Tuesday, 29 November 2011


BBC ALBA has today (Thursday, 17 November) unveiled a festive feast of programmes coming up over the Christmas and New Year period with family favourites and entertainment for all ages featuring compelling documentaries, live sport, traditional music and children’s programmes.

Documentary highlights include exclusive programmes on much loved celebrities such as Kenny Dalglish, Patsy Cline and Michelle MacManus, whilst sporting fans can enjoy live action from the RaboDirect PRO12 plus ‘as-live SPL fixtures throughout the festive period.

A special Christmas Eve service, broadcast at 11pm, will come from Martin’s Memorial Church in Stornoway and will feature music from Back Gaelic Choir, Ishbel Ann Martin, Donnie Murdo MacLeod and Mary Smith as well as young musicians from the Nicolson Institute all under the creative guidance of Calum Martin as Musical Director.

See in the New Year in style with BBC ALBA’s live Hogmanay Cèilidh starting at 11.30pm. John Carmichael and Kirsteen MacDonald will be hosting events at the Duisdale Hall on the Isle of Skye with hot new Gaelic group Mànran, Julie Fowlis and Eamon Doorly, Christine Primrose and Arthur Cormack, plus a host of other top performers. Fiona MacKenzie will complete the team from Am Praban Bar at Eilean Iarmain in Skye where she will be joined by the Angus Nicolson Trio.

Margaret Mary Murray, Head of Service for BBC ALBA, said: “We are looking forward to bringing viewers a fantastic mix of festive programming for all the family. BBC ALBA is now available on Freeview and Cable and we are delighted that, for the first time, our festive schedule can be enjoyed across the country at a time when audiences look out for entertaining television. Our Hogmanay Ceilidh will also broadcast live on Radio nan Gàidheal and will be available worldwide via the BBC iPlayer, extending our programming at this special time of the year to audiences across the UK and overseas.”

Highlights from this year’s festive season on BBC ALBA include:

· Songs of the Pipers: Festive cèilidh from the National Piping Centre in Glasgow celebrating the connection between the Gaelic language and pipe music. Performances are from Mànran, Irish performers ‘The Armagh Pipers Club’ and Irish musician/composer Brian O’hEadhra, accompanied by Calum Stewart and Fiona MacKenzie (Christmas Eve, Sat 24 Dec, 9pm)
· Horo Gheallaidh / Celtic Music Sessions: World-class musicians from Celtic Connections festival featuring Rachel Sermanni and The Tannahill Weavers (Christmas Eve, Sat 24 Dec, 10pm)
· Celtic Connections - Tom Jones: Sixty minutes of top flight music from Celtic Connections including performances from Tom Jones, the Creole Choir from Cuba and lots more. (Christmas Day, Sun 25 Dec, 11pm)
· The Vatersay Boys – In Concert: The number one cèilidh band from the Highlands & Islands perform to a packed Glasgow Barrowland (New Year’s Eve, Sat 31 Dec, 9.30pm)
· Reed Music: The exciting, international world of one of the earliest musical forms, piping, bringing the amazing story of the instrument and its players to life (Mon, 2 Jan, 8.30pm)

· Michelle MacManus: Singer and presenter Michelle McManus travels to the Western Isles of Scotland on a journey of musical discovery (Christmas Day, Sun 25 Dec, 9pm)
· The Campbells: The Campbell family of Greepe Skye is one of the great singing dynasties of Gaelic music. This documentary explores their lives and features performances in venues including Dunvegan Hall and Glasgow’s Art Club during Celtic Connections 2011. (Christmas Day, Sun 25 Dec, 10pm)
· Turas Tony: Tony Kearney joins the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team for a testing Winter challenge (Boxing Day, Mon 26 Dec, 9pm)
· King Kenny: Reappointed manager of Liverpool FC this year as well as celebrating his 60th birthday, this tribute programme looks at the life and achievements of one of the most outstanding Scottish sportsmen (Wed 28 Dec, 9pm)
· Sweet Dreams - Patsy Cline: The life story of country singing sensation Patsy Cline (1932 - 1963) is told through a theatre production featuring some of her best loved songs (Fri 30 Dec, 9pm)
· Ishbel MacAskill - A special tribute to Ishbel MacAskill - an incredible lady who had a zest for life and an infectious positive outlook and who died suddenly in March. A Mother, A Grandmother, a Singer, a Lewis Woman and a Point woman through and through (New Year’s Eve, Sat 31 Dec, 10.30pm)

· RaboDirect PRO12 Rugby: live rugby action as Glasgow and Edinburgh battle it out over two matches for the 1872 Cup and vital competition points (Boxing Day, Mon 26 Dec, 5.30pm and New Year’s Day, Sun 1 Jan, 5.30pm)
· SPL ‘as-live’ coverage: continues throughout the festive period (Dundee Utd v Hibs, Christmas Eve, Sat 24 Dec, 5.30pm / Inverness CT v Hibs, Wed 28 Dec, 10pm)
· Sports Review of the Year: A round-up of BBC ALBA’s sporting highlights of the year including the World Island Games and Edinburgh and Glasgow’s campaign in European club rugby (Christmas Eve, Sat 24 Dec, 7.30pm)

Children’s programming
· Leon in Winter Times: Join Leon and Molly for a wintertime adventure with wicked storytellers, a kidnapped princess and a band of loyal friends who come to the rescue. A Christmas tale for all the family (Christmas Day, Sun 25 Dec, 5.05pm)
· Wallace & Gromit – Curse of the Were Rabbit: A mind altering experiment involving rabbits goes awry, leaving Wallace feeling a bit worse for ‘were.’ With the impending vegetable fair and a monstrous rabbit on the loose, it is up to Gromit to put things right (Christmas Day, Sun 25 Dec,5.35pm)
· Sgeulaiche: New animation series featuring original, spontaneous and funny stories written by children, for children (Fri, 6 Jan, 5.55pm)