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Whilst teaching resources might be at the last thing on your mind as you tuck into your Christmas lunch, the festive period offers a range of useful programmes that can be recorded, or watched on catch up, for classes in the New Year. Here are our top picks:



Gorilla Family & Me (Monday 21st December, 9pm, BBC2)

From the BBC:

Gordon Buchanan realises a lifelong dream by gaining the trust of a family of rare Grauer’s gorillas, the largest primates on Earth. In the dangerous forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, he meets the fearsome leader of his gorilla family, Chimanuka, and two baby gorillas, one a lonely orphan. As Gordon gains the trust of these mysterious, seldom-seen gorillas, he discovers their incredible compassion and gets caught up in a battle between giant rival silverbacks for control of the family.

Romeo & Juliet (2013) (Christmas Day, 4:35pm, BBC2)

From the BBC:

Adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy that sees an illicit affair between two star-crossed lovers ignite a bitter rivalry between Verona’s ruling families.

This adaptation offers a more traditional production of the play than the perennial teaching favourite of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and could be used in a compare and contrast exercise regarding staging.


Ten Pieces II (Boxing Day, 10:35am, BBC2)

From the BBC:

In this follow-up to 2014’s award-winning Ten Pieces, rising star Alpesh Chauhan conducts the BBC Philharmonic alongside members of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in Manchester’s atmospheric Victoria Warehouse. Special guests are the Halle Choir, violinist Nicola Benedetti, trumpeter Alison Balsom and DJ Mr Switch.

Christopher Eccleston explores Wagner’s dramatic Ride of the Valkyries, Pixie Lott dances to the beats of Bernstein, James May introduces a favourite piece of Bach, Radio 1’s Clara Amfo navigates Gabriel Prokofiev’s cutting-edge Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra and former footballer Dion Dublin commentates on Haydn’s musical moves. Stories weave around the music via motorways and meadows, a nightclub, a football pitch and a church, travelling from Stalin’s Soviet Union to the swinging streets of New York, from suburbia to Armageddon.


Tomorrow’s World (30th December, 7:30pm, BBC4)

A repeat of the 1975 Christmas special, which invited school children to the studios to experience cutting edge technology. This programme could be a good way to demonstrate the ‘future’ as imagined in the 1970s, and ask your class to compare it to now.





Blood and Gold: The Making of Spain with Simon Sebag Montefiore (22nd December, 9pm, BBC4)

From the BBC:

Simon explores Spain’s golden age under Philip II through to the Spanish Civil War and dictatorship under Franco, from which Spain has emerged as a modern democratic monarchy.


David Suchet: In the Footsteps of St Paul (23rd December, 9:15am, BBC1)

From the BBC:

On this journey, David seeks to uncover how an obscure Jewish sect from the edge of the Roman Empire shattered the world of the classical gods and challenged the might of Caesar, to become the dominant force in Western civilisation.


Michael Palin’s Quest for Artemisia (28th December, 9pm, BBC4)

From the BBC:

Curious about a powerful but violent painting that caught his eye, Michael Palin sets off on a quest to discover the astonishing story of the forgotten female artist who painted it over 400 years ago. Travelling to Italy in search of Artemisia Gentileschi’s tale, Michael encounters her work in Florence, Rome and Naples.

Michael unearths not only her paintings but a complex life which included her rape as a teenager and the ensuing indignity of a full trial, her life as a working mother and her ultimate success against all odds as one of the greatest painters of the Baroque age who transformed the way women were depicted in art and who was sought after in many courts across 17th-century Europe.