What’s on screens this Xmas, plus what to look out for in 2021

Including Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks, Crystal Maze & Tipping Point Festive specials

2020 is drawing to a close, a year where lockdowns and periods of self-isolation have led most of us to watch more on-screen entertainment at home than ever before – and it’s been a year like no other for Bristol’s TV and film production sector.

Laura AvilesSenior Bristol Film Manager, Bristol City Council, says:

“What a year it’s been. I’m immensely proud to be working at the heart of Bristol’s resilient TV and film sector which has shown such resourcefulness throughout the challenges of 2020.

Once Government gave the green light to productions in the summer and Covid-safety guidelines were put in place, it was the hard work and adaptability of local crews and companies and the dedication of the Bottle Yard and Bristol Film Office teams that enabled Bristol to become the location of choice for two of the very first high end TV shoots to resume safely in the UK – War of the Worlds and The Pursuit of Love – both of which have been praised by the industry for their achievements.

We’re looking ahead to a very busy year for Bristol production 2021 with major titles such as Stephen Merchant’s The Offenders starring Christopher Walken, Netflix’s The Last Bus and ITV’s second series of Manhunt amongst the many active projects in the city.”

Here’s a roundup of titles filmed at The Bottle Yard Studios and/or on location in Bristol to enjoy in this year’s festive TV guide – plus what to look out for in 2021.

On screen this Xmas

Clockwise from top left: Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks (BBC Studios); A Discovery of Witches season 2 (Bad Wolf / Sky One); 
Tipping Point Lucky Stars Christmas Special (Fizz TV / RDF Television / ITV); His Dark Materials season two (Bad Wolf/BBC/HBO)

Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks: New Year’s Day, BBC One

Doctor Who Special 2020 – Revolution Of The Daleks – The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER), Ryan Sinclair (TOSIN COLE), Graham O’Brien (BRADLEY WALSH), Captain Jack Harkness (JOHN BARROWMAN), Yasmin Khan (MANDIP GILL), Daleks – (C) BBC Studios – Photographer: Ben Blackall/James Pardon

Doctor Who returns on New Year’s Day with a Dalek-filled, action-packed special that secretly part-filmed on Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge last year. Guest starring television and film royalty Dame Harriet Walter (Killing Eve) alongside Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (who last year appeared in The Trial of Christine Keeler, also made in Bristol). John Barrowman MBE reprises his role as Captain Jack Harkness alongside Chris Noth who is back as the disgraced Jack Robertson.

A Discovery of Witches (season two): begins 9 January, Sky One

Copyright © Simon Ridgway, 2019 | A Discovery of Witches S2

A Discovery of Witches returns with a second series based on Deborah Harkness’ trilogy of novels, set in a world where witches, vampires and daemons secretly live and work alongside humans, hidden in plain sight. Season two finds Matthew (Matthew Goode) and Diana (Teresa Palmer) in Elizabethan London, where they are hiding in time from the Congregation. Here they must find a powerful witch teacher to help Diana control her magic and search for the elusive Book of Life. Produced by Bad Wolf, A Discovery of Witches partly filmed in Bristol, shooting interior scenes in private properties on Berkeley Square.

His Dark Materials series finale: 20th December, BBC One, 7.10pm

Season two of Jack Thorne’s highly anticipated BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s acclaimed series of novels draws to a close on Sunday with the seventh and final episode, titled ‘Aesahaettr’. As all paths converge on Cittàgazze, the mission to find Will’s father becomes more pressing. Having survived the balloon crash, Jopari and Lee try to locate the knife-bearer, but the Magisterium are in close pursuit. And Ruta updates Serafina on Asriel’s plans. Predominantly produced in Wales, series two of His Dark Materials part-filmed in Bristol at Blaise Orangery, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and nearby Elmdale Road.

Tipping Point Lucky Stars Festive Special: Xmas Eve, ITV, 4.40pm

From RDF Television – TIPPING POINT: LUCKY STARS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL Thursday 24th December 2020 on ITV Pictured: (L-R) Joe Swash, Clare Balding, Ben Shephard and Sherrie Hewson

Ben Shephard hosts a special edition of the quiz in which three celebrities take on a magnificent machine in the hope of winning £20,000 for charity. Broadcaster Clare Balding, actor and presenter Joe Swash and actress Sherrie Hewson answer questions to win turns on a large arcade-style `coin-pusher’ machine with the last one standing playing for a £20,000 jackpot for their chosen charity. Filmed in the show’s 8,000 sq. ft. studio at The Bottle Yard Studios.

Crystal Maze Celebrity specials: Xmas Eve & New Year’s Eve, Channel 4

On Xmas Eve, TV presenter Vogue Williams and husband Spencer Matthews are joined by six-time Olympic gold winning cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, Essex’s own Jessica Wright and the Reverend Richard Coles as they somewhat shakily navigate the many pitfalls the four zones have on offer. On New Years’ Eve, pop star and captain Fleur East leads a thespian filled episode, guiding actors John Thompson, Nina Wadia and Natalie Cassidy as well as realty TV’s Georgia “Toff” Toffolo on a wild ride full of twists and turns in every zone. Richard Ayoade guides the celebrity teams around the Maze, which stands in 30,000 sq. ft. of space at The Bottle Yard Studios.

Coming in 2021

The Pursuit of Love: coming to BBC One in 2021

Programme Name: The Pursuit of Love – TX: n/a – Episode: The Pursuit Of Love – Teaser (No. n/a) – Picture Shows: Linda (LILY JAMES), Fanny (EMILY BEECHAM) – (C) Theodora Films Limited & Moonage Pictures Limited – Photographer: Robert Viglasky

Adapted by Emily Mortimer from Nancy Mitford’s 1945 novel, The Pursuit of Love is a three-part romantic comedy-drama set in Europe between the two World Wars, which follows the adventures and misadventures of the charismatic and fearless Linda Radlett, played by Lily James (Mamma Mia!) and her best friend and cousin Fanny Logan, played by Emily Beecham (Little Joe). Other cast includes Dominic West (The Wire) and Dolly Wells (Dracula) as Linda’s parents and Andrew Scott (Fleabag) as Lord Merlin, the Radlett’s wealthy and eccentric neighbour. Produced by Open Book and Moonage Pictures for BBC One and Amazon Studios, the production team overcame a raft of challenges to make The Pursuit of Love one of the first High-End TV projects to resume Covid-safe production in the UK after lockdown, earning it a Special Mention in the ‘Special Contribution to the Industry’ category at this year’s Production Guild of Great Britain Innovation Awards. Filming restarted in July in the Bristol and Bath area assisted by Bristol and Bath Film Offices and at The Bottle Yard Studios, which housed the opulent sets of ‘Merlinford’, the fictional estate of Lord Merlin. Filming wrapped in October and the series will air on BBC One in 2021.

War of the Worlds season 2: coming to Fox TV in Spring 2021

Based on the sci-fi tale by H.G. Wells and set in present-day Europe, season two of War of the Worlds was the first High-End TV production to resume in the UK after lockdown. The eight-part series produced by Urban Myth Productions restarted filming on 13th July 2020 in South Wales and Bristol (assisted by Bristol Film Office) after spending 12 weeks putting thorough Covid-safety protocols in place. The production team received a Special Mention for its achievement in the Production Team category at this year’s Production Guild of Great Britain Innovation Awards. Filming wrapped at the end of October and the new series, which stars Gabriel Byrne (Hereditary), Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey) and Daisy Edgar Jones (Normal People), is expected to air in Spring 2021.

The One: coming to Netflix in 2021

The One is a 10-part sci-fi Netflix series based on the novel of the same name by John Marr, produced by Urban Myth Films. Set five minutes in the future, it follows events a decade after a scientific breakthrough has allowed people to use DNA testing to find their ideal partner. But even in perfectly matched couples, partners have secrets, and The One” follows some that have shocking and deadly consequences, as well as the wider explosive implications of DNA-based pairings. Bristol Film Office supported The One to film in several locations across Bristol last year; filming also took place in Cardiff and Newport.

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