Movies, music, comedy and more: RTE unveils Christmas line up
It's officially beginning to look a lot like Christmas across RTÉ television, radio, and online, with a fabulous selection of entertainment for the festive season. There’s something for everyone with brand new music shows, award-winning animation, comedy, festive soap drama, movie premieres, cracking live sport, compelling documentaries and all sorts of family entertainment as RTÉ gets set to up wrap up 2020 and ring in the New Year. This Christmas, we all need fun and escapism like never before and so RTÉ has lined up the very best in entertainment for the whole family.
There’s nothing like Movies to provide some escapism and there will be plenty to choose from on RTÉ including the Irish TV premiere of Angela’s Christmas Wish airing on Christmas Day. This heart-warming animated tale from Ireland’s Brown Bag Films is the sequel to the Emmy nominated special, Angela’s Christmas, and tells the story of a determined little girl who sets out to reunite her family in time for Christmas. Based on characters by author Frank McCourt, it features the vocal talent of Ruth Negga, Jared Harris, and Catriona Balfe.
Other Irish movie premieres include Dublin Old School, starring Emmet Kirwan, who reconnects with his estranged brother, a recovering addict living on the streets; Zoo, a charming film about a young boy and his friends who rescue a baby elephant from Belfast Zoo during WWII; and delightful Irish made animation special, The Overcoat, by Dublin based animation house, Giant, with the lead character voiced by Cillian Murphy. Other big hit movies include Peter Rabbit, Coco, A Star is Born, The Greatest Showman, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom.
Full-on Family Entertainment is what’s needed this Christmas and it’s guaranteed when Jennifer Zamparelli and Nicky Byrne get their sparkle back on and remember more footloose and fancy-free times as they look back over some magical and occasionally hilarious moments in a one-hour Dancing with the Stars special.
The whole family will also love The Den's Christmas Special as the latest series comes to a close. Join the madness and mayhem with Ray, Zig and Zag, and Dustin for a final hooley, a laugh, some special guests, and maybe even a tear or two as they bring this much-loved series to a close.
On December 31st the whole family can join in a special New Year's Eve Countdown with music, comedy, and chat live from The Gaiety Theatre in the heart of Dublin.
Top Notch Comedy
Top notch Comedy craic this Christmas comes courtesy of The 2 Johnnies, the likely lads from Cahir, Co Tipperary who are primed to set Christmas ablaze. We can all look forward to two spanking new episodes of Mrs Brown’s Boys on RTÉ One on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, in which we see how Mrs Brown and all the crew in Finglas are coping with lockdown life.
We all know 2020 was a year like no other so who better than Oliver Callan to take a romp through a year we’ll all be glad to see the back of, in Callan Kicks the Year. On the RTÉ Player, Reeling in the Fears, written by Joanne McNally and presented by Doireann Garrihy is a satirical and chaotic look back at the year in a desperate attempt to find the positives.
Stories of who we are as a nation and what we hold dear are told in a special selection of Documentaries for all interests this season. In Fungie’s Kingdom, Baz Ashmawy makes the trip to Dingle in the aftermath of the Dingle Dolphin’s disappearance to explore the magic and the mystery of the cheeky, solitary, wild dolphin who made Dingle Bay his home for 37 years. In The Real Field, John B Keane’s son, the broadcaster and writer Billy Keane goes in search of the truth behind the murder that inspired his father’s most famous work. This intriguing documentary Includes interviews with Jim Sheridan, Noel Pearson, Garry Hynes, and Michael Harding. (The 1990 original Jim Sheridan classic film The Field will air immediately afterwards.)
Music at Christmas
Music features strongly this Christmas and on New Year's Eve, Nicky Byrne presents Soundtrack of My Life featuring the RTÉ Concert Orchestra playing a selection of greatest hits and familiar floor-fillers with Kodaline and special guests including Jack L, Loah and many more.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Riverdance with a special anniversary show and CLANNAD: A Celtic Dream Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh travels to Donegal to meet the band and reflect on a remarkable fifty-year journey. Ruth Smith and Mary Kennedy present Christmas at Home, with a rich array of musical talent, including Celine Byrne, Úna Healy, Ray Lynam, Mick Flannery, teenage YouTube sensation Allie Sherlock, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Cor na nÓg. With the ongoing pandemic, this year the iconic ‘Christmas Busk’ that takes place annually on our streets can’t happen.
With no live performances this year, Glen Hansard and friends take a look back at some of the most memorable moments from the busk over the years, raising awareness around homelessness in a year when it's needed more than ever. Don’t miss The Busk - A Decade of Christmas on Grafton Street on December 18th, an unforgettable night celebrating the best of Irish music, songs, and stories. On the same night, The Late Late Show will have some of the biggest global superstars of rock music take their legendary Grafton Street Christmas Eve busk for the Simon Community indoors to the Late Late studio for a special night of music. RTÉ, together with the Creative Ireland Programme, is calling on Ireland to shine a light on 20 December to share in a message of hope, gratitude, and solidarity on the eve of the 2020 winter solstice. RTÉ will present an event that will include a live programme on RTÉ One, a radio special on RTE Radio 1, and six spectacular projection installations in memorable locations around the country in the days leading up to Shine Your Light- Solstice.
2020 was the year when we were together apart, the year of Zoom calls and quizzes, hand sanitiser, masks, and social distance.2020: A Year in Review looks back at a strange year in which the world watched as America voted in a new President, the UK prepared to leave the EU forever and Ireland’s rotating Taoisigh battled to save lives. And onnews2Day, Aisling Moloney and Mícheál Ó Scannáil look back at a year of huge upheaval for everyone, including children. And especially for those younger viewers, Growing Up at the End of the World is a fascinating documentary that follows three teen climate change activists over a year and a half as they demand change in a bid to save their future.
Sport fans may have missed many traditional days out this year but there is plenty of action scheduled to keep them entertained. This Christmas will see the first-ever winter GAA Championships climax with All Ireland Finals in Football, Hurling, and Camogie all showing live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player on The Saturday Game Live and The Sunday Game Live. Also featured will be live coverage of the men's and women's FAI Cup Finals, Champions League Live and, of course, the highlight of the Christmas sporting calendar, the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, beginning on St. Stephen's Day.
For Drama off the field, Fair City continues to capture Carrigstown life through a lens, with residents, like all of us, rising to the challenge of a different kind of Christmas this year. And we catch all the action from Albert Square in an Eastenders Christmas Special on RTÉ One on Christmas Day.
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, RTÉ TV and Radio offer a rich array of seasonal religious content, with Carols, Masses, Services, Christmas Messages, and even a special Cork Nativity.
Especially for younger viewers, this Christmas are 10 brand new two-minute animations, including Christmas Owl, a Christmas version of Critters TV using Late Late Toy Show footage, and Da Humbug, an animated story about a grumpy old man finding the true meaning of Christmas Drama Week is a series of six wonderful dramas from around the world, that will raise your spirits and touch your heart. And this season also sees the return of kids’ series Squad Goals, with Anna Geary, and Ace My Space.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some comfort food and special-occasion meals, so this year The Today Show Christmas Food Special is back with three of Ireland's leading chefs, Neven Maguire, Rachel Allen, and Kevin Dundon dishing up a Christmas feast for some lucky celebrity diners across three evenings at 6.30 pm on RTÉ One during Christmas week.
Neven’s Christmas Menu will cover everything you need to know to produce the perfect Christmas day spread, and this year Donal’s Family Food at Christmas will be all about spending time with the family, keeping up traditions, and creating great family meals to enjoy over the holidays. Rory O’Connell is also back with another two-part Christmas special, How to Cook Well, over two nights during Christmas week and Catherine Fulvio returns with a Christmas cookery special, Catherine Celebrates, for those who want to try something just a little bit different this year!
The entertainment continues on the airwaves across RTÉ Radio 1, 2FM, Lyric, and RnaG this Christmas. On December 22nd, Ray D’Arcy show will be paying homage to all the wonderful Charity Calendars that have been sent in from all over the country.
Although different from previous years, Liveline won’t let Covid-19 put a stop to their Christmas Eve special in 2020. This year, Joe Duffy and friends will entertain listeners in their homes instead of on Grafton St., with guests including Kodaline & many more sharing some Christmas wishes. Derek Mooney will have a direct line to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, ensuring he’s on his way to all the homes across the country, while Panti Bliss takes to the fireside offering solace in a year that has changed us all.
On Christmas morning, wake up early and jump out of bed to the sounds of Christmas played by Lilian Smith; Michael Comyn offers a festive mix of warmth, music, inspiration, and humour in the company of a variety of socially distanced guests on Christmas morning from 8 am. RTÉ Radio 1 will accompany all busy kitchens and homes right across the day as Miriam O’Callaghan hears some seasonal readings and tunes until John Creedon rocks around the Christmas tree with his own unique blend of music and tunes. Christmas Miscellany brings listeners a festive mix of new writing and complimentary music, a much-loved staple of Christmas morning on RTÉ Radio 1 for over fifty years. The writers this Christmas morning include Dónal Ryan, Paul Howard and Christine Dwyer Hickey.
St. Stephens’ Day gives us all time to reflect as Joe Duffy presents Legacies. If you’ve green fingers, gardeners from Kilmacurragh Estate, Dower House, and more give us a window into their world outdoors, sharing their wisdom of lifelong learning just before we take up the reigns for St. Stephen’s Day Sport. Also, on St. Stephen's Day in Services Ahead, Brenda Donohue visits the Barrack Obama Plaza in Moneygall meeting those working there and those passing through over a busy twenty-four-hour period. Callan’s Kicks looks back on the unforgettable year’s epic highs and lows. Leakers, experts and Covidiots, Shinner winners, and Golfgater haters. On the last day of 2020, we put the year that took away sport-loads of craic, plus Fungie, firmly in the rear-view mirror.