What TV’s on at the BFI in December 2019? Including Dracula and Missing Believed Wiped

Peter Capaldi in Martin's Close
Peter Capaldi in Martin's Close

It’s Christmas!

Well, only in BFI calendar-land, which occupies its own time zone.

As usual, there’s an eclectic but truncated mix of shows, with Christmas typically removing not one week but three from most organisations’ ability to do any work. But there is some good stuff:

  • A preview of Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss’s Dracula, complete with Q&A with Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Dracula
  • A preview of this year’s Ghost Story for Christmas, complete with Q&A with Mark Gatiss. But not Dracula or Steven Moffat
  • A preview of Cinderella: After Ever After + Q&A with David Walliams. But not Mark Gatiss
  • A pantomime season featuring lots of TV pantomimes.
  • This year’s Missing Believed Wiped season.

That’s not bad, is it? What do you mean “Oh no it isn’t”?

Full details after the jump.


Sunday 1 December

14:50 NFT3

Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp
BBC 1966. Dir David Croft. With Arthur Askey, Roy Castle, Mary Millar, Charlie Cairoli. 85min

The old trouper Askey and the dynamic and versatile Castle may have got top-billing but it’s the formidable arch-panto villain Alan Curtis who steals every scene he’s in, eliciting a chorus of hisses and boos from the audience. With a cast drawn from the stars of various stage pantos of the time, this is a splendid snapshot of a moment where old theatre traditions were under threat from the power of television.

Sunday 8 December

15:00 NFT1

Missing Believed Wiped: Session One
TRT 120min

Drama, with a hint of comedy on the side, is on the menu for this year’s ever-popular Missing Believed Wiped, the BFI initiative that aims to track down and screen items absent from the official TV archives. This is your chance to enjoy these rare treats on the big screen, specially sourced and curated by our expert programmers. And – as always – there may be extra treats on the day!

No Harm Done
ITV 1974. Dir Don Leaver. With Lee Montague, Helen Worth. 50min

Regular Avengers scripter Roger Marshall delivers a tense thriller that opens by the well-trodden plot of a family taken hostage by villains, but unexpectedly evolves into something psychologically far more compelling.

+ Six of the Best: Porterhouse – Private Eye
ITV 1965. Dir Albert Locke. With Peter Butterworth, June Whitfield. 25min

Carry On regulars Butterworth and Whitfield star as a bungling detective and his judo-obsessed daughter in this pilot episode that never graduated to a series.

+ Friend of the Family
ITV 1960. Dir Bill Stewart. 15min

A Christmas Admag that takes a look at new technology. Admags have proved perennially popular with the MBW audience for their odd mix of weirdness and nostalgia.

+ Adam Adamant Promo

A five-minute sneak preview of an upcoming animated version of a missing episode of the famous fantasy series.

Joint ticket with Session Two (see below): £18, concs £15 (Members pay £2 less)

Missing Believed Wiped: Session Two
TRT 120min

See above for details

Play of the Week: Freedom in September
ITV 1962. Dir Joan Kemp Welch. With Patrick Troughton. 85min

In this absorbing play set at the height of the Cold War, Patrick Troughton turns in a typically brilliant, energetic and eccentric performance as an investigative journalist on the trail of a Russian musician who has gone AWOL from a cultural group visit.

+ We also screen extracts from two fascinating, long-lost interviews featuring Dennis Potter and Douglas Adams.

Joint ticket with Session One (see above): £18, concs £15 (Members pay £2 less)

Monday 9 December

18:15 NFT1

TV Preview: Dracula + Q&A with writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, actor Claes Bang and exec producer Sue Vertue
BBC One-Netflix-Hartswood Films 2019. Dir Jonny Campbell. With Claes Bang, John Heffernan, Joanna Scanlan, Dolly Wells, Morfydd Clark. Ep1 90min

Coming soon to BBC One, three feature-length episodes will re-introduce the world to Dracula, the vampire who made evil sexy. In Transylvania in 1897, the blood-drinking Count is making plans against Victorian London. And be warned: the dead travel fast. Award-winning Danish actor Claes Bang (The Girl in the Spider’s Web, The Affair) stars as Dracula in Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ brand new mini-series, inspired by Bram Stoker’s classic novel.

Wednesday 11 December

18:15 NFT1

TV Preview: Ghost Story for Christmas: Martin’s Close + Q&A with Mark Gatiss (plus cast TBA)
BBC Four-Can Do Productions-Adorable Media 2019. Dir Mark Gatiss. With Peter Capaldi, Wilf Scolding, Simon Williams, Sara Crowe. 30min + Q&A

It’s 1684. John Martin is on trial for his life. Facing him, the infamous ‘hanging judge’, George Jeffreys. But this is not a cut-and-dried murder case, because the innocent young girl Martin is accused of killing has been seen after her death… Starring Peter Capaldi, this standalone drama is based on MR James’ chilling short story of the same name, and is adapted and directed by Mark Gatiss. Join us for your traditional seasonal fix of terror in BBC Four’s Ghost Story for Christmas.

Saturday 14 December

12:00 NFT1

TV Preview: Cinderella: After Ever After + Q&A with David Walliams
Sky One-King Bert Productions 2019. Dir Elliot Hegarty. With David Walliams, Sian Gibson, Celia Imrie, Tom Courtenay. 45min

Discover what happened to Cinderella (Gibson) and Prince Charming (Walliams) after the fairy tale ended – was being united by a glass slipper enough to guarantee a happy, life-long relationship? In this comic Christmas special, co-written by David Walliams, we go back to the world of Cinderella, the royal family, her evil stepmother and the ugly sisters Dumbella and Rubella.

Friday 20 December

18:20 NFT3

Cinderella: The Shoe Must Go On + intro by Barry Cryer and Steve Nallon (Panto work permitting)
ITV 1986. Dir Jon Scoffield. With Danny La Rue, Roy Kinnear, Brian Conley, Roy Hudd, Steve Nallon. 80min

Central television assembled a massive celebrity cast (including Basil Brush, Les Dennis, Caroline Munroe, Willie Rushton) for this irreverent retelling of the Cinderella story by scriptwriters Barry Cryer and Dick Vosburgh.

+ Spitting Image: The Panto
ITV 1993. Dir Andy De Emmony. 25min

The team took over Hackney Empire for a Christmas panto (organised by John Major) to take pot-shots at all their favourite politicians, pop stars and presenters.

Sunday 22 December

15:20 NFT2

Jack and the Beanstalk
ITV 1998. Dir John Henderson. With Paul Merton, Julian Clary, Julie Walters, Neil Morrisey. 75min

The new generation of TV comics took on the pantomime tradition in this Christmas special, written by Simon Nye and staged at The Old Vic. Nye’s Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey played the hapless Jack and The Young Ones’ Ade Edmundson (in drag) was on hand to dish out some Bottom-style violent slapstick.

+ The Panto Set
Ch4 2003. Dir Paul Clay. 50min

Paul Clay’s mischievous documentary poses the question ‘has panto a place in the 21st century?’

Saturday 28 December

The Crackerjack Pantomime: Robinson Crusoe
BBC 1975. Dir Robin Nash. With Peter Glaze, Don Maclean, Ed Stewart, Jan Hunt. 65min

Various BBC sitcom stars (John Laurie, John Inman, Windsor Davies and Don Estelle) joined the regular Crackerjack cast for this slapstick-heavy romp with a sprinkling of intentionally corny jokes, some of which may offend the sensibilities of a modern audience and demonstrate how things have changed.

+ The Goodies: Snow White 2
ITV 1981. Dir Bob Spiers. With Bill Oddie, Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor. 25min

In their typical, lightning-paced and zany style, The Goodies brilliantly deconstruct the entire pantomime tradition.

Booking times

Patrons and champions’ priority booking: Monday 4 November from 11.30am
Members’ priority booking opens: Tuesday 5 November from 11.30am
Public booking opens: Tuesday 12 November from 11.30am


Members: £10.50
Member concs: £8.20
Non-members: £12.50
Non-member concs: £10.20
Under 16s: £6

Reduced prices for weekday matinees. Concessionary prices are available to senior citizens, students, unwaged and disability visitors. Proof of eligibility may be required.

As always, visit the BFI web site for more details.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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