BBC Four

Richard Klein, Controller BBC Four, today announced further details on the first BBC Four online collection and a major new arts series for the channel at the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival.

In September, BBC Four will launch its first online collection for the channel’s Army Season.

BBC Four’s Army Season takes a contemporary look at the art of soldiering, the history and culture of its regimental make up, and the specialist skills in logistics that make the modern British Army one of the most efficient forces anywhere in the world. It includes a new series on The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and a series on five different regiments, Regimental Stories. As part of the season, there will be a comprehensive BBC Four Archive collection – forty programmes available on the BBC Four website, exploring the changes undergone by the British soldier in the 20th century.

The archive stretches from the early 1950s through to the 1990s and includes highlights such as the first recorded Trooping of the Colour; peacekeeping in the desert hills of the Yemeni hinterland in the Aden crisis in Soldier In The Sun; and the logistics of providing UN peacekeeping support in Angolain Defence Of The Realm. It provides a fascinating insight into social history and the way our military history has been reported over the decades.

This is the first online collection and launches BBC Four’s enhanced role as the gateway through which audiences can explore the rich heritage of BBC TV programming online. Richard Klein will curate both the linear and digital offerings, while Mark Urban, Diplomatic and Defence Editor for Newsnight, will introduce the Army collection online.

Richard Klein said: “With the launch of the Army collection online, BBC Four becomes a fully digital brand able to offer viewers a permanent collection of programmes to enjoy at any time. They will be carefully curated by BBC Four and will enable viewers to delve more deeply into subjects that they have enjoyed on the channel. Over time, as we add new collections, there will be an extensive range of archive programmes available online.”

Richard Klein also announced a major new arts series, Art Nouveau, which looks at how the movement flourished in the burgeoning cities of Europe at the end of the 19th century, reflecting an explosion of new ideas about nature, sex, the city and God. Its artists and designers fed on the frentic energy of the streets. In less than a decade Art Nouveau went from nowhere to everywhere. Paying no homage to history or tradition, it proposed decoration and beauty as an antidote to 19th century decorum and earnestness. By 1914 the movement was gone as soon as the war started.

In this three-part series, BBC Four will explore the European cities which most powerfully expressed the movement at its creative heights, connecting the impact of the movement on the fabric of those cities today. It will also plunder rare archive footage and photo archives to bring the movement to life today. With access to some of the greatest collections and using interesting new camera techniques, BBC Four will take viewers behind closed doors to see exquisite objects, some never before seen on TV, and to explore the story and legacy of Art Nouveau.

Richard Klein, Controller, BBC Four, has today announced a broadcast media partnership with The Institute of Art and Ideas for the world’s largest philosophy and music festival held annually in Hay-on-Wye, HowTheLightGetsIn.

The partnership enables festival-goers to sample some exclusive screenings of forthcoming philosophical programming on offer from BBC Four, with added insight from invited speakers and consultants from the programmes.

Invited speakers include Controller of BBC Four, Richard Klein, who will be introducing a documentary called Justice: a Citizen’s Guide To The 21st Century; John Mullan, director of In Their Own Words: Great Thinkers, will host a question and answer session around two premieres of the series; James Rogan director of Storyville’s Amnesty documentary will host a debate; and Jonty Claypole, BBC Four Executive Producer, will present an illustrated talk of great philosophers through the BBC Archive.

Running from 26 May to 6 June 2011, this prestigious philosophy and music festival takes place in Hay-on-Wye, with over 200 events on offer, featuring some of the top musicians, academics and public figures from the philosophy and music world. The BBC will host sessions on Sunday 29 May and on the documentary celebration day, Thursday 2 May.

Richard Klein commented: “Whether it’s the exploration of Justice in our society, or a trawl through the BBC’s archives with the help of the Open University to find the voices of great philosophers, BBC Four is dedicated to in-depth coverage of a wide range of philosophy subjects.

“The channel seeks to explore the great thinkers, debates and issues that affect us today through programming with purpose and proposition. We’re delighted to partner with HowTheLightGetsIn Philosophy and Music Festival for the first time as we feel that we share very similar ambitions for intelligent, witty and in-depth discussion about a subject we both feel passionately about.”


BBC programmes and session at HowTheLightGetsIn are as follows:


Sunday 29 May


In Their Own Words Episodes 1 & 2

Featuring a Q&A with John Mullan, Director

BBC Four will present two screenings of Great Thinkers In Their Own Words, made in association with Open University. The series mines the BBC archive for footage of the great minds of the 20th century, including archival and rare footage of Sigmund Freud, Noam Chomsky, Carl Jung, William Beveridge, Margaret Mead and Richard Dawkins. The series also features interviews with leading figures of the modern age, including John Gray, Roger Scruton, Alain De Botton, David Milliband, Germaine Greer and David Attenborough, commenting on the great thinkers of the past. Both screenings will be accompanied by a Question and Answer session with John Mullan the director of the films.


Storyville – Amnesty! When They Are All Free 

Featuring a debate with James Rogan, Director

Storyville – Amnesty! When They Are All Free brings together an extraordinary cast of interviewees, from Sting and Rowan Atkinson to Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, one of the organisation’s founders, and Jack Straw, the Home Secretary who released General Pinochet. Made with unprecedented access to Amnesty, the programme follows the new Secretary General Salil Shetty as he battles with the problems of prisoners in China and homophobia in Uganda and poses the fundamental question – has the human rights movement been able to hold back mankind’s capacity for atrocity? After the screening there will be a discussion with James Rogan the director of the film.


Thursday 2 June


Justice: A Citizen’s Guide To The 21st Century 

Richard Klein (Controller of BBC Four) to introduce this session with Q&A afterwards

Filmed in Boston, Berlin, London and Athens, in Justice – A Citizen’s Guide To The 21st Century, Harvard Professor Michael Sandel presents an extraordinary philosophical travelogue which combines the biographies of three leading thinkers from the Enlightenment and the Ancient World with a thought-provoking examination of modern ideas of social justice and citizenship. This thought-provoking film includes interviews with contemporary philosophers, politicians and thinkers from all around the globe.


Brains On The Box: turning philosophy into television 

Illustrated talk by Jonty Claypole (Executive Producer)

Jonty Claypole, executive producer of forthcoming series Great Thinkers: In Their Own Words (in association with the Open University), looks at how some of the great minds of the 20th century have used television to communicate their ideas.

BBC Four and The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival today announced the line-up for their fourth broadcast media partnership, with a dedicated weekend of BBC Four events.

This year’s Oxford Literary Festival which runs from 2 to 10 April will include two days of events presented by BBC Four, to mark the BBC’s Year of Books. There will also be a major tribute to Harold Pinter.

Across the second weekend (9 and 10 April) several special Festival screenings will take place with key participants present, all of them in the new state of the art lecture theatre at Merton College. They include:

On Saturday 9 April – The Beauty Of Books (10am) with producer/director Michael Waterhouse; a talk and excerpts from William Ivory’s adaptation of Women In Love (12noon) and, on Sunday 10 April Adam Nicolson discusses his documentary and the worldwide bestseller The Making Of The King James Bible (10am); In Their Own Words Executive Producer Jonty Claypole presents a workshop on great writers in the BBC’s archives (12 noon); Henry Hitchings with the enthusiastically previewed Birth Of The British Novel (2pm); and the BBC’s Creative Director, Alan Yentob, introducing his Imagine (4pm) programme on Tolstoy, which will transmit on BBC One.

Richard Klein, Controller BBC Four, said: “We’re delighted to partner with the Oxford Literary Festival again this year, supporting in depth discussion and enjoyment of literature through BBC Four programmes and their expert contributors. In the BBC’s Year of Books, there are rich pickings to choose from, whether it is William Ivory’s spectacular adaptation of Women In Love, Adam Nicolson’s fascinating insight to the making of the King James Bible, or great explorations of the beauty of books, the birth of the British novel or the rich BBC archive of writers. From our colleagues on BBC One, there is a preview of Alan Yentob’s Imagine on Tolstoy, rounding off a packed weekend at the new TS Eliot Lecture Theatre at Merton College.”

At Corpus Christi on Friday 8 April (6.30pm) the Festival salutes Britain’s greatest post-war playwright, Harold Pinter, with readings by Dame Harriet Walter and Kenneth Cranham followed by a screening of the BBC Two Arena Pinter special with film-makers Anthony Wall and Martin Rosenbaum present. Also in attendance will be Lady Antonia Fraser. The event will be introduced by producer and Festival film, television and theatre consultant, Graham Benson.

Graham Benson said: “It is entirely appropriate that the festival comes together with our partners at the BBC to join this celebration. It is a great opportunity for festival goers to be part of this timely, vital and hugely enjoyable strand of programming together with the creative talent involved.

“We are also proud and delighted to pay proper tribute to Harold Pinter, who will be remembered as a fine actor and director as well a towering playwright and screenwriter. This event continues our strong relationship with Arena, a hugely important and much loved BBC programme. And of course we are pleased to continue our ongoing relationship with BBC Four, with whom we share many ambitions and a love of books.”

BBC Four is proud to announce that acclaimed director Bernardo Bertolucci is to be the recipient of the World Cinema Achievement Award at the seventh BBC Four World Cinema Awards, celebrating the best of international film-making and highlighting the channel’s commitment to international cinema.

With a career spanning five decades, Bertolucci is one of the pioneering figures of 20th Century Italian cinema from his early films La Commare Secca (1962) and The Conformist (1970). Collaborations with international producers made him a respected director on a global scale, The Last Tango In Paris (1972), 1900 (1976) and the nine times Academy Award-winning The Last Emperor (1987), including Best Picture and Best Director for Bertolucci.

Mark Bell, Commissioning Editor, BBC Arts, says: “It is an amazing privilege to welcome the legendary Bernardo Bertolucci to this year’s awards. He has been at the vanguard of Italian and Western cinema for nearly f50 years, and I am honoured to have him associated with this year’s Achievement Award.”

Bertolucci will receive his award at a special BBC Four television ceremony, presented by Jonathan Ross on Thursday 7 October 2010 at the BFI Southbank in London to be aired on Saturday 9 October 2010. BBC Four will also showcase Bernardo Bertolucci’s talents by broadcasting his 1990 epic The Sheltering Sky in conjunction with the World Cinema Awards in October.

In addition to Bertolucci receiving his award, The World Cinema Awards will also celebrate the best of foreign film with an award to a film voted for by top UK-wide film writers. This year’s shortlist is as follows, with the winner to be announced on the 7 October 2010:

Let The Right One In (director: Tomas Alfredson) 

Twelve year-old Oskar is a shy boy, regularly bullied by his classmates. When Eli moves in next door, she and Oskar become friends, but this nocturnal neighbour is not what she seems. As their relationship develops, Oskar and Eli are drawn into a strange and seemingly impossible relationship.This brilliant film is a vampire thriller, a revenge fantasy and a tender love story.

I Am Love (director: Luca Guadagnino) 

Tilda Swinton is brilliant as the matriarch of a well-to-do Milanese family in this film about wealth, ritual and style. With a strange poise and grace she appears somehow removed from events. When the opportunity to indulge her own senses and emotions appears, the veneers of class, duty and loyalty slowly peel away. A sumptuous melodrama topped with a resplendent soundtrack by John Adams.

A Prophet (director: Jacques Audiard) 

This red-blooded prison drama charts the rise of a young French-Muslim inmate through a prison’s inner-criminal ranks. Falling in with the ruling Corsican gang, Malik must navigate the violence and ethnic mistrust of prison life. An essay in hard realism. A Prophet offers a steely take on racial tensions in France by a master of the contemporary French thriller genre.

The White Ribbon (director: Michael Haneke) 

Superbly shot in black and white, Haneke’s dazzlingly intelligent film is a revealing, resonant study of a seemingly prosperous village in Germany just before the First World War. Malicious incidents – some small, some not small – are happening around the village and, while no perpetrator is identified, the very structure of this small community seems to be under threat.

Waltz With Bashir (director: Ari Folman) 

From contemporary interviews with fellow veterans, director Ali Folman seeks to retrieve and make sense of his own memories of the 1982 Lebanon War. Almost entirely through animation, a vivid and subjective picture of conflict emerges. This extraordinary and powerful film has caused great debate about the horrors of war, individuals’ roles in it and about the blurred lines between memory, documentary and fiction.

The World Cinema Awards is a Scotland Arts production for BBC Vision, Executive Produced by Allan Campbell, commissioned by Arts Commissioning Editor Mark Bell for and on behalf of Richard Klein, Controller of BBC Four.

Simon Bird locked in for Inbetweeners film

Simon Bird (Will) has reportedly signed on to appear in the upcoming Inbetweeners film after allegedly holding out for a better deal. The film has begun shooting in Crete with all of the original cast involved.

ITV confirms Paul O’Grady’s show premiere

ITV has confirmed that Paul O’Grady’s new show will begin on September 10 on ITV1. The hour-long Paul O’Grady Live! will screen at 9pm on Friday September 10 with Sir Tom Jones among O’Grady’s first guests.

Billy Joel music for Glee

More Billy Joel music will pop up in the second season of Glee after the singer agreed to its use. Joel’s Piano Man featured in the first season in a duet sung by guest Neil Patrick Harris and Matthew Morrison.

4m watch Josie win Big Brother

The Big Brother finale on Tuesday night, in which Josie was crowned the winner, pulled an audience of 4 million viewers on Channel 4. The show pulled a 17.7% audience share between 8pm and 10.50pm.

BBC Four to air Anna Nicole Smith opera

BBC Four has announced it will broadcast an opera based on the life of Anna Nicole Smith, who passed away in 2007. Smith will be played by Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek and is expected to air in early next year.

Comedian Billy Connolly, fiddler Aly Bain and award-winning novelist Andrew Greig were caught in a blizzard while filming a tribute to their friend, the great Scottish poet Norman MacCaig (1910-96).

To mark the centenary of MacCaig’s birth, the trio undertook a journey to find the elusive trout of MacCaig’s favourite fishing spot – the Loch of the Green Corrie, 1,600ft up a mountainside in Assynt in the North West Highlands, where he spent every summer for 40 years “filling my camel’s hump” for the rest of the year in Edinburgh.

Their quest, which was filmed for a programme to be screened on BBC Scotland and BBC Four over the autumn winter period, was hit, however, by a massive overnight snowstorm at the end of May.

Despite terrible conditions, the trio were determined to resume their fishing bid the following morning but, as Billy said: “Could Norman no’like Jamaica or something?”

Nevertheless, he later admitted: “I’m glad I came here. I think it was a terrific idea. The night made it an ordeal but, until then, it was absolutely terrific. I nearly set fire to my sleeping bag – it was that cold!”

And he gave the thumbs up to the Loch of the Green Corrie: “It’s a strange place. I do like it. It’s got a haunted sort of feel to it.”

Aly Bain was similarly upbeat: “I remember Norman talking about up the Loch of the Green Corrie, but I never went fishing with him so this was payback time for me – to go fishing where he went.”

Andrew Greig, whose book about MacCaig, At The Loch Of The Green Corrie, has been high on the Scottish best-seller lists, added: “Being here in Assynt for anybody who knows Norman’s poetry is like living inside his skull!”

As well as the fishing expedition, the hour-long programme, which is being made by Glasgow-based Pelicula Films, features tributes, anecdotes and readings of favourite MacCaig poems by friends and fellow poets including Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, Liz Lochhead, Alasdair Gray and Douglas Dunn.

The programme is one of two co-commissions between BBC Scotland and BBC Four, which feature in the latter’s autumn winter season (announced today, 25 August).

The other programme on Peter Howson will transmit on BBC Scotland under the ArtWorks banner.

Filmed over two years, this portrait of Peter Howson, by Hand Pict, follows the painter as he tackles a major commission for Glasgow’s Catholic cathedral and tells the story of his turbulent life from Eighties stardom to his religious-themed work today.


The BBC’s international documentary film strand returns to BBC Four for a new season of films, including:

The Real PM, an observational documentary following Peter Mandelson in the run-up to this year’s general election. Hannah Rothschild’s film shows Mandelson at his ministry, masterminding the election campaign and dealing with colleagues such as Gordon Brown and Alastair Campbell. With unprecedented access to key events and conversations, this is a fascinating behind-the-scenes exploration of British politics.

It’s A Kid’s World is a series of films revealing the extraordinary lives of talented children around the planet, ranging from a nine-year-old hip-hop star in New York to the children enrolled in a boxing academy in Havana and a six-year-old girl who sets the contemporary art world alight.

YouTube Hero – The Winnebago Man is a romp through the strange world of internet stardom, as experienced by Jack Rebney, a foul-mouthed salesman in the Eighties whose outtakes became a global phenomenon.

Pablo’s Hippos intriguingly chooses to tell the story of drugs baron Pablo Escobar from the perspective of one of the hippos living in his zoo.

And The Trouble With Pirates takes the viewer deep into the world of Somali piracy, showing the battle for the seas from all perspectives.

Germany Season

This autumn BBC Four dedicates four new series to the art, landscape, culture and history of Germany.

Andrew Graham-Dixon undertakes a historical tour of Germany through its artistic achievements. His three-part series, Art Of Germany, explores the country’s painting and sculpture, considering in particular the dominant themes of landscape, folklore and national identity. Andrew follows a geographical as well as chronological journey, exploring the cultural centres of the Medieval, Renaissance and Romantic eras culminating in the story of Germany’s art in the convulsive and tumultuous 20th century.

In German Wanderlust, Julia Bradbury takes her boots and backpack to explore the landscape of Germany and the cultural movement that made it famous – Romanticism. Julia walks through four very different parts of Germany; the Rhine, the Bavarian Alps, Ruegen and Saxon Switzerland, exploring river valleys, coastlines, mountains and gorges.

Following in the footsteps of Richard Wagner, Caspar David Friedrich and Johannes Brahms as well as British “romantics” like William Turner and Lord Byron, this is Julia’s chance to discover her own sense of “wanderlust”.

In Frederick The Great And The Enigma Of Prussia, author and historian professor Christopher Clark tells the story of the life and afterlife of the Prussian King.

Frederick the Great was one of the most extraordinary figures in European history. This film explores his reputation both as a military genius and warlord and as an enlightened “philosopher king”. From the epic history of his 46-year rule, to his legacy over the past two centuries, this film offers a compelling vision of the evolution of Prussia, through the life, political iconography and cult of Frederick the Great.

Al Murray’s German Adventure sees the award winning comic embark on a journey to discover the real Germany. In a breathtaking odyssey through one of the country’s coldest winters, Al casts aside the classic German stereotypes of sausages, beer and Nazis – and the preconceptions that have fuelled the Pub Landlord’s “Kraut comedy”.

Instead, he unearths two centuries of stunning arts and culture which, undoubtedly, have profoundly influenced the Britain we know today.


Greek Myths – Tales Of Travelling Heroes

Pre-eminent classical historian Robin Lane Fox takes viewers on a journey in search of the origins of Greek legend in Greek Myths – Tales Of Travelling Heroes.

Robin believes these fantastical stories lie at the root of western culture, and yet little is known about where the myths of the Greek gods came from and how they developed. After 35 years of travelling, excavation and interpretation, he is now confident he has uncovered answers.

From the ancient lost city of Hattusas in modern Turkey to the smouldering summit of the Sicilian volcano Mount Etna, Greek Myths – Tales Of Travelling Heroes takes viewers on a dazzling voyage through the Mediterranean world of the 8th-century BC, following in the slipstream of an intrepid and mysterious group of merchants and adventurers from the Greek island of Euboea.

Along the way, he brings to life exuberant tales of castration and baby eating, the birth of human sexual love, and the titanic battles with giants and monsters from which the gods of Greek myth were to emerge victorious.



This new three-part series about the global perfume industry explores the astonishing creativity behind a commodity that uses single molecules to whisper to the subconscious, trigger memories and spark emotions.

From inside this multi-billion dollar business, the series follows the stories of perfumers, scientists, marketing gurus, as well as the celebrities who lend their names to a few ounces of fluid in the hope of striking it rich.

Spending a year with the chemical corporations that rule the mass-market and the ancient houses that produce the famous classics, the series reveals the questions obsessing the industry: How much is too much? Could the plethora of smell-alikes topple scent from its luxury pedestal? And what to do when the average consumer is no longer a well-heeled Western woman, but a cash-rich worker in rural China?

This is truly a fascinating insight into the world surrounding perfume.


Foreign Language Film Premieres

There is an exciting and diverse selection of foreign language film premieres on BBC Four this season.

The award-winning Italian film, Gomorrah, directed by Matteo Garrone and based on the best-selling exposé of the Naples Mafia by Roberto Saviano, who is now living under police protection, reveals the hard truth about the Neapolitan crime syndicate known as the Camorra.

The action continues in OSS 117 – Cairo, Nest of Spies where an ill-equipped spy is stationed in Cairo. Hilarity ensues as this witty adventure sends-up the Sixties spy film genre.

Dark Korean thriller The Chaser follows a breathless race against time as a disgraced police detective attempts to catch a psychopathic serial killer responsible for the disappearance of a string of prostitutes.

Another chase follows in The Edge Of Heaven, where a young Turkish man leaves Germany in pursuit of the daughter of his father’s girlfriend.

In a lighter, delightful film, Blame It On Fidel, we see a nine-year-old Parisian girl’s idyllic life in 1970 Paris disrupted when her parents get caught up in the spirit of revolution and embrace communism.


Award-winning actress and comedy writer Ruth Jones (Gavin & Stacey, Tess Of The D’Urbervilles) stars as larger-than-life Carry On actress Hattie Jacques, in this one-off film about her secret affair with a younger man in the early Sixties, while still married to Dad’s Army star John Le Mesurier.

Written by Stephen Russell (Garrow’s Law, Shameless) and directed by Dan Zeff (Consuming Passion, Lost In Austen), Hattie is a bittersweet true-life drama about a very English love triangle and a celebration of an extraordinary icon of UK comedy. It is a hot-blooded romance in stark contrast to the matronly roles that made her famous.

Ruth Jones says: “Hattie Jacques is one of my comedy heroines and I’m thrilled to have been asked to play her. She was an incredibly talented and fascinating woman both on and off screen and so much more than just the ‘funny fat lady’. I can’t wait.”

Hattie also stars Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet) as John Le Mesurier and Aidan Turner (Desperate Romantics, Being Human) as her youthful lover John Schofield.



BBC Four explores the meaning of justice in the modern world in a series of new films.

In Michael Sandel On Justice, the Harvard Professor examines how three of the most influential schools of thought, led by Aristotle, Jeremy Bentham and Immanuel Kant, have combined to forge the modern understanding of justice. In eight lectures, the prominent political philosopher opens his classroom to the world as he explores a number of difficult moral dilemmas revealing how the solutions are never black and white.

The BBC’s international strand Storyville is contributing a number of documentaries, including a season of films around the topic of human rights to mark the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International. These include When They Are Free, an inside look at the current state of Amnesty International; the award-winning Sergio, which describes the last day in the life of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Brazilian United nations diplomat, who was buried under rubble by a car bomb in Baghdad; and Khmer Rouge Executioner, a film about the life and times of Comrade Duch, who ran the Tuol Sleng death camp in Pnomh Penh, Cambodia.

Time Shift has two specials exploring crime and punishment. A Good Flogging chronicles the evolution of corporal punishment over the past 200 years, while The Story Of Capital Punishment digs into the archive to trace the history of the ultimate sanction.

Timeshift also tackles Rough Justice, looking at the creation of the extraordinary BBC series of the same name, which ran for 25 years and achieved the overturning of the wrongful convictions of 18 people in 13 separate cases.


Coronation Street – A Star Is Born

Granada Studios Manchester, 6.55 pm, 9 December 1960. With minutes to go until the live transmission of episode one, creator Tony Warren (David Dawson) is being sick in the toilets, actress Pat Phoenix is missing… and so is the cat from the opening shot.

Coronation Street – A Star is Born [working title] is the epic story of one man’s struggle to make a programme that no one wanted.

Granada’s formidable bosses, Sidney Bernstein (Stephen Berkoff) and his brother Cecil (Henry Goodman), are not enthusiastic. But together with producer Harry Elton (Christian McKay) and director Derek Bennett (Shaun Dooley), Tony takes up the battle. He wants cobbles, a pub, seven houses and a shop, but above all he wants northern actors.

Led by casting director Margaret Morris (Jane Horrocks) and her young assistant Josie Scott (Sophia Di Martino), the hunt begins for the legendary cast – Doris Speed (Celia Imrie), Pat Phoenix (Jessie Wallace), Violet Carson (Lynda Baron) and William Roache (played by his son James Roache). Coronation Street is born.

Directed by Charles Sturridge, written by Daran Little, produced by Rebecca Hodgson and executive produced by Kieran Roberts, Coronation Street – A Star is Born is part of a season celebrating the culture, history, life and architecture of northern England. This information was first published in the BBC Four Spring/Summer 2010 press pack.


Time Shift – 1960: The Year Of The North

The Sixties, according to popular belief, was the decade that swung. But the Sixties began with a great roar that emanated not from swinging London, but from the north of England.

Time Shift explores how, in books, film, television and music, new voices were making themselves heard that would wake Britain from its post-war slumber. The likes of Alan Sillitoe, Shelagh Delaney, Tony Warren and the Beatles, began a process that would make the northern voice central to the decade that followed.

Time Shift – 1960: The Year Of The North is part of a season celebrating the culture, history, life and architecture of northern England.


Churches – How To Read Them

Author Richard Taylor examines how the imagery, symbols and architecture of British parish churches have inspired, moved and enraged people down the centuries.

A six-part series, Churches – How To Read Them is about understanding what we see in a British church and how the different styles throughout the country reflect changing ideas of God, salvation, living and dying.


The Story Of Variety

Sixty-five years ago every British town had a variety theatre. It was a world of fast talking agents, ruthless theatre managers, strict or saucy landladies and, above all, it was about the entertainers – the comics, dancers, singers, musicians and speciality acts who criss-crossed the country in search of the next show.

Michael Grade grew up against this backdrop and became a variety agent himself. In this two-part documentary he rediscovers this lost world of British entertainment and tells of its brutal demise with the theatre walls literally coming down before the acts had finished.


Michael Wood’s Story Of England

Historian Michael Wood presents Michael Wood’s Story Of England, a new series that shines an intimate light on the lives of ordinary people over the last 2,000 years. Set in the Leicestershire village of Kibworth, Michael unites the villagers in digging up their own back gardens to unearth artefacts and look into the history all around them.

Kibworth is modern Britain in miniature; located in the very heart of England and split now by the A6, it’s the kind of place that most people drive through without a second thought. But like most places in England, scraping just beneath the surface reveals an incredibly rich historical tapestry.

From the Romans to the Vikings, from the Black Death to the Civil War, this series lays bare a history peopled by fascinating real-life characters, including Tudor teachers, highwaymen, Suffragettes and First World War soldiers.


Battle Of Britain Season

As part of a special season marking the 70th anniversary of the Second World War air campaign, BBC Four broadcasts a series of programmes that bring to life the most significant air battle in British history.

Wellington Bomber takes a look at a challenge posed by the RAF and the War Ministry during the war – could a Wellington bomber be built from scratch in a single day? Combining archive footage of the attempt with testimonials from the workers involved, this fascinating film documents the amazing attempt bolt by bolt.

Spitfire Women tells the story of the remarkable women who, against all odds, flew planes for the Air Transport Auxiliary from 1939 until the end of the war. The film captures the drama, danger and significance of the story of these unsung heroines, who came from around the world to fight for Britain, but whose tales of courage and determination remain largely unrecognised.

Gods And Monsters – Homer’s Odyssey With Simon Armitage

Poet Simon Armitage undertakes his own Greek adventure, sailing in the footsteps of one of his personal heroes, Odysseus, while asking himself “do I even like the guy?”

From the rubble of Troy in western Turkey to the Ionian island of Ithaka, Simon sweeps across the stunningly beautiful Mediterranean, colliding with Cyclopes and Sirens and even visiting Hell itself. Along the way he loses himself in the ancient poem’s mesmerising verse, and meets a few of today’s Greeks – including the commander of a modern Hellenic warship, whom he hopes might just retain a trace of Odysseus’s heroic DNA.

Odysseus dreamed of his beloved wife Penelope and his home in Ithaka, yet it took him 10 years to get there when it should have taken 10 weeks. Simon ponders the obvious question – was Odysseus a playboy with a penchant for half-naked demi-goddesses and six-headed monsters, a very bad sailor or simply a man who liked to travel and meet people?

Gods And Monsters – Homer’s Odyssey With Simon Armitage will be shown as part of the BBC’s Ancient Worlds Season.


Dirk Gently

Anti-hero Dirk Gently operates his eponymous detective agency based on the “fundamental interconnectedness of all things.” He is lazy, untidy, dismissive, an awful boss and his methods verge on the criminal.

When Dirk sets out to solve an apparently simple and harmless disappearance of a cat from an old lady’s house, he unwittingly uncovers a double murder which, in turn, leads to a host of even more extraordinary events.

From the author of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Douglas Adams, this one-off pilot of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is adapted by Bafta-award winning Howard Overman (Misfits). It is the first time this celebrated character has appeared on screen.


King James Bible

The King James Bible is a worldwide best seller – the only authorised English translation of the greatest story ever told.

The majesty and beauty of its prose rivals that of Shakespeare. Its influence has shaped not only our own language, culture and society but that of the rest of the world.

And yet 400 years ago this masterpiece was the grand political project of a publicity conscious King; shot through with private motive and conflicting agendas. It was entrusted to a succession of committees in a bureaucratic structure that checked and re-checked each section of the translation. The question is how did any of this produce such extraordinary prose?

From Westminster Abbey to Hampton Court; the dreaming spires of Oxford and Cambridge to the remote beauty of the Outer Hebrides; author Adam Nicolson leaves no stone unturned in his search for answers.


Women In Love

Rosamund Pike, Rachael Stirling, Rory Kinnear and Joseph Mawle star in Women In Love, a compelling new two-part drama by William Ivory (Faith, A Thing Called Love, Common As Muck).

Based on two novels by DH Lawrence, The Rainbow and Women In Love, which Lawrence originally intended to publish as one, William Ivory has melded the books together in line with the author’s original vision as part of BBC Four’s Modern Love Season.

Women In Love charts the lives and loves of two sisters, Ursula (Stirling) and Gudrun Brangwen (Pike), viewed chiefly through their relationships with two friends, Rupert Birkin (Kinnear) and Gerald Crich (Mawle). As the two relationships intensify the couples leave the Midlands and go abroad together, leading to conflict and tragedy.

The cast also includes: Saskia Reeves as Ursula and Gudrun’s mother, Anna, Ben Daniels as her husband Will and Olivia Grant (Lark Rise To Candleford) as Hermione.

BBC Four’s new Modern Love Season exploring love and sexuality in 20th-century literature also includes Amanda Coe’s adaptation of John Braine’s novel Room At The Top.


Room At The Top

Vibrant, visceral, modern and compelling, Amanda Coe’s new two-part adaptation of John Braine’s post-war classic tells the story of Joe Lampton, a young man on the make.

Set in Yorkshire, all seems to be going to plan for Joe. He has a new job in a smart town and his looks and energy have attracted the daughter of a rich local businessman. But then he meets Alice Aisgill, with whom he finds a true passion of both the heart and the senses. Their lives will never be the same again.

Amanda Coe (Margot; Elizabeth David: A Life In Recipes; Doctor Who) has adapted this triangular love story as part of BBC Four’s season exploring love and sexuality in 20th-century literature.


The Beauty Of Old Books

For centuries the book has been the vessel to hold human thought in the storehouse of knowledge. This four-part series explores the beauty and meaning of the book as a physical and artistic object.

Some books have altered the course of history, others have profoundly influenced the way we see ourselves. From philosophy, religion, art, science and politics through to fantastical fictions, books have enabled new ideas to spread across the globe.

Many books are also objects of beauty; masterpieces in their own right. The series sheds new light on the sometimes neglected physical attributes of books: binding, marbling, gilding, embossing, illuminations, first editions, rarity, quality, page, text, image as well as shape and size are all contemplated.

Through interviews with experts, close examination of original book illustrations and artistic impressions, private journals and historic archive, the astonishing, absorbing and arresting beauty of books is revealed.


The Birth Of The British Novel

Author and critic Henry Hitchings argues that the evolution of the novel in 18th-century Britain was an extraordinary cultural revolution akin to those of 15th-century Florence or fin de siècle Paris.

In less than 100 years, the novel emerged as a new art form and reached maturity. In this period, all the major genres, from chick lit (Fanny Burney’s Evelina) to the political thriller (William Godwin’s The Adventures Of Caleb Williams) to the “modern” stream-of-consciousness (Laurence Sterne’s The Life And Opinions Of Tristram Shandy) were perfected and the great masterworks of each remain unsurpassed.

Henry shows that the novel at this time was not, as often believed, light entertainment for ladies of leisure, but a revolutionary, often politically radical art form developed by larger-than-life personalities.

Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe) invented the modern novel in the same entrepreneurial spirit with which he operated a brick factory or tried extracting perfume from civet cats; Jonathan Swift, a behind-the-scenes political manipulator, only wrote Gulliver’s Travels after falling from favour and both Horace Walpole and William Beckford, pioneers of the horror novel, created real-life gothic fantasies at Strawberry Hill and Fonthill Abbey.

Henry Hitchings’ polemic delves deep into 18th-century social as well as political history, and uses paintings by the great artists of the day to illustrate scenes from key novels.


Poe’s Women

The relationships between Edgar Allan Poe and the women in his life were tenuous at best, disastrous at worst. Yet they provided inspiration and stimulus for some of the finest darkly romantic poems and deeply disturbing short stories of the early 19th century.

Crime author Denise Mina explores Poe’s tortuous and peculiar relationships. Why did he have such idealised views of women? How did he turn these perfect visions into such nightmarish creations?

Mina retraces Poe’s stumbling steps through Boston, Virginia, Baltimore and New York and examines the key works linked to these women, building a portrait of a brilliant yet chaotic man, whose obsessive approach to the women in his life was directly linked to his alcohol and drug abuse and dreadful lonely death.


Keith Douglas – A Poet At War

Presenter and poet Owen Sheers documents Keith Douglas’s experiences as a tank commander, as part of his evaluation of the life and work of one of the Second World War’s outstanding poets.

Keith Douglas – A Poet At War traces his work from the epic offensives of the Western Desert campaigns to his death, three years later, in Normandy shortly after the D-Day landings.


Billy Connolly On Norman MacCaig

In a centenary tribute to their late friend, Scottish poet Norman MacCaig, comedian Billy Connolly, fiddler Aly Bain and novelist Andrew Greig are hard on the trail of the trout of MacCaigs’ beloved and remote Loch of the Green Corrie.

As they seek the elusive fish, there’s time to reconsider their old friend’s life and work amid the landscape he loved.


The First Men In The Moon

It’s July 1969 and, as the world waits with baited breath for news of the Apollo 11 astronauts, a young boy meets 90-year-old Julius Bedford (Rory Kinnear) who tells an extraordinary story of two men’s journey to the Moon way back in 1909, in this adaptation of HG Wells’s classic science fiction adventure.

As a young man, Bedford chances to meet Professor Cavor (Mark Gatiss), a somewhat unworldly scientist with an amazing invention – Cavorite.

Anything to which Cavorite is applied becomes opaque to the force of gravity. Knowing a miracle when he sees one, and with a keen eye on profit, Bedford encourages Cavor to think big. And so the two men construct a copper and cast-iron sphere to fly them to the Moon.

What terrors await them in the lunar interior? And will they ever succeed in returning to Earth?

A History Of Horror With Mark Gatiss

League Of Gentlemen star and Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss celebrates the horror film in a new three-part series for BBC Four.

Mark begins his exploration of the genre by looking at the golden age of Hollywood horror of the Thirties and Forties and examines some iconic pictures directed by Englishman James Whale (Frankenstein, The Old Dark House and Bride Of Frankenstein), who lent the films a camp sensibility, and populated them with a largely British ex-pat cast.

The second episode concentrates on the complete reinterpretation of the genre. In the 1958 remake of Dracula, the original vampire with heavy face and foul breath was gone and along came the Byronic Count in the shape of Christopher Lee, a bloodsucker of almost gentlemanly proportions. It was at this time that horror films turned from black and white to colour and began to feature an element of sex, tapping into an increasingly permissive society.

The last programme in the series explores the gritty and graphic new wave of horror cinema from Night Of The Living Dead in 1968 to the movie Halloween ten years later, the first of the great slew of slasher films which were to dominate the next decade. Mark details the shifts in the horror genre, and meets leading film-makers from the era.


The Story Of British Sculpture

In The Story of British Sculpture, Alastair Sooke reveals three golden ages of British sculpture.

From the painted gargoyles, tombs and royal statues of the Middle Ages to the imperial heroes and erotic nudes of the 18th and 19th centuries via the stark memorials and bold experiments of the modern age, sculpture has captured the beliefs, aspirations and desires of ordinary Britons more than any other art form.

Alastair explores the true stories behind the creation of some of Britain’s most iconic artworks, including the monuments of Westminster Abbey, Nelson’s Column, the statue known as Eros in Piccadilly Circus and the Angel of the North.

The Story Of British Sculpture explores the work of sculptors past and present, including some of Britain’s greatest artists such as Alfred Gilbert, Jacob Epstein and Barbara Hepworth, who have inspired great modern sculptors like Anthony Caro, Damien Hirst and Anthony Gormley, who Sooke interviews in the course of this series.


The Art Of Cornwall

Writer and lecturer James Fox tells the remarkable story of Cornwall’s unique contribution to British art.

For a period in the 20th century, Cornwall was the home of the avant garde, eclipsing London, Paris and New York, as a group of super-talented individuals sought refuge and inspiration in the West Country.

From painter Kit Wood, who brought the surrealist influences of Twenties Paris, to Barbara Hepworth’s Modernist sculptures, James traces Cornwall’s evolution to the hub of a new international art movement, and explores its sudden fall after the mid-Sixties.

The Art Of Cornwall also covers the work of artists Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron, Terry Frost and sculptor Naum Gabo.


Portrait Of The Artist

In Portrait Of The Artist, art critic Laura Cumming tracks the evolution of the self-portrait across nearly six centuries, taking in work by Dürer, Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Warhol. Along the way she explores the real lives behind great self-portraits and how their mirror gaze has, in turn, changed the way we look at ourselves.

Laura explores the work of leading artists whose self-portraits not only defined the genre but helped change how artists saw themselves and their role in the world.

She also investigates the variety of inspiration behind self-portraiture, discovering paintings that have been created to proclaim an artist’s genius, to communicate with family after they’ve died, and to exorcise evil spirits.


How To Get A Head In Sculpture

From the heads of Roman Emperors to the “blood head” of contemporary British artist Marc Quinn, the greatest figures in world sculpture have continually turned to the head to re-evaluate what it means to be human and to reformulate how closely sculpture can capture it.

Witty, eclectic and deeply insightful, this single film is a journey through the most enduring subject for world sculpture, a journey that carves a path through politics and religion, the ancient and the modern.

Actor David Thewlis has his head sculpted by three different sculptors, while the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, artist Maggi Hambling and writer Ben Okri discuss art’s most enduring preoccupation, ourselves.


Fig Leaf

Writer and broadcaster Stephen Smith uncovers the secret history of the humble fig leaf and opens a window onto 2,000 years of Western art and ethics.

Stephen reveals how the work of Michelangelo fuelled the infamous “Fig Leaf Campaign” – the greatest cover-up in art history; how Bernini turned censorship into a new form of erotica by replacing the fig leaf with the slipping gauze; and how the ingenious machinations of Rodin brought nudity back into the public eye.

In telling this story, Stephen turns many of our deepest prejudices upside down, showing how the Victorians had a far more sophisticated and mature attitude to sexuality than we do today. He ends with an impassioned plea for the widespread return of the fig leaf to redeem modern art from cheap sensation and innuendo.


BBC Four World Cinema Awards 2010

Celebrating the very best of contemporary international film-making and highlighting BBC Four’s commitment to world cinema, the BBC Four World Cinema Awards return to BFI Southbank on Saturday 9 October 2010, presented by Jonathan Ross.

Five foreign language films compete to win BBC Four’s prestigious World Cinema Award 2010 and the World Cinema Achievement Award will be presented to a film-maker of great distinction.


Peter Howson

Filmed over two years, this portrait of Peter Howson follows the painter as he tackles a major commission for Glasgow’s Catholic cathedral and tells the story of his turbulent life from Eighties stardom to his religious-themed work today.


Northern Civic Architecture

Architectural historian Dr Jonathan Foyle explores the Georgian and Victorian civic buildings of the north of England in Northern Civic Architecture.

From 18th-century stone built public buildings embodying local pride and social conscience, to the innovative municipal structures of the 19th century, Foyle reveals remarkable buildings that have left an indelible mark on the architectural aesthetic of the north of England.

Northern Civic Architecture is part of a season celebrating the culture, history, life and architecture of northern England.

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1