Welcome to WestEndTheatre.com’s annual rundown of what’s on British TV this Christmas 2021 in terms of fabulous West End shows, Broadway musicals and world-class theatre. Plus we’ve included theatrical documentaries and entertainment shows.
16 December 2021
9pm (UK), Sky Arts (Channel 11): Anna X , the recent West End production of Joseph Charlton’s play starring Emma Corrin (The Crown) and Nabhaan Rizwan (Informer), produced by Sonia Friedman at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London.
18 December 2021
6pm (UK), Sky Arts (Channel 11): American Utopia, the 2019 Broadway production featuring the musical’s composer, Talking Heads’ David Byrne.
19 December 2021
7.20pm (UK), ITV 1: Royal Variety Performance, hosted by Alan Carr, and held in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The show features the casts of Moulin Rouge! The Musical at the Piccadilly Theatre, and also Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre.
24 December 2021 (Christmas Eve)
7.30pm (UK), Sky Arts (Channel 11): Les Misérables – The Staged Concert, a filmed version of the spectacular stage concert that Cameron Mackintosh staged at the Gielgud Theatre in 2019. An all star cast includes Michael Ball, Alfie Boe, John Owen-Jones, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Matt Lucas, Rob Houchen, Bradley Jaden, Katy Secombe, Shan Ako, and Lily Kerhoas. Also book tickets to Les Miserables the musical at the Sondheim Theatre in London.
26 December 2021 (Boxing Day)
6.40pm (UK), BBC Two: Anything Goes, this summer’s smash-hit revival at the Barbican Theatre of Kathleen Marshall’s Broadway production. Recorded at the Barbican, the show stars Broadway actress Sutton Foster as Reno Sweeney, with Robert Lindsay as Moonface Martin, Felicity Kendal as Evangeline Harcourt and Gary Wilmot as Elisha Whitney. The toe-tapping show, which features hit songs including”I Get A Kick Out of You”, “You’re the Top”, “It’s De-Lovely!” and “Anything Goes”, is directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, following her hit 2011 Broadway production. Anything Goes is returning to London next Summer from 15 July to 3 September, once again playing the Barbican Theatre. Also, book tickets to Anything Goes at the Barbican Theatre in London.
8pm (UK), ITV 1: All Star Musicals at Christmas, hosted by John Barrowman. The first of two episodes airs 26 December 2021 at 8pm, with judges Elaine Paige, Samantha Barks, (Frozen The Musical at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane) and Trevor Dion Nicholas (Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre). Read more about All Star Musicals at Christmas here.
27 December 2021
4.15pm (UK), Sky Arts (Channel 11): The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall. An iconic concert version of Phantom held at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s show. The cast included Sierra Boggess as Christine, Ramin Karimloo as The Phantom, Liz Robertson as Madame Giry, Hadley Fraser as Raoul, Wynne Evans as Ubaldo Piangi, Wendy Ferguson as Carlotta Guidicelli, Gareth Snook as M. Andre, Barry James as M. Firmin. Also, book tickets to The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London.
7pm (UK), Sky Arts (Channel 11): Cameron Mackintosh – The First 50 Years – a major new retrospective of West End and Broadway impresario Cameron Mackintosh, who celebrates his 75th birthday this year. The show is dedicated to his close friend Stephen Sondheim, whose interview for the show was filmed ten days before he sadly passed away. Current Cameron Mackintosh productions running in the West End includeThe Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre, andMary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre.
Cameron Mackintosh – The First 50 Years includes interviews with Michael Ball, Christopher Biggins, Alain Boublil, Jon-Jon Briones, Paule Constable, William Differ, Anthony Drewe, Richard Eyre, Maria Friedman, Sonia Friedman, Norm Lewis, Patti LuPone, Michael Le Poer Trench, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Julia McKenzie, Clarke Peters, Liz Robertson, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Stephen Sondheim, Charlie Stemp, George Stiles, Giles Terera, Robert Wankel, Nicholas Allott and Julie Andrews. Shows featured in the documentary include Cats, Hamilton, Just So, Kipps – The New Half a Sixpence Musical, Les Misérables – Concerts and Stage, Little Shop of Horrors, Miss Saigon, Side by Side by Sondheim, Putting It Together, Follies, Swan Lake and The Phantom of the Opera.
7pm (UK), BBC Four: Sondheim’s Eightieth Birthday Celebration at the Royal Albert Hall, timed to celebrate the life of Stephen Sondheim, who died last month aged 91. The Sondheim concert, which took place in 2010 at the Royal Albert Hall to honour Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday, is introduced by Katie Derham and includes excerpts from his hit shows A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods. The concert features West End talent including Bryn Terfel, Maria Friedman, Simon Russell Beale and plenty of special guests. BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by David Charles Abel plays Sondheim’s music.
10pm (UK), Sky Arts (Channel 11): Miss Saigon 25th Anniversary Performance, recorded at the Prince Edward Theatre in 2014 to celebrate the 25th birthday of this epic musical, produced by Cameron Mackintosh. The show stars Eva Noblezada as Kim, Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer, Alistair Brammer as Chris, and Rachelle Ann Go as Gigi. Special guest appearances are made by the original London cast of the show, including Lea Salonga, Jonathan Pryce and Simon Bowman. Miss Saigon is also available on Netflix.
29 December 2021
6.30pm (UK), Sky Arts (Channel 11): Half of Sixpence, the screen premiere of the recent West End production of Half of Sixpence – called Kipps for TV. Cameron Mackintosh co-produced the revival in 2016 at the Noel Coward Theatre in London following its sell-out run at the Chichester Festival Theatre, and the show was recorded for cinema and TV. Kipps / Half a Sixpence stars Charlie Stemp, who is currently starring in Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre, as Arthur Kipps and Emma Williams as Helen Walsingham. The show has a revised book by Julian Fellowes with some new songs added by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.
Now on BBC iPlayer
Sunday Night at the Musicals: BBC Four has recently been showing a series called “Sunday Night at the Musicals”, which is now on BBC iPlayer, and includes repeat showings of Kiss Me Kate (BBC iPlayer) at the Royal Albert Hall, the 2017 West End production of An American in Paris (BBC iPlayer); and the 2012 BBC Proms recording of John Wilson on Broadway (BBC iPlayer).
Uncle Vanya: Don’t forget there are only a few days left to watch the incredible recent revival of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya – pictured above (BBC iPlayer), filmed at the Harold Pinter Theatre, adapted by Conor McPherson, directed by Ian Rickson, and starring Aimee Lou Wood, Toby Jones, Richard Armitage, Ciarán Hinds and Rosalind Eleazar.
Evita: The Making of a Superstar (BBC iPlayer): This fascinating documentary sees Suzy Klein travel to Argentina, and also interviews Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, to understand the creative process, history and international success of their extraordinary musical Evita.
Musicals The Greatest Show (BBC iPlayer) is still on the platform for a final month. Filmed at the Palladium during the depths of the lockdowns, the show is hosted by Sheridan Smith, and packs in a lot of show-stopping West End songs performed by Elaine Paige, Michael Ball, Amanda Holden, Nicole Scherzinger, Josh Groban, Idina Menzel, Lea Salonga and more. Plus a special performance from Cinderella.
Les Mis at 25: Matt Lucas Dreams the Dream (BBC iPlayer) sees Les Mis super-fan Matt Lucas get to join in the 25th anniversary celebrations of the hit musical by performing in the huge tribute concert at the London 02 Arena. Includes interviews with Cameron Mackintosh, Michael Ball and more.
Finally…. don’t forget the musicals available on the streamers, including Hamilton on Disney+, Everybody is Talking About Jamie on Amazon Prime Video, and Tick, Tick… Boom! (pictured, above) on Netflix. See our full guide to Musicals & Theatre streaming on Disney Plus, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.