Actor Jeremy Irons will read T S Eliot’s Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats poems on Radio 4 on Christmas Day morning as part of a host of literature-related festive programming.
Helen Boaden, director of BBC Radio, revealed the BBC Radio Christmas highlights at a press launch last night (12th November).
On Christmas Day morning, Irons will read 15 poems from T S Eliot’s Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats.
Five of the Practical Cats poems were broadcast in 1973 on Christmas Day, read by Geoffrey Tandy on BBC Radio. Irons will re-visit the original five poems along with the further 10 which make up the Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats.
Gwyneth Williams, controller of Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra, said: “Poetry has played a prominent part on Radio 4 this year and I’m delighted, following We British, our day-long exploration of British identity through the voices of our poets, to bring this festive treat to our audience. Jeremy Irons has already inspired us on Radio 4 with his reading of T S Eliot’s The Waste Land and now he is sure to win our hearts with Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats as these much-loved poems make their Christmas comeback after almost eight decades.”
She added: “Radio 4’s poetry has never been better, from the longstanding favourite Poetry Please to poetry in our recently established strand The Echo Chamber, which often commissions and broadcasts original work.”
Also on Radio 4, Blackadder star Sir Tony Robinson will narrate a new adaption of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting Of The Snark at 2.15pm on Christmas Day.
Meanwhile, from Boxing Day to 31st December, Radio 4 Extra will present a series of programmes on Agatha Christie: Speaking Her Own Words after the radio station was given exclusive access to the crime writer’s dictaphone tapes as she dictated her autobiography.
The programmes are combined with fresh interviews with her grandson Mathew Prichard, featuring extracts of the author’s own voice.