BBC Unveils Star-Studded Holiday Season Program Plans


The public broadcaster's TV channels look to draw big audiences with Hollywood movies, "Doctor Who," the return of "Sherlock" and festive specials of hit shows "Strictly Come Dancing" and "Call the Midwife."

LONDON – The BBC on Tuesday outlined its holiday season TV program plans, which include Hollywood movies, its traditional Doctor Who special, the return of Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and festive specials of hit shows Strictly Come Dancing and Call the Midwife.

The U.K. public broadcaster will offer the British TV premieres of such animation titles as Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 3, Cars 2, DreamWorks Animation's Megamind and Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom, as well as Gnomeo and Juliet. Also on the BBC schedule is such live-action fare as Disney's Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, starring Johnny Depp, and comedies such as Universal's Little Fockers, with Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro.

BBC Four will also be showing classic U.K. comedies and The Fir Tree, a biography of a Christmas tree based on a story by children's author Hans Christian Andersen.

BBC director of television Danny Cohen described the holiday season lineup as offering "massive events," such as the Doctor Who special that will feature the first appearance of Peter Capaldi in the lead role, and the return of Sherlock, "as well as festive specials from hit shows, including Strictly Come Dancing, Mrs Brown's Boys, Call The Midwife, Bad Education, and the Great British Bake Off."

Cohen said the lineup, mixing drama, factual, comedy, entertainment and religion genres, "is something license fee payers rightly expect from the BBC, and this year's holiday schedule delivers that."

U.K. households pay an annual fee to fund the BBC.

Cohen also touted "brand-new treats," such as David Walliams' Gangsta Granny, an adaptation of the writer and comedian's children's novel, and a wide range of religious programming, including a live broadcast of the First Eucharist of Christmas from Westminster Abbey on Christmas Eve.