The pick of the Christmas season

The pick of the Christmas season Midnight Mass at Buckfast Abbey
Matinee: Gandhi

RTÉ1, Saturday, December 22, 12.55 pm

(1982) Director. Richard Attenborough. Ben Kingsley, John Gielgud.  Gandhi’s character is fully explained as a man of nonviolence. Through his patience, he is able to drive the British out of the subcontinent.

Life On The Rock

EWTN, Saturday, December 22, 3.30 pm

Pat Kenny discusses the extraordinary virtue and courage of World War I military chaplain, Fr Willie Doyle.

At Home With Jim And Joy

EWTN, Saturday, December 22, 5 pm

Singer and musician Danielle Rose shares how her faith and family inspire her songs and musical ministry. Hosted by Jim and Joy Pinto.

Luke: Meek Scribe Of Christ

EWTN, Sunday, December 23, 7 am

Dr Timothy O’Donnell explains St Luke’s focus on God’s mercy, his sensitivity toward women portrayed in the Gospel, the events in Jesus’ life, the Holy Spirit and how he writes in a historical context.

My Faith and Me

BBC1, Sunday, December 23, 11.40 am

TV presenter and human rights activist June Sarpong reflects on her faith life.

Songs of Praise

BBC1, Sunday, December 23, 12.55 pm

The Christmas Big Sing. Aled Jones celebrates Christmas with festive carols from Edinburgh, with Russell Watson, Katherine Jenkins and Collabro.

Film: Up

BBC1, Sunday, December 23, 3.25 pm

(2009) Animated story of the relationship between a widower and a young boy. The opening sequence is a marvellous exploration of the joy and sadness of marriage.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Eve

Virgin Media 3, Christmas Eve, 2 pm, also St Stephen’s Day, 4.10 pm

Workaholic Calvin Carter learns that he has just 12 days to actually achieve “the best Christmas Eve ever”, or never see another Christmas again.

Carols from King’s

BBC2, Christmas Eve 5.50 pm, also 11 am, Christmas Day

The traditional celebration of Christmas from the candlelit Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge.

Church and the Poor

EWTN, Christmas Eve 7 pm, also St Stephen’s Day, 10.30 pm

Caribbean Christmas – The Missionaries of the Poor celebrate the Birth of Christ with enriching, joyous melodies and vibrant presentations with a Caribbean Spirit.

Like Family at Christmas

RTÉ Radio 1, Christmas Eve, 8 pm

When the first star appears in the night sky at tea time on Christmas Eve, Poles traditionally gather to celebrate Christmas. Brenda Donohue is travelling the country to meet Polish families on Christmas Eve.

Carols from the Castle

RTÉ1, Christmas Eve 9.20 pm and Christmas Day 7.30 am

Mary Kennedy, along with some special guests including The RTÉ Orchestra, Johnny Logan and The Lost Brothers, brings Christmas magic into every home with an evening of festive music from the magnificently decked halls of Dublin Castle.

Midnight Mass

RTÉ1, Christmas Eve, 11 pm

From the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Ashbourne, Co. Meath, with music from the Ashbourne Donoghmore Parish Choir, under the musical direction of Giovanna Feeley, accompanied by organist Ephrem Feeley.

Midnight Mass

BBC1, Christmas Eve, 11.45 pm

Live from Buckfast Abbey. The Abbey Choir sing Charpentier’s joyful Christmas mass, Messe de Minuit, under the direction of Philip Arkwright.

Christmas Carols on ITV

ITV Christmas Eve, 11.45 pm

Festive concert for Christmas Eve.

The Leap of Faith

RTÉ Radio 1, Christmas Day, 8 am

Michael Comyn is joined by a variety of guests, who will be taking their pick from a rich assortment box of experiences, music, stories, rituals, traditions and beliefs, firmly rooted in Irish homes and the Irish landscape.

Mass for Christmas Day

RTÉ1, Christmas Day, 10 am

Msgr Norbert Turini, Catholic Bishop of Perpignan, France, celebrates this Live Eurovision Mass from the Cathedral of St Jean-Baptiste, Perpignan, with commentary and translation from Aidan Mathews.

Urbi et Orbi

RTÉ1, Christmas Day, 11 am

Pope Francis Christmas Message  from St Peters Basilica, Rome, with commentary and translation by Fr Thomas McCarthy OP.  (also EWTN)

Christmas Carols

Virgin Media 3, Christmas Day, 11 am

Singing superstar Alfie Boe leads the congregation of St Elisabeth’s Church in Greater Manchester in a traditional Christmas Eve carol service. The celebrations include festive performances from Nadine Coyle, formerly of Girls Aloud and soul singer Alexander O’Neal.

Give Up Yer Oul’ Sins

RTÉ1, Christmas Day 12.20 pm

‘The Birth Of Jesus’: The teacher chooses children to retell, in their own imaginative way, the Bible story of the birth of Jesus.

The Archbishops’ Christmas Message

RTÉ1, Christmas Day, 2.10 pm

The Roman Catholic and Anglican Primates of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin and Archbishop Richard Clarke, offer a seasonal message of faith, hope and charity.

Handel’s Messiah

RTÉ Lyric FM, Christmas Day, 4 pm

The Irish Baroque Orchestra, directed by Robert Hollingworth, present Handel’s Messiah featuring Anna Devin, William Purfoy, Dean Power, Alex Ashworth and Resurgam choir.

Angela’s Christmas

RTÉ1, Christmas Day, 6.20 pm

Episode 1: Set in Ireland in the early 1900s, Angela’s Christmas is a funny, heart-warming and poignant story about the power of family and the innocent desire of a child to ensure everyone is safe, warm and loved at Christmas time.

On Christmas Night

BBC1, Christmas Day, 11.45 pm

Letitia Wright tells the story of the first Christmas, with a cappella group Tessera.


TG4, St Stephen’s Day, 4.30 pm

(1993) Starring Anthony Hopkins, Debra Winger. Directed by Richard Attenborough. C.S. Lewis, a world-renowned Christian theologian, writer and professor, leads a passionless life until he meets a spirited poet from the US.

Nacho Libre

TG4, St Stephen’s Day, 11.40 pm

(2006) Starring Jack Black. Berated all his life by those around him, a man follows his dream and dons a mask to moonlight as a wrestler. Good natured, but some find it disrespectful.

Inside Apollo House

Virgin Media 1 Friday (night), December 28, 1.45 am

The inside story of how a group of people took over a NAMA-controlled former office block in Dublin city centre and turned it into a shelter for the homeless.

Vox Nostra With Vlad Smishkewych

RTÉ Lyric FM, Sunday, December 30, 7 am

Featuring Heinrich Schutz’s Christmas Oratorio, which was premiered on this day in 1664 in Dresden. Paul McCreesh’s Gabrieli Consort delivers a stunning performance of the Nativity story as exquisitely set by one of Germany’s most important early Baroque composers.

Songs of Praise

BBC1, Sunday, December 30, 1.50 pm

Katherine Jenkins is in Edinburgh for the Scottish Big Sing with Susan Boyle, The Overtones and The Ayoub Sisters.

Les Misérables 

BBC1, Sunday, December 30, 9 pm

New six-part drama adaptation of the novel, with Dominic West as Jean Valjean and David Oyelowo as Javert, also starring Olivia Colman and Lily Collins.

Pope Francis in Ireland. Behind the Scenes

RTÉ1, Monday, December 31, 7 pm

The Pope Francis trip to Ireland, from the inside out – not a religious programme (says RTÉ) but rather an observational look at how this ambitious event was realised. The documentary captures both the sense of anticipation and trepidation as the day of the big visit nears.

Mary Of Nazareth

EWTN, Monday, December 31, 9.30 pm

Film presentation on the Virgin Mary from her childhood through the Resurrection of Jesus, capturing the essence of her profound faith and trust in God.

Catholic Lives

EWTN, Wednesday, January 2, 5.30 pm

Richard Moore, Founder of Children in the Crossfire, shares with host David Kerr his story of adversity and forgiveness, as he recalls being blinded as a child by a British soldier’s plastic bullet during Northern Ireland’s infamous troubles.

Matinee: Sister Act

Channel 4, Tuesday, January 1, 5.50 pm, and RTÉ2, Thursday, January 3, 4.05 pm

(1992) Director. Emile Ardolino. Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith.  When a worldly singer witnesses a mob crime, the police hide her as a nun in a traditional convent where she has trouble fitting in.

Thursday Night Movie. Hail, Caesar!

RTÉ2, Thursday, January 3, 9.30 pm

(2016) Directors: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen.  Josh Brolin, George Clooney. Eddie Mannix is a Hollywood fixer for Capitol Pictures in the 1950s, who solves problems for big names and stars in the industry. Issues arise when the studio makes a film on the life of Christ. Send-up of crass commercialism of Hollywood, but some may question its approach to religion.