With Christmas just around the corner, Channel 4 has brought together some of its biggest and most-loved talent in an array of top notch programmes that will help viewers get the perfect Christmas well and truly wrapped up.
The centrepiece of our season is the long-awaited return of the Snowman to our screens in a brand new sequel to the much-loved original 30 years on from its premiere. The Snowman isn't the only character undergoing a transformation this Christmas: Bad Santas is a two-part documentary following a group of unemployed men with difficult pasts as they try to make a fresh start - at Santa School.
Meanwhile, in the build-up to the big day, let Channel 4's roster of experts take the strain as they impart some crucial, not-to-be-missed tips to help viewers out in the kitchen and beyond. The Fabulous Baker Brothers will bake some hearty winter treats and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will be joined at River Cottage by some very special stars of the London 2012 Games. Channel 4's festive food extravaganza will be topped off with Gordon Ramsay's Christmas Cookalong Live on Christmas Day, with Gordon once again guiding viewers through the biggest meal of the year. With him at the helm, what could possibly go wrong?
To make sure everyone's home is suitably festive without having to spend a fortune the SuperScrimpers will be giving Christmas a unique, twist on a budget and there will also be some extra special Christmas hoarders in a brand new episode of The Hoarder Next Door.
So sit back with a glass of mulled wine, your favourite slippers and a notepad ready to take down all the top tips you'll need to make Christmas 2012 your best one yet!
The Snowman and The Snowdog (Christmas on Channel 4)
The Snowman and The Snowdog is the brand new sequel to the Christmas classic The Snowman, and is the magical centrepiece of Channel 4's Christmas schedule this year.
Raymond Briggs' iconic children's book The Snowman follows the wonderful adventures of a young boy and the remarkable snowman he creates. Adapted for the screen in 1982, the Oscar-nominated film - wordless, apart from its evocative theme, Walking in the Air - has been screened by Channel 4 every year since it was first transmitted and has enchanted generations of children. On the 30th anniversary of the original film, Briggs has given his blessing to a brand-new sequel and the magic is about to begin all over again, this time with a new set of friends.
When a young boy and his mother move house, the boy discovers a secret box hidden under the floorboards of his bedroom. In the box, he finds a hat, scarf, some lumps of coal and a shrivelled tangerine - it's a snowman-making kit! Later that day it starts to snow and the boy builds a Snowman and, with the little spare snow leftover, a Snowdog. That night, at the stroke of midnight, the Snowman and Snowdog magically come to life. The boy awakes and joins them on an amazing adventure, flying over London and onwards to the North Pole, where Snowmen and Snowwomen from around the world are gathering for ‘The Annual Downhill Race.' Competing with an assortment of colourful characters, the boy and the Snowdog narrowly win the race and are rewarded with a prize from Father Christmas. Dawn is breaking so the boy stuffs the present unopened into his pocket for the journey back. When he arrives home, the boy must leave his new friends outside and return to bed - but first, a wonderful surprise awaits him...
The Snowman and The Snowdog will be directed by Hilary Audus and art directed by Joanna Harrison, both of whom worked as animators on the original film. Producers are Camilla Deakin and Ruth Fielding. The sequel will be dedicated to the late John Coates, who produced the original The Snowman film and was instrumental in getting The Snowman and The Snowdog into production.
The Snowman and The Snowdog is a Snowman Enterprises and Lupus Films production.
The Snowman Documentary (w/t)
The Snowman is one of the most watched and most loved British animation films of all time, yet the talent behind The Snowman phenomenon is a unique and distinctive man who is largely unknown. Raymond Briggs began writing and illustrating children's books more than forty years ago and in 1978, he wrote one of the most popular children's books ever published, The Snowman.
Now, 30 years after the original, a new sequel film to The Snowman is being made and Briggs is giving us a glimpse of his world. The Snowman Documentary (w/t) is brand new one-off film that features Briggs in his Sussex retreat and the small army of people required to produce the new film. Briggs reveals why, after many years of refusing to sanction a sequel, he has finally relented and given his approval to the new movie - which will air this Christmas as a centrepiece of Channel 4's thirtieth year of broadcasting. To try and maintain the feel of the original film, it's being drawn by hand under the direction of the key designers of the original The Snowman film. A huge team of animators has been assembled to create the 15,925 individual frames required to make the sequel to one of the most iconic animations.
Along with Biggs, we'll meet the creative team behind the sequel including directors, animators and producers - many of whom played a huge part in the original. Others from the literary world such Quentin Blake, Posy Simmonds and Steve Bell also share their thoughts on why Briggs has become a pioneer in the world of graphic books and what makes his work so unique and popular.
Everyone deserves a second chance to turn their life around, especially at Christmas. In a brand new warm hearted two-part documentary to air this December, Channel 4 will follow a group of unemployed men in their 50's as they are taken through their paces at the UK's most successful Santa School - but only the best will make it into the grottos in time for Christmas.
In true Christmas spirit, James Lovell, Managing Director of Ministry of Fun (MOF) is offering a unique opportunity to this carefully selected group of men, each who have had a difficult past and are looking to make a fresh start. James wants to give them the chance to regain their confidence and find employment.
Whilst working with the MOF, the men must attend Santa School and pass a number of challenges from learning how to wear a Santa costume with confidence, how to perfect the art of a jolly ‘ho ho ho', learn the most popular toys for Christmas and most importantly, how to deal with those tricky questions from children.
This isn't just a job for Christmas, James believes being Santa is the most rewarding role in the world and wants to be able to offer the most successful Santas a job at the end. But just how many of the Santa hopefuls will survive the test and pass the challenges to take on the role of every child's favourite Christmas character?
The 2x60' series will be made by Twenty Twenty and executive produced by Alannah Richardson and Tim Carter. Bad Santas will TX in December on Channel 4.
So. That Homeland, eh? *tense face* So many twists. So many turns. So many unanswered questions which need, you know, answers. Is there a mole? Whatever happened to Carrie's vegetable lasagne? Did her dad and sister eat it, or was it simply left to burn while she was off gallivanting around Beirut. Where we can we get Dana's on trend black nail varnish, what are the secrets of Jessica's skin care regime, and is it just us or was Saul's jaunty Man from Del Monte spy disguise suave enough to give Bond himself a run for his money *fans self*? Maybe he'll crack out a Santa hat for the CIA Xmas party *hopeful face* and as the conspiracy theorists tie themselves up in knots over plotlines, we have it on good authority Estes will be attending dressed as an elf. As for Brody, given the time of year will he be dusting off the bespoke bomb vest and pulling it out of the back of the wardrobe for that ‘special occasion'? All this and more in what is sure to be a Christmas cracker of a finale*
*can you tell we don't know?
Christmas films on 4
Andrea Arnold's critically-acclaimed take on Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and the award-winning adaptation of Stieg Larsson's Millienium trilogy starring Noomi Rapace will have their premieres on Channel 4 this Christmas. Alongside The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, sci-fi fantasy City of Ember, starring Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray and Tim Robbins, and family films Planet 51, Furry Vengeance and Space Chimps will also premiere over the festive season. And Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without the classics - Charles Dickens Muppets-style, 8-year-old Kevin McCallister contending with pesky intruders, and Frodo's epic quest to destroy that troublesome ring are amongst the festive film faves on Channel 4.
Comedy & Entertainment at Christmas
Friday Night Dinner Christmas Special It's Christmas day. Mum has made a fantastic Christmas dinner, although Adam is, as usual a bit confused: "Don't you think it's a bit weird we do all this Christmassy stuff?" "Why?" Says Mum. "Um, maybe because we're Jewish," says Adam. The boys are delighted that Grandma is coming round, but horrified that dad's (Martin's) mother - 'Horrible Grandma' - is coming too. "When will she die?" says Jonny. "That's a terrible thing to say". Says Mum. "Is it?" says Adam. "No, not really," says mum. "Martin, when will your mother die?" "In about an hour, hopefully" says dad. Horrible Grandma turns up with her equally horrible dog, Boudacea, which has to wear an oxygen mask ("Her lungs have rotted away" says Horrible Grandma). Horrible Grandma hates Mum's "horrible dry turkey", and Mum is distraught when Horrible Grandma brings turkey with her to eat. Dad and the boys are jealous, as they too secretly hate Mum's dry turkey. Later, Jonny gives Adam a present. Adam tears it open, and a mass of spaghetti bolognaise falls straight onto his lap. "I must give you the recipe," laughs Jonny. After dinner, tensions mount, as the two grandmas have an argument that develops into a proper grandma fight. And then Jim turns up, dressed as Father Christmas...
Alan Carr gets the party season started with his Chatty Man Christmas Special and will continue the celebratory mood with another fun filled Alan Carr's NYE Specstacular to see out 2012. Coming off the critically acclaimed run as the host of The Last Leg, the late night show that ran daily during C4's coverage of the Paralympics, Adam Hills will return with The Last Leg Christmas Special, to wrap up a bumper 2012 with Josh Widdecombe and Alex Brooker. The quiz show to end all quiz shows, hosted by Jimmy Carr, The Big Fat Quiz of The Year returns to round up all the good, bad and downright silly events of the year.
Gordon Ramsay's Christmas Cookalong Live
It's Christmas morning. The kids are screaming, grandma's on her third glass of sherry and you've got mountains of uncooked ingredients and no idea what to do with them. You need help. This year help will arrive not in the form of the angel Gabriel but, live from his very own kitchen, Gordon Ramsay will guide you through Christmas dinner step-by-step, sharing his favourite tips on how to get the perfect Christmas dinner in front of your family. There will also be huge helpings of cheeky festive entertainment and celebrity guests for those who are eating, rather than cooking.
If you're being brave, going commando and doing it all at the last minute, Gordon will help get you through it, telling you everything you need to do to create the perfect Christmas dinner and avoid poisoning the family! Viewers at home can get involved through phone calls and tweets. If your gravy is lumpy, call in; if your husband's grumpy, tweet in and if you've set your oven (and turkey) on fire, call Gordon before (or maybe just after) dialling 999!
2012 has been a huge year full of fantastic national events that will be remembered for years to come, and Gordon will be joined by a collection of guests who made 2012 go with a bang.
Gordon's festive menu is sure to have viewers salivating from the off. This year the King of the Kitchen will cook up a delicious roast turkey, some tasty and classic accompaniments and a starter that'll put even the most bah-humbug relative in a good mood. And it will all be topped off with a show stopping dessert.
River Cottage Christmas Special
In this festive episode of River Cottage, three stars of comedy will ditch the bright lights of London and the glamorous world of film, as they join Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in a fun packed Christmas cookery extravaganza on the River Cottage Farm.
Comedienne and star of hit series' Gimme, Gimme, Gimme and Harry Enfield and Chums, Kathy Burke, will be joining Hugh along with comedy actor's and stars of cult comedy series, Green Wing, Mark Heap and Stephen Mangan. So there will be plenty of festive fun, frolics and laughs down by the river.
Over two days, Kathy, Mark and Stephen will learn the River Cottage ways; the importance of seasonal, ethical produce and the delights of home-cooking, especially at Christmas. With so many fantastic, rich and tasty foods in season throughout the British winter, Hugh promises to cook up a real Christmas feast with his guests. What better way to end 2012...
The Fabulous Baker Brothers Do Christmas (w/t)
The Fabulous Baker Brothers are donning their Christmas jumpers to ignite the wood-fired oven again for this Christmas special. Join Tom and Henry Herbert as they cook their way to Christmas in a flurry of festive recipes, based around the well-known Christmas song ‘The 12 Days of Christmas'. They'll be creating one delicious filo Christmas cracker, two hot toddies, a gingerbread house with a magnificent twist, smoke-bomb salmon cooked for ‘ten' minutes and a Christmas BBQ for twelve guests!
They will also bring you fabulous festive meats and breads, warming drinks, irresistible snacks and even a tried and tested hangover cure for those who have fallen victim to overindulgence. This is less about preparing the turkey and the trimmings and more about hearty, knock-out food that will leave you wishing it was Christmas every day.
Hoarder Next Door Christmas Special
58 year old grandmother Pauline is such a huge fan of Christmas that her vast collection of Christmas decorations is bringing down a bedroom ceiling, and there are even six Christmas trees buried somewhere among her clutter. Her home is now so full that a family Christmas is completely out of the question.
Among her hoard are hundreds of out-of-date tins and packets of food, and the sheer amount of clutter is now causing damage to her house and causing an infestation of biscuit beetles. As a result, Pauline's seven grandchildren are no longer able to visit.
Pauline is determined that this year, she will be celebrate Christmas with her young grandchildren in her own home at last. Helping Pauline realise her dream is Psychotherapist Stelios Kiosses, who has 15 years of experience working with hoarders. Together with straight talking de-clutterers, Zoe Steel and Allyson Pritchard, Stelios will help Pauline tackle her hoards and reclaim her home. Also on hand to assist are Pauline's friends and family.
‘Tis the season to be thrifty and in this SuperScrimpers Christmas Special there are a sack full of tips to help everyone have very merry, but frugal, festivities.
Mrs Moneypenny and her army of SuperScrimpers will be sharing their newest hints and tips about Christmas cost cutting. From beauty tips to Christmas cooking, from decorations to presents, every possible part of a cut-price Christmas will be shown. Crackers created from toilet rolls, tree decorations made from old light bulbs, and a cheap winter warming mulled cider are all guaranteed to raise festive spirits. Even the duchess will be popping up with advice on decking the halls with boughs of holly and making thrifty Christmas gingerbread men.
Harry Wallop is also back and this time round he's trying to stop people losing their money in the first place, by targeting the online criminals who use every trick in the book to rip punters off.
As well as an array of fantastic tips from our trusted scrimpers, one quick-to-spend family will be challenged to do Christmas on a very tight budget. In an attempt to prove that Christmas can still be fun even if you don't splash the cash, the family will be challenged to produce a festive buffet for twenty people for just £50.
Top SuperScrimpers Christmas Tips
Make your own Christmas tree decorations
Be thrifty in the kitchen
Don't spend a fortune pampering yourself in the winter
3x tablespoons of powdered milk, 1x tablespoon of baking soda, 1x tablespoon of cornflour. Your skin will be glowing before you know it