TUESDAY Hansel and Gretel (A&E cable, 8-10:30 p.m.): This BBC production places Humperdinck's 1893 holiday staple in a depressed English town during the days after World War II, where the sight of a gingerbread house is too much for hungry kids to resist. But the delicious folk-lyric score is the familiar and well-loved one, and the English National Opera Company does re-create the traditional atmosphere of whimsical fantasy. The Homecoming (CBS, 12:30-2:30 p.m.): Lots of viewers wouldn't call it Christmas without revisiting Earl Hamner's award-winning 1971 drama about a rural American family during the Depression. Starring Patricia Neal and a young Richard Thomas, the simple, moving story has long since outlived the popular '70s TV series it led to: ``The Waltons.''

IX International Tchaikovsky Competition (PBS, 9-10:30 p.m.): The drama and suspense are almost palpable among classically trained contestants from some 35 nations in this prestigious musical event, as cameras focus on the musicians inside the hall and in the street. It takes place in Moscow every four years, and this time the Soviet political turmoil provides an added element.

THURSDAY A Neighborhood Redeemed (PBS, 10-11 p.m.): People in Detroit's Ravendale section decided they didn't have to accept the poverty and drugs plaguing their area - and proved it. Narrated by Ossie Davis, the heartening documentary profiles individual activists who made truly positive changes - from block clubs to after-school activities - that reclaimed their community.

Please check local listings for all programs, especially on PBS.

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