Old favourites line up for BBC festivities

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The BBC's Christmas drama schedule will be spearheaded this year by an adaptation of Wilkie Collins's The Woman In White, starring Tara Fitzgerald (pictured) and Ian Richardson, and Maureen Lipman in Jack Rosenthal's Cold Enough for Snow.

The corporation hopes to attract large audiences with specials of comedy favourites such as Men Behaving Badly, One Foot in the Grave, and Birds of a Feather.

But Del Boy and Rodney will be missing from screens this year.

A record 24.35 million people tuned in to last year's two-part Only Fools and Horses Christmas special - in which the Peckham boys ended up by making their fortune and moving out of their south London stamping ground.

It was the said to be the last time David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst were appearing in the comedy favourite - although fans have been keeping their fingers crossed that it could come back.

But a BBC spokesman said: "We are not expecting a new show and John Sullivan has not written a new script."

The Christmas schedule, which was not yet complete, would offer "a traditional mix of comedy and drama - with the emphasis on laughter", he said.

Christmas films on BBC will be the Oscar-winning Forrest Gump, and The Mask and The Flintstones. Other favourites will include Dawn French in The Vicar of Dibley, and Harry Enfield and Chums.

Mrs Merton will have some special guests on her show, and outrageous drag star Lily Savage will present a special edition of Blankety Blank.

Noel Edmonds will be on safari to Kenya for Noel's Christmas Presents and there will be a special Shooting Stars. Rolf Harris will present Christmas Animal Hospital.

Angus Deayton will have some more surprising footage of famous faces before they hit the big time - and will also present The End of the Year Show on New Year's Eve.

Beatles producer Sir George Martin will present the Rhythm of Life, featuring Sir Paul McCartney and Noel Gallagher.

BBC2 will offer a season of James Stewart films, including Mr Smith Goes to Washington, and The Philadelphia Story.