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Delightful Programs Set the Holiday Mood This Season on PBS

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(Image) Top: L-R: Nurse Barbara Gilbert (Charlotte Ritchie), Nurse Trixie Franklin (Helen George) and Nurse Patsy Mount (Emerald Fennell) celebrate the holidays. CREDIT: Courtesy of ©Neal Street Productions 2015/Nicky Johnson. Bottom: Guests gather with Host Lidia Bastianich for Lidia Celebrates America – Home for the Holidays. (CREDIT:  MEREDITH NIERMAN)

 

– Highlighting the Schedule, Midwives and Nuns of Nonnatus Prepare for Their Close-up in a CALL THE MIDWIFE HOLIDAY SPECIAL; New Sherlock Special from MASTERPIECE MYSTERY! Premieres on New Year’s Day; A Concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Special Guests; Christopher Walken and Rita Moreno Join Lidia Bastianich in “Home for the Holidays” –

‒Lincoln Center and New York Philharmonic Celebrate Frank Sinatra with a Star-Studded Concert Event‒

ARLINGTON, VA; NOVEMBER 23, 2015 – The holiday season on PBS dazzles this year with programs and specials that will delight the entire family, featuring inspirational music, savory cuisine and beloved characters from across the pond. PBS returns to London’s Poplar neighborhood in time for Christmas 1960 in the CALL THE MIDWIFE HOLIDAY SPECIAL. Joyous spirits are in plentiful supply as the community pulls together to prepare for a carol concert — to be televised by the BBC. In addition, a trip to view the Regent Street lights and a full-scale manhunt for a missing Nonnatus nun make this a Christmas to remember. The special airs on Christmas day, Friday, December 25, 2015, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET (check local listings). And, as recently announced, the highly anticipated “Sherlock: The Abominable Bride,” a 90-minute special premiering at 9:00 p.m. ET on Friday, January 1, 2016 on MASTERPIECE MYSTERY! (see a clip here), bookends PBS’ holiday programming schedule.

“Kicking off in December and culminating with the Sherlock special from MASTERPIECE Mystery! on New Year’s Day, our holiday schedule this year features programs we know our viewers and their families will enjoy,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General AudienceProgramming, PBS. “From festive holiday music, to performances with beautiful winter backdrops, to colorful food and crafts, to the exploration of special time-honored traditions, there is something for everyone this holiday season.”

Earlier in December, kicking off PBS’ holiday schedule and in preparation for all of the seasonal festivities, PBS presents a celebratory evening focused on food (of course!) and crafts. At the center of LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICAHome for the Holidays,” airing Friday, December 11, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings), is chef, author and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich. Hosting six celebrity guests — Christopher Walken, Rita Moreno, Carlo Ponti, Jr., Ann Curry, Marcus Samuelsson and Padma Lakshmi — the team together prepares a deliciously diverse dinner (see a clip here). Then, from 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings), CRAFT IN AMERICA“Celebration” explores some time-honored traditions, including Chinese New Year Parade lion dancers and float builders in San Francisco, ceramicists in Michigan at Pewabic (Detroit) and Motawi Tileworks (Ann Arbor), Kwanzaa artists in Chicago and Oakland, and woodblock print artist Yoshiko Yamamoto, who creates Christmas cards in Tacoma, Washington.

Also this season, viewers will enjoy enchanting sounds from the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Star of stage and song Santino Fontana joins this magical extravaganza with an appearance by some special friends in one of three concerts featured on PBS this holiday season. CHRISTMAS WITH THE MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR FEATURING SANTINO FONTANA AND THE SESAME STREET® MUPPETS® airs on PBS Monday, December 21, 2015, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings). PBS then heads to Nashville, where Grammy Award-winning country recording artist Kathy Mattea hosts CHRISTMAS AT BELMONT. In a glorious presentation of traditional carols, classical masterworks, world music and light-hearted seasonal favorites, nearly 700 student musicians perform with the Belmont School of Music faculty. The program, airing Monday, December 21, 2015, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings), features the University Symphony Orchestra, Belmont Chorale, Percussion Ensemble, Musical Theatre, Jazz Ensemble, Bluegrass Ensemble and a mass choir. 

In a special star-studded concert event presented by LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER, artists including Christina Aguilera, Chris Botti, Fantasia, Sutton Foster, Bernadette Peters and Sting join host Seth MacFarlane and the New York Philharmonic to celebrate the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra. “Sinatra: Voice for a Century” airs December 18 from 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET. As the year comes to a close, PBS bids adieu to 2015 with joie de vivre. Continuing an annual tradition — and broadcasting highlight — LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER also presents the New York Philharmonic’s New Year’s Eve celebration concert, this year ringing in 2016 with a Parisian theme. Accompanying the Philharmonic, led by Music Director Alan Gilbert, are mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and pianists Inon Barnatan and Makoto Ozone in music by Ravel, Offenbach and more, as well as Saint-Saëns’s playful Carnival of the Animals. LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER “New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve: La Vie Parisienne” airs December 31, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings).

The full holiday programming schedule follows below in airdate order.  Please check local listings for all programs:

 

New Programs

LIDIA CELEBRATES AMERICA “Home for the Holidays” 
Friday, December 11, 2015, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET

Join chef, author and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich to celebrate the holiday traditions of her native Italy and those of six guests: Christopher Walken, Rita Moreno, Carlo Ponti, Jr., Ann Curry, Marcus Samuelsson and Padma Lakshmi. 

CRAFT IN AMERICA “Celebration” 
Friday, December 11, 2015, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET

Examine the role craft plays in our holiday customs, especially winter celebrations and traditions. Observe the artisans who create ceramics for Christmas, holiday cards, candleholders for Kwanzaa and the floats and lion heads for Chinese New Year.

LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER “Sinatra: Voice for a Century”
Friday, December 18, 2015, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET 

Lincoln Center and New York Philharmonic celebrate the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra with a star-studded concert event featuring Christina Aguilera, Chris Botti, Fantasia, Sutton Foster, Bernadette Peters and Sting. Seth MacFarlane hosts.

CHRISTMAS WITH THE MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR FEATURING SANTINO FONTANA AND THE SESAME STREET MUPPETS
Monday, December 21, 2015, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET; rpt. Thursday, December 24, 2015, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET

Join renowned star of stage and song Santino Fontana, the Muppets® from Sesame Street® and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for a magical holiday extravaganza. The concert includes a medley of songs from SESAME STREET and inspiring arrangements of sacred Christmas music.

CHRISTMAS AT BELMONT 
Monday, December 21, 2015, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET; rpt. Thursday, December 24, 2015, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET

Join Grammy-winning host Kathy Mattea and nearly 700 student musicians and Belmont School of Music faculty for a concert of traditional carols, classical masterworks, world music and light-hearted seasonal favorites. 

CALL THE MIDWIFE HOLIDAY SPECIAL
Friday, December 25, 2015, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET

Join the revels as Poplar readies itself for Christmas 1960. An unexpected surprise for a grieving mother brings the holiday magic home, while Nonnatus is rocked when one of its own disappears. A film crew promises to make this a memorable Christmas.

LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER “New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve: La Vie Parisienne” Thursday, December 31, 2015, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET

Ring in a new year with the Philharmonic and the sounds of Paris, featuring Alan Gilbert and Susan Graham in music by Ravel, Offenbach and Saint-Saëns.

MASTERPIECE: Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
Friday, January 1, 2016, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET

Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit) return as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the acclaimed modern retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic stories. But now our heroes find themselves in 1890s London. Beloved characters Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington), Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) also turn up at 221b Baker Street. 

Encore programs

A CHEF’S LIFE HOLIDAY SPECIAL 
Tuesday, December 8, 2015, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET

Join Vivian Howard for a taste of the holidays as she serves up the best of her Southern heritage and the Chanukah traditions of husband Ben. Sample simple corned ham, upscale oyster dressing, humble Hoppin’ John, elegant red velvet cake and more.

VICIOUS HOLIDAY SPECIAL
Thursday December 25, 2015, 9:30-10:00 p.m. ET

Freddie (Ian McKellen) and Stuart (Derek Jacobi) host a holiday soiree in their small central London flat. Ash (Iwan Rheon), their young upstairs neighbor, has volunteered to cook the meal, their feisty best friend Violet (Frances de la Tour) is up to her old tricks, and a wicked game of Truth or Dare brings up hidden truths — and surprises as well. 

MICHAEL FEINSTEIN NEW YEAR’S EVE AT THE RAINBOW ROOM
Thursday, December 31, 2015, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET

Michael Feinstein recaptures the heyday of the glamorous New York nightclubs as he hosts this celebration from high atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza in the glittering, restored Rainbow Room. Guests include Darren Criss (“Glee”), Aaron Tveit (“Graceland”), Leslie Odom (“Smash”), Broadway star Kelli O’Hara, nightclub legend Marilyn Maye, Tony-winner Christine Ebersole and Julia Goodwin. 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: THE CONCERT 
December 2015 (check local listings)

Enjoy Charles Dickens’ classic, adapted from the original for orchestra, choir and soloists. The celebration of storytelling and ensemble performances provides the comforts of a classic tale with the thrill of experiencing the story in a new way.

A GRAND MERCER CHRISTMAS
December 2015 (check local listings)

Taped in Macon, Georgia’s historic Grand Opera House, students and faculty from Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music and its renowned Robert McDuffie Center for Strings perform classical Christmas selections and exclusive new arrangements by noted Boston Pops arranger Randol Bass and Grammy Award-winner Matt Catingub. 

XMAS WITHOUT CHINA 
December 2015 (check local listings)

See how pride and mischief inspire Chinese immigrant Tom to challenge his American neighbors to survive Christmas without Chinese products. Accepting the mission-impossible, the Jones family is drawn into an intercultural exchange with Tom’s family.

PBS LearningMedia has expanded its digital library with the addition of a new Holiday Collection featuring curriculum-targeted resources that align to key celebrations throughout the year. Teachers and students of all ages can use these digital resources to enhance classroom activities and homework assignments, or to construct interactive storyboards using PBS LearningMedia’s new suite of productivity tools. Currently, the collection delves into the history of Halloween, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day and Ramadan, among others, with additional videos added frequently. The collection also includes holiday-related classroom activities, holiday reading guides and content from favorite PBS KIDS shows. Explore the collection today by visiting pbslearningmedia.org/collection/holidays.

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