What TV’s on at the BFI in December 2021? Including The Tourist and The Mezzotint

Whenever it can, TMINE lets you know what TV the BFI will be presenting at the South Bank in London

I’m not going to pretend that I’m going to be doing this as often as I used to, particularly since the last one of these was in November 2020, but I will when I can. And if there’s not much on.

This December, there’s a showing of Doctor Who‘s City of Death, previews of The Tourist, the Ghosts Christmas special and this year’s Ghost Story for Christmas (The Mezzotint), and a collection of Christmas specials past, as well as some slightly odd music-related treats. Plus more!

Programme

Sunday, 5 December

12:00 NFT1

Doctor Who: City of Death

The Doctor and Romana arrive in present-day Paris and uncover a dastardly plot to steal the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Their investigation leads them to the home of the Countess and Count Scarlioni and it soon becomes clear that this aristocratic couple are hiding a sinister secret.

Co-written by the great Douglas Adams, and featuring cameos from Eleanor Bron and John Cleese, City of Death secured all-time high ratings for the show and is a firm fan favourite.

Tickets £15, concs £12 (Members pay £2 less), restricted to two per booker

Tuesday 7 December

18:10 NFT1

TV Preview: The Mezzotint + Q&A with director Mark Gatiss
BBC 2021. Dir Mark Gatiss. With Rory Kinnear, Robert Bathhurst, Frances Barber. 30min

The Mezzotint, laced with MR James’ trademark terror, is the latest Ghost Story for Christmas from Mark Gatiss, following Martin’s Close in 2019 (BBC Four’s most-watched programme of 2019), The Dead Room in 2018, The Tractate Middoth in 2013, and Crooked House in 2008.

It’s 1922 and in the heart of an old English college Edward Williams (Kinnear) receives an engraving of an unknown country house. An imposing facade. A sweeping lawn. And, just perhaps, something else…?

20:30 NFT1

TV Preview: The Tourist + Q&A with actors Jamie Dornan, Danielle Macdonald, Shalom Brune-Franklin and creatives
BBC 2021. Dir Chris Sweeney. With Jamie Dornan, Danielle Macdonald, Shalom Brune-Franklin. Ep1 60min

From Emmy and Golden Globe-winning writers Harry and Jack Williams (Baptiste, The Missing, Liar) comes
this mystery-packed thriller. Jamie Dornan stars as a British man who finds himself in the glowing red heart of the Australian outback being pursued by a vast tank-truck trying to drive him off the road. An epic cat-and-mouse chase unfolds and he later wakes in hospital, hurt, but somehow alive.

Except he has no idea who he is…

Full of shocking, funny and brutal turns, The Tourist is a story of self-discovery: as The Man starts to uncover the mystery of who he was, he’s also forced to ask who he is now, and fast – before those who are trying to kill him catch up with him.

Thursday 9 December

18:10 NFT1

TV Preview: Ghosts Christmas Special + Q&A (guests TBA)
BBC1 2021. Dir Nick Collett. With Mathew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard, Ben Willbond. TRT c100min

In the run-up to the festive season, Kitty becomes convinced that Santa has made an early stop at Button House when Mike and Alison discover a man living in a tent on their grounds. The ghosts’ advice on how to deal with him leaves much to be desired, but eventually Mike and Alison learn that they have more to offer this Christmas than they realised.

This event will also include the screening of a fan-favourite episode: for details of how to vote for your top pick, please visit bfi.org.uk

Sunday 11 December

17:50 NFT1

An Evening with Vincent Price: Vincent Price is in the Country
ITV 1971. Dir Bryan Izzard. With Cleo Laine, Patricia Routledge, Ned Sherrin. 56min

On a weekend in the country with celebrity friends, Vincent Price reminisces about his career in films and on Broadway, telling anecdotes, re-enacting scenes, and generally camping things up.

A strange, shambolic and delightful oddity held together by Price’s effortless charm and game-for-anything attitude, this is an unmissable treat for Price fans.

+ Aspel and Company
ITV 1984. Dir Nick Vaughn-Barratt. 38min

Michael Aspel interviews Vincent Price, Lulu and Dudley Moore.

Saturday 11 December

15:00 NFT3

1970s Odd Pop and Rare Rock
TRT c100min

The BFI National Archive is peppered with music performances, interviews and reports from lesser-known (and often non-music centred) shows.

This bespoke compilation gathers together a potpourri of odd and rare 1970s pop and rock drawn from the likes of: Play it Again Stewpot (The Sweet, David Cassidy); 2G’s and the Pop People (The Move, ELO, Slade, Bee Gees);
The Basil Brush Show (Lulu, The Kinks); Look Alive (Labi Siffre, The Goodies); Nationwide (Ian Drury) and many more.

Friday 17 December

18:10 NFT3

Neil Innes and Terry Jones: East of the Moon + intro by producer Joy Whitby
TRT c110min

Both Terry Jones and Neil Innes were great supporters of the BFI over the years. East of the Moon, made for Channel 4, combined their talents to create a strange and atmospheric entertainment for young minds, based on Jones’ fairy tales as interpreted by Innes. Here we screen two films: The Fly-by-Night and The Silly King, both from 1988 and directed by Marc Evans.

+ The Innes Book of Records
BBC 1979. Dir Andrew Gosling. With Jake Thackray. 30min

An edition of Neil Innes’ musical miscellany introduced by the show’s music director John Altman.

Plus other rare clips.

Saturday 18 December

18:20 NFT3

Christmas Specials of Yesteryear
TRT 90min
Magpie
ITV 1977. Dir Cecil Petty. With Jenny Hanley, Tommy Boyd, Mick Robertson. 30min

Hundreds of Christmas specials of the past survive in the archive. In this Magpie special Santa Claus has gone missing and Sherlock Holmes is called in to find him.

+ Max Headroom’s Giant Christmas Turkey
Ch4 1986. Dir David G Hillier. With Matt Frewer. 40min

Bizarre even by Max Headroom standards, this special edition features A-list guest stars such as Tina Turner and Robin Williams, who interact with the iconic ‘AI’ character as he appears to be on overdrive.

Plus rare ITV Christmas trailers.

Booking times

Patrons and champions’ priority booking: Monday 1 November from 11.30am
Members’ priority booking opens: Tuesday 2 November from 11.30am
Public booking opens: Thursday 4 Novemebr from 11.30am

Prices

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.

Author

  • 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.