In December 2020 I produced The Twelve Films of Christmas – a one-off programme for BBC Radio celebrating the top twelve Christmas films of all time as voted for by our listeners, presented by movie critic James King.
The audience were given fifteen days to vote for their favourite from a shortlist of twenty-five films chosen by James. The list went from It’s A Wonderful Life in the 1940s, through to Arthur Christmas in 2011 and also including the likes of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Polar Express, Scrooged, Muppet Christmas Carol, Elf and Love Actually.
The programme itself featured music from the top twelve films as well as comments from listeners and famous fans about what made their favourites so special. There was also the thoughts of people involved in the films, including interviews with Richard Curtis and Muppet Christmas Carol puppeteer Steve Whitmire.
The films to come out on top were Love Actually, Elf, Home Alone, Muppet Christmas Carol, Die Hard (a controversial second place) and right at the top… It’s A Wonderful Life. The full top twelve was published in this article on the Radio 2 website.
To celebrate the winner James spoke to Kelly Harcourt, daughter of the much-missed star of the film Jimmy Stewart, as actress Karolyn Grimes who, aged just six, played George Bailey’s daughter Zuzu in the film and famously delivers the final line “every time a bell rings an angel get his wings”. Listen to Karolyn’s interview here.
In order to make the most of an on-demand audience for the programme, it was released to BBC Sounds on Monday 21st of December, the same day as the results of the vote were sent to press. The show was then broadcast on Radio 2 on Christmas Eve at 9pm.
Given the lockdown restrictions in place over the year the production was particularly challenging – all interview had to be recorded with myself, James and the guest all in our homes. I also recorded twenty messages from listeners over Zoom from home. One advantage was that the interviews could be recorded and Radio 2’s digital team created this great video to promote the programme.
With having to manage not just the programme’s production but a huge online voting campaign, I’m particularly proud of how this programme turned out.
Listen again to The Twelve Films Of Christmas on BBC Sounds until 19th January 2020, hear the interview with Karolyn Grimes, the interview with Richard Curtis or see the top twelve in full in this article about the show.