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21 December 2019 00:56

P.J. Proby Joan Bakewell British Academy Television Awards

What’s on TV and radio tonight: Friday, December 20

Fans of popular TV historian Lucy Worsley are in for a festive treat, writes Craig Campbell. On Friday on BBC2, Lucy will immerse herself in the food, music, dance and traditions of the 16th century. A Merry Tudor Christmas With Lucy Worsley takes a look at the revelry that ran from December 25 to January 5 in the reign of Henry VIII. Lucy learned some surprising facts. "Many of the Christmas traditions that we observe today are surprisingly young," she says.

"Christmas trees, Christmas presents and Christmas cards are all 19th century inventions. "The spiced scent of Christmas is definitely an enduring tradition. You forget how much international trade there was. "They had spices from Africa and the Indies and that lovely flavour of mince pies, mulled wines and Christmas pudding is still the scent of Christmas today." After preparing a feast fit for Henry VIII, the brave Lucy tried some wild boar's head. It may not shock you to learn she didn't find it lipsmackingly gorgeous.

"The boar's head was gross!" she laughs. "It was pickled in brine and boiled in wine for hours with all the insides minced up and stuffed back in again. "The Tudor cooks who made it were so proud. Sadly, they were disappointed that I thought it was disgusting to eat!" Does Lucy reckon there are any Christmas traditions from those days that could work today? "Twelfth Night is a festival that the Tudors celebrated but we don't observe today," she points out.

"For us, the end of Christmas is New Year's Eve whereas the climax of the Tudor 12 days of Christmas was a big feast on January 5. "I'd bring back the twelfth night party. It would be a lovely way to cheer up the worst week in January when we're all back at work!" Sounds like a plan! Any great Tudor traditions we do still follow? "Singing!

Carols weren't necessarily just about religion and Christmas – they were about generally having a good time." A Merry Tudor Christmas With Lucy Worsley is on BBC2, tonight at 9pm. What's on TV tonight: Lucy Worsley feasts on a boar's head as she celebrates Christmas like a Tudor Also Coleen Nolan takes part in a charity special of Flirty Dancing and Ken Burns' Country Music docuseries ends with the mid-90s Lucy Worsley goes back in time to celebrate Christmas the way the Tudors did (Photo: BBC) PICK OF THE DAY Sign up to our newsletter i's TV newsletter: what you should watch next Thanks for signing up! Sorry, there seem to be some issues. Please try again later. Submitting... With ample dressing-up opportunities, Worsley recreates how Christmas was celebrated during the time of King Henry VIII – the whole 12 days, because the Tudors didn't stop making merry on Boxing Day (as it wasn't called then). Mind you, they had been fasting for the whole of Advent, which would have made the stuffed boar's head served to Worsley seem more appetising than the historian finds it. "It looks like Spam", she says as the snout is carved. She also examines a forerunner of the Royal Variety Show, this one with dancing stags and the Lord of Misrule, an anarchic ancestor of Father Christmas. Celebrity Flirty Dancing For Stand Up To Cancer 8pm, Channel 4 Regulars of the Ashley Banjo choreographed hook-up might grumble that having one partner a celebrity (and the other not) detracts from one USP of the format – that the singletons have never set eyes on their each other before the dance performance. Fear not, then, for fitness vlogger Steph is obviously not a Made In Chelsea fan and has no idea who Miles Nazaire is. Twice-divorced Loose Women presenter Coleen Nolan, meanwhile, gets to glide around with project manager Kevin, also a divorcee, in a sensual and romantic dance set within the picturesque grounds of a manor house. Coleen Nolan puts on her dancing shoes in the hope of meeting a new man (Photo: Channel 4) Would I Lie To You? Never mind the irony of a series called Would I Lie To You? being pulled mid-season to make way for the recent election debates, it's good to have it back again. It's not often that Lee Mack gets upstaged by his own team, but Bob Mortimer is on flying form as he describes breaking into the tuck shop at a campsite. Can any of it be remotely true – especially when he reveals that his fellow raiders were named "the Mole" and "Porkchops Johnson"? Alice Levine, meanwhile, claims she once fled a swimming pool after accidentally assaulting an old man, while The Repair Shop's Jay Blades says he got a speeding ticket while driving a motorised sofa. Ball & Boe: A Very Merry Christmas 9.30pm, ITV It's time to try on the Christmas jumper and see whether or not it still fits, as Michael Ball and Alfie Boe reunite for seasonal music and gentle joshing alongside guests Shirley Bassey, Luke Evans and Gregory Porter. Country Music by Ken Burns The history of the American art form from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s ends this magnificent series. It's an era that saw the success of "New Traditionalists" such as Reba McEntire and Dwight Yoakam. Garth Brooks exploded on to the scene to recalibrate the yardstick of success, while, after being dropped from his label, an ageing Johnny Cash returned to the studio at the invitation of a hip-hop producer to record a series of albums that sold millions. The Graham Norton Show For full TV listings for the week, see thetimes.co.uk/tvplanner Viewing Guide, by James Jackson A Merry Tudor Christmas with Lucy Worsley BBC Two, 9pm Yoo-hoo, Lucy's here! Back already to raid the dressing-up box only a week after her Christmas carol larks. Clearly, you can't keep a good Worsley down, and this time she's eating, singing, dancing and partying like people did 500 years ago, with a bit of meat-squeezing along the way. So what would Henry VIII be feasting on on Christmas Day? The centrepiece would be a boar. "This was an animal that Henry himself liked to hunt using one of his special boar spears," she declares with a stabbing-motion flourish under a stuffed boar. Soon enough she is in full royal Tudor… Mother Mildred and the Nonnatus House team go to the Outer Hebrides in response to a nursing shortage. Navigating the terrain, they strive to keep up with the needs of the locals. Planning on tuning in next week? Let us know in the comments! Leave it to Lucy Worsley—historian, curator and BBC purveyor of flippant English history—to deliver the tartest judgment, as a slice is taken from a holiday boar's head as it would have been served to Henry VIII. "It looks like Spam," she says. So much for gustatory romance. But Ms. Worsley is a charming debunker, among her other duties, and it's her style to put a wry spin on the doings of distant royalty. With "Lucy Worsley's 12 Days of Tudor Christmas" she describes and demonstrates the goings on at Hampton Court at...