Neil Gaiman on the BBC, Streaming Globally For Free, This Christmas – With David Tennant, Kit Harington, Amanda Palmer and Glenda Jackson

The BBC, Neil Gaiman, and Christmas. It's starting to be a thing. Last year they ran With Great Pleasure at Christmas: Neil Gaiman and serialised his Norse Mythology. And this year, there appears to be even more. Airing in an hour-and-a-bit today at 7.30pm GMT/2.30pm ET/11.30am PT on BBC Radio 3 today for two-and-a-half hours, alongside David Tennant and Amanda Palmer is Playing in the Dark: Neil Gaiman and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Listen to it live, or pop by the link to listen to it for a month.

Neil Gaiman is one of the great storytellers of our time, his work loved by fans of all ages in books, films, on TV and in the theatre. He joins the BBC Symphony Orchestra, along with special guests David Tennant and Amanda Palmer, for a walk on the dark side, reading from his best-selling books, weaving together his dystopian visions with music to thrill and excite the senses on a chilled December day. On the music menu the BBC SO performs music by Dukas, Gershwin, Sibelius, Sullivan, Wagner, Herrmann, and Britten.

It will then be chopped up and abridged into two hour-long episodes and will air on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Day (Part One) at 6am GMT, 1am ET and 11pm on NEw Year's Eve PT. Actually, that last one sounds really good.

Neil Gaiman on the BBC, Streaming Globally For Free This Christmas

In this first part of a very special concert (the second part is broadcast on New Years's Day), he joins the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mihhail Gerts, for a walk on the dark side, reading from his best-selling books, weaving together his dystopian visions with music to thrill and excite the senses. He is joined on stage by Amanda Palmer who reads Gaiman's poem The Mushroom Hunters and Simon Butteriss for a stunning rendition of The Nightmare Song from Iolanthe.

And the second part on New Year's Day at 3pm GMT, 10am ET, 7am PT.

Neil Gaiman on the BBC, Streaming Globally For Free This Christmas

In this second part of a very special concert (the first part was broadcast on Christmas Day), he joins the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mihhail Gerts, for a walk on the dark side, reading from his best-selling books, weaving together his dystopian visions with music to thrill and excite the senses. He is joined on stage by Amanda Palmer who sings A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square and David Tennant, reading from Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett's work "Good Omens".

Okay that's the concerts, what else? Well on Christmas Day, BBC Radio 4 is dramatising his short story, Chivalry starring Glenda Jackson and Kit Harington, at 4pm GMT, 11am ET, 8am PT.

Neil Gaiman on the BBC, Streaming Globally For Free This Christmas

This year's Radio 4 Neil Gaiman Christmas special is the story of Mrs Whitaker, who finds the Holy Grail in a charity shop. Along the way, she meets her dear friend Mrs Greenberg for macaroons, and becomes the focal point of Sir Galaad's most important quest.

It's a delightfully quirky, funny, and sweet story, mixing the gentle normality of Mrs Whitaker's chats with her best friend, discussing grandchildren over home-made macaroons, with the very lightly touched upon every day loneliness of bereavement, and a visit from a handsome young man who says he's called Galaad. He comes asking for the Grail, and ends up helping out with the gardening and heavy lifting around the house.

Neil Gaiman created Mrs Whitaker in his late 20s, and she was very much inspired by his grandmothers.

Starring Glenda Jackson as the Narrator and Mrs Whitaker, and Kit Harington as Sir Galaad.

Oh and in the New Year, starting Sunday January 5th, BBC Radio 4 will serialise Neil Gaiman's The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountain on Sundays, read by Bill Paterson, otherwise known these days as Fleabag's Dad – or Fleabaghdad.

Neil Gaiman on the BBC, Streaming Globally For Free This Christmas

A dwarf seeks a guide to a certain cave on the Misty Isle.

Chilling revenge for a terrible crime is at the heart of Neil Gaiman's multi-award-winning novelette, inspired by a Hebridean myth and originally commissioned by the Sydney Opera House for the Graphic Festival with celebrated illustrator Eddie Campbell.

Reader: Bill Paterson
Writer: Neil Gaiman

So, a very Gaiman Christmas and a Happy Neil Year to you all. Oh and a bonus, it's not Christmas-times, but you can also listen to Neil Gaiman talking to Mariella Frostrup from Open Book back in June 2013. Which may well be the finest present to many.

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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