Join us for heart-warming, joyful and unmissable moments in entertainment, drama, and documentaries
Brand new specials top the line-up for a magical Christmas on RTÉ. There’s plenty of craic courtesy of a Tommy Tiernan special, Callan Kicks the Year and Mrs Brown, while The 2 Johnnies are hosting the NYE show in Dublin Castle. New highlights include documentaries on Grand National winner, Rachael Blackmore, a heartwarming programme on Irish Toy shops and we celebrate with Irish legend, Daniel O’Donnell as he celebrates his 60th birthday. Toy Show hero Adam King fronts his own new animated series on RTÉjr, featuring the voice of Ryan Tubridy as Santa Claus. Dermot Whelan and Doireann Garrihy launch one hour of family entertainment, in a new show, Big Night In and there’s also a Christmas special with the Home School Hub gang too, alongside music, sport, drama and entertainment.
On radio, Joe Duffy will present his legendary Christmas eve special from the Radio Centre while over on 2FM listeners can enjoy an hour long special with Jenny Greene and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. Christmas is a special time on RTÉ lyric fm, with some thrilling seasonal performances, including Handel’s Messiah, while Raidió na Gaeltachta will feature a range of fascinating stories and music. And dedicated fans of RTÉ Gold can rock around the tree with their favourite presenters. Take advantage of the time off and get stuck into the best of binge-worthy shows on RTÉ Player. There’s truly something for everyone on RTÉ this Christmas.
TELEVISION AND RTÉ PLAYER
ENTERTAINMENT Music, chat and craic is top of the agenda this Christmas on RTÉ, with something for everyone in the audience.
Tommy Tiernan is back with a one off special this December that’s full of surprises for him, and his viewers! A master of improvisation, Tommy thrives on the adrenaline of surprises. The result is conversations full of adventure and surprise, with people from all walks of life, some well-known personalities, some lesser so.
All the Mrs Brown’s Boys gang return for two more seasonal specials, airing Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, which see Agnes recruited to the church choir, but under strict instructions, and a Christmas tree shortage which means Buster has to get even more creative than usual.
There are sonic treats in store for music fans too. Artists and presenters Loah and Una Healy return to the iconic Round Room of the Mansion House in the Heart of Dublin to reprise a very special Christmas edition of The Heart of Saturday Night. And, in a unique new show Bowie – Starman, with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, a remarkable line up of Irish and international stars, including Suzanne Vega, Rufus Wainright III, Sharon Corr, Imelda May, Joe Elliot, Christy Dignam and many more, join with Bowie’s own band, and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, to honour his legacy, and play some of his greatest hits.
With laugh out loud celebrity pranks, nail biting studio games, audience surprises and a Christmas stocking full of other treats, Big Night In is one of the biggest Christmas presents in the RTÉ One schedule for Irish families. Dermot Whelan and Doireann Garrihy press the launch button on one hour of serious family entertainment!
The 2 Johnnies present RTÉ’s New Year’s Eve Countdown Show live from Dublin Castle with guests from the world of sport and entertainment. Picture This will ring in the New Year in front of a crowd of 5,000 people.
And comedian Oliver Callan rounds off the year with some much-needed laughs in Callan Kicks the Year 2021. The Co-Teeshes and Mary Lou review stories from Zapponyism to the stuck Suez ship, Dublin Bay South, heaves, Olympics, Kin, the US insurrection and cuckoos. With Joe Biden, Boris, Home of the Year and Francis Brennan.
Ireland’s Fittest Family culminates in the most epic final yet, on The Mountain in Kilruddery. All four families are eager for the ultimate title, but only one family can be crowned winner! This December Ireland’s Fittest Family will also show two specials. On 29 December, Grainne Gallanagh, The Happy Pear’s Flynn twins, and comedians Neil Delamere and Sinead Quinlan complete for title of Ireland’s Fittest Family in our celebrity special, with the winner walking away with 10,000 euro for their chosen charity. And, in Hall of Fame, Mairead Ronan, along with Donncha O’ Callaghan, Anna Geary, Davy Fitzgerald and Derval O’ Rourke look back on the most memorable moments and the families that made them over the past nine series.
MOVIES Nothing says Christmas quite like movies, and this season, RTÉ has you covered for both top premieres and much-loved classics.
There’s fun for all the family with lots of kids’ premieres including Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (Christmas Day, RTÉ One 6pm); Abominable (Christmas Day RTÉ 2, 11am); and The Secrets Life of Pets 2 (Christmas Day, RTÉ One 12:35pm), while for older movie buffs, we’ve got Bohemian Rhapsody (Christmas Day, RTÉ One 10:10pm); Rocketman (Stephen’s Day, RTÉ One, 9:35pm ), critically acclaimed Irish film Dating Amber (21st December RTÉ 2 9:35pm) ; and the heart-warming Stan and Ollie (31st December RTÉ 2, 10pm).
Meanwhile, prepare to get cosy with a hot chocolate for some top nostalgia with viewer favourites across the season including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, The Greatest Showman, Die Hard, Braveheart, Back to the Future trilogy, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Indiana Jones series, Home Alone 2 Lost in New York, Casablanca, Singin in the Rain, The Big Sleep, and Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang.
DOCUMENTARIES Sporting victory, toy shop delights, and trips down memory lane – RTÉ’s arts, factual and sports documentaries come with a high feelgood factor this Christmas
Rachael Blackmore: A Grand Year sees award-winning filmmaker Ross Whitaker (Katie, Shane Lowry – Open) tells the remarkable tale of Rachael Blackmore’s rise to the pinnacle of horse racing and her historic year. Supported by a stellar cast of horse racing luminaries – AP McCoy, Katie Walsh, Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh, Henry De Bromhead and Davy Russell – and her family and closest friends, Rachael tells her story in depth for the first time.
Featuring 16 independent toy shops across the country, a sweet and heart-warming documentary from the maker of The Irish Wedding and The Irish Pub, The Toy Shop sits down with the people and places that spark the imagination of their youngest customers and the memories of their eldest.
With exclusive access to Daniel O’Donnell, his family and friends and an archive trip down memory lane, a family album of pictures and some behind the scenes bloopers from La De Dah, Daniel at Sixty promises to be an entertaining and honest insight into the life of a local hero at 60.
The Flourishing is an hour-long arts documentary takes us on an intriguing journey from the 1950s to the present day tracking the transformation of a wavering musical genre into one which is performed and celebrated around the world. The Flourishing will feature the work and voices of this most important generation – among them Paul Brady, Mary Black, Finbar Furey, Paddy Glackin and Andy Irvine.
Steps of Freedom: The Story of Irish Dance is a sweeping, cinematic two-part documentary series telling the story of how Irish Dance evolved from a peasant dance to become a global phenomenon.
Camera Tripod and Bicycle is the story of Lesley Crowe, a Dubliner and fireman. Travelling by bicycle with his 8mm camera and tripod he filmed his native city through decades of great change from the 50’s to the 70’s.
How Ireland Rocked the 70s looks at the evolution of the festival circuit in Ireland during the 1970s, a decade in which rock music – national and international – began to take real root here. Featuring rare archive footage and stills, the documentary includes exclusive interviews with Eric Bell [Thin Lizzy], Barry Devlin [Horslips], Christy Moore, Moya Brennan, Donal Lunny and Donal Gallagher [brother and manager of the late Rory Gallagher]
And casting a warm nostalgic eye over the tropes of an Irish Christmas, asking how much has changed and how much has soothingly stayed the same, RTÉ’s popular series The Way We Were has a seasonal special.
DRAMA Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a dramatic showdown in Carrigstown or a Boxing Day bust up on Albert Square. Plus, stream all the best home-grown drama with RTÉ Players box sets
This Christmas in Carrigstown, Lucy’s unconventional relationship with Dolores and Tyler comes to a head as the Gardaí close in on cracking the case of Ritchie Lennon’s murder. With all that Carol, Sash and Tommy know, will they escape unscathed? Can Dearbhla and Cian make it through Christmas together as a couple or has there been too much damage done to their relationship? Don’t miss Fair City this Christmas as some relationships unravel and others entangle…
Meanwhile expect lots of drama over on Albert Square as EastEnders’ bumper Christmas episode airs on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player at 9.30pm
Take advantage of the time off and get stuck into the best of binge-worthy box sets on RTÉ Player. Cosy up with Cillian Murphy and season 1-4 of Peaky Blinders. Enjoy classic comedy with every single episode available of Father Ted, Frasier and Community. The noughties revival is here with every episode of Skins, The O.C., Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. And why not re-watch 2021’s must- see TV, with heart-stopping dramas Kin, Hidden Assets and Line of Duty. Laugh out loud with Sinéad Quinlan new series, Seriously, Sinéad? or stall it to Darren & Joe’s Free Gaff.
SPORT An incredible year of Irish sporting achievement will be marked across the Christmas season on RTÉ
The PWC All-Star Awards on Friday 10 December honours the best players of 2021 in Hurling and Football. Saturday 18 December sees the presentation live on RTÉ One of the 2021 RTÉ Sport Awards. As always there’s plenty of live sport over the festive season including the traditional four days of Christmas Racing from Leopardstown, the European Cross County Championships from Dublin, the Leinster Club Football Championship semi-finals and Munster v Leinster in URC Rugby. And 50 years of the GAA All-Stars is celebrated in a new documentary.
YOUNG PEOPLE The Late Late Toy Show may be over, but we’ve got plenty more treats up our sleeves for our younger viewers…
Home School Hub: A Christmas Cracker! Home School Hub is back… but this time there is no school and nothing to learn! Seamus the Dog has found himself alone for Christmas after forgetting to post his invitations for a festive dinner. But with the help of the Irish Army, Marty Morrissey, Dermot Bannon, Mairéad Ronan, intergalactic popstar Nova Jones and a host of surprising guests, will Seamus pull off a Christmas cracker and get our Muinteoirí back together? If there is one programme that will put a smile on your face this Christmas Day, it’s this!
Adam Saves Christmas – Festive short animation starring Adam King and featuring Ryan Tubridy as the voice of Santa will premiere on Christmas Eve on RTÉjr
A Kids Country Christmas featuring kids from around Ireland singing Country music classics in a festive extravaganza!
There’s also two very special Christmas episodes of Ace My Space and the Junk Kouture grand final.
COOKERY, AND CRAIC FROM CORK
As Christmas quickly approaches, the Today Show team are having festive fun in the RTÉ Cork studios with three brand new Christmas Specials at 6.30pm on RTÉ One. Presenters Maura Derrane, Daithi O’Se and Emer O’Neill chat with guests including singer Lyra, comedian Jon Kenny, along with Brendan Courtney and Celia Holman Lee, while chefs Rachel Allen, Paul Flynn and Kevin Dundon cater for all your Christmas needs in the kitchen.
We’ve also got your Christmas cookery covered this year with specials from our most popular presenters. How to Cook Well at Christmas with Rory O’Connell returns with Rory preparing delicious dishes in this two-part seasonal special; Neven Maguire showcases the very best of Kylemore Abbey and Connemara produce for the festive season; Donal Skehan embraces traditional favourites this year, with lots of tips for your kitchen including meal prepping and timings to ensure that Christmas is all wrapped up; and Catherine will show us how to make the best cocktails, prepare unforgettable meals and introduce us to some Irish artisan producers on this year’s ‘Catherine Celebrates Christmas’. During this very special Christmas show, Catherine Fulvio will meet some of Ireland’s finest artisan producers that are currently supplying us with unique and wonderful tasty choices including Powerscourt Estate Distillery and Nut Farmer, Cathal Regan.
As we bring down the curtain on 2021 RTÉ reporters and correspondents will look back on the big events of the year in a series of in-depth reports on RTE.ie and on the RTÉ News App and a look back at the year with the news2day Review of the Year.
Presenters Mícheál Ó Scannáil and Reem El-Hassany will look back at 2021. On news2day this year the series ‘Frontline Families’, saw children tell viewers about their parents who were frontline key workers while the programme also heard from children around the world about life where they live in Taiwan, Germany, the UK, Spain and Belgium as they took part in the ‘Pandemic Postcard’ series. When schools reopened, news2day was back in the classroom too, meeting children and reporting on everything from climate change to art, science to nature.
Have Yourself a Mary Little Christmas. For 27 years, Mary Kennedy presented the annual Carols show on RTÉ One, featuring a rich variety of Irish musical talent, performing in beautiful settings all around the country. Here, she re-visits some of her favourites from those shows, including performances by Enya, Johnny Logan, Sinead O’Connor, Mick Flannery & Susan O’Neill, Donal Lunny, Ralph McTell, Imelda May, Loah & Lisa Hannigan and Eimear Quinn
Christmas in St Patrick’s Dáithí Ó Sé hosts this sumptuous, festive show in St Patrick’s Cathedral, newly restored in time for its 800thanniversary. Performers and guests include Andrea Corr, Tolü Makay, Declan O’Rourke, Lisa O’Neill, Ultan O’Brien, Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin, Alice Leahy, Dean William Morton, operatic star Sinead Campbell Wallace, David Brophy’s Frontline Choir, the Choir of St Patrick’s Cathedral and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.
*Further details on all religious services in Notes to Editor
Highlights* on RTÉ Radio this Christmas include:
Over on RTÉ Radio 1 the Festive Season kicks off early on the week of December 13th when Ray D’Arcy begins sprinkling some special Christmas magic with listeners getting the chance to say a special on air “Thank You” to people who made a difference in their lives over the past year.
Join Joe Duffy for his annual Christmas Eve extravaganza at 9am, broadcasting live from the historic RTÉ Radio Centre in Dublin. Joe will be joined once again by his festive wingman Brendan O’Carroll and a host of special guests. The programme will feature live performances from Chris de Burgh, Erica Cody, The High Kings, Ryan Sheridan, June Rodgers, Susan McFadden and many, many more.
Later in the day at half past two, Derek Mooney will be talking exclusively to the man-of-the-moment Santa Claus live from the North Pole before he sets out on his journey around the world.
Join Miriam O’Callaghan on Christmas morning at 10am when Miriam and her guests Michael Harding and Gina Menzies will reflect on this special time of year with music and seasonal readings . Creedon’s Christmas is back at 11 with John spinning the best tunes around to keep up the seasonal atmosphere in homes across the country.
This year saw the passing of Donncha O’Dulaing and to honour the great man John Bowman has selected some of his best moments from the RTÉ Sound Archives for a special 5 part series beginning on Monday 27th, December at half past one.
Oliver Callan’s not just kicking the week – he’s kicking the entire year on New Year’s Eve at 2pm. Later that night John Creedon will be back to ease us into 2022 at 10pm. And on New Year’s Day at 9am Marty Morrissey and guests will bring us two hours of entertainment and positivity to start the new year.
On RTÉ 2FM this Christmas Eve at 7pm, enjoy an hour long special with Jenny Greene and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra live. Wake up on Christmas Day with Beta Da Silva from 7am on the 2FM Christmas Breakfast Show. Celebrity friends of RTÉ 2FM will take-over the playlist with some of their favourite songs from 1pm-2pm. Comedian Michael Fry will take-over on the 26th December and it’s Tolü Makay and Feli Speaks on the 27 December. Also from 27 December at 7pm, Dan Hegarty, Tara Kumar, Stephen Byrne, Tracy Clifford and Mo K will present Legacies a four-part series featuring the artists, music and movements that kick-started modern music in Ireland, at which RTÉ2FM has been at the heart. Jennifer Zamparelli and Cormac Battle join musical forces to bring you two hours of contrasting music playlists in Not On The Effing Playlist from 8pm on 27 December; and, end the year with JJ Hartigan who will ring in the New Year and will dip into the NYF Countdown Concert with headline act Picture This.
Stars shine brightly on RTÉ lyric fm this Christmas starting on Christmas Eve morning as Rod Stewart brings festive greetings of glitter and gold to Marty Whelan, along with Neven Maguire and soprano Claudia Boyle. On Christmas Eve at 7.00pm, The Lyric Concert with Paul Herriott introduces Guy Barker, with the RTÉ CO, conducting his arrangements of a mixture of seasonal jazz classics. Then on Christmas Day from 1.00pm the RTÉ CO are back with conductor David Hayes and vocalists Juliette Crosbie, Clare Ivory and Carl Stallwood to join Aedín Gormley on Movies and Musicals for classics from musicals old and new. It wouldn’t be Christmas without Handel’s glorious oratorio the Messiah and we can enjoy it in the company of Paul Herriott performed by RTÉ Concert Orchestra, The Schola of St Patrick’s Cathedral Girls’ Choir, The St Patrick’s Consort of Voices and soloists all conducted by David Leigh in a recording from St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin at 7pm on Christmas Day. RTÉ lyric fm is live from the National Concert Hall with Liz Nolan this New Year’s Eve for a glorious night of entertainment with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and musical theatre stars Fra Fee, Susan McFadden and Muirgen O’Mahony for wonderful performances of musical hits, all under Book of Mormon conductor Colm O’Regan.
RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s Christmas schedule offers listeners a great variety of programmes for the festive season, including, on Christmas Day, the radio premiere of An Cosán Draíochta will be broadcast at 3 pm, a suite of music composed by Johnny Óg Connolly, honouring the memory of his father, the legendary melodeon player Johnny Phádraic Phíotair. It was commissioned by Stiúideo Cuan, a brand new arts venue in An Spidéal, and the programme is a live recording of the new composition, first performed in November. Kerry presenter Helen Ní Shé will bring us two special programmes over Christmas. Mo Ghrása thall na Déise is focused on the sean-nós singing tradition of the Déise area of Waterford, and features father and son Séamus and Seán Mac Craith talking of the songs and their meaning, and Ó Chorca Dhuibhne go Cill Bhríde tells the story of the Kerry families relocated to Arklow, Co. Wicklow, in the fifties, what brought them there, and where are they now.
In Colmcille: Cosantóir na mBan, Áine Ní Bhreisleáin reflects on the significance of Saint Colmcille, a missionary, poet, scribe and diplomat, who was born 1500 years ago this year, and became known as the protector of women. Ó Chonamara go Crimea tells the story of a young man from Conamara, Pádraig Ó Gionnáin, who was born just before the Famine, and enlisted in the Connaught Rangers and went to fight in the Crimean War in 1854 and 1855. Gifted Monaghan footballer Ógie Ó Dufaigh was tragically killed in a car accident hours after captaining Monaghan U20 side to victory in the Ulster semi-final in July. In the programme Ógie on January 4th, Ógie’s father Brendan speaks to Michelle Nic Grianna about his son, and the heartbreak of his death. The full Christmas schedule is available at rte.ie/rnag.
And RTÉ Gold will have you on your feet and Rocking around the Christmas Tree this yuletide. With listener favourites Rick O’Shea, Will Leahy, Aidan Leonard and more playing hits from Ireland’s biggest jukebox. On January 4th, RTÉ Gold’s “First” Top 100 Countdown of 2022, a Bank holiday filled with the greatest songs – guaranteed.