry's Chocolate Orange."

But the present he has used the most, is his copy of A Child's Christmas in Wales.

He read the story early this year as he narrated a new Welsh language film of the classic.

Matthew says the story has always been an important part of Christmas for him since childhood and his school days at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf in Cardiff.

The new 30-minute animation he narrates will include a five-minute live action sequence filmed in Swansea Bay and at Thomas' childhood home on Cwmdonkin Drive. Dave Unwin, whose credits include Father Christmas and the Bafta-winning The Little Reindeer, led the project.

This year Matthew is spending Christmas in Finland with his sister and her partner and children.

He'll be snowboarding and dog sledging and seeing some truly seasonal scenes before jetting back to LA.

He hopes the snows of Finland will give him the special Christmas fix he needs, and no doubt there'll be a copy of A Child's Christmas in Wales in his suitcase too!

Nadolig Plentyn yng Nghymru (A Child's Christmas in Wales) is on S4C on Christmas Eve at 7.30pm. English subtitles are available. Y 7 Magnifico a Matthew Rhys is on the same channel on Boxing Day at 8.

best drama

AFFINITY

ITV1, December 28, 9pm

SET against the ominous backdrop of a Victorian prison, Affinity is both a Gothic ghost story and poignant account of forbidden love with an unexpected sting in the tail.

Following the death of her father, Margaret Prior (Anna Madeley) decides to volunteer as a visitor to the female inmates of Millbank, one of London's most notorious gaols.

Among Millbank's murderers and common thieves, Margaret finds herself increasingly fascinated by one inmate, an enigmatic spiritualist who is serving time for the assault.

Initially sceptical of Selina's gifts, Margaret finds herself dispensing guidance and friendship on her visits.

But soon it is Margaret herself who is on the back foot, thrown by Selina's piercing insight into her own character and predicament.

Cardiff-born adapter Andrew Davies does a brilliant job of bringing Welsh author Sarah Waters's book to life on the small screen.

THE FAMILY AT CHRISTMAS

Channel 4, Christmas Eve, 9.30pm

MANY of us have a notion of our ideal Christmas.

For some it's a time to relax, stuff ourselves silly and go blind watching TV from morning until night.

For others, it's about getting everyone together, sitting around a table groaning under a hundred-weight of nosh and basking in the cosy glow of our nearest and dearest.

The sad truth is, however, this dream usually remains just that - an ideal, either on the box or in the back of our minds. The reality is closer to what the clan in this fly-on-the-wall show experience.

Yes, the Hughes family are gearing up for the season to be jolly, and one week before the big day, things are getting tense. Tom is excited and wants to start opening his presents now, while dad Simon is having a hard time keeping wife Jane's gift a secret.

best chuckle

HARRY HILL'S TV BURP

ITV1, Boxing Day, 7pm

IF the gap between series of TV Burp this year left you pining for Harry's hilarious take on the week's telly, fear not.

Were you worried the shows that were on while he was gone had escaped his forensic eye for comedy detail? Think again.

This special edition of Burp brings together the funniest moments you thought Harry had missed in a one-off show packed with clips, quips and sketches for the whole family.

The soaps are there of course, as a twitchy patient on Holby revives a famous dance craze, Blanche off Corrie reveals her connection with Rock Hudson, Michael Barrymore and Elton John, and Harry douses himself in Eau de Ronnie Mitchell's Tears.

Who will Trinny and Susannah decide is the owner of the Fabulous Bum of the Year?

How spectacular was the Springwatch Spectacular? And is that a surprisingly buff Joss Stone singing out the show accompanied by a cat on piano?

RAB C NESBITT CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

BBC Two, December 23, 9pm

IT'S been nine years since Rab C Nesbitt last graced our screens, and chances are you've missed the vest-wearing, work-shy misery guts.

Thankfully, the BBC know a good show when they see one, and for one night only, Scotland's favourite comic character returns to the fray during the festive season, and is bound to entertain us all as he waxes lyrical about a wide variety of topics to anyone who will listen.

It would seem as if the stubborn Scot has changed while he's been off screen: he's ditched the drink, found religion and even learnt how to work the cooker.

However, you will be pleased to know the string vest, headband and mangy blue pinstripe blazer have not yet found their way to a nearby dustbin.

It seems as though Rab is not the only one to have undergone a transformation in the Nesbitt household, as Mary (Elaine C Smith) and best friend Ella (Barbara Rafferty) now have a thriving cleaning company.

While the two women clean up (literally and financially) as their business takes them all over the city, Rab is left at home to prepare dinner, or "scran", as he calls it.

Mary's hectic work schedule leaves Rab feeling frustrated and worried that he'll never win back her affections.

Meanwhile, their eldest son, Gash, has flown the nest, turned vegetarian and set up a business with his new wife.

Thankfully, some things never change.

Rab's best mate and former drinking buddy, Jamesie Cotter, still loves spending his days drinking himself silly before chasing some poor, unfortunate woman into bed.

Meanwhile, Rab has still got a bad temper and has always got issues he wants to get off his saggy chest.

In this episode, it's the run-up to Christmas, and Rab struggles to resist the lure of a pint or 10 down the local boozer with Jamesie and the rest of his low-life mates.

If he doesn't stay on the wagon, there's every likelihood that the cantankerous old fool we know and love may well be back before the turkey has been stuffed.

best of wales

THE CHARLOTTE CHURCH NUTCRACKING CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

Channel 4, December 21, 10pm

ONE of Cardiff's finest exports hosts this special seasonal edition of her entertainment show, featuring celebrity guests, music, comedy sketches and hidden-camera stunts.

She'll be joined by a wealth of comic talent, including legendary comedian Ronnie Corbett, Gavin and Stacey's James Corden and Ruth Jones, and comic Jo Brand.

Aside from plenty of cheeky chat, Charlotte will be winding more folks up with her hidden earpiece feature, CCTV Remote Control.

This time Jeremy Edwards is on the receiving end as Charlotte gives the thesp outrageous instructions via a hidden earpiece while he holds panto auditions, much to the confusion of the Cinderella hopefuls.

The Nativity story is given a Cardiff makeover with Charlotte taking the starring role as the Virgin Mary, and there are plenty of celeb messages from the show's star-studded advent calendar.

Plus, former X Factor contestant Rhydian Roberts joins Charlotte to perform the classic Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

CLASH OF THE SANTAS

ITV1, December 21, 9pm

ROBSON Green and Mark Benton star once again as Colin and Howie, best pals and neighbours with a rivalry concerning which of them could outdo the other when it came to festive decorations.

The duo head off to Lithuania, where Howie has, rather surprisingly, been asked to represent England in the annual Santa competition. Instead of being pleased for his friend, Colin is, predictably, green with envy.

Howie has never been a big lover of Christmas, while Colin believes his passion for the festive season makes him a better candidate - even though he's short and slim, which isn't exactly how the red-coated hero usually looks. Colin nevertheless does have a role to play - as an elf.

In fact, he's the only male elf in the competition, surrounded by girls wearing very short skirts indeed. In Lithuania, Howie begins to realise the true spirit of Christmas, but will the boys make it back to Blighty in time to spend December 25 with their loved ones?

best mystery

CAUGHT IN A TRAP

ITV1, Boxing Day, 9pm

LANDING the lead in The Sound of Music would be a dream come true for most actresses, but the role of Maria can be hard to shake off - just ask Julie Andrews.

Luckily, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? winner Connie Fisher, who hails from Pembrokeshire, has found the perfect way to shed the image of the sweet, wholesome nun-turned-nanny.

She's playing a light-fingered Elvis obsessive in the one-off drama Caught in a Trap - and there isn't a wimple or a dress made from curtains in sight.

It's a radical departure for the star in more ways than one. Not only is the role of Gemma very different from the part that made her name, it's also her TV acting debut.

Some people might think that once you've sung in front of millions on a reality TV show and shared a West End stage with a bunch of warbling kids, you'd be prepared for pretty much anything, but Fisher admits her first day on set was a daunting experience.

She says: "I was so nervous I couldn't sleep the night before. I was really scared, but everyone was so helpful and reassuring. It has been a massive journey for me to go on, and I have learnt so much from the other actors."

Perhaps surprisingly, one of the scenes she found most challenging was one that many viewers would have expected to be a breeze.

She says: "Gemma has a moment at the office Christmas party where she is thrown up on stage to be embarrassed by her colleagues. To everyone's surprise she can hold a tune, and sings The Wonder of You, to rapturous applause.

"I am keen to keep singing in everything I do because I am always singing. Singing as Gemma was weird because she is supposed to be someone who has never sung before. It was interesting to try to sing like the character, and not to think like a singer. For me that was difficult."

For Gemma, Elvis is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise humdrum existence. She has a low-paying, boring job emptying park meters, still lives with her browbeaten father and overbearing stepmother, and is regarded as an outcast at work.

However, she finds a way to spice up her life - stealing. Unfortunately, Gemma doesn't stop at buying gifts for her dad, and starts splashing out on Elvis memorabilia for herself. As her obsession spirals out of control, how long will it be before someone with a suspicious mind works out what's going on?

JONATHAN CREEK - THE GRINNING MAN

BBC ONE, New Year's Day, 9pm

HAS Jonathan Creek (Alan Davies) met his match in Joey Ross (Sheridan Smith)?

Davies returns as Jonathan Creek in the popular, award-winning comedy drama about the adventures of the master of illusion, who uses his brilliance and intellect to explain the unexplainable.

In this one-off special, Creek is called in to solve unexplained events in a vast Gothic house following several disappearances from a gloomy old attic known as The Nightmare Room.

Unusually, Creek is completely baffled.

Seventy years on from the first disappearance, the room continues to claim lives. Can the ghost of a madman who preys upon human flesh really be to blame?

When two young women take shelter in the attic from a raging thunderstorm, it's not long before the ominous "presence" has claimed another victim.

Determined to discover the truth about what has happened to her friend, the fearlessly sceptical Joey Ross finds herself working alongside veteran lateral-thinker Creek.

Together, they embark on a complex, often dangerous, investigation into a mystery which only continues to deepen.

Can Creek shed light on the riddle and render the impossible possible? Or are his once-formidable powers of deduction about to be eclipsed by the sheer raw intuition of his younger counterpart?

best brainteaser

THE KRYPTON FACTOR

ITV1, New Year's Day, 7.30pm

MENACING, unforgettable and 100% entertaining, the contestants' most-dreaded test is back!

Hosted by Ben Shephard, four contestants (red, green, yellow and blue) will undertake a series of rounds on each programme to test mental agility, observation, physical ability, intelligence and general knowledge capabilities.

Fans of the original series will relish new versions of familiar obstacles such as the Zip Wire, Balance Beam, the Wall and Cargo Net but there are a few surprises awaiting contestants along the way.

And of course, there'll be the obligatory sprint finish forcing contestants to dig deep as they race to the finish line.

The winners of each of the seven heats and the highest scoring runner-up will progress to the semi final, where the contestants battle it out for their place in the final and the chance to walk away with the coveted title of Krypton Factor Champion 2009.

THE 39 STEPS

BBC One, December 28, 8pm

FANCY a dash of derring-do with your festive fare?

Then look no further than this lively adaptation of John Buchan's classic tale, set shortly before World War One.

Former Spooks star Rupert Penry-Jones takes the lead as hapless Richard Hannay, who is as surprised as the next man when a spy bursts into his flat. The intruder thrusts a coded book at him and gabbles on about being pursued by German agents. Hannay is urged to take the tome to a high-ranking official of the Secret Service (just like old times, eh Jones?).

Our hero dutifully does as he's told, and after being wrongly accused of murder, flees Scotland for London, desperately trying to decode the notebook as he goes.

Several attempts on his life later, Hannay encounters the opinionated Victoria, who joins him in his hair-raising quest.

As the pair work together to unlock the secrets of the notebook, they slowly realise they are not the only ones in mortal peril - the fate of the nation also lies in their hands.

Can they get to the bottom of what's happening?

The top-notch cast includes Alex Jennings, Eddie Marsan, Patrick Kennedy, David Haig, Patrick Malahide and Lydia Leonard.

AGATHA CHRISTIE'S MARPLE

ITV1, New Year's Day, 9pm

MISS Marple (Geraldine McEwan) is faced with her greatest challenge yet when she receives instructions from an old friend, the recently deceased Mr Rafiel, to investigate a 'possible crime'.

But there's a catch - she has not been told what the crime is.

Instead, she is booked onto a mystery coach tour to gather clues.

Miss Marple takes her nephew Raymond West (Richard E Grant) to accompany her on the tour as Mr Rafiel warns that danger may threaten. It begins to dawn on them both that all the passengers have been placed there for a reason, as their lives interconnect in various ways.

Even more significantly, everyone is connected to a young girl, Verity Hunt, who went missing during the war.

best christmas tale

LARK RISE TO CANDLEFORD

BBC One, December 21, 7.45pm

THE hit historical drama returns with a feature-length Christmas special, centring on ragged, bare-footed young woman, Cinderella Doe (Sheridan Smith).

When Dorcas and Emma each want to give Laura the same gift for Christmas, an old family wound is opened up and Laura is torn between two mums.

As the inhabitants of Lark Rise and Candleford prepare for the festivities, loyalties are tested and, amid the gift-giving and carol singing, tensions are building.

However, with the arrival of the mysterious Cinderella Doe, the locals soon become fascinated by this enigmatic young woman.

"The Christmas special is very exciting," says actress.

Olivia Hallinan.

"I think people will enjoy watching it. It's very Christmassy obviously, and quite magical. It's one of those things that will be quite easy to watch."

Good support comes from Julia Sawalha, Dawn French, Brendan Coyle and Mark Heap.

Fans may note there's plenty more where this came from, as it's the first episode of season two.

TOP OF THE POPS NEW YEAR'S EVE SPECIAL

BBC One, New Year's Eve, 5.35pm

WHEN Top of the Pops came to an end on July 30, 2006, many fans were bereft.

One of the world's longest running music shows had entertained generations of viewers for more than 40 years, but the advent of multi channels, DVDs and the Internet meant TOTP's monopoly on televised tunes was a distant memory.

However, as with the Beeb's other long-running favourite, Doctor Who, it seems TOTP wasn't dead, it was just waiting to be resurrected.

Following a Christmas special, here's a chance to look back on some of 2008's finest tracks before we welcome 2009.

And in case you were wondering, yes, it is the first time there's been a New Year's Eve Pops special.

Series veterans Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates, left, will present some of the year's smash hits, as well as highlights from music festivals such as Glastonbury and Radio 1's Big Weekend.

There are also some unique performances from BBC sessions.

BRYN TERFEL'S FAENOL FESTIVAL GALA

BBC Two Wales, New Year's Day, 7pm

IF the festive mood is starting to wane by New Year's Day evening, what better to revive spirits than the mighty talents of our very own Bryn Terfel.

In this one-hour special broadcast, Wales's inimitable King of opera brings viewers an evening of glittering classic songs from his annual Faenol Festival which took place in late summer.

The repertoire includes Nessun Dorma with Johan Botha, Juliet's aria and Queen of the Night from the dazzling Diana Damrau with smouldering Bulgarian notes from Nadia Krasteva and Bryn himself.

There's all this, plus more, including the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera conducted by Gareth Jones.

best comeback

THE ROYLE FAMILY

BBC One, Christmas Day, 9.30pm

SHE'S a brave gal, that Caroline Aherne.

Her Royle Family swansong a couple of years ago was one of the most perfect TV moments of recent times, so it must have taken a lot of courage to agree to add another chapter to the story of the dysfunctional but loving Manchester family.

Can this one possibly be as good as all that has gone before? The signs are encouraging.

Two years after The Queen Of Sheba, Jim, Barbara, Denise and Dave are back, and the comedy appears sharper than ever.

The last time the family were seen, millions of viewers were moved to tears as they witnessed the passing of Nana.

The Bafta-winning writers have promised that nobody dies in this episode, but the family is on form in a programme packed with laughs as they treat the holiday with their usual irreverence.

Jim and Barbara still bait one another in their cosy living room; Denise and Dave still aspire to better things as they prepare for Christmas morning; and Twiggy adds his unique take on life.

Only poor, down-trodden Antony is missing, who, viewers are told, is babysitting for Denise and Dave in his own home this year.

As Denise remarks: "Well, it's not a day for kids, is it - Christmas?"

KATHERINE KENKINS: A GIRL FROM NEATH

BBC Two Wales, Christmas Day, 8pm

THIS Christmas Day, viewers can journey with the singer as she visits places which are close to her heart in the surrounding area of her home town.

Talking about the story of her life so far, Katherine guides fans on her journey from her old school, meeting the teachers and children of Alderman Davies Primary School, to the Knoll Country Park and the windswept headlands and rolling dunes of the Gower Peninsula.

She revisits Craigy Nos and Margam Park - places dear to the mezzo's soul.

Then on Boxing Day, sit back and enjoy the music as Katherine performs an hour-long intimate performance in the spectacular surroundings of Margam Castle House, the old Abbey ruins and the beautiful Orangery.

It's a late summer, balmy evening with a compendium of song from Katherine and an invited audience.

With special guests Blake joining the superstar soprano and a menu of popular classical and crossover numbers, music fans will be hard pushed to find a more romantic programme on television this Christmas.

Katherine Jenkins: Intimate Romantic is on Boxing Day on BBC Two Wales at 8pm.

DANCING ON ICE AT CHRISTMAS

ITV1, Christmas Day, 8pm

THE latest series of Strictly is over, so that can mean only one thing - another batch of celebs will be wrapping up warm and gingerly taking to the ice in preparation for a new series of Dancing on Ice.

To whet our appetites, there's also this Christmas special, which puts a bit of a twist (or should that be double axel?) on the format by pitting Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, right, against each other for the first time.

The Olympic medallists will both be mentoring three former contestants and their professional partners in the hope that their team will take the festive crown.

Jayne says: "Having worked so closely with Chris all these years, it will be really interesting to see how competitive we become when we are training opposing teams."

Team Torvill features this year's victor Suzanne Shaw alongside Zaraah Abrahams and Clare Buckfield, while Team Dean comprises 2007 champion Kyran Bracken, Duncan James and Chris Fountain.

Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby present.

BLACKADDER RIDES AGAIN

BBC One, Christmas Day, 10.30pm

DO you have access to digital TV and, as a result, did you watch UKTV Gold's recent celebration of the 25th anniversary of Blackadder?

If so, you may get a nagging sense of deja vu while watching this documentary.

Not that it's merely a repeat of that programme, but it will, no doubt, cover much of the same ground.

The first episode was broadcast on June 15, 1983, and was set in the Middle Ages.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the huge success its makers hoped for, and it seemed likely it would be axed.

However, three years later it returned, this time focusing on the reign of Elizabeth I, and suddenly the formula which would prove so popular clicked into place.

Further series, set during the Regency period and World War One, as well as one-off editions, followed to great acclaim.

Here, for the first time, Rowan Atkinson discusses in depth his lead role of Edmund Blackadder, below, his personal experiences of being involved in the programme, and its phenomenal success.

His co-stars, including Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Ben Elton, Miranda Richardson, Tim McInnerny and Tony Robinson, plus writer Richard Curtis, offer their opinions.

ALL NEW SHOOTING STARS

BBC Two, December 30, 10pm

IT'S been 15 years since Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, above, introduced viewers to The Dove From Above, the impressions round and The Final Game, and it's safe to say we've missed those cheeky chappies ever since the show went off air in 2002.

Thankfully, the Beeb decided to commission a one-off special, and Vic and Bob jumped at the chance to reprise their roles as presenters of the multi-award-winning cult quiz show.

This show also sees the return of Matt Lucas, who first shot to fame as temperamental Shooting Stars scorekeeper George Dawes, before he and David Walliams became global superstars in Little Britain.

Ulrika Jonsson will not be returning as team captain, meaning the presenters will not be able to utter the immortal phrase, Ulrika-ka-ka-ka!

The BBC are keeping tight-lipped about the identities of the team captains and guest panellists, but whoever they are, they'll need a sense of humour to survive Vic and Bob's relentless mickey taking.

This one-off episode follows the network's entertaining insight into the making and filming of Shooting Stars, with contributions from the likes of former team captains Will Self and Ulrika, and panellist Johnny Vegas.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 20, 2008
Words:5173
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