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BBC to broadcast behind-the-scenes Nutcracker documentary on Christmas Day 2016

A new feature-length documentary captures the backstage preparations for the return of The Royal Ballet's iconic Christmas production.

By Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer)

30 November 2016 at 11.13am | 40 Comments

BBC Two broadcast a special 90-minute documentary following the process of staging The Royal Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker on Christmas Day 2016 at 4pm. It is available to watch on BBC iPlayer for 30 days following broadcast.

The Company allowed the BBC access behind-the-scenes to follow preparations of Peter Wright’s classic ballet, which has returned to Covent Garden to delight audiences once again this Season.

The documentary focuses on the debuts of many young dancers from the Royal Ballet School who make up a troupe of toy soldiers, as well as dancers recently promoted to the Company’s highest rank of Principal, including those preparing to dance the iconic role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The part, performed by some of the Company’s most famous former Principals, Margot Fonteyn and Darcey Bussell, is one of the most technically challenging roles in the repertory.

The documentary filmmakers followed The Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet School closely for three months, capturing a wonderful glimpse into the classic production.

The Royal Opera House and the BBC are partners.

This article has 40 comments

  1. Steph responded on 30 November 2016 at 1:28pm Reply

    Fabulous! Any chance this will be available on youtube afterwards (for those of us who are not in the UK to watch)?

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 1 December 2016 at 10:45am

      Hi Steph,

      I'm afraid we don't have the power to control whether this will be available on YouTube - BBC programmes are usually only available for UK viewers with a TV license. We will of course share as much as we can with our international audiences if possible!

      All the best,


  2. Dewi Hughes responded on 30 November 2016 at 4:00pm Reply

    Do we have a date and time when this will be broadcast?

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 1 December 2016 at 10:44am

      Hi Dewi,

      Details will be announced in due course - the festive broadcast schedule is always subject to change so we want to be completely sure before giving out a date and time. We'll share on our channels as soon as it's confirmed.

      All the best,


  3. Wayne responded on 30 November 2016 at 4:59pm Reply

    Can't wait! I'm going to see this show on Sunday with my daughter, I've worked in the ballet shoe industry for nearly 16 years and have never been to a ballet performance. Should be amazing and to see what goes on behind the scenes too will be intersting.

    • Ost responded on 30 November 2016 at 6:13pm

      Wayne you really should see what your shoes can do. Without them ballet would not be the same!

  4. Angela H responded on 30 November 2016 at 5:17pm Reply

    Sounds wonderfully. Will really look forward to seeing how Nutcracker is produced and staged. Perfect Christmas viewing.

  5. Jennifer Jones responded on 30 November 2016 at 6:04pm Reply

    How wonderful. I saw the Nutcracker last week with my daughter performed at Milton Keynes theatre. Having spent 25 yrs of my life devoted to ballet dancing, it's a shame we have to wait till Xmas day to see any ballet on TV. But thank you I shall be watching.

  6. Wonderful report for the globe of ballet fans! Thank you all the way from Misssouri, USA! Love Royal Ballet!! Best wishes to the company, too.

  7. Mary Ashcliffe responded on 30 November 2016 at 8:48pm Reply

    I hope this will be played on and/or on youtube for those of us not living in the uk. Please?

  8. Sharon Keogh responded on 30 November 2016 at 8:52pm Reply

    Great - love behind the scenes, rehearsals, classes - sometimes even more than the actual perormance. It will be really interesting to see some first timers rehearsing - like Francesca H doing Sugar Plum....this is what we need to see debuts, young dancers being given a chance. I wish this would happen for the actual filmed performances - instead of repeat performers - eg. Lauren C as the Sugar Plum Fairy again on the 8th. I know it doesn't happen all the time but there are more than enough dancers in the company to give other dancers the opportunity especially when filming and that dancer has already been filmed.....just saying.

    • Andrew Walters responded on 6 December 2016 at 10:14am

      Totally agree Sharon. I would have loved to have seen Francesca as Sugar Plum Fairy in the cinema broadcast. She is also very special as Clara though of course!

    • ML responded on 15 December 2016 at 8:28pm

      The trailer has Hayward and Campbell dancing Sugar Plum and Cavalier! Great news for many!

  9. valerie Williams responded on 1 December 2016 at 2:58pm Reply

    I have just watched the video and seen just a fraction of the dedicated hard work that makes your young dancers supreme artists.
    At 73 i experienced my thjrd ballet production which was a priceless treasure of all the combined efforts of the Ballet Royal.
    thankyou for taking this art to its highest peak of perfection in all aspects.
    The Nutcracker as performed on the afternoon of 29th November was spectacularly perfect. A living christmas card from my childhood.
    Thankyou you made me very happy X

  10. Coppelia responded on 3 December 2016 at 5:16pm Reply

    Any prospect of any opera on the beeb this xmas?

  11. Geoff responded on 3 December 2016 at 8:54pm Reply

    There is also a new documentary about Sir Peter Wright being shown on BBC television just after Christmas, all details here:-

  12. Andrew Walters responded on 6 December 2016 at 10:12am Reply

    I am ridiculously excited about this Documentary and hope it features Francesca Hayward and Alexander Campbell strongly!
    I will make sure I leave the Turkey in the oven doing it's own thing while I watch!! I ADORE The Nutcracker!!

  13. Valerie Knight responded on 6 December 2016 at 4:44pm Reply

    I will be delighted to see Lauren Cuthbertson again this year as she was wonderful as Sugar Plum Fairy last year. Partnered by Federico Bonelli this time. I'd love a DVD of that cast. I'm sure the lovely Francesca Hayward will soon be filmed as the Sugar Plum - next year?

  14. alex responded on 8 December 2016 at 7:11pm Reply

    I am a huge Yasmine Naghdi fan and I can't wait to see her Sugar Plum at the ROH on 27th December! I really do hope we get to see Miss Naghdi too in this BBC documentary. It is nice to feature a variety of great RB ballerinas so we get to know them all a bit better.

  15. Pam Myers responded on 9 December 2016 at 8:02am Reply

    Really looking forward to this. Thank you for giving the Bbc such amazing access to your wonderful show!

  16. Welnee, die tweede van Terence Trent d'Arby is het beste wat 'ie ooit gemaakt heeft! Destijds te hoogdravend gebracht en daarom bij voorbaat afgeschoten, da's alles. Veel luzieerplesitr!

  17. paul responded on 16 December 2016 at 3:13pm Reply

    will the Full Ballet be broadcast also, or just the behind the scenes documentary?

    • Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer) responded on 21 December 2016 at 10:38am

      Hi Paul,
      The full ballet is not due to be broadcast by the BBC. However, we will be releasing a DVD of the production in 2017. Keep an eye on our website and our social channels for further updates.
      All best wishes,

  18. Manon1753 responded on 17 December 2016 at 1:54am Reply

    Wonderful news for those living in the UK. And possibly an explanation for the slightly lacklustre material offered during an otherwise DELIGHTFUL Live Nutcracker last week. Since physical presence in the UK is a sine qua non for watching BBC TV, might you include some of that material in a possible DVD version??

  19. Jim Smith responded on 18 December 2016 at 7:46pm Reply

    Will the ballet itself be broadcast or available to stream or buy on disc?

    • Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer) responded on 20 December 2016 at 3:30pm

      Hi Jim,
      Yes, The Nutcracker from our 2016/17 Season will be released on DVD. Do watch this space for more updates.
      All best,

  20. elleG responded on 25 December 2016 at 5:53pm Reply

    A very enjoyable programme with the 'feel good' factor. However, Anna-Rose O'Sullivan is wrongly shown as Anne-Marie O'Sullivan in the credits. Such a pity, especially when her Clara is so delightful.

  21. Terry Ellis responded on 25 December 2016 at 6:02pm Reply

    Who did the designs for the wonderful scenery?

  22. Caroline Toms responded on 2 January 2017 at 8:13pm Reply

    Is this programme going to be repeated on BBC in the near future please?

    • Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer) responded on 7 February 2017 at 3:16pm

      Hi Caroline,
      There are no plans for a repeat at present. We do make TV broadcast announcements on our website as and when we hear about scheduling plans, so do keep an eye on out here for more.
      All best wishes,

  23. Loved this documentary & the one about Sir Peter Wright. Definitely going to get the DVD when it comes out! ☺

  24. Hilary responded on 13 January 2017 at 9:28am Reply

    As a lover of ballet since very young and having danced a little when younger I love this programme and have watched it a few times since. Francesca and Alexander are wonderful partners. It is brilliant.

  25. Helen responded on 16 February 2017 at 10:02am Reply

    Hi - not sure this is the right place to post but my daughters are very upset that my recording of the Christmas "Dancing the Nutcracker" has somehow been deleted from our Sky box. Is there a DVD I can buy? Or any other means of letting them see it again? Would greatly appreciate any help. Thank you!

    • Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer) responded on 17 February 2017 at 2:31pm

      Hi Helen,
      Unfortunately, I think the programme has now expired on iPlayer and there were no plans to release a DVD. But, if we do hear of any re-broadcasts we will include it in our updates across our social channels.
      Sorry to not be of more help.
      All best wishes,

  26. Binkie Bailey responded on 19 February 2017 at 5:26pm Reply

    Terribly disappointed to hear that 'Dancing the Nutcracker' is not to be released on DVD. Watched it several times on iPlayer and was enchanted each time. The whole thing was a triumph! Perhaps BBC may have a change of heart. PLEASE repeat it soon if not.

  27. Chris ball responded on 6 November 2017 at 8:02pm Reply

    Dear ROH
    My wife featured in this and I really want to get a copy for her as a present! Is there anyway I can get a copy?
    Chris Ball

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 7 November 2017 at 10:23am

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your query. This was a BBC documentary, so I'd recommend contacting them to see if they'll be able to help with this.

      Sorry to not be of more help!



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