Special

10:00pm Thursday, December 20 on C4

Fresh from his triumph as host of Channel 4’s critically acclaimed Paralympics entertainment show The Last Leg with Adam Hills, Australian funny man Adam Hills returns with a one-off exclusive show recorded live at The Lyric Theatre in London’s West End. This show combines Adam’s trademark hilarious anecdotes, delivered in his own unique laid-back style, with audience participation.

8:00pm Thursday, December 20 on C4

Architect George Clarke returns for a Christmas special celebrating the imaginative and quirky world of micro design. George catches up with expert designer William, to look back on the extraordinary journey to transform his 1970s caravan into a spectacular 21st century holiday retreat. George meets a couple who invested their life savings in the hope of converting a wreck of a bus into a holiday let; the teacher in his forester’s woodland hut in the Lake District; the architect who transformed a disused underground toilet into an incredible apartment; and the man who now has a shipping container for an office in his back garden.

8:00pm Wednesday, December 19 on C4

Kirstie Allsopp looks to the past for inspiration to help create the perfect family Christmas. From Victorian festive touches to the Germanic origins of many of our modern traditions, from beautiful decorations to delectable foodie treats, the show is guaranteed to get everyone into the holiday spirit. Kirstie tracks down the perfect Christmas tree and dresses it with Victorian-inspired ‘kissing ball’ decorations. Chef Richard Hunt teaches her to cook up a hearty ‘Christmas in a cup’ using venison.

Friday, 7 December 2012, 9:00PM – 10:30PM

To mark one hundred years since the first Royal Variety Performance in 1912 this 90-minute documentary looks back at a British institution that over the years has entertained generations of the Royal Family – and millions of viewers.

The Royal Variety Performance has featured the biggest names in showbusiness and reflected the changing face of British entertainment – from The Beatles to the Spice Girls, Morecambe and Wise to Peter Kay. It’s also showcased the finest international stars – from Bob Hope and Liza Minelli to Barry Manilow and Lady Gaga.

Among those sharing their memories of performing for royalty are Sir Bruce Forsyth, Katherine Jenkins, Ronnie Corbett, Ken Dodd, Barry Manilow, Liza Minnelli, Jimmy Tarbuck, Jason Manford, Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Lionel Blair, Dame Edna Everage and Cilla Black.

Thursday, 6 December 2012, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

“I must admit the thought of living without running water, without electricity…the thought of squatting has never filled me with anything other than repulsion.”

Richard Madeley

Today in Britain, it’s estimated there are anything between 20,000 and 50,000 people squatting. They are often portrayed as anti-social, drug-taking freeloaders, who contribute nothing to society. But is that really the case? With a new law having just come into force making squatting a criminal offence, Richard Madeley is on a mission to meet Britain’s squatters, to see what their lives are really like and find out why they squat. He also hears from landlords and even brings them face-to-face with the people occupying their property against their wishes.

Richard travels the country to meet squatters from wide-ranging backgrounds, all with a different story to tell and conflicting views on the morality of how they live. In doing so, he examines how the change in the law will impact on the current situation faced by both squatters and landlords.

Richard visits a former pub in Walthamstow, used as a squat for five years despite being surrounded by local businesses. Nigel Jenkins owns the garage opposite and explains what he has seen in the past: “Nine o’clock in the morning they are drunk out of their skulls. First thing in the morning we come in…they have used the driveway as toilets.” Despite this he admits: “Everyone sees them as an inconvenience but nobody sees the amount of trouble these people are in. What are you going to do with them? Unless you can re-house them, there’s nothing you can do with them.”

Richard heads to Bristol, where he discovers that local squatters have organised themselves into groups, with their own planning committee that meets each week to help members find new squats to live in. Richard attends one of the meetings to find out more and a squatter explains to him: “I like to think of us as urban wombles, we roam the streets that aren’t being used and we make a use of them. How can you argue the morality of that? We don’t pay rent, no, but at least people aren’t sleeping rough.”

There is a tense atmosphere when Richard introduces Dave Durant to the squatters who have occupied a property he owns in south Bristol. It’s the second time he’s had squatters in his building and with Richard as mediator he confronts the people occupying his building: “I know that the place was locked, you know that the place was locked. I know, that you must have broken into my house.” Squatter Tristan refuses to confirm how he gained access but is keen to respond: “If people are suffering they should be allowed to sleep under a roof, especially if it lies dormant like this one.” He tells Richard: ”I see it as greed. When there are five of us wandering the streets, hungry, needing somewhere to live, when he has multiple properties, I see that as greed. Until you’ve been in our position and suffered like we have, you’re going to find it hard to have a balanced view.”

Richard visits the houses of parliament to meet Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove and the architect behind the new law, which has made squatting in a domestic property a criminal offence. Mike says: “The first thing we want to do is protect people’s homes, they’re just freeloaders, they’re not contributing to society and they are taking what’s not theirs.”

It’s estimated there are nearly a million empty properties in the UK, despite homelessness being on the rise. Richard visits a squat in the heart of the Barbican, a five-storey commercial building worth millions where even the new law is powerless to evict the squatters because it is not a domestic property. Catherine Brogan is one of its inhabitants: “Owners of empty properties destroy their property so that no-one wants to live in it…” It is Catherine’s view that: “The owner isn’t interested in bringing this property back into use. To them I think it’s just a number on a balance sheet. This is a £20million asset to them and why do they want to do anything with it? I think that if you’re going to leave a property empty then we’ve got a responsibility to come in and use it and I feel happy that I’m taking something that’s been laid waste and turning it into a home for up to 20 people who wouldn’t have anywhere else to go otherwise.”

Richard is keen to learn more about the concept of ‘skipping’ from local supermarkets and he joins squatters on an evening visit as they forage for free food in bins. They acknowledge that skipping is breaking the law but claim “We are stealing bread that is destined for landfill. It’s absolutely ridiculous isn’t it, which is why I’m doing it so openly. If the police want to arrest me, I’ll take the charge.”

Richard also meets Dory, who is now in her 50’s and gave up a high-flying career to be a squatter. And Mary, a victim of domestic abuse who was assigned a council flat to escape her situation but on the day she was due to move in, found that a squatter had got there first.

Monday, 3 December 2012, 7:30PM – 10:05PM

One of television’s best loved personalities, comedian, actor and children’s author David Walliams is to host The Royal Variety Performance 2012 at the magnificent Royal Albert Hall. This year 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of The Royal Variety Performance in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.

David Walliams will preside over the show, which promises to be an unforgettable evening of the best UK and international musical, comedy and variety performances.

The very best of British talent and an international galaxy of stars from around the world of entertainment line-up to appear on the show including:

International music sensation Rod Stewart, music icon Neil Diamond, Brit Award winners One Direction, Britain’s Got Talent winners Ashleigh and Pudsey, Brit Award winners Girls Aloud, pop sensation Kylie Minogue, superstar Robbie Williams, opera legend Andrea Bocelli, multi Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys, comedians Rhod Gilbert and Bill Bailey, an extract from the Seven Olivier Award-winning Matilda The Musical and the eagerly anticipated musical ‘The Bodyguard’, Cuba’s Ballet Revolución plus a spectacular duet from tenor Plácido Domingo and classical singer
Katherine Jenkins.

Also representing the best of Britain’s Got Talent, Diversity will be performing a Britain’s Got Talent celebration showcase featuring Spelbound, Paul Potts and Stavros Flatley.

This star-studded spectacular will take place on the 19th November and be screened on ITV1 in early December. It will be produced by ITV Studios.

As is customary, the event is staged in aid of the Entertainment Artistes’ Benevolent Fund, whose patron is Her Majesty The Queen. The money will help to maintain Brinsworth House in Twickenham, Middlesex – the entertainers’ retirement and nursing home which is run by the EABF.

The 2012 Royal Variety Performance is commissioned by ITV’s Controller of Entertainment John Kaye Cooper and executive produced by ITV Studios’ Lee Connolly and Fiona Clark.

10:00pm Friday 30 November on BBC TWO

Comedian Rhod Gilbert returns to tackle some of the toughest jobs around in series three of Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience.

Rhod breaches the school dress code when he turns up for his first day as a teacher at Monnow Primary School in Bettws, Newport, to find himself in a whole new world, an “educational Milton Keynes!”, where maths lessons are held in a forest, and learning literacy involves addressing sounds to the tables and the windows.

Despite struggling with this concept at first, Rhod is soon overwhelmed by the inspirational attitude of the teachers, and describing the school as “one hell of a place”. But will he ever completely come to terms with living on Planet Thunk?

9:00pm Thursday 29 November on BBC ONE

Goodnight Britain tackles the nation’s biggest sleep disorders, meeting and curing some of the UK’s worst sleepers and exposing the extraordinary behaviour that lurks behind Britain’s bedroom curtains.

In the second of this two-part series presented by Sian Williams, sleep experts Dr Kirstie Anderson and Dr Jason Ellis create some surprising treatment plans for five contributors tormented by a range of conditions – from parasomniacs who scream the house down and snorers whose trumpeting rattles the window-panes, to insomniacs who bake six hours a night. The sleep experts try to give them the good night’s sleep that they so desperately crave and help them turn their lives around.

Ep 2/2

9:00pm Wednesday 28 November on BBC ONE

Goodnight Britain tackles the nation’s biggest sleep disorders, meeting and curing some of the UK’s worst sleepers and exposing the extraordinary behaviour that lurks behind Britain’s bedroom curtains.

In the first part of a new two-part series presented by Sian Williams, Goodnight Britain’s sleep experts – Dr Kirstie Anderson and Dr Jason Ellis – venture into the bedrooms of five contributors tormented by a range of conditions, from parasomniacs who scream the house down and snorers whose trumpeting rattles the window-panes, to insomniacs who bake six hours a night.

Through the use of high-tech night-vision cameras, the sleep experts observe the secrets of the patients’ sleep problems first hand. But the investigations don’t stop there: the five contributors are also subjected to a night at the Goodnight Britain Sleep House, where every toss, turn and snuffle is monitored using state-of-the-art equipment while they sleep. Only then do the causes of their night-time traumas fully come to light and our experts can begin to devise a treatment plan that just might work.

Ep 1/2

10:00pm Tuesday 27 November on BBC FOUR

740 Park Avenue – an exclusive apartment building in Manhattan – is currently home to more billionaires than any other building in the United States. Less than five miles to the north is another Park Avenue in the South Bronx, where almost 40 per cent live in poverty and life prospects are less promising for those stuck at the bottom of the American pile.

As international attention focuses on the US elections, Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney looks at inequality in the US through the prism of these two, near-adjacent places, to ask if America is still the land of opportunity.

“There’s always been a gap between the wealthiest in our society and everyone else, but in the last 30 years something changed: that gap became the Grand Canyon,” says filmmaker Alex Gibney. Through the story of the two Park Avenues, Gibney argues that the extreme wealth of a few has been used to impose their ideas on the rest of America. By focusing on the residents of 740 Park, he asks questions about the influence of CEOs in Washington in return for tax policies that favour the ultra-rich. What chances do those at the bottom of the ladder have for upward mobility? Can someone who starts life on Park Avenue in the South Bronx end up living on Park Avenue in Manhattan?

Through archive and interviews with academics, political scientists, psychologists, former lobbyists, and even a former doorman at 740 Park, Gibney’s film is a polemical look at the socio-economic political landscape of contemporary USA.

A BBC Storyville film, produced in partnership with The Open University, Park Avenue will screen as part of Why Poverty? – when the BBC and the OU, in conjunction with more than 70 broadcasters around the world, will host a debate about contemporary poverty.

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