Leigh Hatts  

Britain’s Christmas Story on BBC1

Karen Gibson and Gareth Malone

One reason for the BBC being accused of ignoring religion is that its often very good programmes are hidden.

Britain’s Christmas Story is a good example. Part one was shown yesterday morning. Even the Sunday morning political shows have small audiences. When Robert Peston switched his Sunday morning show to the evening viewing figures shot up.

It’s worth looking at Britain’s Christmas Story on iPlayer.

For an hour Gareth Malone and Karen Gibson consider the origin of Christmas traditions with visits to Hexham Abbey, Walsingham’s Holy House (like Loreto), Salisbury Cathedral, Great St Mary’s at Cambridge and Hampton Court Palace.

At Salisbury there is time to see rehearsals for the Advent carol service which attracts 6,000 people and meet this year’s Girl Bishop trying on her vestments.

In Cambridge there is a long discussion about the time when Cromwell banned Christmas and it was difficult to go to church.

Part two is next Sunday morning but at a different time!

Also worth finding is Lucy Worsley’s Christmas Carol Odessey where she expands on the dancing tunes of Christmas carols mentioned briefly by Gareth Malone in his programme.