A stellar cast of celebrities is giving its support to a Christmas celebration concert as it moves online because of the coronavirus.

“Let’s raise a glass to the wonderful work of Macmillan,” says actress Joanna Lumley, in the opening sequence of Follow the Stars, Macmillan Cancer Support’s ‘Celebration of Christmas’ concert, which this year goes online to reach a wider audience to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Joining Joanna Lumley and delivering seasonal readings and poetry are a host of much-loved actors, poets and renowned musicians.


Christ Church Cathedral

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They include Sinead Cusack (King Lear, V for Vendetta,), Stephen Fry (actor, writer, host of QI and so much more), Jeremy Irons (Watchmen, Red Sparrow and Brideshead Revisited), Max Irons (Condor, The Wife, The Riot Club), Toby Jones, (Uncle Vanya, the Detectorists), Greg Wise (The Crown, Military Wives, Sense and Sensibility) and poet Benjamin Zephaniah (Reggae Head, Library Ology, Talking Turkeys).

TV presenter Alexander Armstrong introduces musicians from Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford.


Stephen Fry

World-leading baritones Roderick Williams OBE and Christopher Purves sing The Three Kings and The Carol of the Field Mice, while Alexander Armstrong’s son and New College chorister Paddy Armstrong sings solo In the Bleak Midwinter.

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The voices of the Oxford Bach Soloists, directed by Tom Hammond-Davies and supported by organist Steven Grahl, perform Christmas-themed music.

And the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Dr Steven Croft, will give a blessing.

The concert, named Follow the Stars, will premiere on Friday, December 11 at 8pm and will remain online until December 31.

It will be free to stream. Visit macmillan.org.uk/followthestars to pre-register and receive an invitation to watch.

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A Macmillan nurse

Lynda Thomas chief executive officer of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “It has been a challenging year for Macmillan and for those who depend on our services, so we’d particularly like to thank all those who have been involved in making this glittering Christmas event happen. I shall be watching and encouraging all our supporters around the country to watch, and donate too.”


Alexander Armstrong

Sandra Devaney, chair of the volunteer group behind Follow the Stars, added: “Sadly, this year we can’t all get together in the cathedral but I promise you Follow the Stars will be joyous and uplifting with wonderful Christmas themed music and thought-provoking, funny and poignant readings delivered by our celebrities many from their own homes.”

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It is hoped Follow the Stars fundraising will exceed £52,000 - the sum needed to fund a Macmillan nurse for a year. All donations will go directly to Macmillan Cancer Support via justgiving.com/fundraising/followthestars2020.