Radio 1 to team up with British Forces Broadcasting Service

Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent
·2-min read

BBC Radio 1 has announced an unlikely partnership – a takeover of the airwaves by the armed forces.

It will team up with the British Forces Broadcasting Service, which airs to a military audience, on Christmas Day.

The station, usually home to celebrity slots at Christmas, will hand over four hours to four bases around the globe.

Troops will be able to send Christmas messages to their families at home in the UK.

“For the British Forces Broadcasting Service Christmas Takeover, Radio 1 is going to hand over four hours of Christmas Day to four bases around the world to give their troops the opportunity to send Christmas messages to their families back at home in the UK,” the broadcaster said.

Dawn French is one of the stars of the Christmas schedule
Dawn French is one of the stars of the Christmas schedule (Ian West/PA)

It announced the plan as part of the unveiling of its autumn and Christmas content – with its star attraction a return for Dawn French as the Vicar of Dibley in a lockdown spinoff.

Three short episodes – lasting just 10 minutes and in the form of French’s alter ego Geraldine delivering her sermons on Zoom – will air weekly.

The pandemic will mean less new content than usual, but the BBC said there would be “new boxsets added to hundreds of hours already on iPlayer.”

On Christmas Day listeners can join in a Christmas Service from their homes, recorded at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London.

The broadcaster will cover an Evensong from St Paul’s Cathedral on December 8.

It also announced a winter comedy season and The Big New Year’s In, on New Year’s Eve.

Documentaries include David Harewood investigating the “impact Covid-19 is having on British people of colour”.

Sir David Attenborough’s five-part landmark series A Perfect Planet launches on BBC One in the New Year.

BBC director-general Tim Davie said: “At a time that is challenging for individuals and every family, the BBC plays a unique role in putting a smile on people’s faces, in helping children with their education, connecting people in local communities, and providing some much needed escapism.

“We are incredibly proud to be going the extra mile this Christmas.”