BBC Two's blog

9:30pm Monday 14 January on BBC TWO

As part of BBC Two’s Genius of Invention season, historian Professor Jeremy Black examines one of the most extraordinary and revolutionary periods in British history, explaining the unique economic, social and political conditions that led to Britain becoming the richest, most powerful nation on earth in the 19th century.

It was a time that transformed the way people think, work and play forever.

Tracing the unprecedented explosion of new ideas and technological inventions that transformed Britain’s agricultural society into an increasingly industrial and urbanised one, Why The Industrial Revolution Happened Here explores two fascinating questions – why the industrial revolution happened when it did, and why it happened in Britain.

In this hour long programme, Professor Black discusses the reasons behind this transformation – from Britain’s coal reserves which gave a seemingly inexhaustible source of power to the ascendency of political liberalism, with engineers and industrialists able to meet and share ideas and inventions. He explains the impact that geniuses like Josiah Wedgwood had on the consumer revolution and travels to Antigua to examine the impact Britain’s empire had on the story.

8:30pm Monday 14 January on BBC TWO

Winterwatch is a brand-new live wildlife event for BBC Two broadcasting for four days in the depths of Winter. Following on from the live Autumnwatch event, Winterwatch returns to our base in the Scottish Highlands to capture the beauty, drama and spectacle of the UK’s most iconic animals as they battle to survive the most challenging time of year.

Chris Packham, Martin Hughes-Games and Michaela Strachan will be presenting Winterwatch live from Aigas Field Centre in the spectacular Highlands of Scotland – a landscape that has been transformed by the seasonal changes. Winterwatch’s network of live cameras will monitor the animals’ every move throughout the week. We’ll be catching up with the beaver family, the pine martens, the birds and the red squirrels and finding out whether their preparations for the winter have enabled them all to survive.

Across the UK wildlife is struggling to cope with the harsh realities of winter – short days, plummeting temperatures and a lack of food. The team will report on the array of strategies that different animals adopt to survive these challenges, from Rooks which seek warmth and safety in numbers in spectacular rookeries, to the birds and mammals who find a safe haven in our towns and gardens, as well as the creatures that hunker down and hibernate. Winterwatch will be covering winter spectacles as huge flocks of birds migrate to the UK from colder climes, bringing life and beauty to our fields and shorelines.

Up in Scotland snowy mountains and frozen pine forests have become the UK’s very own Arctic and the team reveals how species like the Ptarmigan and Mountain Hare are uniquely designed to survive the most extreme conditions that our islands can throw at wildlife.

While many animals are toughing it out, one of the UK’s most endearing creatures is at the height of its breeding season. Winterwatch’s Grey Seal diary will unfold across the week, tracking the drama at the fastest growing seal colony on the British mainland. On the Norfolk coast new born pups are struggling to survive while male seals are fighting for the right to mate.

Winterwatch will showcase the beauty of the UK’s wild places in mid-winter, revealing new science and never filmed before behaviour, and giving fresh insight into some of the nation’s best loved animals. The team will be poised to react to any extreme winter weather and to report on the effects it might have on wildlife across the country.

Winterwatch viewers can get involved with the season’s wildlife by following the action from our live cameras online, day and night; by sharing their photos, clips and comments; and experiencing nature first hand in their area using tips from the website.

11:00pm Friday 4 January on BBC TWO

He may be 70 years old, but there is no mellowing the Big Yin – otherwise known as Billy Connolly – as Kirsty Wark finds out in this Review Show Special.

She caught up with Glasgow’s most famous son to discuss his latest acting role in Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut Quartet.

The ever-candid Connolly also talks about his troubled relationship with his father and his hedonistic younger days. And with an imminent role in the Hobbit, there are some unexpected views on Tolkien fans, and Billy gives Kirsty a rare insight into his acting techniques, which include flirting with Dame Judi Dench.

9:00pm Thursday 3 January on BBC TWO

Queen Victoria’s relationships with her children were complex and tumultuous, and historians assert that behind closed doors, royal domestic life was a battlefield.

Spanning 60 years, this three-part family saga explores the reign of Victoria through her personal relationships with her husband and her nine children. It is a story of manipulation, conflict, intimidation, emotional blackmail and fevered attempts by her children to escape the clutches of their domineering and needy mother.

The series uses a wealth of written material and photos left by Victoria, Albert and her children, including letters, diaries, memoirs, and journals, to bring the subject and characters to life.

This final episode focuses on Victoria’s relationship with her sons and how, after Albert’s death, they struggled to assert themselves from beneath their father’s shadow. It explores Victoria’s difficult relationship with her eldest son Bertie, who she blamed for Albert’s death, believing his sexual indiscretions to have fatally weakened her husband. It also examines her relationship with her son Leopold, the physically weak but spirited haemophiliac who put up the most determined effort to break free from his mother’s control.

Ep 3/3

9:00pm Wednesday 2 January on BBC TWO

Queen Victoria’s relationships with her children were complex and tumultuous and historians assert that behind closed doors, royal domestic life was a battlefield.

Spanning 60 years, this three-part family saga explores the reign of Victoria through her personal relationships with her husband and her nine children. It is a story of manipulation, conflict, intimidation, emotional blackmail and fevered attempts by her children to escape the clutches of their domineering and needy mother.

The series uses a wealth of written material and photos left by Victoria, Albert and her children, including letters, diaries, memoirs, and journals, to bring the subject and characters to life.

This second episode concentrates on Victoria’s relationship with her daughters. It looks at how, after Albert’s death, Victoria clung to and bullied them and arranged their marriages. In response, the princesses fought back, becoming unlikely champions of female independence.

Ep 2/3

9:00pm Tuesday 1 January on BBC TWO

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert shared a passionate marriage and historians claim behind closed doors their domestic life was a battlefield.

Spanning 60 years, this three-part family saga explores the reign of Victoria through her personal relationships with her husband and her nine children. It is a story of manipulation, conflict, intimidation, emotional blackmail and fevered attempts by her children to escape the clutches of their domineering and needy mother.

The series uses a wealth of written material and photos left by Victoria, Albert and her children, including letters, diaries, memoirs, and journals, to bring the subject and characters to life.

This first episode focuses on Victoria’s tempestuous relationship with Prince Albert and their attempts to engineer the upbringing of their children, and to save the monarchy by projecting a modern image of the royal family.

Ep 1/3

5:30pm Tuesday 1 January on BBC TWO

On the eve of his retirement as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams gives BBC Two an exclusive insight into his thoughts after 10 years in one of the toughest jobs in Britain.

Goodbye To Canterbury reveals how the art and architecture of Canterbury Cathedral have been a spiritual touchstone throughout his ministry; how ancient stones and relics are signposts in the modern world; and what this extraordinary building has to teach his successors.

The Archbishop reveals how the struggle between the established Catholic church and the new forces of the Reformation shaped the cathedral and, even today, mean it is a divided building. He also reveals how the brave deeds of the ordinary people of Canterbury saved their church from the carpet bombing of the Luftwaffe in 1942 – and most recently, how the ancient stones have taught him how to respond to the pressures of being a modern Archbishop.

This is a journey through 2000 years of English art and architecture: most spectacularly, the exotic tombs of his predecessors, the Archbishops’ throne itself, the oldest illustrated book in England, a casket that once held remains of the most famous saint in the medieval world, and the Miracle Windows showing pilgrims restored to health.

Most importantly, the Archbishop reveals how the tensions between Church and State (which led to the murder of an archbishop in 1170, inside the cathedral) continue today as both the cathedral building and the individual holding the office of Archbishop must struggle to resolve twin loyalties to country and to God.

As Archbishop Williams asserts: “This is the mother church of England… throughout history, any battle about how this space was going to be used was in part a battle for the very soul of England… even today, it is the point of intersection between the kingdom of God, the values of God, and all the skill, the art, the problems, the politics of human beings.”

11:10pm Monday 31 December on BBC TWO

Joining Jools for his 20th Annual Hootenanny – and the last to be filmed at BBC Television Centre – will be a host of stars from all walks of British life and a variety of guest singers sitting in with Jools’ Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, and some of the star turns over the decades and the last 12 months.

British musical icon and recording artist for over 50 years Petula Clark performs two of her biggest songs along with a surprising cover of Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ from her upcoming album; the biggest selling act of 2012, singer-songwriter Emeli Sand� will perform numbers from her million-selling ‘Our Version Of Events’, including her No 1 single ‘Read All About It’, where she will be joined by Professor Green. Also in the studio will be Soul legend Bobby Womack with a track from his recent album ‘The Bravest Man In The Universe’ along with a number or two from his vast back catalogue; one of the UK breakout stars of the year Lianne La Havas will perform her ode to going out with an older man in ‘Age’ plus an Ella Fitzgerald number; King of the charts in the early Eighties, Adam Ant will perform some of his classic pop tunes along with a number from his upcoming album with his new group The Good, The Mad & The Lovely Posse. East London’s own Paloma Faith will perform an Etta James number along with ‘Just Be’ from her big-selling 2012 album; Scandinavian good timers and smart dressers The Hives will be dropping in to dazzle with their rock and roll tunes including crowd favourite ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’; from Detroit, soul singer Bettye Lavette will be performing her 1965 tune ‘Let Me Down Easy’ along with her take on The Black Keys ‘I’m Not The One’ from her new album. Frontman of Dexys Midnight Runners, Kevin Rowland, will be reprising a couple of their classic Eighties tunes along with a number from their 2012 album ‘One Day I’m Going To Soar’. Holding court in the ‘middle of the floor’ will be Nottingham’s newest star, singer-songwriter Jake Bugg who had huge success in 2012, reaching No 1 with his debut album and also sharing the space will be legendary Irish folk group The Dubliners, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary and will be performing a couple of their classic tunes, including the barnstorming ‘The Irish Rover’. Concluding the line-up are Fine Young Cannibals frontman Roland Gift with one or two of their classic tunes, and UK soul singer extraordinaire Ruby Turner.

Add in the reflections and musings of a room full of talent of all descriptions on the departing year, and their predictions for 2013, plus the Pipes & Drums of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards taking us into the New Year the traditional way.?

Producers: Alison Howe & Mark Cooper

Director: Janet Fraser Crook

8:00pm Sunday 30 December on BBC TWO

In this Christmas Special, Dara O Briain and his crack team take a weird and wonderful look at the science behind music.

Special guest James May explores how music is inextricably linked to our emotions, materials scientist Mark Miodownik takes apart an electric guitar and neuroscientist Tali Sharot reports on the ground breaking research which treats Parkinson’s Disease with rhythm. Plus science journalist Alok Jha asks whether computers are ruining music.

Combining lively and in-depth studio discussion, with exploratory films and on-the-spot reports, Dara O Briain’s Science Club takes a single subject each week and examines it from lots of different and unexpected angles – from sex to extinction, Einstein to space exploration and brain chemistry to music. It brings some of the world’s foremost thinkers together to share their ideas on everything, from how to avoid asteroid impact to whether or not we are still evolving.

Ep 6/6

8:15pm Saturday 29 December on BBC TWO

In Climbed Every Mountain, Sue Perkins tells the astonishing true story behind the real Von Trapp family, portrayed almost 50 years ago in one of the most popular films ever made, The Sound Of Music.

The 1965 blockbuster starring Julie Andrews has been seen by over a billion people and continues to captivate generation after generation with its unique message of love and innocence.

However, Salzburg, where the story began, has only now hosted its first ever performance of the musical. The documentary follows Sue Perkins to Austria to discover why the city seems to resent the film that put it on the map. She meets locals with memories of Maria Von Trapp and discovers her astonishing drive and determination that drove the family to become a travelling singing troop living on a tour bus for 22 weeks of the year.

She meets Nicholas Hammond who played Friedrich whose life has continued to be defined by the movie, and she travels to New York and to Stowe in Vermont where the family settled to recreate a little bit of Austria of their own at the Trapp Family Lodge and is privileged to meet 98 year old Maria von Trapp who is the last surviving member of the original seven children.

The film includes rare and unseen footage from the 1950s, as well as beautiful home movies shot during the filming of the movie itself.

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