5 Best TV Programmes this Christmas.

ss-tdy-120313-marilyn-16.ss_full5.  Sat 22nd, 7pm BBC4. Lawrence Olivi­er directs and stars in The Prince and The Show­girl, togeth­er, some­what incon­gru­ous­ly with Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe. Fright­ful­ly sil­ly, but both are end­less­ly watchable.

And it’s fol­lowed at 9pm, still on BBC4, by Screen Goddesses:Arena, which is and remains the best arts strand any­where on television.

4.  St. Stephen’s Day, 2:40 BBC2. Vin­cente Min­nel­li directs Gene Kel­ly and the arche­typ­al gamine Leslie Car­ron in Gersh­win’s 1951 musi­cal An Amer­i­can In Paris. This terp­si­chore­an and Tech­ni­col­or MGM clas­sic is prob­a­bly one of the very few films screened this Christ­mas that many peo­ple won’t already have seen.

Silvano_Nano_Campeggi_An_American_in_Paris_1228_333.  Christ­mas Eve, 11:55pm BBC4; and Thurs­day Dec 27th,11:10pm RTE2. Are­na: Amy Wine­house – The Day She Came To Din­gle. This qui­et­ly mov­ing and thought­ful­ly put togeth­er pro­gramme shows the singer in dis­arm­ing­ly relaxed form as she chats acces­si­bly before tak­ing to the stage for RTE’s Oth­er Voic­es in 2006.

2.  St. Stephen’s Day, 7pm BBC4. The Two-Thou­sand Year old Com­put­er. For those of you who haven’t already seen it, here’s a chance to savour once more this qui­et­ly told and end­less­ly fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ry, which I reviewed more ful­ly here. It’s absolute­ly riv­et­ing and is not to be missed.

1.  Sun­day 23rd, 11:25pm BBC1. The Gra­ham Nor­ton Show. Our own Gra­ham Nor­ton, from Ban­don where, we were always told, even the pigs are Protes­tant, has become the bright­est star on British tele­vi­sion. Iron­i­cal­ly, he’s done it by adopt­ing the quin­tes­sen­tial­ly British cloak of irony-clad self-dep­re­ca­tion. By pre­sent­ing him­self as a bit of a fool, he effort­less­ly pro­duces a bril­liant­ly intel­li­gent and con­sis­tent­ly riv­et­ing talk show.

tom-cruise-tom-cruise-18576293-1280-9601Tonight’s guests are Dustin Hoff­man and Jen­nifer Saun­ders, and are joined by Bil­ly Con­nol­ly. Sure­ly even he’ll seem fun­ny in this company?

And Gra­ham’s back again on New Year’s Eve on BBC1 at 10:35pm. His guests tonight include Tom Cruise and Bil­ly Crystal.

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