Radio choice: A seven-day guide to Christmas television and radio
Sunday 19 December 1999
Mon 5.40-6pm R3, and daily to Fri
Benjamin Britten has done it all before, of course, with oodles more style and less condescension. But Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq gets top marks for tenacity, as she trawls through the orchestra, section by section, over the course of nine programmes. The best of it is the playing, by the BBC Philharmonic (who give a complete performance of Britten's Young Person's Guide ... in the final programme). The worst is Huq's 11-year-old-smarty-pants manner. Your kids may not mind it too much.
THE LATE BOOK: ALL QUIET ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
Mon 12.30-12.45am R4, and daily
Magnus Mills - forever doomed to be known as the bus driver who made it to the Booker shortlist - has followed up with a second novel. It's set in the Lakes in a nondescript village where the dominant inhabitant, one Tommy Parker, has an obsession with oil drums. Needless to say, beneath the dreary surface of dreary lives, there's weird stuff going on.
Tues 11.30am-12 noon R4, and daily
Alf Proysen's quaint Scandinavian stories about a housewife who occasionally shrinks to the size of a pepperpot scarcely need updating. But these cartoonish dramatisations by Lavinia Murray bring out all their gentle surrealism and add some neat new jokes and songs. Alison Steadman makes a feisty and funny Mrs P, who one can well imagine swimming through snow.
DANNY, CHAMPION OF THE WORLD
Thurs and Fri 2.15-3pm R4
Another treat for children that adults can enjoy on the side. Brian Sibley is the dramatist of this two-part Roald Dahl adventure which is every boy's dream scenario. When Danny's dad - a car mechanic, played by Jack Dee - disappears in mysterious circumstances, Danny commandeers a beaten-up Austin and drives off to rescue him.
Christmas Eve 9-10pm R4
Poet Tony Harrison's gritty adaptations of the medieval mystery plays, rooted in northern working life, were a landmark in the National Theatre's history. The original creative team have reunited to present this radio version of one of them, telling the story of the shepherds and three kings, and Herod's slaughter of the innocents.
THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT A BLACKBIRD
Christmas Day 10.30-11.15pm R3
This is no conventional nature documentary. It's an aural kaleidoscope, in 13 beak-sized chunks, merging ordinary people's impressions, stories and memories of the bird with poetry and music it has inspired. Threaded through it all is the blackbird's mellifluous song.
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