Wednesday’s TV tips

Check out our spolier-free guide to Christmas Eve TV.

Wednesday’s TV tips

MUSIC: Carols from Kings (BBC2, 5.25pm)

There’s plenty to celebrate given that Christmas is upon us once more, but for this particular programme, there’s even more reason to crack open the bubbly - as it marks its 60th anniversary.

It’s this particular celebration, from King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, that signals the beginning of Christmas for millions of people all over the world.

The choir, directed by Stephen Cleobury, sing carols including Stille Nacht, The Lamb and In the Bleak Midwinter (Holst), as well as carols that were performed in the first broadcast.

As well as all the musical offerings, members of the college will be telling the story of the first Christmas in the words of the King James Bible, and in a poignant remembrance of the first Christmas of the Great War, there will be a reading of a letter from a soldier at the front in December 1914.

FILM: Happy Feet 2 (RTÉ2, 5.40pm)

(2011) Mumble’s son, Erik, is struggling to realize his talents in the Emperor Penguin world. Meanwhile, Mumble and his family and friends discover a new threat their home — one that will take everyone working together to save them. (HD)

Starring: Elijah Wood, Robin Williams. Director: George Miller

CHRISTMAS CAROLS: Carols from Kilkenny Castle (RTE One, 6.15pm)

Join us in the atmospheric surroundings of Kilkenny Castle for a glorious evening of Carols, Christmas songs and more, with Donal Lunny , Zoe Conway, Máirtín Ó Connor, The Riptide Movement, Eimear Quinn, The Voice Squad, Hermitage Green, Fr Ray Kelly, Henry Shefflin and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. Presented by Mary Kennedy.

FILM: Toy Story 3 (BBC1, 6.25pm)

(2010) Set years after the first two movies, a grown-up Andy is now off to college, so Buzz, Woody and the rest of his legendary toys are bagged up and sent to the local children’s centre where they are soon at the mercy of riotous kids.

As ever with this groundbreaking saga, the animation is superb and the pacing is excellent, but where the movie really succeeds is in its assault on the heartstrings.

The last 20 minutes will leave you either perched on the edge of your seat or blubbing like a baby.

Starring: (The voices of) Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, John Ratzenberger, Joan Cusack, Timothy Dalton

FILM: War Horse (RTÉ2, 7.25pm)

(2011 Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert’s hopeful journey takes him out of England and to the front lines as the war rages on. (HD)

Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson. Director: Steven Spielberg.

COMEDY: Brendan Grace: Live from Castlebar (TV3, 8pm)

The greatest Irish family comedian of our generation proudly presents a night "Brendan Grace: Live from Castlebar” on TV3.

Join Brendan Grace for guaranteed laughs and entertainment in this special performance, filmed at the Royal Theatre, Castlebar.

With a wonderful performance of great stories and timeless classics, Brendan regales with side-splitting material.

FILM: Skyfall (ITV, 8pm)

(2012) After a botched mission which leaves him washed up, in more ways than one, James Bond resurfaces when MI6 is targeted by shadowy forces.

The identities of government agents are leaked online, so 007 attempts to track down the man responsible, while coping with the pressures of age, a war wound and a new government figure who seems to want him out.

The best 007 movie in decades, it starts on an (all-time) high with a brilliantly orchestrated chase, segues into Adele’s Oscar-winning theme and Daniel Kleinman’s glorious opening titles, and continues to amaze until the brilliant, moving finale.

Director Sam Mendes and his army of experts do a brilliant job. Thankfully he’s signed up for Spectre, the next Bond movie, with Craig, Christoph Waltz, Andrew Scott and Monica Bellucci. It’s due for release in late 2015.

Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney

DOCUMENTARY: The Dog Rescuers with Alan Davies: Christmas Special

(Channel 5, 8.25pm)

He’s lovingly remembered as Jonathan Creek, but Alan Davies is becoming just as synonymous with animals in need as he is with that 1990s mysteries-solver.

And so those lovely people at Channel 5 are treating us to a festive edition of his Dog Rescuers series. In it, RSPCA behaviour and welfare officer Jacque catches up with Minnie, the anxious Leonberger-Rottweiler cross, and sees how she’s enjoying Christmas in her new home.

Cameras also follow Tyson, the Staffordshire bull terrier who was found in Birmingham chained up on a scrap heap, with no food, water or proper shelter.

Meanwhile, in Dartford, Inspector Nick talks of one of the worst cases of maltreatment he has ever seen. Plus, we also catch up with Casey the husky who was found all alone in a small yard, and award-winning RSPCA animal collection officer Derek hands out presents to rescue dogs across England and Wales.

FILM: Marvel: The Avengers (RTÉ One, 8.40pm)

(2012) Earth’s mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if they are to stop the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity. (HD)

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson. Director: Joss Whedon

COMEDY: Not Going Out Christmas Special (BBC1, 9.30pm)

’Tis the season to be jolly, but if you’re a fan of Lee Mack’s sitcom, this may be a rather poignant episode as it’s rumoured to be the last ever.

Given Mack’s workload, what with touring, hosting a game show (Ducks Quack Don’t Echo), and guesting on others such as Would I Lie To You?, that’s perhaps not surprising. His namesake layabout has finally got together with Lucy (yes, it is about time), so you can’t help but wonder how much more mileage there is left in the format anyway.

For years the show has thrived on the sexual tension between the duo, and now it reaches unseen new highs as the pair are in previously uncharted emotional waters.

Will their relationship blossom or wilt? That remains to be seen, but with good turns from series regulars Mack, Sally Bretton, Katy Wix and Bobby Ball, we can be sure of a few giggles before those closing titles.

BIOGRAPHY: Julie Walters: A Life on Screen (BBC2, 9.30pm)

Is there another British actress with as much versatility as Julie Walters?

She has the ability to make us laugh and cry in equal measure, and has done so in a variety of wonderful projects during a career that has lasted 40 years. So, it’s rather fitting that she’s receiving a televisual tribute, particularly as she’s approaching a personal milestone – she will turn 65 in February.

But unlike others of her age, she has no plans to retire; she recently popped up in the big-screen version of Paddington and will next be seen on the big screen in the romantic comedy Brooklyn.

This documentary goes back to the beginnings of her career as a theatre actress, and charts her rise to fame in TV and on film. Contributors include her old friend Victoria Wood, with whom Walters worked on many memorable shows, and Willy Russell, who wrote Educating Rita.

COMEDY: The Mario Rosenstock Christmas Special (RTE Two, 10pm)

Mario Rosenstock returns to RTÉ2 this Christmas Eve with The Mario Rosenstock Show Christmas Special.

After a sold-out national tour, Mario is bringing his favourite impressions and funniest characters back to the screen for one night only.

Join Francis Brennan, Enda Kenny and Miriam O’Callaghan alongside new comers Bono & The Edge, Mary Lou McDonald and Garth Brooks as this unique cast gather to celebrate Christmas with a live studio audience and some very special guests.

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