Saturday 15th December
- The Jane Austen Book Club
Film4, 2:50pm – Recommended for… English Literature
In this lighthearted film, six friends start a book club to share their love for Jane Austen, only to find their love lives beginning to resemble those of Austen’s protagonists. Starring Emily Blunt, Maria Bello, and Kathy Baker, this could be a fun introduction to the author’s world.
- Winter’s Weirdest Events
BBC2, 6:30pm – Recommended for… Zoology, Biology, and Geography
Presenter Chris Packham discovers some more about the habits of different animals during the winter, in doing so uncovering some strange and unsettling things.
- The Mystery of the Crossrail Skulls
Channel 4, 7pm – Recommended for… History, Archaeology, and Geography
When digging under Liverpool Street Station, Crossrail engineers stumbled across some human skulls, seemingly dating back to the Roman era. This documentary follows archaeologists as they visit the site and try to unravel the mystery of the buried skulls.
Sunday 16th December
- The Day After Tomorrow
Channel 4, 5:45pm – Recommended for… Geography
This well-known disaster movie follows a climatologist (Dennis Quaid), who despite warning the government about the planet’s impending doom, still finds himself fighting for survival in a new ice age when they do not heed his warning. It’s a rather apt subject in today’s climate, and there’s plenty of action to balance out the science side of things.
- Concorde: a Supersonic Story
BBC4, 8pm – Recommended for… Engineering
A celebration of the first supersonic commercial airliner, including interviews with engineers, technicians, and frequent flyers.
- Charles Dickens and the Invention of Christmas
BBC4, 9pm – Recommended for… English Literature and History
Griff Rhys Jones takes a look back to Christmas during Charles Dickens’ era, and how his work has helped to shape the festivities that we know and love in modern times.
- Small Island
BBC 4, 12:15am – Recommended for… History and Sociology
Set in Britain during the Second World War, this drama follows Hortense (Naomi Harris) and her husband Giblert (David Oyelewo) who come from Jamaica to work in London, only to be faced with prejudice and scorn.
Monday 17th December
- Tudor Monastery Farm Christmas
BBC4, 8pm – Recommended for… History
What was Christmas like during the Tudor period? Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn, and Tom Pinfold find out as they participate in feasts and revels that were typical of the time.
Tuesday 18th December
- The Long Song
BBC1, 9pm – Recommended for… History and Sociology
A brilliant adaptation of Andrea Levy’s novel starring Tamara Lawrance, Hayley Atwell and Jack Lowden. Set in 19th Century Jamaica, the story follows July, a woman born into slavery on a sugar plantation. However, her life takes a dramatic turn when she is taken on by the owner’s daughter, Caroline, to be her personal maid, and riots and a push for the abolition of slavery become an important factor on the plantation. If you want to learn more, ERA’s Kathleen has written a great article on the programme and it’s themes.
- Grizzly Bear Cubs and Me
BBC2, 9pm – Recommended for… Biology and Zoology
Grizzly bear cubs are undoubtedly adorable, but many are at risk if orphaned. Luckily, a family of Russian biologists, the Pazhetnovs, have been rescuing these cubs for almost three decades, and this documentary follows a new group of rescue cubs and their journey back into the wild.
- The Real Star of Bethlehem: a Sky at Night Special
BBC4, 11pm – Recommended for… Physics, Geography, and Astronomy
The story is legendary, but where did the inspiration for the star of Bethlehem really come from? Scientists try to recreate what the sky would have looked like on that day, 2,000 years ago, to try and find out what it could have been.
Wednesday 19th December
- Toy Story
BBC1, 9pm – Recommended for… Art and Design and Film Studies
This masterclass in animation is sure to enchant and inspire aspiring graphic designers and animators. The story is already a classic, as cowboy toy Woody (Tom Hanks) finds his status of owner Andy’s favourite toy threatened by the arrival of the brand new and shiny Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen).
- Inside Chernobyl’s Mega Tomb
BBC4, 8pm – Recommended for… History, Physics, and Engineering
With its current tomb fallen to ruins, this interesting documentary following the construction of a 36,000-ton steel structure to bury the remains of the nuclear power plant.
Thursday 20th December
- The Book of Life
Film4, 2:50pm – Recommended for… Spanish and Religious Studies
Beautiful animation accompanies this refreshing tale, which follows Manolo, a young man torn between his family’s expectations and his heart, as he sets off on adventure through three dimensions of the afterlife.
- The “Christmas” Adventures of Romesh Ranganathan
BBC2, 9pm – Recommended for… Geography and Religious Studies
In a seasonal special of this adventurous series, comedian Romesh travels to the Canadian Arctic to meet Johnny Isaaluk, who teaches him ways of survial and hunting in the harsh conditions. Given that Romesh is vegan, this is quite the challenge. He also looks into why a lot of Inuit traditions are seeing a resurgence of popularity in the area.
- Mark Kermode’s Christmas Cinema Secrets
BBC4, 9pm – Recommended for… Film Studies and Media Studies
Following up on his great Secrets of Cinema series (available on BBC iPlayer now – a blessing for film studies teachers everywhere!), Mark Kermode is back to unravel some of the things that make a Christmas film what it is, as well as discussing how adaptable they are.
- Greatest Ever Christmas Ads
Channel 5, 10pm – Recommended for… Business Studies, Marketing
A slightly silly but informative programme on Christmas adverts, this show with Julian Clary could actually be quite helpful for students who are looking to understand more about how to sell certain things, especially in the competitive Christmas market.
Friday 21st December
- 100 Years of King’s Carols
BBC2, 7pm – Recommended for… Music, Sociology, and Religious Studies
This year marks the centenary of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, held every year at King’s College, Cambridge. This documentary goes behind the scenes and talks to director for music, Stephen Cleobury, for whom this year’s concert marks the last in the position.
- Victoria and Albert: the Royal Wedding
BBC2m 8:30pm – Recommended for… History
Popular historian Lucy Worsley takes part in a reconstruction of Queen Victoria’s wedding to Prince Albert. Including inputs from food historians, clothing experts and military historians, this reenacetment is sure to be as thorough as can be.
- When Mary Beard Met Clive James
BBC2, 11:05pm – Recommended for… Medicine and English Literature
This Front Row special sees Mary Beard talking to charismatic author and critic Clive James, who defied all doctors expectations by living much longer than expected after his leukemia diagnosis back in 2010.