Christmas Eve and radio-wise there will be millions tuning to BBC radio and television with good reason. The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is the Christmas Eve service held in King's College Chapel started in 1918 and has been covered by BBC radio since 1928.
You can read about the service and download a service booklet at: http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/events/chapel-services/nine-lessons.html
The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 on 24 December at 1500 UTC http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wqgmv
It is also broadcast at 1400 UTC on Radio 3 on Christmas Day http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wlg7m , and at various times on the BBC World Service: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00cjlc2
It is also on BBC 1 and BBC 2 tv and you can find it on the Listen Again facility at BBC i-player for seven days aftrwards.
I first heard it in 1989. I remember that Christmas well, as the most politically momentous year of my life to date drew to a close. The Berlin Wall had been torn down six weeks earlier, eastern Europe was becoming free, the peace protestors of east and west had finally been vindicated, and even the apartheid regime in South Africa was having to relent. Sadly democracy in China was still to come, and we still wait today, whilst ruthless western capital of so many kinds, from services to products, greedily makes inroads into the Chinese markets with scant regard to using this to help secure soem kind of democracy for the people.
Tuning into Radio Bucharest’s looped and live announcements when the station was seized by the people after the revolution which overthrew the despotic Ceausescus. Hearing the impassioned pleas and gasps of the taste of freedom live on air (in the pre-internet age remember) was breath-taking.
On a lighter note I remember preparing for Christmas in Surrey, watching Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday for the first time- which was a film that endeared me to Jacques Tati and remains a favourite. And then tuning into Radio 4 or the World Service as the day darkened and cooking and present preparations took place all around. The haunting sounds of the carols from Kings hit me and I realised why it had become such an important starting point to so many people’s Christmas across the globe.
I wish you a peaceful Christmas and a brave 2011.