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Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 12:06 GMT
BBC's Christmas crackers
Dawn French stars in a four-part Vicar of Dibley

A four-part Vicar of Dibley special will be among the highlights of BBC One's bumper package of drama, comedy and entertainment this Christmas.

The Dawn French comedy hit will be joined by an all-star adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, David Copperfield, and a festive edition of Caroline Aherne's The Royle Family.

The Royle Family: Back for a couch potato Christmas
Big name stars appearing on BBC One and BBC Two include French and Saunders, Harry Enfield, Sir Ian McKellen, Helena Bonham Carter, Ray Winstone and Paul Whitehouse.

BBC One controller Peter Salmon said: "Every year we save some really special things to put in the Christmas sack, and this year - the last of the century - we have created the ultimate toy box to keep the viewers amused for the whole fortnight.

"I can't think of a better way to wish our viewers the best of times than through the creative genius of our programme makers."

Bob Hoskins and Nicholas Lynhurst star in David Copperfield, while Last Christmas - a modern-day fairy tale - features Ray Winstone and Pauline Quirke.

The Greatest Store in the World tells the story of a mum and her two young daughters who find themselves spending Christmas in a magical department store. It stars Dervla Kirwan, Brian Blessed, Ricky Tomlinson and Sean Hughes.

BBC Two plans a tribute to Two Fat Ladies star Jennifer Paterson (right)
Harry Enfield and Kathy Burke go on a teenage rampage in Kevin & Perry, while Sir David Attenborough celebrates some of the most spectacular sights in the natural world with The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth.

There are also special festive editions of Jonathan Creek, Dinnerladies, They Think It's All Over and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

BBC Two's highlights include the behind-the-scenes story of the arguments, achievements and controversy behind the building of the Millennium Dome in The Dome: Trouble at the Big Top.

Arena celebrates Christmas with a bombshell - or three. It examines the talents, lives and loves of three of the 20th century's most glamorous blonde bombshells - Anita Ekberg, Diana Dors and Jayne Mansfield.

The life, work, loves and recipes of the late Jennifer Paterson, one half of the Two Fat Ladies, will be among the programmes featured in Cook Night.

Helena Bonham Carter stars in The Revengers' Comedies
BBC Two also presents a Christmas ghost story starring Ian Richardson, Charles Dance and Robin Laing. The trio re-invent the world of Sherlock Holmes in Murder Rooms.

The film is inspired by the real-life relationship between Arthur Conan Doyle and his tutor at Edinburgh University, pioneer forensic pathologist Dr Joseph Bell.

Other drama features Helena Bonham Carter, Sam Neill, Kristin Scott Thomas and Rupert Graves in Malcolm Mowbray's The Revengers' Comedies, from the play by Alan Ayckbourn.

Musical features include Verdi's Falstaff, live from the Royal Opera House, starring Bryn Terfel in the title role.

Other highlights include Carols from King's, The Rodgers and Hart Story, a documentary marking the centenary of Poulenc's birth, Cecilia Bartoli and a performance of Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty ballet.

BBC Two controller Jane Root said: "This is my first Christmas with the channel and I've put something distinctly BBC Two in the sack for everyone - from a rich range of music and arts to a night celebrating top name chefs.

"BBC Two is the channel of innovation, dedicated to pursuing personal passions in ever clever and new ways - this Christmas we keep up our tradition of non-tradition."

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See also:
30 Sep 99 |  Entertainment
BBC offers year off work
04 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Quality first for BBC One
10 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
TV's costume battle for viewers
17 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Royle flush in comedy shortlist
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Aherne plans right Royle film
19 Aug 99 |  UK
Fat Ladies star Jennifer mourned
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23 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
ITV's festive Frost

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