BBC R3 Christmas carol competition 2020 part of the sonic festivities

Sonic festivities for Christmas 2020 from BBC Sounds and Radio

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The BBC has announced a raft of sonic festivities for Christmas 2020 covering all major BBC Radio stations and BBC Sounds. There really is something for everyone.

The BBC’s announcement is a vast list of programmes across its radio / streaming channels; we’ve rejigged it by theme and picked our highlights.


BBC Sounds promises Paloma Faith, Dizzee Rascal, Rita Ora and more, while Radio 1, 1Xtra, Asian Network, Radio 2 and 6 Music are holding the BBC Radio Christmas House Party with all five BBC Pop Networks along with Radio 1 Dance coming together to launch their festive celebrations with a simulcast. Radio 2 has a two hour Dolly Parton special, while Zoe Ball celebrates five decades of Annie Nightingale in broadcasting.

BBC Radio 3 is giving us the intriguing Light In The Darkness season, which creates music out of the sound of the Northern Lights and more to bring comfort and inspiration to listeners. Meanwhile BBC Orchestras and Choirs welcome special guests from Katie Melua and Jess Gillam to Brian Cox, Stephen Fry and Alan Bennett – plus the BBC’s own ‘drumming weatherman’ Owain Wyn Evans.

More traditional aspects of Christmas are reflected in A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings College, broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service on 24 December at 3pm (10:00 EST or 07:00 PST). The service is also broadcast at 2pm on Radio 3 on Christmas Day, and at various times on the BBC World Service. If you follow the link you’ll also get a flavour for its availability in the US.

The Radio 3 Carol Competition 2020 (pictured above) has closed for entries, and listeners will get the chance to listen to then vote on the shortlist (all shortlist entries will be professionally produced).


We’ve covered BBC Sounds new drama The Cipher elsewhere, and there’s also audiobooks A Promised Land by Barack Obama and The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Radio 4’s The Archers 70th anniversary is celebrated with a special episode, New Year’s Day quiz, documentary and more. Radio 4 are also broadcasting That Dinner of ’67, written by Tracy-Ann Oberman, while Penelope Wilton and Gwendoline Christie join Neil Gaiman in an adaptation of his fairy-tale, The Sleeper And The Spindle.


On the World Service, Robert Beckford, one of the UK’s most prominent black theologians, explore the identity and colour of Jesus — and why it matters, while Radio 4 has two very different Reunions: one reuniting the stars of Strictly’s earlier series, and another where Michael Rosen revisits NHS staff who treated him for Covid-19 earlier this year.

Comedy, Quizzes and Podcasts

And finally (and grouped together to avoid this being just one long list) we have Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders in new comedy, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane Austen?, comedy specials from Ed Reardon, Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show, Nature Table and The Missing Hancocks and a very special Christmas radio edition of A Question of Sport on 5 Live.

For podcast fans, BBC Sounds has bonus episodes and special Christmas editions of brilliant podcasts including Fortunately… with Fi and Jane, The YUNGBLUD Podcast and two helpings of James Acaster’s Perfect Sounds.

Read the full press release here