SATURDAY 15th DECEMBER
9am Mastertapes: Access All Areas (BBC Radio 4 Extra) (repeated 7pm)
This is the Radio 4 series in which an artist talks over two parts about one of their most interesting albums, plays songs from it live and then takes questions from an audience - in fact it continues throughout this period, with The Good The Bad And The Queen on the 17th and Don McLean on the 24th, both at 11pm with the secondary set at 3.30pm the next day. This is a best of so far, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones and Robbie Williams among those featured.
9pm Quadrophenia: Can You See The Real Me? (Yesterday)
Made for the 2013 fortieth anniversary, Pete Townshend goes through his archive to recall the tensions and trips around the album.
9.10pm Cabaret (Talking Pictures TV)
Bit overarcing for shoestring operation and home of the forgotten British black and white romp Talking Pictures to have got this modern cinema musical classic, we thought, then we remembered its 1979 terrestrial TV premiere was on BBC2 at 10.45pm.
10.45pm Johnny Cash: Song By Song (Sky Arts)
12.15am Johnny Cash's Christmas Special 1976 (Sky Arts)
1.15am Johnny Cash's Christmas Special 1977 (Sky Arts)
2.15am Johnny Cash's Christmas Special 1978 (Sky Arts)
3.15am Johnny Cash's Christmas Special 1979 (Sky Arts)
There's a theme here. After a triple bill, one song each, of examinations into The Man's work, then a series of sentimental specials for CBS that don't really rub well against Cash's posthumous rebellious image. 1976 has Tony Orlando and Billy Graham, 1977 Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins together in a tribute to Sun Studios and Elvis, 1978 Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge and Steve Martin, 1979's best known guest (June aside) from the modern perspective is of all people Andy Kaufman.
SUNDAY 16th DECEMBER
7pm What A Crazy World (London Live)
Joe Brown, a hoodlum youth, and Susan Maughan are on/off partners in, obviously, a very East London kind of early pop musical. Marty Wilde, Freddie and the Dreamers and Harry H Corbett are in it. Written by Alan Klein, whose sole album Well At Least It's British was claimed by Damon Albarn as a big influence on Parklife at the time. This. THIS is the kind of content we live for.
9pm Carpool Karaoke: When Corden Met McCartney: Live From Liverpool (Sky One)
There's a few Carpool Karaokes on over the season but let's not drag ourselves down. This extended version of the feature sees them drive around Fab Wacky Macca Thumbs Aloft's childhood home and haunts before playing a surprise gig at the Philharmonic Dining Rooms.
MONDAY 17th DECEMBER
7pm Marc Riley (BBC Radio 6 Music)
The first of Not!Lard's best of the year shows that run until Thursday. Oh Sees and BC Camplight as far as the eye can see.
8pm Passions (Sky Arts)
Part of its ongoing occasional strand, Marc Almond traces the last days of Judy Garland.
9pm Radio 2 Rock Show Led Zeppelin Special (BBC Radio 2)
Marking fifty years since they were signed, with homages from Roger Daltrey, Brian May, Joe Elliott and Billy Gibbons.
TUESDAY 18th DECEMBER
9pm The Rolling Stones In Blue (BBC Radio 2)
Examining their debt to the blues in the company of utility expert Cerys Matthews.
WEDNESDAY 19th DECEMBER
9am Soul Music (BBC Radio 4) (repeated 9.30pm)
The series of first person anecdotes on the emotional impact of pieces of music returns with Joni Mitchell's not really a Christmas song River. Next week in the same slot it covers Shine On You Crazy Diamond.
8pm Christmas With Mariah Carey (Channel 5)
9pm Mariah: The Diva, The Demons, The Drama (Channel 5)
Can't work out if these are bought in or in-house, the suspicion is the latter given we can't find international distribution details. The latter is about her 2000-2001 and the film that brought about that lost in translation hashtag campaign; the first isn't Mariah Carey's A Christmas Melody, her self-directed TV film which doesn't include her one famous Christmas song, because that's on at 5.20pm on the 22nd.
9pm Gary Barlow - We Write The Songs (Radio 2, 9pm)
Allegedly the start, possibly just the pilot but even so of a series that chooses not to highlight that his guest is Macca. They're not writing songs together either.
THURSDAY 20th DECEMBER
7pm Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison (Sky Arts)
The cheers during the titular song were dubbed on afterwards, you know.
7.30pm Top Of The Pops 1986 (BBC4)
It does seem pleasingly odd that this repeat run has now been going since April 2011 with, as you'll see soon, no sign of letting up just yet in any way other than the continued absence of shows hosted by Mike Smith, who withdrew permission for the Beeb to show anything he was in before he died. That means today and tomorrow are the last of the year before the Christmas special, which is unfortunate as he hosted two of the three regular December 1986 shows. This obviously isn't one of those, featuring post-dumper Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Nick Kamen and, oh mercy, Roger Whittaker & Des O'Connor.
8pm Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball (Sky One)
The millennial Smash Hits Poll Winners Party, but without the awards, magazine link, occasional eclecticism, absurdity or fun. Little Mix, David Guetta, Rita Ora, Jason Derulo, Clean Bandit, Ellie Goulding, Jess Glynne, Liam Payne, Zara Larsson, Anne-Marie, Olly Murs, Years & Years, you get the picture. More on Friday at the same time.
9pm Gideon Coe (Radio 6 Music, 9pm)
The annual Christmas special features the annual Gideon Coe play of the John Peel 1970 Carol Concert featuring Rod Stewart and the Faces, Marc Bolan, Robert Wyatt, Ivor Cutler and Sonja Kristina at a curious intersection in everyone's careers.
FRIDAY 21st DECEMBER
7.30pm Top Of The Pops 1986 (BBC4)
From 11th December the Housemartins and Jackie Wilson both on their way to number one, and ill-advised rock chick era Alison Moyet.
8pm Fleetwood Mac: A Musical History (BBC4)
This new Musical History series seems a cheap way of getting band-specific content onto the channel, garnering comment from whichever musicians and journalists were around for other projects to talk about an artist and their songs with fair use clippage.
9pm Music Legends We Lost In 2018 (Sky Arts)
Sure these annual tributes used to be two hours long, and it's not like 2018 has let up that much between Aretha, Avicii, Mark E, Dolores O'Riordan, Chas Hodges and, unless the final edit wasn't completed in time, Pete Shelley.
SATURDAY 22nd DECEMBER
5.20pm Celebrity Mastermind (BBC1)
Thirty years ago Toyah Wilcox played Boudica in a children's TV adaptation, now she's answering questions on her in a quiz show against Newsround's Ricky Boleto taking as specialist subject 1990s number ones.
6.10pm Pointless Celebrities (BBC1)
The Christmas special this year is for festive number one hitmakers, so that's teams of Dave 'There's Got To Be False Hair Sewn Into That Hat By Now' Hill and Mud's Rob Davis, Keren and Sara from Bananarama representing Band Aid, Sonia and Jamelia representing 2 and 20, and wildcard team Roger McGough (Scaffold) and Sally Lindsay (St Winifred's).
9pm Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender (Sky Arts)
There's a hell of a lot of Queen programming being repeated over the period, because there isn't that much footage of PT Barnum and they have to strike while the iron is hot on something. This one is worth your while as it's one of comedian, archive producer and superfan Rhys Thomas' documentaries and he got to go through Mercury's personal archive and find hitherto unknown material.
10pm 20 Years Of The Black Eyed Peas (ITV)
A celebration of Behind The Front, the then trio's 1998 debut album heavy on breakdancing culture and the kind of positivist old-school approach that Jurassic 5 did to much greater commercial success but still remains a throwback curio, is a brave thing to put on prime time ITV, but... ah, Joanna Lumley, Tom Jones and Nicole Scherzinger are involved. Maybe they'll quietly skip past that.
11.05pm Aretha Franklin: Respect (BBC4)
The quick turnaround tribute programme BBC1 put out in prime-time in August.
11.35pm Dreaming Of A Jewish Christmas (BBC4)
Not unsurprisingly American made because they're far more bothered about this kind of thing than us, an "irreverent" documentary about how so many Jewish songwriters from European immigrant backgrounds, including Irving Berlin and Mel Tormé, ended up writing American dream songs for the Christian festival.
SUNDAY 23rd DECEMBER
7.20am Rock You Sinners (Talking Pictures TV)
4.55pm Ring-A-Ding Rhythm (Talking Pictures TV)
See, only the most important shows make it into our round-up. Big Narstie is on a bunch of cultural prime-time shows, but here in the early hours of the gloriously lowbrow movie channel are these early British attempts to harness this passing rock'n'roll fad. First from 1957, where Jackie Collins is the only recognisable name in the cast including the musicians, then one you may know better as It's Trad, Dad!, directed by a pre-Beatles Richard Lester and featuring Helen Shapiro and Craig Douglas as the central couple hiring John Leyton, Chubby Checker, Del Shannon, Gary U.S. Bonds, Gene Vincent, Chris Barber, Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, The Temperance Seven, David Jacobs, Pete Murray, Alan Freeman, pre-Grease Arthur Mullard and a sadly washboardless Deryck Guyler.
4pm Amy Lame (BBC Radio 6 Music)
Useless as night tsar or whatever she is but fine as a broadcaster, and here with the first part of an extensive chat with Tony Visconti which continues the next Sunday.
7pm TOTP2: Christmas 2012 (BBC4)
No new show this year, maybe due to Mark Radcliffe's cancer treatment but it's also possible they couldn't be arsed regardless. Here's one with everything you could want from such a compilation, and also Lily The Pink, Francoise Hardy, Stiff Records oddity The Snowmen, Mikey Dread's Reggae Reggae Christmas and Merry Gentle Pops by the Barron Knights.
9.30pm The Secret Story Of The BBC Christmas Tapes (BBC4)
He's A Sports PA or GTFO.
10pm Bros: After The Screaming Stops (BBC4)
Here's fun. Remember how Matt and Luke announced seven arena reunion shows in 2017 and then cancelled all but two for "logistical reasons", because those empty rooms do echo a bit? Oddly reduced even further to a single big show according to this documentary film, it turns out the Gosses don't actually get on and are prone to confessional Tufnell-cum-Partridgeisms. All the fun that implies.
8am Ten Hour Takeover (BBC Radio 1)
After last year's Radio 1 Vintage went down so well the station realised there might be something in this whole "not current music" thing and started a Radio 1's Greatest Hits show on Saturday mornings - within reason of course, we can count three songs not from the last twenty years in the last two shows' playlists. Will that feed into the latest of these listener request shows, which back when they started went all over the shop? Or is it just going to be George Ezra as far as the eye can see?
1pm Don Letts' Culture Clash Christmas (BBC Radio 6 Music)
4pm Wise Women: Zawe Ashton (BBC Radio 6 Music)
The zelig of punk documentaries gets three hours in the daylight, followed by the first of this year's Three Wise Women choosing three hours of music followed by programming involving Young Fathers, Bjork and Patti Smith.
5pm Mark Goodier's Christmas Number Twos (BBC Radio 2)
It's Chris Evans' last show on the station at 7am, and just for that 1996 feel Goodybags is on drivetime with the kind of thematic show Tony Blackburn always usually does.
9pm Elvis: The Final Hours (Sky Arts)
10pm Elvis Presley: A Legend In Concert (Sky Arts)
11pm Elvis '56 Special (Sky Arts)
Oh yeah, we just passed fifty years of the Comeback Special too, didn't we. The first is a retelling of his last days by the Memphis Mafia, the second not a concert at all but a set of TV performances, and the third isn't a special either but an examination of his breakthrough year.
11pm Late Junction (BBC Radio 3)
Let's face it, Stewart Lee was never going to become guest editor of Radio 1's Chillest Show. He's in charge for the next three days at this time with guests Richard Dawson, Tim Key and Laura Cannell.
9am Junior Choice (BBC Radio 2)
Anneka Rice fronts this now - and live too - after Stewpot passed on a couple of years ago. We're reassured to find that last year's playlist contained songs that can only have been requested by late fiftysomethings pretending to have passed their taste down to their kids without fightback - Captain Beaky, Hole In The Ground, Windmill In Old Amsterdam and the Bohemian Rhapsody of novelty, Sparky's Magic Piano.
12.30pm Top Of The Pops Christmas (BBC1)
The show has been gone for twelve years now but its spirit remains in these biannual dual shows. Fearne Cotton, doing her fifteenth festive shift, and Clara Amfo link Anne-Marie, Clean Bandit, Freya Ridings, the managing director of George From Asda, Jax Jones & Ina Wroldson, Jess Glynne, Jonas Blue with Liam Payne & Lennon Stella, Rita Ora, Rudimental with Jess Glynne & Dan Caplen, Sigrid, Tom Walker and Zara Larsson. You know, them.
2pm Talking Take That (BBC Radio 2)
Mainly included here because it's two hours long and so wraps around the Queen's Speech.
4pm Wise Women: Diane Morgan (BBC Radio 6 Music)
After a special featuring Noel Gallagher, which doesn't feel tremendously 6 Music, the actual Cunk takes over for the second day bringing with her features on Michael Kiwanuka, David Lynch and Ian Dury.
6.35pm Britain's Favourite Christmas Songs (Channel 5)
A little late in the day, especially as this first went out in 2011, but we'll just about accept it. It's actually the Official Charts Company doing the sums on the best selling festive hits, which in the age of streaming will now be completely wrong. Also There's No-One Quite Like Grandma is included but no other non-festive Christmas number one is.
10.10pm TOTP2 Christmas Special 2015 (BBC4)
The usual set again, but when did you last hear Just Jack's Starz In Their Eyes? Eleven years old now.
1pm Shaun Keaveny (BBC Radio 6 Music)
The annual Brians special, with Cox, Eno and "a special mystery Brian". Ooh.
4pm Wise Women: Courtney Barnett (BBC Radio 6 Music)
Blood Orange, Janelle Monae and Poly Styrene docs is the pleasingly varied selection for the third of this year's crop. Plus it's Courtney Barnett, so there may be loads of ace Milk! Records output and the possibility of a Katie Harkin cameo.
11pm Vinyl Revival (Absolute Radio)
There's a few documentaries on Absolute around here, most by the by, but this might be something, and never mind that Pete Paphides and Stephanie Hirst have already hosted BBC shows under the same neatly hip-rhyme title. Claire Sturgess interrogates her own collection to ask why these things are still around.
11.20pm Carole King and Friends At Christmas (BBC4)
This is seven years old so it's a bit late to be annoyed that this wasn't called Carole's From King. Anyway, Richard Hawley, Gregory Porter and the dearly lost Mummers guest.
THURSDAY 27th DECEMBER
7pm Top Of The Pops 1986 (BBC4)
Ending another year of repeat fun with the Christmas show, complete with late audio-only edit when it turned out Caravan Of Love wouldn't be the day's number one at all. It's also fun to watch for the Pet Shop Boys playing swapsies with their future images, Neil in aviators and puffa jacket, Chris in bowler hat and suit.
8pm Quincy Jones' 85th Birthday Concert (BBC Radio 2)
A repeat from June in which Jones performs his hits with a full symphony orchestra plus Paul Weller, Mick Hucknall, Mark Ronson, Jess Glynne, the ever reliable Beverley Knight and more.
12pm Top Of The Pops Christmas 1978 (BBC4)
And from a few years earlier a programme affected by a strike, meaning it all had to be linked by Noel Edmonds from an office. Spend your night with Brian & Michael, Father Abraham & the Smurfs and the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band!
FRIDAY 28th DECEMBER
1pm The Official Chart Of The Year (BBC Radio 1)
Calvin Harris or Drake? Or will Ariana come up on the outside? Exciting, isn't it?
2.35pm Sunshine On Leith (Channel 4)
The Proclaimers jukebox musical movie, but not as poor as that sounds.
7pm Take That: We've Come A Long Way (BBC1)
There's a hell of a lot of the Thats this season, isn't there? We know they've just brought out a mutant greatest hits but even so. It's being trailed as their thirtieth anniversary, which is wrong whether you count it from when the members were brought together (1990) or when Gary Barlow met Nigel Martin-Smith (1989). Messages from fans, families, Robbie, the expected drill.
9pm Paul Weller: May Love Travel With You (Sky Arts)
10pm The Story Of The Jam: About The Young Idea (Sky Arts)
Weller recorded live at Royal Albert Hall in October acoustic with an orchestra, mostly to promote current album True Meanings plus surprisingly deep cuts from across his career, followed by a biography of his first band with new interviews and archive.
10pm First Impressions (Absolute Radio)
One hit wonders are well tred ground, so much so most of them are more famous than artists who had steady careers. This find out what it's like and what happened next, though please note the listing includes Chumbawamba whose follow-up single Amnesia reached number ten. At least it's not Right Said Fred. Or Hanson. Or, as we saw on one recent list, Simple Minds.
SATURDAY 29th DECEMBER
5.10pm Top Of The Pops New Year (BBC1)
It clearly isn't new year yet, but never mind. Anne-Marie, Clean Bandit, George Ezra, Jess Glynne and Jonas Blue pull double duty from the Christmas show, joined by B Young, Lewis Capaldi, Mabel, Tom Grennan, Tom Odell & Rae Morris, Years & Years and Christine and the Queens, who was a huge hit to a mostly new audience on the Christmas Day show in 2016 so it's unfortunate that she and they aren't going to get to re-enact that.
6.15pm Kylie Minogue: Reel Stories (BBC2)
This has apparently been on iPlayer since August, so someone should have said something. It's a very simple but effective format too - Kylie, in the company of Dermot O'Leary whose production company made it, is shown some of the BBC archive about and featuring her - Wogan! Going Live! That track about a font with the bloke from Deee-Lite! - and comments on it. NB. there's also a clip of Eliot Fletcher for no apparent reason. Presumably Dermot wanted to see it.
9pm Donovan and the Beatles In India (Sky Arts)
As you can tell by the order of the names, this is Donovan retracing his steps from the communal visit to the Maharishi with some of those that accompanied them (and Brix Smith-Start for some reason)
10pm Adam Walton (BBC Radio Wales)
One of our favourite DJs gets to his best of the year show, following two specials to celebrate his 25 years in radio on the 15th and 22nd.
SUNDAY 30th DECEMBER
1pm Gideon Coe (BBC Radio 6 Music)
The annual obituary show, three hours of music by those who passed on this year.
10.45pm Michael Jackson: Searching For Neverland (Lifetime)
Small beer on TV today - Sky Arts has Coldplay and Mumford & Sons gigs, and then there's this, "two of Michael Jackson's trusted bodyguards reveal the singer's devotion to his children and the hidden drama that took place during the last two years of his life."
NEW YEAR'S EVE
5pm Tony Blackburn's New Year's Eve 60s (BBC Radio 2)
7pm Mark Goodier's New Year's Eve 70s (BBC Radio 2)
9pm Gary Davies' New Year's Eve 80s (BBC Radio 2)
11pm Ana Matronic's New Year's Eve 90s (BBC Radio 2)
1am Dave Pearce Dance Anthems (BBC Radio 2)
Spot a common theme through the evening, then prepare to 'ave a large one in your middle age.
7pm Soulwax New Year's Eve House Party (BBC Radio 6 Music)
10pm Erol Alkan (BBC Radio 6 Music)
9pm & 11.55pm Jane McDonald And Friends NYE Special (Channel 5)
Highlighting this first of all not just because it delays the inevitable but also the booking must have been achieved with the aid of some darts and a blindfold - Billy Ocean, Odyssey, Alexandra Burke, Collabro and, round of applause please, Gilbert O'Sullivan.
11.15pm Jools' Annual Hootenanny (BBC2)
HOOTEno. The last known hideout of Rowland Rivron welcomes Michael Buble, Chic, George Ezra, Jess Glynne, Rudimental, Junior Giscombe, the Hot 8 Brass Band power blues outfit The Record Company, country-soul singer Yola Carter, Jools' Rhythm And Blues Orches-Tra! regulars Marc Almond and Ruby Turner, and the usual pipe band at midnight.
11.35pm Madness Rock Big Ben Live (BBC1)
Meanwhile the beloved entertainers are playing a greatest hits set at Central Hall Westminster right through to 1am, with a small gap about 25 minutes in for something to go off next door.
1.30am Best Of Glastonbury 2017 (BBC2)
3.40am Reading Festival: The Best Bits (BBC2)
BBC2 do this every turn of the year and they aren't going to let the minor detail of there being no Glastonbury in 2018 stop them.
NEW YEAR'S DAY
9.00pm The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years (More4)
11.15pm John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky (More4)
Documentaries all the way on this restful day - More4 re-run the Ron Howard live Beatlemania film documentary and the story of the album Imagine...
10pm Supersonic (BBC4)
11.55pm Britpop At The BBC (BBC4)
...while the Beeb dig out the tell-all Oasis (up to Knebworth) story and the companion compilation highlighted by a tremendously off-key Echobelly TOTP performance.
WEDNESDAY 2nd JANUARY
9pm Exploring Life On Mars? (Radio 2)
The 1973 single from the 1971 album a week before Bowie's birth and death anniversary. OK. This was actually first broadcast in 2017 to mark what would have been the Dame's 70th birthday, Martin Kemp joined by producer Ken Scott, pianist Rick Wakeman, live keyboardist Mike Garson, video director Mick Rock, and Marc Almond just because.
THURSDAY 3rd JANUARY
9pm Gideon Coe (BBC Radio 6 Music)
Coe's festive week themed shows are always fun, and today he does something we tried to put together years ago with three hours of tunes that reference other artists.
FRIDAY 4th JANUARY
11.30am Carole King: Tapestry Live From Hyde Park (Sky Arts)
12.45pm Paul Simon Live At Hyde Park (Sky Arts)
2pm The Rolling Stones Return To Hyde Park: Sweet Summer Sun (Sky Arts)
3.15pm BST Hyde Park Highlights (Sky Arts)
We spot a theme.
9pm Top Of The Pops: The Story Of 1987 (BBC4)
10pm Top Of The Pops 1987: Big Hits (BBC4)
And onwards we go into a year of SAW, hip-hop emergence, faceless house acts having number ones and Rick Astley all the way. We're very glad to see the compilation features Eric B & Rakim's sullen treatment of the Coldcut remix of Paid In Full, which they'd never heard before arriving in the country that morning and had no idea TOTP was known nationally.
11pm The Kate Bush Story: Running Up That Hill (BBC4)
12pm Kate Bush At The BBC (BBC4)
And to close, the very worthwhile 2014 examination of a career less lived and her willingness to mime on any arts outlet or Pops itself. From this point on the new year stretches out before us, try to enjoy it.