ITV has unveiled a Christmas 2009 schedule, packed with brand new entertainment specials, original comedy and drama, new factual programming, and a fantastic array of films for all the family – as well as a special week focussing on British troops abroad and their families back at home.
Peter Fincham, ITV Director of Television, Channels and Online, said: “ITV1 has had a phenomenal Autumn, with our biggest hits such as The X Factor, I’m A Celebrity…, Harry Hill’s TV Burp and Doc Martin attracting bigger audiences than ever – alongside a range of successful new additions to the schedule, from The Cube through to critically acclaimed original drama like Collision and Murderland, and an hour long Benidorm.
“Our Christmas schedule has the same wide appeal, with big entertainment and factual specials, some much anticipated new drama and comedy one-offs – alongside all that you’d expect from ITV1 in soaps and films over the festive period.”
Christmas highlights on ITV1 include Ant and Dec’s Christmas Special, in which the nation’s favourite pair of presenters host a special festive show featuring sketches, performances and some surprise guests, all filmed in front of a live studio audience. In drama, John Hurt reprises his acclaimed role as English eccentric, Quentin Crisp, in An Englishman in New York – which picks up where the 1970’s classic The Naked Civil Servant left off. And, in a new one-off comedy drama penned by Caroline Aherne, Timothy Spall plays Georgie Godwin, The Fattest Man in Britain alongside his agent and sidekick, Morris Morrissey, played by Bobby Ball.
Julia McKenzie returns to the role of Agatha Christie’s Marple alongside a stellar cast for They Do It With Mirrors; and there is also the return of Poirot in Appointment With Death.
ITV will reveal the best-loved television advert of the noughties in Ad of the Decade. And as the year draws to a close, Piers Morgan will look back at 2009 in all its glory in Piers Morgan’s Review of The Year, and the BAFTA award-winning Harry Hill will offer an alternative perspective in the TV Burp Review of the Year. In The All Star Impression Show, Stephen Mulhern brings together those from stage and screen – who transform themselves into versions of some of the world’s biggest names.
For music fans, Take That: The Circus Live follows the hit quartet’s performance at Wembley earlier this year, as part of the fastest selling tour in UK history. And, in The Nolans – In the Mood for Dancing, the special one-off programme follows the singing family from their early days in Blackpool through to their comeback tour.
A Night of Heroes, which will be broadcast exclusively on ITV1, showcases The Sun Military Awards 2009 – rewarding the bravery of members of the UK Armed forces. The programme is also part of a special week on ITV1, Far From Home, which focuses on British troops abroad over the Christmas period, particularly in Afghanistan. Throughout the week, ITV News, ITV Regional News, This Morning and GMTV – as well as ITV.com – will carry special reports and content from Afghanistan, including messages home from the troops. The week will end with Christmas Eve with the Troops, a one-hour special presented by Sir Trevor McDonald filmed at London’s St Clement Danes Church, which will feature a prayer for the troops, special carols and messages to soldiers stationed in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.
Elsewhere over the holiday-period, there will be special storylines in ITV’s popular drama serials, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, and The Bill. There is also a host of special editions of ITV1’s entertainment favourites including All Star Mr & Mrs with Joan Collins and her husband, Percy Gibson, and Emma Bunton and her partner, Jade Jones; an All Star Family Fortunes special with the Webster family from Coronation Street taking on Emmerdale’s King family; as well as You’ve Been Framed.
After a fantastic series of The X Factor, ITV2 will follow the show’s winner in a special one-off, Xtra Factor – The Winner’s Story, as well as looking back at this year’s show with the five-part The Xtra Factor – Best & Worst 2009. After Take That on ITV1, there will be the chance to see a one-hour behind the scenes documentary on ITV2, Take That: Backstage at The Circus. There will also be three special I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! Now shows; Unforgettable Trials, Kings and Queens, and Jungle Jems. And, outside of peak time, there will be a chance to get into the Christmas spirit as ITV2 revisits four classic pantomimes from the ITV vaults – Jack & the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Dick Whittington and Aladdin. On ITV3, there’ll be a special Sherlock Holmes Weekend on December 19th and 20th, alongside a range of drama favourites and films.
Across the ITV family of channels there’s a range of films and film premieres for all ages – including the premieres of Happy Feet, The Holiday and Corpse Bride on ITV1.