Mary Berry to reunite with Mel and Sue for BBC Christmas schedule

Former Bake Off judge will join comedians to host party for town in South Wales, while other programmes include tribute to late Victoria Wood

The BBC’s Christmas schedule will feature Mary Berry, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins reuniting for a special programme, and a tribute to the comedy genius of the late Victoria Wood.

Berry, Giedroyc and Perkins, who appeared on the Great British Bake Off together before its controversial move to Channel 4, will host a Christmas party for a town in the Rhondda Valley in south Wales.

Mary, Mel and Sue’s Big Christmas Thank You will involve Berry cooking Christmas dinner for local residents and Giedroyc and Perkins helping to modernise the community centre.

The trio appeared on Bake Off for seven series until the show was bought by Channel 4 last year for £75m. Berry, Giedroyc and Perkins announced they would stay with the BBC instead of remaining on the show – forcing Channel 4 to recruit new presenters and a judge – although Paul Hollywood remained on the show.

Other programmes on the BBC over Christmas will include Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders reuniting on television for the first time in a decade in 300 Years of French & Saunders, the return of The League of Gentlemen and one-off animations The Highway Rat, which stars David Tennant, and Grandpa’s Great Escape, which is based on the book by comedian David Walliams.

One of Victoria Wood’s long-term collaborators Anne Reid will host a programme celebrating Wood’s finest contributions to the festive season. Our Friend Victoria – Christmas Special will include footage from her stand-up comedy and interviews with guests such as Dame Julie Walters, who worked extensively with Wood.

There will also be special editions of BBC regulars Mrs Brown’s Boys, Strictly Come Dancing, EastEnders and Doctor Who, with Peter Capaldi expected to regenerate into the first female doctor, Jodie Whittaker, during the festive episode.

The BBC is yet to confirm when the programmes will air over Christmas. It has already confirmed its special radio programmes for Christmas, including the newly engaged Prince Harry guest editing Radio 4’s Today programme.

The BBC will be hoping for some of its biggest audiences of the year for its programmes over the Christmas period. It has already had a major success in 2017 with Blue Planet II, which is the third most watched show in Britain since the 2012 Olympics. The first episode of Blue Planet II was the most watched programme of 2017, with 14.1 million people tuning in. Its audience has been larger than those for the rival Sunday night shows Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor, and the programme has been particularly popular with 16 to 34-year-olds. The final episode of the series is due to air in mid-December.

However, the BBC’s December schedule will also pave the way for the return of some old favourites in 2018. Alan Partridge: Why, When, Where, How and Whom? will be a documentary on BBC2 to mark the character’s 25th anniversary and track “his journey from broadcaster caricature to the award-winning study of complexity and pathos that he has become”. A new BBC1 series features Partridge, who is played by Steve Coogan, will air next year.


Graham Ruddick Media editor

The GuardianTramp

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