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Around the Country and Across the Pond, PBS Celebrates the Holiday Season
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Mr. Stink, Duchess and Chloe
Gary Moyes © BBC


ARLINGTON, VA; October 17, 2013 -- It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, when artist and artisan, newsman and newsmaker, singer and songwriter celebrate the holiday season with PBS. This year, Tony-winner Alfie Boe and veteran news anchor Tom Brokaw — along with “Hal” Halvorsen, the “candy bomber” who dropped chocolates into post-war Berlin in 1948 — join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for an inspirational concert at Temple Square. Harking back to WWI, PBS presents Silent Night, a poignant opera based on the Christmas Eve truce of 1914, when French, German and Scottish soldiers laid down their arms for one evening of peace.

As the countdown to the fourth season of “Downton Abbey” on MASTERPIECE begins, PBS repeats Season 3 and presents RETURN TO DOWNTON ABBEY, a selection of favorite moments from the past three seasons and a tantalizing taste of the upcoming season. Academy Award®-winning actress Susan Sarandon hosts the special, which includes a mix of behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with creators and cast members, and memorable scenes.

Later in December, PBS presents a new CALL THE MIDWIFE HOLIDAY SPECIAL. When an unexploded World War II bomb is found under a warehouse near Nonnatus House, the nuns and dozens of local families are left homeless. Dr. Turner and Chummy are both in a race against time — he to immunize children against polio and she to get everything in place for a royal’s visit to the East End to open the new Community Centre.

For family viewing, PBS offers MR. STINK, a most unusual stocking-stuffer — a comedy with a nose-clenching twist. Hugh Bonneville (“Downton Abbey”) stars as the eponymous Mr. Stink. For the youngest viewers, PBS KIDS rings in the holiday season with an encore presentation of last year’s blockbuster hit THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT CHRISTMAS!, a special Holiday Week of themed programming, new holiday episodes and specials from DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD, SESAME STREET and THOMAS & FRIENDS, as well as classic favorites including CURIOUS GEORGE: A VERY MONKEY CHRISTMAS and ARTHUR'S PERFECT CHRISTMAS.

Traveling to Norway, the renowned a cappella singers of St. Olaf College fill the apse and nave of Trondheim’s historic Nidaros Cathedral with the sounds of Christmas. Back in the US, renowned American mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves hosts an evening of traditional carols and classical masterworks sung by the Belmont University choir, while CRAFT IN AMERICA embraces familiar and new winter celebrations as part of the American experience with the handmade.

As the year winds down, LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER looks forward to 2014 with the New York Philharmonic’s gala opening concert, featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma. On New Year’s Day, GREAT PERFORMANCES continues the cherished tradition of greeting the new year with the Vienna Philharmonic at the city’s opulent Musikverein. Beloved stage and screen star Julie Andrews returns as host.

Before this bounty of celebratory programming, PBS ushers in the holiday season with an encore of NATURE “My Life as a Turkey,” airing on the eve of Thanksgiving. The true story of writer and naturalist Joe Hutto, the film chronicles his experience of raising wild turkey hatchlings to adulthood.

Following, in broadcast order, are the programs that hail the holiday season:

NATURE “My Life as a Turkey” (Encore)
Wednesday, November 27, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
Based on the true story of writer and naturalist Joe Hutto, portrayed by wildlife photographer Jeff Palmer, this film chronicles Hutto’s remarkable experience of imprinting wild turkey eggs and raising the hatchlings to adulthood. Deep in the wilds of Florida, Hutto spent each day out and about as a “wild turkey” with his family of chicks — until the day came when he had to let his children grow up and go off on their own. As it turned out, this was harder than he ever imagined. See an emdebbale promo.

Sunday, December 1, 2013, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET
Savor fond memories from the past three seasons of “Downton Abbey” and get a tantalizing taste of the upcoming fourth season. Academy Award®-winning actress Susan Sarandon — a devoted fan of the series — hosts the program, which includes a mix of behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with creators and cast members, and video clips of favorite moments. Structured around three themes, RETURN TO DOWNTON ABBEY explores “The Changing World of Downton Abbey,” “The Women of Downton Abbey” and “Love and Other Relationships at Downton Abbey.”

Friday, December 13, 2013, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET
The opera Silent Night recounts the true story of the World War I Christmas Eve truce. For one magical evening on December 24, 1914, French, German and Scottish soldiers laid down their arms and joined in a spontaneous celebration reflecting the peace, fellowship and humanity of the season. Based on the Academy Award-nominated film Joyeux Noel, this two-act production was commissioned by the Minnesota Opera and premiered in November 2012 to national acclaim, including a Pulitzer Prize for Music for composer Kevin Puts. With a libretto by Mark Campbell, Silent Night is sung in French, English, German, Italian and Latin with English subtitles.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET; encores Thursday, December 12, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET and Tuesday, December 24, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
As seen and heard by more than 80,000 people in the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, this program features renowned TV personality Tom Brokaw and Tony Award-winning Les Misérables tenor Alfie Boe in a concert of holiday favorites. Boe’s moving signature performance of “Bring Him Home” is a highlight. The choir also welcomes a surprise guest, Gail “Hal” Halvorsen, the famous candy bomber of the Berlin airlift. Together with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, these special guests bring attendees to their feet more than once during the night. See an embeddable promo.

Friday, December 20, 2013, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
Nashville shows why it’s called Music City as acclaimed American mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves hosts this annual production of traditional carols, classical masterworks, world music and light-hearted seasonal favorites taped at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Nearly 700 Belmont University student musicians join Graves, the Belmont School of Music faculty and the Nashville Children’s Choir to present the seasonal celebration. The program also features the University Symphony Orchestra, Belmont Chorale, Percussion Ensemble, Musical Theatre, Jazz and Bluegrass Ensembles.

Friday, December 20, 2013, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
“Holiday” celebrates some of our most important traditions. Nordic folk woodcarver Harley Refsal brings to life the rich history of winter solstice. Clay artist Susan Garson creates fanciful Chanukah menorahs. George Vanderbilt’s opulent turn-of-the-century Christmas is recreated at the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina. Daring chefs make lavish gingerbread houses for the competition at Grove Park Inn. Navidad is celebrated in San Antonio with religious processions, tamales and Kathleen Trenchard’s sparkling luminarias. Garcia Art Glass makes colorful ornaments, and Veronica Castillo creates a traditional Mexican Tree of Life. See an embeddable promo.

Sunday, December 22, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
Delight in a family comedy with a nose-clenching twist. Chloe (Nell Tiger Free) sees Mr. Stink (Hugh Bonneville) every day, but she’s never spoken to him, which isn’t surprising, because he’s a tramp — and he stinks. But before she knows it, Chloe has an unusual friend hiding in her garden shed when it seems Mr. Stink and his stinky dog, Duchess, might be driven out of town. As Chloe struggles to make sure no one sniffs out Mr. Stink, she also has to cope with an overbearing mum who is more interested in her own political ambitions than her daughter, her put-upon dad who has a secret of his own, her “perfect” younger sister, Annabelle, and the nasty girls who make her life miserable at school. There is also one other person with an extraordinary secret, as it turns out that there is more to Mr. Stink than meets the eye ... or nose.

Monday, December 23, 2013, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
From Trondheim’s historic Nidaros Cathedral, CHRISTMAS IN NORWAY WITH THE ST. OLAF CHOIR treats PBS viewers and lovers of choral music to a spectacular holiday concert featuring the 75-voice St. Olaf Choir from St. Olaf College and the Norwegian girl choir, Nidaros Jentekor. The production pairs the cathedral’s spare gothic beauty and stunning acoustics with the distinctive a cappella singing style for which the St. Olaf Choir — which owes its origins and legacy to Norway — is internationally known. Musical selections include innovative arrangements of Christmas music (“The Word Was God” and “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming/The Rose”), gospel spirituals (“This Little Light of Mine”) and beloved Norwegian hymns and folk songs.

Thursday, December 26, 2013, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
Host Lidia Bastianich celebrates important milestones with a diverse group of Americans: a Sweet 16 birthday party for a young French-Cajun woman ready to make her debut as a Nashville country music star; a baptism with a Greek Orthodox family; college graduation seen through the eyes of a Brazilian-American Boston University student; and a Navajo house blessing in Utah.

Sunday, December 29, 2013, 7:30-9:00 p.m. ET
CALL THE MIDWIFE follows nurse Jenny Lee and the midwives and nuns from Nonnatus House convent, who visit the expectant mothers of Poplar, providing the poorest women with the best possible care. Chummy, PC Noakes and baby Freddy are back in the East End, Sister Bernadette, now known as Shelagh since leaving the convent, is preparing for her wedding to Dr. Turner and Jenny is facing huge challenges personally and professionally. At Christmas, when an unexploded World War II bomb is found under a warehouse close to Nonnatus House, the nuns and dozens of local families become homeless. Dr. Turner is in a race against time to immunize children against polio, but when the illness strikes closer to home, he finds there’s nothing he can do but hope. Chummy persuades a royal visitor to the East End to open the new Community Centre. It’s a race against time as Chummy tries to get everything in place for the big day.

LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER “New York Philharmonic Gala with Yo-Yo Ma”
Tuesday, December 31, 2013, 8:00-9:30 p.m. ET
LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER rings in the new year with a special broadcast of the New York Philharmonic’s opening gala concert featuring music director Alan Gilbert and special guest cello soloist Yo-Yo Ma. The concert, taped in September at Avery Fisher Hall, features dance-inspired orchestral works, including Azul by Osvaldo Golijov, a cello concerto written for Ma; the world premiere of an arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s La serie del Ángel by Octavio Brunetti, commissioned by the New York Phliharmonic; and two classics by Maurice Ravel, Alborada del gracioso and Boléro. Audra McDonald hosts the broadcast, which features interstitial interviews with Yo-Yo Ma and composer Osvaldo Golijov.

GREAT PERFORMANCES “From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2014”
Wednesday, January 1, 2014, 2:30-4:00 and 8:00-9:30 p.m. ET
Always one of “our favorite things,” GREAT PERFORMANCES continues the cherished tradition of ringing in the New Year with the Vienna Philharmonic, at the opulent Musikverein, under the baton of guest conductor Daniel Barenboim and featuring everyone’s favorite Strauss Family waltzes accompanied by the beautiful dancing of the Vienna City Ballet. In addition to the Musikverein concert setting, the broadcast will feature a picturesque range of Vienna landmarks. Stage and screen legend Julie Andrews returns as host.

Check Local Listings for Airdate

December 2013 (check local listings)
Celebrate the holidays with timeless favorites performed with a Celtic twist in this new chapter of musical enchantment from the enormously popular all-female ensemble. A visual and aural feast, this moving and festive celebration was filmed at Dublin’s Helix Theatre. See an embeddable promo.

December 2013 (check local listings)
This unique musical event marks the first time Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol has been adapted for a live orchestral concert with choir and soloists and performed for audiences in a concert setting. Robert Christianson’s score is filled with memorable, haunting and rousing songs, and the story, faithfully adapted by Broadway’s Alisa Hauser, is performed by such Chicago and New York theater luminaries as Michael Aaron Lindner and E. Faye Butler. The concert is a celebration of classic storytelling and ensemble performances, providing audiences with both the comforts of a classic tale and the thrill of experiencing it as never before.

December 2013 (check local listings)
Join host Clifton Davis as he introduces rare early performances from some of gospel music’s legendary pioneers, including The Staple Singers, The Soul Stirrers, Albertina Walker, The Caravans and many more. See an embeddable promo. 

December 2013 (check local listings)
Unwrap a special holiday treat from extraordinary vocalist Chris Mann. Joined by country icon Martina McBride and saxophone star Mindy Abair, Mann brings new life to Christmas classics, including “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “O Holy Night” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” See an embeddable promo.

December 2013 (check local listings)
Join the Italian vocal trio Il Volo to usher in the holiday season with performances of favorite Christmas classics. Filmed at the Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater, this new special features “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “O Holy Night,” “Jingle Bell Rock” and many more. See an embeddable promo.

December 2013 (check local listings)
Warm your heart and soul with the angelic voices of one of the world’s most acclaimed boy choirs as they perform traditional Christmas carols infused with the musical sounds of Ireland. Recorded in the spectacular St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh, Ireland, the concert also features virtuoso musicians, including Irish flute player Brian Dunning and violinist Zoe Conway.

December 2013 (check local listings)
The Emmy®, Tony® and Golden Globe®-nominated star serenades viewers with a set of classic Christmas songs and a collection of standards, many first made famous in Broadway musicals. Morrison brings a fresh sound to cherished Christmas classics including “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “O Holy Night” along with re-envisioned versions of standards, including “The Lady Is a Tramp” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing.”

December 2013 (check local listings)
Pride and mischief inspire Chinese immigrant Tom Xia to challenge his American neighbors to survive the Christmas season without any Chinese products. The Jones family eagerly accepts this consumer mission-impossible. As they strive to adapt without their Chinese-made appliances and Christmas lights, Tom hopes that they’ll begin to appreciate his birthplace. When Tim Jones challenges Tom about his pride in communist China, Tom, struggling to explain China and go beyond the stereotypes, realizes he’s on a journey of self-discovery, torn between his competing loyalties to the U.S. and China.

PBS KIDS Holiday Programming Highlights

November 27; repeats on November 28, 29, 30 and December 1, 13 and 24
This November, the blockbuster hit THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT CHRISTMAS! returns to PBS KIDS. Families can ring in the season with this one-hour special, which finds the Cat in the Hat, Nick and Sally on a journey around the world to help a lost reindeer find his way home to Freezeyourknees Snowland in time for Christmas. On the way, the Thinga-ma-jigger breaks down and they depend on a variety of animals — from African bush elephants to bottlenose dolphins to red crabs — and their remarkable abilities to help them make an amazing journey home. With gorgeous animation and pull-out-all-the-stops musical numbers, THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT CHRISTMAS! will have families singing and celebrating all season long.

PBS KIDS Holiday Week
December 9-13
This December, PBS KIDS will air a week of holiday- and winter-themed programming from favorite series. “Holiday Week” features two episode premieres, both from THOMAS & FRIENDS: “Snow Stops Play” (#1009) and “Tinsel & Trains” (#1010).

“Holiday Week” also includes encore presentations of holiday favorites, including CURIOUS GEORGE: A VERY MONKEY CHRISTMAS, ARTHUR’S PERFECT CHRISTMAS and holiday-themed episodes from WILD KRATTS, SUPER WHY! and more.


“Snowflake Day!” (#139)
Premieres November 25
In this thirty minute holiday musical episode, the Neighborhood is celebrating Snowflake Day! Daniel has a very important role as the snowflake in the Neighborhood’s Snowflake Day Show and he can’t wait to say his lines! The Enchanted Garden is full of excitement and winter cheer as everyone pitches in to make the celebration a true Neighborhood success!

“A Snowy Day” (#132)
Premieres December 2
It’s snowing in the Neighborhood! Miss Elaina is coming over to Daniel’s house to play in the snow. When it's time to go outside, Mom Tiger helps Daniel change out of his pajamas into clothes that will keep him warm and he learns how important it is to choose the proper clothes.

Premieres November 27; repeats December 11 and 25
There’s a miracle on Sesame Street in this special holiday tale. Elmo, Abby Cadabby and their new friend Stiller the Elf (voice of Ben Stiller) are going to count down to Christmas with the Christmas Counter-Downer. But all the counting boxes have gone missing and Christmas may never come again! Can Elmo, Abby and Stiller the Elf save Christmas? With the help of very special guests Sheryl Crow, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Ty Pennington, Steve Schirripa, Tony Sirico and Kevin James (as Santa Claus), Elmo and friends will learn to believe in Christmas miracles.

November - December 2013 (check local listings)
Moishe Oofnik is selling 2,000 year old sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts traditionally eaten on Chanukah), and Anneliese is bringing her family’s menorah to light at Shoshana’s in celebration of the first night of Chanukah. Grover the waiter is serving levivot (potato pancakes or latkes), when he and Anneliese are both startled by Brosh and a chicken. Anneliese’s menorah (a nine-branched candelabrum) goes flying. Anneliese can’t find her menorah anywhere, so everyone helps her look. The pressure is on to find it before sunset, and everyone sings a song about the search. Finally, Avigail finds it and everyone heads inside to light the candles. In the end, the Sumsum crew lights the menorah together and sings a song.

Encore presentations of holiday/winter-themed episodes of a variety of PBS KIDS shows will also air throughout the holiday season.

− PBS −

Carrie Johnson, PBS Communications, 703-739-5129;
Maria Vera, PBS KIDS, 703-739-3225;

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