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Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 15:50 GMT
ITV's festive Frost
A Touch of Frost gets its first seasonal special

Seasonal specials of A Touch Of Frost and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? are at the forefront of ITV's Christmas schedule.

David Jason will star in A Touch of Frost's first-ever festive special, while Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot makes his first appearance for five years as David Suchet stars in The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd.

ITV will also exploit its biggest hit in recent years - Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? - by screening a behind-the-scenes special, entitled Is That Your Final Answer?

Teenage singer Charlotte Church will make her first acting appearance in Heartbeat, while Paul Merton and Ronnie Corbett will be the Ugly Sisters in this year's ITV pantomime, Cinderella, which also features Frank Skinner, Julian Clary and Liverpool One star Samantha Janus.

More of Millionaire: Chris Tarrant hosts a behind-the-scenes special
In comedy, Red Dwarf creator Rob Grant's new show, Dark Ages, is set at the turn of the last millennium and features Phill Jupitus and Alistair McGowan.

The origins of Christmas are examined in Bethlehem Year Zero - a series of programmes looking at Christ's birth as if it were a contemporary news event.

Colin Firth and Pam Ferris join forces for a dramatisation of Henry James' The Turn Of The Screw, while Flint Street Nativity, by Tim Firth, stars Jane Horrocks, Neil Morrissey and Dervla Kirwan - who can also be seen in The Greatest Store In The World on the BBC.

Acting debut: Charlotte Church appears in Heartbeat
There are Christmas specials for Coronation Street, Emmerdale, The Bill, Airline, You've Been Framed, and Des O'Connor Tonight, plus a celebrity Stars In Their Eyes.

Children's programmes includes family drama What Katy Did, starring Kevin Whately and Alison Pill. There are two animated films: Faeries, featuring the voices of Kate Winslet and Jeremy Irons, and Santa's Last Christmas, voiced by Hugh Laurie and Alison Steadman.

Millennium night programming includes ITV's Countdown 2000 special and The Clive James Millennium Show.

David Liddiment, ITV's director of programmes, said: "ITV has all the ingredients for a perfect Christmas, with specially commissioned seasonal programmes blending with established ITV favourites and Christmas features.

ITV's new signing: Ross Kemp plays a security guard in Hero Of the Hour
"It's a star-studded schedule full of great entertainment for all the family."

The network has also announced its winter 2000 line-up, which is dominated by quality drama.

Liddiment said the schedule would offer "an incredibly strong portfolio of work by both established and new writers".

The drama-dominated line-up includes Amanda Redman and Peter Davison in At Home With The Braithwaites, which explores the secrets of an ordinary suburban family. John Thaw's new project, Monsignor Renard, sees him play a French Catholic priest during World War II.

Under occupation: John Thaw stars in Monsignor Renard
Former EastEnders star Ross Kemp makes his ITV debut in Hero of the Hour, where he plays a security guard thrust into the limelight after a robbery.

Simon Nye's adaptation of The Railway Children - starring Jenny Agutter - will be aired, as will This Is Personal, a drama documentary about the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.

Michael Barrymore will make his acting debut in Bob Martin - in which he plays a troubled game show host. Celebrities making cameos include Michael Aspel, Anthea Turner and Amanda Donohoe, as well as Jamie Theakston and Terry Wogan, both more usually associated with BBC productions.

Entertainer Brian Conley gets his own show, and Matthew Kelly returns with Stars In Their Eyes and new show Hotel Getaway - which sees guests in a "hotel from hell".

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See also:
09 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Sir Trevor's ITV millennium
12 Nov 99 |  UK
Report puts ITV under news pressure
10 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Jason's heroic endeavour
05 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Millionaire show's monster fight
29 Oct 99 |  The Company File
Eyre joins Pearson
27 Oct 99 |  Entertainment
Thaw's double TV victory
23 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
BBC's Christmas crackers

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