WONDERLAND : THE STORY OF CHRISTMAS | on Sky Arts on Monday 19th December 2022

Following on from this summer’s hit Wonderland series, Sky Arts is airing a captivating new documentary, Wonderland: The Story of Christmas, on Monday 19th December 2022.
Wonderland: The Story of Christmas will explore classic festive themes which are featured in the novels and poems written in the Golden Age of children’s literature. The authors include Charles Dickens, Hans Christian Andersen, Kenneth Grahame, J. M. Barrie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Rudyard Kipling, C.S. Lewis, Noel Streatfeild, Edith Nesbit, Dylan Thomas and John Masefield.

The programme features a special appearance by former Children’s Laureate Sir Michael Morpurgo, author of The Best Christmas Present in the World, the spellbinding tale of one soldier’s experience of the trenches and the Christmas Day Truce of 1914.  

The show combines biography, literary extracts, and quotations, together with excerpts from the many films made of the work of these authors to explore what was behind these well-known Christmas stories.  Wonderland: The Story of Christmas features an original orchestral score composed by Adrian Munsey.

Care, love and the hope that is offered by Christmas are recurrent themes and vividly created in Wonderland: The Story of Christmas which will premiere in the UK on Monday 19th December on Sky Arts.

The new film examines:

  • The importance of home and love, and the hope offered by Christmas, so vividly first created by Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol. Dickens knew the hardship of poverty and inequality, and A Christmas Carol illuminates both a world of the evil and immorality of poverty, but also creates a Christmas wonderland in this classic story. 
  • Works such as Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, John Masefield’s Box of Delights, Hans Christian Anderson’s A Little Match Girl, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas and Rudyard Kipling’s A Nativity, all evoke a sense of loss in a world that seems heartless and cruel. Christmas is often presented as a respite. 
  • Sir Michael Morpurgo, the writer of The Best Christmas Present in the World, wonderfully describes the background to his Christmas story and the nature of the relationship of writer to reader in haunting and memorable phrases.
  • Tolkien wrote Letters from Father Christmas to his children all through their childhood, creating a Wonderland just for them. Much of his experience was dominated by his haunted memory of the First World War.Tolkien relished in the joys of his family and Christmas with them.
  • In The Wind in the Willows Christmas, Kenneth Grahame particularly creates the sense of a home.
    Rat and Mole create a home – and are touched when the animals from the surrounding countryside come to sing them a carol and make them welcome.
  • Peter Pan, a play synonymous with Christmas and the pantomime, is the story of a boy with no home and who will never see his mother again.
  • Christmas is sometimes a time when loss is felt the most.Kipling, who lost two of his three children, wrote his Christmas poem A Nativity about the death of his son John at the Battle of Loos in 1915. 
  • C.S. Lewis seems so different from the grief-stricken Rudyard Kipling when he wrote his angry strictures about the commercialisation of Christmas. Nevertheless, he too, a great writer for children, suffered great loss when his mother died when he was just seven.
  • Dylan Thomas remembers a much happier and simpler memory of Christmas – though an intensely nostalgic one – in his evoking and touching A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

Wonderland: The Story of Christmas will premiere on
Monday 19th December on Sky Arts.