Words: Hugh Kaye
The festive season wouldn’t be the festive season without ghostly scares… or Mark Gatiss. Having already given us Doctor Who specials in the past and the spooky The Dead Room last year, 2019’s offering is Dracula (BBC1, New Year’s Day, 9pm.)
This time he produces, as well as appearing in, the world-famous gothic tale of the vampire who leaves his castle in Transylvania to suck the life of Victorian England.
The three-part series stars the relatively unknown Danish actor Claes Bang as the undead count, with the story unfolding over three consecutive nights.
And Gatiss pops up again after the conclusion in In Search of Dracula (BBC2, Friday 3 Jan, 10.35pm) which discusses the enduring attraction of Bram Stoker’s work.
Talking of traditions, the Beeb have finally got around to giving us a new series of Doctor Who (BBC1, New Year’s Day, 8pm). At least they kept their promise of it being scheduled early in the New Year.
The first of 10 episodes features the Time Lord and her companions helping MI6 out of a difficult situation but the real question is whether they’ve turned guest star and National Treasure Stephen Fry into a nasty alien…
And keeping the links going, a former Tardis traveller, John Barrowman, joins the judging panel for Dancing on Ice at Christmas (ITV, Sun 22 Dec, 7pm), while Simon Callow, who played Charles Dickens alongside the Doctor in the 2006 Christmas special, 'The Unquiet Dead', looks at the origin of one of the most popular carols in The First Silent Night (Yesterday Sun 22 Dec, 11pm).
That’s quite enough even for a long-time Whovian like me and on a different tack, join Australia’s most famous export in Kylie’s Secret Night (C4, Christmas Day, 10.30pm) in which she chats to Alan Carr about her career and surprises a few of her fans. That’s followed immediately by Kylie’s Golden Tour (C4, Christmas Day, 11.59pm).
The Chatty Man can also be seen in Alan Carr’s Celebrity Re-Play 2019 (ITV, Mon 30 Dec, 9pm) which, obviously includes a look back at the year’s most memorable moments including the arrival of Drag Race in Britain. Six celebrities also join him for a night of games to raise money for charities.
Showing just how deep RuPaul has dug into the British psyche already, Drag Race is one of the specialist subjects in Celebrity Mastermind (BBC1, Fri 3 Jan, 7pm). Continuing with quiz shows, Rev Richard Coles is one of the graduates on the Leeds team for Christmas University Challenge (BBC2, Mon 23 Dec, 7.30pm).
The music theme continues in Freddie Mercury: A Christmas Story (C5, Sat 21 Dec, 10.20pm) which includes some rare insights while friends talk about the Queen front man’s career.
For concert footage, see Queen: Rock the World (BBC4, Mon 23 Dec, 10pm) and Queen: The Legendary 1975 Concert (BBC4, Mon 23 Dec, 11pm). And Holly Johnson is one of the performers in It’s Christmas Live from The Royal Albert Hall (Pick, Mon 23 Dec, 9pm).
Stretching the music theme, Michael Douglas plays Liberace in Behind the Candelabra (BBC2, Sat 21 Dec, 11.35pm), with Matt Damon as his long-time partner.
Also of (some) interest: Rylan Clark-Neal on The Jonathan Ross Christmas Show (ITV, Christmas Eve, 9pm) and Ben Whishaw as a grown-up Michael Banks in Mary Poppins Returns (Sky Movies Prem, Christmas Day, 8pm).