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Coming up this Christmas... a BBC drama about viagra

Phaldut Sharma, Iwan Rheon, Mark Lewis Jones and Colin White in Men Up
Phaldut Sharma, Iwan Rheon, Mark Lewis Jones and Colin White in Men Up - BBC/Quay Street Productions/Tom Jackson

The story of five Welshmen who took part in the first clinical trials for Viagra will be one of the BBC’s flagship dramas this Christmas.

Men Up is “loosely inspired by the remarkable true story” of trials held at Swansea’s Morriston Hospital in 1994.

The cast includes Mark Lewis Jones as Eddie, one of five characters who suffer from impotence and “rise to the challenge to reclaim their sex lives”.

The drama, executive produced by Doctor Who showrunner and It’s A Sin writer Russell T Davies, was unveiled as part of the BBC One Christmas schedule.

Its subject matter may not seem particularly festive but Lindsay Salt, director of BBC Drama, said: “Men Up is a little-known chapter of our history, beautifully told across 90 minutes of poignant, funny and life-affirming television.”

Davies will also usher the new Doctor Who onto the screen this Christmas, with Ncuti Gatwa making his debut as the Timelord.

Other offerings this Christmas include a new Famous Five adaptation from Nicolas Winding Refn, a film-maker better known for directing scenes of violence in Only God Forgives and Drive.

The first episode, The Curse of Kirrin Island, begins with a body washed up on a beach. Two more episodes will follow in 2024.

Refn said when the project was announced: “By reimagining The Famous Five, I am preserving that notion by bringing these iconic stories to life for a progressive new audience, instilling the undefinable allure and enchantment of childhood for current and future generations to come.”

A new Julia Donaldson adaptation, Tabby McTat, will be one of the highlights for children on Christmas Day.

Christmas specials

A slew of Christmas specials includes Strictly Come Dancing, Call The Midwife, Death In Paradise, Antiques Roadshow, The Repair Shop and The Great British Sewing Bee.

Nigella Lawson will return in Nigella’s Amsterdam Christmas, while Mary’s Highland Christmas sees Mary Berry cook with Andy Murray, the tennis player, and his grandmother.

The Hairy Bikers: Coming Home for Christmas sees presenters Dave Myers and Si King return to the screen after a two-year break.

The pair will create a festive banquet in honour of the family, friends and medical professionals who supported Myers last year when he was diagnosed with cancer.

The BBC will also continue its tradition of showing a Christmas special and a New Year’s special of Mrs Brown’s Boys.

BBC One will also screen an adaptation of Murder Is Easy, Agatha Christie’s 1939 story about a retired police officer who meets an elderly lady on a train to London and learns that a killer is on the loose in a sleepy English village.