BBC Four's blog

9:00pm Wednesday 16 January on BBC FOUR

Mercier’s mission becomes all too dangerous as his cover is compromised while trying to unearth German military plans, and a man believed dead reappears, sparking significant repercussions for both Mercier and Anna. Will Mercier discover the truth in time and what consequences will this have on the rest of Europe?

Led by intelligence from Dr Lapp, Mercier travels to Czechoslovakia to find and question the illusive ‘Seagull’, a German activist who is on the run from the Nazis.

Finding Seagull reluctant to become involved with the French, Mercier soon takes matters with into his own hands and persuades him to travel to Berlin under false identities. There, with Seagull’s help, Mercier hopes to employ a man who could prove to be a powerful ally against the Nazi regime.

As Mercier’s superiors become increasingly frustrated with his lack of protocol and risk-taking, they begin to question the intelligence he has gathered, when finally, Mercier finds himself in opposition to his own government. Frustrated with work and longing for the beautiful Anna, he returns to Paris and the support of his younger sister Gabrielle (Tuppence Middleton), eventually seeking solace at the old family estate and his father’s well-stocked wine cellar.

Now the threat of war becomes all too real as tensions rise across Europe and Mercier has to make difficult decisions.

Cast: David Tennant as Jean-Francois Mercier, Janet Montgomery as Anna Skarbek, Marcin Dorocinski as Antoni Pakulski, Anton Lesser as Dr Lapp, Adam Godley as Julius Halbach, Alan Corduner as Viktor Rozen, Linda Bassett as Malka Rozen, Tuppence Middleton as Gabrielle, Fenella Woolgar as Lady Angela Hope, Ellie Haddington as Madame Dupin and Julian Glover as General Beauvilliers.

Ep 2/2

10:00pm Monday 14 January on BBC FOUR

As America remains embroiled in overseas conflict, a less visible war is taking place at home, costing countless lives, destroying families, and inflicting untold damage on future generations of Americans.

For over 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world’s largest jailer, and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet for all that, drugs are more available today than ever before.

Filmed in more than 20 states by critically acclaimed filmmaker Eugene Jarecki, Storyville: The House I Live In captures a definitive and heart-wrenching portrait of individuals at all levels of America’s War on Drugs. From the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge, the film offers a penetrating look inside America’s longest war, revealing its profound human rights implications.

While recognizing the seriousness of drug abuse as a matter of public health, the film investigates the tragic errors and shortcomings that have instead treated it as a matter for law enforcement, creating a vast political and economic machine that feeds largely on America’s poor, especially minority communities. Yet beyond simple misguided policy, the film investigates how political and economic corruption have fueled the war for 40 years, despite persistent evidence of its moral, economic, and practical failures.

Ultimately, Storyville: The House I Live In seeks, through compassionate enquiry, to promote public awareness of the history and contemporary mechanics of this human rights crisis and to begin a national conversation about its reform.

9:00pm Monday 14 January on BBC FOUR

South America is the perfect place to keep secrets. Its jungles, mountain ranges and river systems are daunting obstacles for any explorer. It is a continent that has beguiled adventurers for centuries.

With temples hidden deep in the jungle, sprawling mountain citadels, dank underground tombs and exquisite images of long-forgotten gods and kings carved into stone, South America has only just begun to relinquish the secrets of some of the most ancient kingdoms in the world.

Presented by archaeologist Dr Jago Cooper, BBC Four reveals the extraordinary history of some of South America’s ancient civilizations, exploring spectacular ruins and investigating the myths and legends that surround these mysterious kingdoms. The four-part series will journey through Peru in two episodes before moving on to Bolivia and Colombia – revealing the true character of a stunning continent through its history, culture, people and landscapes.

The series explores some of the richest and most vibrant histories in the world, revealing fascinating stories of complex and sophisticated civilisations that existed for up to a millennium before their fall to the Incas and the Spanish in the middle ages.

In the first episode, Dr Jago Cooper embarks on an epic journey into the remote Peruvian Andes in search of the mysterious Chachapoya people. Known as ‘The People of the Clouds’, Dr Cooper reveals how they developed sophisticated methods of recording stories, traded in exotic goods found hundreds of miles from their territory, and had funeral traditions that challenge assumptions about ancient human behaviour. His search for evidence takes him to astonishing cliff tombs untouched for 500 years, and one of the most spectacular fortresses in South America, where their final fate is revealed.

Ep 1/4

9:00pm Wednesday 9 January on BBC FOUR

It is 1937, and Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier, a highly decorated soldier from the First World War, is the military attache stationed in Warsaw, Poland while the shadow of Hitler’s Nazi regime looms over mainland Europe.

Mercier is grossly suspicious of the German military’s intentions, but he must juggle his formal duties at stifling diplomatic functions with the often death-defying realities of espionage.

With intelligence from his German informant Edvard Uhl, Mercier sets out on a stealth mission with his trusted accomplice Marek, where they discover that the Nazis are ensuring any future invasion of Poland can take place effectively and with little resistance. Mercier almost gets caught and killed during the mission, narrowly escaping, and thereby facing the wrath of French bureaucrat Jourdain, who is anxious to avoid the further heightening of diplomatic tension.

Amid the threat of a second world war, Mercier is also vying for the affections of Parisian lawyer Anna Skarbek, currently in an empty-shell relationship with Russian �migr� and political journalist Maxim. As Mercier and Anna’s relationship develops, it is clear that she must choose between both men. But will Mercier’s feelings for Anna jeopardise his mission and can she be trusted?

With David Tennant as Jean-Francois Mercier, Janet Montgomery as Anna Skarbek, Marcin Dorocinski as Antoni Pakulski, Piotr Baumann as Maxim Mostov, Ludger Pistor as Edvard Uhl, Miroslaw Zbrojewicz as Marek, Burn Gorman as Jourdain, Alan Corduner as Viktor Rozen, Linda Bassett as Malka Rozen and Ann Eleonora J�rgensen as Olga Musser.

Ep 1/2

9:00pm Sunday 30 December on BBC FOUR

Hollywood’s Lost Screen Goddess Clara Bow tells the story of one of the greatest stars of the silent era.

Clara Bow is almost forgotten today, but as a silent film star, her level of fame was unparalleled. Lauded as the first ever sex symbol, for a while she was box office gold. She was a trailblazer, whose natural acting style hadn’t been seen before.

Biographer David Stenn asserts: “Billy Wilder called it ‘flesh impact’ … and the only people he ever saw who had that were Clara Bow and Marilyn Monroe.”

But in just a few short years everything had changed. Clara Bow’s public fall from grace into virtual obscurity reflects a turbulent period for Hollywood as a whole. It came at a time when one of the most significant changes in cinematic history took place, the switch from the hugely popular silent films to the talkies.

This documentary tells the life story of an actress born on the wrong side of the tracks who, for a while, became Hollywood royalty. The film is a rediscovery of a significant talent destroyed by hypocrisy and fame.

9:00pm Saturday 22 December on BBC FOUR

In this BBC Four Christmas special, Arena: Screen Goddesses charts the Hollywood studio era from its beginning through to its collapse in the early 1960s, and through the meteoric rise and fall of the screen goddesses that made it.

With the beginning of Hollywood around 1910, the star system was born, with an archetypal bad girl – the vampish Theda Bara – and the good girl – the blazingly sincere Lillian Gish. From the 1920s, the female stars most remembered today are the vivacious ‘It’ Girl Clara Bow and the seductive siren Louise Brooks; but none made the impact of German born, Marlene Dietrich, an icon of mystery or the ‘Great Garbo’ with perfect features and gloomy introspection.

From the power of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis to the beauty and seductiveness of Rita Hayworth and Ava Gardner, Hollywood studios produced their own brand of beautiful, sassy and confident women. But it wasn’t to last.

Arena: Screen Goddesses uses film extracts and archive footage to chronicle an era that drew to a close with the supreme fame of Elizabeth Taylor and the tragic death of Marilyn Monroe. It will chart those final days of the reign of the goddess on the big screen – screen queens whose images will last forever.

Narrated by ?Elizabeth McGovern

9:00pm Saturday 15 December on BBC FOUR

It’s election day, and the Prime Minister has everything to gain, as long as Emilie’s fate remains uncertain.

But Kamper is still haunted by personal demons, and issues of loyalty from within his own ranks rear their ugly heads once again. Meanwhile, as Lund and Borch start to look ahead, police are led to an undisclosed location in a last-ditch attempt to find Emilie before it’s too late. They are followed by a now dangerously tense Robert Zeuthen. Will the operation succeed in bringing the girl to safety?

Cast includes Sofie Gr�b�l as Sarah Lund, Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Mathias Borch and Morten Suurballe Lennart Brix.

In Danish with English subtitles.

Ep 10/10

9:00pm Saturday 15 December on BBC FOUR

Sarah Lund is held back in her attempts to make headway with the investigation, but at least the perpetrator finally has a face.

Will he lead police and the Zeuthens to Emilie? Prime Minister Kamper is trying to clean up his circle as he attempts to find out what happened to his son. Suspicions arise about a trusted Zeeland figure as Robert Zeuthen considers drastic action.

Cast includes Sofie Gr�b�l as Sarah Lund, Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Mathias Borch and Morten Suurballe Lennart Brix.

In Danish with English subtitles.

Ep 9/10

9:00pm Sunday 2 December on BBC FOUR

Solar Mamas follows the remarkable story of Rafea – a mother of four from Jordan who challenges the status quo of her traditional marriage by travelling to India to train as a solar engineer for six months.

Along with 27 other mothers and grandmothers from poor communities around the world – many of whom are illiterate – she will learn the skills needed to bring electricity and light back to her village.

For Rafea, this will be a life-changing journey. As the second wife of a Bedouin husband living in a remote part of the Jordanian desert, she has had limited opportunities in life. Now she has been selected to attend the Barefoot College in India run by the inimitable Roy Bunker. Alongside women from Kenya, Burkina Faso and Colombia, and across cultural and language divides, Rafea will need to get to grips with electrical components, circuit boards and soldering. Rafea’s new knowledge will see her do things she never imagined, but it will also have an unanticipated effect on her relationship with her patriarchal husband.

Addressing themes of education, gender equality, environmental sustainability and development, Solar Mamas is an inspiring and compelling look at poverty – and the ways women around the world are working to pull themselves out of the poverty trap.

A BBC Storyville film, produced in partnership with The Open University, Solar Mamas will screen as part of Why Poverty? – when the BBC and the OU, in conjunction with more than 70 broadcasters around the world, will host a debate about contemporary poverty.

10:00pm Saturday 1 December on BBC FOUR

Police are led to the Jutland region by their investigation.

Here, Borch and Lund make an eerie discovery and find themselves in danger. Back at Police Headquarters pressure grows on Brix, as management question his judgment.

Prime Minister Kamper hesitates in implementing his decision following doubts about Emilie’s fate. Meanwhile, Ussing is found to have been harbouring a secret.

Cast include Sofie Gr�b�l as Sarah Lund, Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Mathias Borch and Morten Suurballe Lennart Brix

In Danish with English subtitles.

Ep 6/10

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