Lockdown heroes meet Dolly Parton, Sir Cliff Richard, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow for local BBC radio Christmas series

Date published: 24 December 2020

Music icons Sir Cliff Richard, Dolly Parton, Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue and Gary Barlow will join Owain Wyn Evans for a special week of programmes on local BBC radio this Christmas.

In the feel-good series the BBC’s ‘drumming weatherman’ Owain, introduces the stars to some of England’s Make a Difference heroes of lockdown 2020. Each episode will go out daily at 9am on BBC Radio Manchester over ‘betwixtmas’ week from Monday 28 December to Friday 1 January.

In March, all 39 local BBC stations across England launched Make a Difference – a virtual notice board for those offering help and those needing support. Every day the teams speak to local community heroes - people making meals for the vulnerable, sharing provisions and generally keeping each other going. Now some of these heroes get to meet their own heroes – music legends like Gary Barlow and Kylie Minogue.

Gary speaks to fan Vicky Murphy from Glossop who set up a scheme for nursery children to write letters for elderly people in social isolation, whilst Kylie speaks to Lauren Barclay from Manchester who runs a youth mental health organisation that supports young people with wellbeing. Twenty people work for the charity and she told Kylie how loneliness has been one of many big issues that they have helped with. 

Addressing this, Kylie said: "Listen to people you love and respect – don’t listen to all the noise on social media which can be a double edged sword and cannot do you any favours mentally."

Gary Barlow
Gary Barlow. Photo - Ali Tant


Gary added: “It’s a great time for us to all see our worth. The great thing about this time is that people are clever and people will get us out of this. What a brill idea.”

Each of the programmes will be packed with Christmas spirit and music you love from each of the artists from over the years.

Talking about his own charity work, Sir Cliff Richard said: “I always find it so comforting to know that I could do something. When you think of any individual - you, me anybody - what we do is so finite and tiny, but the bucket will only get full after all those tiny drops that we are fill it. The more people we can get to help others the better.”

He added: “I will keep bringing the music, you keep making a difference.”

Chris Burns, Head of BBC Audio and Digital, said: “This Christmas BBC local radio stations will be there for their listeners like never before. It will be unlike any Christmas we’ve experienced. Through our Make A Difference programming and lots of surprises we will bring everyone together and play our part in lifting the mood across every corner of England.”

What else will be on local BBC radio?

On Christmas Eve at 9pm join ‘England Sings’ for the ultimate socially distanced Christmas Carol Concert. Over the years, local BBC radio stations have organised hundreds of carol concerts. This year with most events cancelled, this special show brings together the classics for an uplifting listen for all the family.

With listeners separated from loved ones, the unique network of BBC local stations will connect families and friends spread across England to ‘Send a Christmas Hug’ to one another. The ‘hugs’ will be broadcast on local TV news in the run up to Christmas and on the radio.

Looking back at this extraordinary year through Make A Difference stories, all local BBC radio stations will broadcast four hour-long specials with music and updates on how these touching stories of community spirit have developed since. These will go out on New Year’s Day at 6pm and across the week between Christmas and New Year.

Do you have a story for us?

Let us know by emailing news@rochdaleonline.co.uk
All contact will be treated in confidence.

To contact the Rochdale Online news desk, email news@rochdaleonline.co.uk or visit our news submission page.

To get the latest news on your desktop or mobile, follow Rochdale Online on Twitter and Facebook.

While you are here...

...we have a small favour to ask; would you support Rochdale Online and join other residents making a contribution, from just £3 per month?

Rochdale Online offers completely independent local journalism with free access. If you enjoy the independent news and other free services we offer (event listings and free community websites for example), please consider supporting us financially and help Rochdale Online to continue to provide local engaging content for years to come. Thank you.

Support Rochdale Online