RTÉ announces star-studded Christmas schedule

Updated / Thursday, 2 Dec 2021 13:51

There's plenty on RTÉ this Christmas to keep you entertained

By John Byrne

Tommy Tiernan, Oliver Callan and Mrs Brown are among the many highlights as RTÉ unveils its seasonal mix of entertainment, drama, and documentaries for Christmas.

Brand new specials top the line-up for Christmas on the box. There's plenty of craic courtesy of a Tommy Tiernan special, Callan Kicks the Year and Mrs Brown, while The 2 Johnnies are hosting the New Year's Eve show at Dublin Castle.

Tommy Tiernan

New highlights include documentaries on Grand National winner, Rachael Blackmore, a heartwarming programme on Irish toy shops and a celebration with Irish legend Daniel O’Donnell as he marks his 60th birthday.

And Toy Show hero Adam King fronts his own new animated series on RTÉjr, featuring the voice of Ryan Tubridy as Santa Claus.

Adam Saves Christmas

Dermot Whelan and Doireann Garrihy launch one hour of family entertainment in a new show called Big Night In and there’s also a Christmas special with the Home School Hub gang too, alongside music, sport, drama and entertainment.

On radio, Joe Duffy will present his Christmas eve special from the Radio Centre while over on 2FM listeners can enjoy an hour-long special with Jenny Greene and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

Mrs Brown

Christmas is a special time on RTÉ Lyric FM, with seasonal performances, including Handel’s Messiah, while Raidió na Gaeltachta will feature a range of fascinating stories and music.

ENTERTAINMENT

Music, chat and craic is top of the agenda this Christmas on RTÉ, with something for everyone in the audience.

Tommy Tiernan is back with a one off special this December that's full of surprises for him, and his viewers.

The result is conversations full of adventure and surprise, with people from all walks of life, some well-known personalities, some lesser so.

All the Mrs Brown’s Boys gang return for two more seasonal specials, airing Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, which see Agnes recruited to the church choir, but under strict instructions, and a Christmas tree shortage which means Buster has to get even more creative than usual.

Una Healy and Loah

There are sonic treats in store for music fans too. Loah and Una Healy return to the iconic Round Room of the Mansion House in Dublin to reprise a very special Christmas edition of The Heart of Saturday Night.

And, in a unique new show Bowie - Starman, a remarkable line-up of Irish and international stars, including Suzanne Vega, Rufus Wainwright, Sharon Corr, Imelda May, Joe Elliot, Christy Dignam and many more, join with Bowie's own band, and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, to honour his legacy, and play some of his greatest hits.

With laugh out loud celebrity pranks, nail-biting studio games, audience surprises and a Christmas stocking full of other treats, Big Night In with Dermot Whelan and Doireann Garrihy promises one hour of serious family entertainment.

Imelda May in Bowie - Starman

The 2 Johnnies present RTÉ’s New Year's Eve Countdown Show live from Dublin Castle with guests from the world of sport and entertainment. Picture This will ring in the New Year in front of a crowd of 5,000 people.

Comedian Oliver Callan rounds off the year with some much-needed laughs in Callan Kicks the Year 2021. The Co-Teeshes and Mary Lou review stories from Zapponyism to the stuck Suez ship, Dublin Bay South, heaves, Olympics, Kin, the US insurrection and cuckoos.

Ireland's Fittest Family culminates in the most epic final yet, on the Mountain in Kilruddery. All four families are eager for the ultimate title, but only one family can be crowned winners.

This December Ireland’s Fittest Family will also show two specials. On 29 December, Grainne Gallanagh, The Happy Pear’s Flynn twins, and comedians Neil Delamere and Sinead Quinlan complete for the title of Ireland’s Fittest Family in a celebrity special, with the winner walking away with €10,000 for their chosen charity.

And, in Hall of Fame, Mairead Ronan, along with Donncha O’Callaghan, Anna Geary, Davy Fitzgerald and Derval O’ Rourke look back on the most memorable moments and the families that made them over the past nine series.

MOVIES

There’s fun for all the family with lots of kids’ premieres including Dr Seuss’ The Grinch (Christmas Day, RTÉ One, 6pm); Abominable (Christmas Day RTÉ 2, 11am); and The Secrets Life of Pets 2 (Christmas Day, RTÉ One, 12:35pm).

Dr Seuss' The Grinch

For older movie buffs, there's Bohemian Rhapsody (Christmas Day, RTÉ One, 10:10pm); Rocketman (St Stephen’s Day, RTÉ One, 9:35pm ), critically-acclaimed Irish film Dating Amber (21 December RTÉ2, 9:35pm) and the heart-warming Stan and Ollie (31 December RTÉ 2, 10pm).

Meanwhile, prepare to get cozy with viewer favourites across the festive season including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, The Greatest Showman, Die Hard, Braveheart, the Back to the Future trilogy, ET The Extra Terrestrial, the Indiana Jones series, Home Alone 2 Lost in New York, Casablanca, Singin in the Rain, The Big Sleep, and Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang.

DOCUMENTARIES

Rachael Blackmore: A Grand Year sees award-winning filmmaker Ross Whitaker (Katie, Shane Lowry – Open) tell the remarkable tale of Rachael’s rise to the pinnacle of horse racing and her historic year.

Supported by a cast of horse racing luminaries - AP McCoy, Katie Walsh, Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh, Henry De Bromhead and Davy Russell - and her family and closest friends, Rachael tells her story in depth for the first time.

Rachael Blackmore

Featuring 16 independent toy shops across the country, a sweet and heart-warming documentary from Alex Fegan, the maker of The Irish Wedding and The Irish Pub, The Toy Shop sits down with the people and places that spark the imagination of their youngest customers and the memories of their eldest.

With exclusive access to Daniel O’Donnell, his family and friends and an archive trip down memory lane, a family album of pictures and some behind the scenes bloopers from La De Dah, Daniel at Sixty promises to be an entertaining and honest insight into the life of a local hero at 60.

The Flourishing is an hour-long arts documentary takes us on an intriguing journey from the 1950s to the present day, tracking the transformation of a wavering musical genre into one which is performed and celebrated around the world.

The Flourishing features the work and voices of this important generation – among them Paul Brady, Mary Black, Finbar Furey, Paddy Glackin and Andy Irvine.

Mary Black

Steps of Freedom: The Story of Irish Dance is a sweeping, cinematic two-part documentary series telling the story of how Irish Dance evolved from a peasant dance to become a global phenomenon.

Camera Tripod and Bicycle is the story of Lesley Crowe, a Dubliner and fireman. Travelling by bicycle with his 8mm camera and tripod, he filmed his native city through decades of great change from the 1950s to the '70s.

How Ireland Rocked the 70s looks at the evolution of the festival circuit in Ireland during the 1970s, a decade in which rock music - national and international - began to take real root here.

It features rare archive footage and stills, the documentary includes exclusive interviews with Eric Bell [Thin Lizzy], Barry Devlin [Horslips], Christy Moore, Moya Brennan, Donal Lunny and Donal Gallagher [brother and manager of the late Rory Gallagher].

And casting a warm nostalgic eye over the tropes of an Irish Christmas, asking how much has changed and how much has soothingly stayed the same, RTÉ’s popular series The Way We Were has a seasonal special.

DRAMA

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a dramatic showdown in Carrigstown or a Boxing Day bust up on Albert Square. Plus, stream all the best home-grown drama with RTÉ Players box sets.

This Christmas in Fair City, Lucy’s unconventional relationship with Dolores and Tyler comes to a head as the Gardaí close in on cracking the case of Ritchie Lennon’s murder.

With all that Carol, Sash and Tommy know, will they escape unscathed? Can Dearbhla and Cian make it through Christmas together as a couple or has there been too much damage done to their relationship?

Don’t miss Fair City this Christmas as some relationships unravel and others entangle...

Meanwhile expect lots of drama over on Albert Square as EastEnders’ bumper Christmas episode airs on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player at 9.30pm.

Take advantage of the time off and get stuck into the best of binge-worthy box sets on RTÉ Player. Cozy up with Cillian Murphy and season one to four of Peaky Blinders.

Enjoy classic comedy with every single episode available of Father Ted, Frasier and Community. The noughties revival is here with every episode of Skins, The OC, Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars.

And why not re-watch 2021’s must-see TV, with Kin, Hidden Assets and Line of Duty? Laugh out loud with Sinéad Quinlan's new series, Seriously, Sinéad? or stall it to Darren & Joe’s Free Gaff.

SPORT

An incredible year of Irish sporting achievement will be marked across the Christmas season on RTÉ

The PWC All-Star Awards on Friday 10 December honours the best players of 2021 in Hurling and Football. Saturday, 18 December sees the presentation live on RTÉ One of The 2021 RTÉ Sport Awards.

As always there's plenty of live sport over the festive season including the traditional four days of Christmas Racing from Leopardstown, the European Cross County Championships from Dublin, the Leinster Club Football Championship semi-finals and Munster v Leinster in URC Rugby.

And 50 years of the GAA All-Stars is celebrated in a new documentary.

YOUNG PEOPLE

Home School Hub: A Christmas Cracker! Home School Hub is back... but this time there is no school and nothing to learn! Seamus the Dog has found himself alone for Christmas after forgetting to post his invitations for a festive dinner.

But with the help of the Irish Army, Marty Morrissey, Dermot Bannon, Mairéad Ronan, intergalactic popstar Nova Jones and a host of surprising guests, will Seamus pull off a Christmas cracker and get our Muinteoirí back together?

Adam King

If there is one programme that will put a smile on your face this Christmas - it's this!

Adam Saves Christmas, a festive short animation starring Adam King and featuring Ryan Tubridy as the voice of Santa will premiere on Christmas Eve on RTÉjr.

A Kids Country Christmas featuring kids from around Ireland singing Country music classics in a festive extravaganza!

There’s also two very special Christmas episodes of Ace My Space and the Junk Kouture grand final.

COOKERY AND CRAIC FROM CORK

As Christmas quickly approaches, the Today Show team are having festive fun in the RTÉ Cork studios with three brand new Christmas Specials at 6.30pm on RTÉ One.

Presenters Maura Derrane, Daithi O’Se and Emer O’Neill chat with guests including singer Lyra, comedian Jon Kenny, along with Brendan Courtney and Celia Holman Lee, while chefs Rachel Allen, Paul Flynn and Kevin Dundon cater for all your Christmas needs in the kitchen.

Maura and Daithi

How to Cook Well at Christmas with Rory O'Connell returns with Rory preparing delicious dishes in this two-part seasonal special; Neven Maguire showcases the very best of Kylemore Abbey and Connemara produce for the festive season.

Donal Skehan embraces traditional favourites this year, with lots of tips for your kitchen including meal prepping and timings to ensure that Christmas is all wrapped up; and Catherine Fulvio will show us how to make the best cocktails, prepare unforgettable meals and introduce us to some Irish artisan producers on this year’s Catherine Celebrates Christmas.

During this very special Christmas show, Catherine Fulvio will meet some of Ireland’s finest artisan producers that are currently supplying us with unique and wonderful tasty choices including Powerscourt Estate Distillery and Nut Farmer, Cathal Regan.

NEWS

As we bring down the curtain on 2021 RTÉ reporters and correspondents will look back on the big events of the year in a series of in-depth reports on RTE.ie and on the RTÉ News App and a look back at the year with the news2day Review of the Year.

RELIGIOUS HIGHLIGHTS

Mary Kennedy

For 27 years, Mary Kennedy presented the annual Carols show on RTÉ One, featuring a rich variety of Irish musical talent, performing in beautiful settings all around the country.

This year, she re-visits some of her favourites from those shows, including performances by Enya, Johnny Logan, Sinead O’Connor, Mick Flannery & Susan O’Neill, Donal Lunny, Ralph McTell, Imelda May, Loah & Lisa Hannigan and Eimear Quinn

Christmas in St Patrick’s - Dáithí Ó Sé hosts this sumptuous, festive show in St Patrick’s Cathedral, newly restored in time for its 800th anniversary.

Performers and guests include Andrea Corr, Tolü Makay, Declan O’Rourke, Lisa O’Neill, Ultan O’Brien, Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin, Alice Leahy, Dean William Morton, operatic star Sinead Campbell Wallace, David Brophy’s Frontline Choir, the Choir of St Patrick’s Cathedral and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

RADIO

Highlights on RTÉ Radio this Christmas include:

On RTÉ Radio 1, from 13 - 17 December - The Ray D'Arcy Show will be sprinkling some Christmas magic by saying "thank you" and Ray's Charity Calendars of the Year Awards will return on Wednesday the 22 December.

Join Liveline's Joe Duffy for his annual Christmas Eve extravaganza. Broadcasting live (9am to 11am) Joe will be joined once again by his festive wingman Brendan O'Carroll and a host of special guests.

Listeners will also enjoy live performances from Chris de Burgh, Erica Cody, The High Kings, Ryan Sheridan, June Rodgers, and Susan McFadden.

Derek Mooney

A selection of Donncha O’ Dulaing’s radio work from the RTÉ Sound Archives from 1964 to 2015. Selected and introduced by John Bowman will broadcast in a 5-part series from 27 - 31 December.

Listeners can enjoy Creedon’s Christmas as they roast their turkey on Christmas Day (11am -1pm), with John also ringing in the New Year; and, Callan Kicks the Year on 31 December at 1.30pm.

On RTÉ 2FM this Christmas Eve at 7pm, enjoy an hour-long special with Jenny Greene and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra live. Wake up on Christmas Day with Beta Da Silva from 7am on the 2FM Christmas Breakfast Show.

Celebrity friends of RTÉ 2FM will take over the playlist with some of their favourite songs from 1pm-2pm. Comedian Michael Fry will take over on 26 December and it’s Tolü Makay and Feli Speaks on the 27 December.

Also from 27 December at 7pm, Dan Hegarty, Tara Kumar, Stephen Byrne, Tracy Clifford and Mo K will present Legacies a four-part series featuring the artists, music and movements that kick-started modern music in Ireland, at which RTÉ2FM has been at the heart.

Jennifer Zamparelli

Jennifer Zamparelli and Cormac Battle join musical forces to bring you two hours of contrasting music playlists in Not On The Effing Playlist from 8pm on 27 December; and, end the year with JJ Hartigan who will ring in the New Year and will dip into the NYF Countdown Concert with headline act Picture This.

Stars shine brightly on RTÉ lyric fm this Christmas starting on Christmas Eve morning as Rod Stewart brings festive greetings of glitter and gold to Marty Whelan, along with Neven Maguire and soprano Claudia Boyle.

On Christmas Eve at 7.00pm, The Lyric Concert with Paul Herriott introduces Guy Barker, with the RTÉ CO, conducting his arrangements of a mixture of seasonal jazz classics.

Then on Christmas Day from 1.00pm the RTÉ CO are back with conductor David Hayes and vocalists Juliette Crosbie, Clare Ivory and Carl Stallwood to join Aedín Gormley on Movies and Musicals for classics from musicals old and new.

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Handel’s glorious oratorio The Messiah and we can enjoy it in the company of Paul Herriott performed by RTÉ Concert Orchestra, The Schola of St Patrick's Cathedral Girls’ Choir, The St Patrick's Consort of Voices and soloists all conducted by David Leigh in a recording from St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin at 7pm on Christmas Day.

Susan McFadden

RTÉ lyric fm is live from the National Concert Hall with Liz Nolan this New Year’s Eve for a glorious night of entertainment with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and musical theatre stars Fra Fee, Susan McFadden and Muirgen O’Mahony for wonderful performances of musical hits, all under Book of Mormon conductor Colm O’Regan.

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s Christmas schedule offers listeners a great variety of programmes for the festive season, including, on Christmas Day, the radio premiere of An Cosán Draíochta will be broadcast at 3pm, a suite of music composed by Johnny Óg Connolly, honouring the memory of his father, the legendary melodeon player Johnny Phádraic Phíotair.

And RTÉ Gold will have you on your feet and Rocking around the Christmas Tree this yuletide.

With listener favourites Rick O’Shea, Will Leahy, Aidan Leonard and more playing hits from Ireland’s biggest jukebox.

On 4 January, RTÉ Gold will present it's first Top 100 Countdown of 2022.