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On the radio this Christmas…

Dame Edna guides us through the anti-climax of Boxing Day. Photo: Tristram Kenton

What better way for BBC Radio 2 listeners to spend Christmas than in the company of panto stalwart Barbara Windsor celebrating that crazy festive cocktail so unique to our shores. In Oh Yes It Is on Christmas Day (R2, December 25, 10pm), Babs sets off on a journey through the history and particular charm of panto in the company of Gyles Brandreth, Su Pollard, Anita Harris and the Krankies, all veterans of the form themselves.

Radio 2’s Christmas Day line-up also includes Bryan Ferry taking listeners on a personal journey through his musical decades in For Your Pleasure (R2, December 25, 8pm), and American actor Matthew Morrison, aka Mr Schuester from TV’s Glee, presenting two hours of Broadway show tunes in When I Get My Name in Lights (R2, December 25, 6pm). A particular favourite is On the Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady, which he has belted out at every musical audition he has ever been up for.

There is a treat for Cliff Richard fans on Christmas Eve, with two hours of the ageless one offering anecdotes from his extraordinary career as well as the music that has inspired and nourished him down the years. My guess is that Christmas with Cliff (R2, December 24, 8pm) will feature a large helping of Elvis, with whom he was often compared in the early days.

Another enduring pop icon looks back in Johnnie Walker Meets… Cilla Black (R2, December 26, 5pm), in which Cilla recalls her days as the hat-check girl in the Cavern Club and what it was like being Brian Epstein’s only female signing. She also reveals the scrap she had with Dionne Warwick over her first hit, Anyone Who Had a Heart, and the perils of working with Burt Bacharach on the title song from the film Alfie. Both were huge hits for Cilla, of course.

Dame Edna’s Christmas Leftovers (R2, December 26, 10am) will guide you through the anti- climax that is Boxing Day, offering useful culinary and hangover tips in the company of Frank Ifield and Lady Gaga, while Strictly’s Len Goodman (R2, December 26, 8pm) promises “a good old Boxing Day knees-up” in the evening.

Three of our funniest funny girls – Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Victoria Wood – will be hijacking BBC Radio 2 for two hours on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, playing their favourite music and generally mucking about, while Miranda Hart presents a three-hour festive show with writer and comic Jon Holmes in Jon and Miranda (R2, December 23, 2pm).

Desert Island Disc presenter Kirsty Young. Photo: BBC/Abigail Zoe Martin
Desert Island Disc presenter Kirsty Young. Photo: BBC/Abigail Zoe Martin

Miranda is also Kirsty Young’s castaway on BBC Radio 4’s pre-Christmas Desert Island Discs (R4, December 22, 11.15am), and the final DID of the year will feature Ant and Dec (R4, December 29, 11.15am) following in the footsteps of Morecambe and Wise as one of the few double acts to appear on the programme together.

Every day in December, flagship Radio 4 shows such as Today and Woman’s Hour are featuring unscheduled visits by comedy stars including Mitchell and Webb, Sandi Toksvig, Lenny Henry and Sue Perkins, giving their take on the festive season.

The dramatic highlight on the station over the holiday season promises to be a two-part adaptation of Enid Bagnold’s National Velvet (R4, December 25-26, 2.15pm) featuring Alison Steadman and John Sessions.

Finally, David Attenborough will present Tweet of the Day in the Today programme, featuring the wonder and poetry of birdsong, every day until Christmas Eve, returning in the New Year for two weeks from January 7-17.

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