BBC Two

To mark National Poetry Day on 7 October, Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson star in a powerful and visually arresting film, The Song Of Lunch, made by BBC Drama Production for BBC Two.

The film, a dramatisation of Christopher Reid’s narrative poem, tells the story of an unnamed book editor (Alan Rickman) who, 15 years after their break-up, is meeting his former love (Emma Thompson) for a nostalgic lunch at Zanzotti’s, the Soho restaurant they used to frequent.

Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two, says: “To mark National Poetry Day, BBC Two will be bringing this art form to life with a truly ambitious project and a stellar cast. We hope that audiences will enjoy this dramatisation of Christopher Reid’s touching and witty poem and maybe feel inspired to indulge in a little more poetry themselves.”

The woman is now living a glamorous life in Paris, married to a world-renowned writer, whilst the unnamed editor has failed in his writing career, detests his mundane publishing job and regrets the end of their love affair. When he arrives at Zanzotti’s he finds it under new management and much changed, and this seems to fuel his resentment about growing older and being left behind.

The stage is set for an emotional and bittersweet reunion. As the wine flows, and the couple rake over their failed relationship, nostalgia turns to recrimination.

The single film sees Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson working together once again. They both starred in Sense And Sensibility and Alan directed Emma in A Winter Guest.

Poet Christopher Reid won the Costa Book Of The Year for A Scattering, in early 2010. The Song Of Lunch has been described as displaying “the full range of Christopher Reid’s wit, craft and human sympathy” (John Bayley, Poetry Review).

The Song Of Lunch will be directed by Niall MacCormick (Wallander, The Long Walk To Finchley) with producer Pier Wilkie (Criminal Justice) and executive producers Greg Wise and Sarah Brown for the BBC. It was commissioned by Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two, and Ben Stephenson, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning.

 

Dominic Savage beautifully captures the essence of teenage life in the 21st Century with his observation of a young couple finding love for the first time, while coping with the highs and lows of growing up in the UK.

Over two consecutive nights the stories of Lindsey played by Aisling Loftus (Five Daughters) and Robert played by Jack O’Connell (Skins) unfold, forming a contemporary portrait of modern life and love in a British town.

In the first episode, Lindsey’s passion and dedication for diving is rewarded when she is selected to represent Team GB at the 2012 Olympics. But her budding romance with Robert is put to the test when she discovers she is pregnant with his baby.

The concluding episode focuses on the repercussions that Lindsey’s pregnancy has for Robert, who must decide whether to take on the responsibilities of teenage fatherhood or retain the popular status he enjoys with his friends. The return of his beloved brother from Iraq brings home the importance of the choices he must make about growing up.

Dive was written by Dominic Savage and Simon Stephens. This is an ITV Studios Production for BBC Two directed by Dominic Savage. The Executive Producer for ITV Studios is Kate Bartlett, Producer for ITV Studios is Juliette Howell, BBC Executive Producer is Lucy Richer and Director of Photography is Danny Cohen (The Boat That Rocked, Born Equal).

Key cast includes:

Aisling Loftus as Lindsey

Jack O’Connell as Robert

Kate Dickie as Alison

Eddie Marsan as Will

Ewan Bremner as Stewart

Gina McKee as Jacqueline

Joseph Mawle as Gary

Michael Socha as Alex

Rielly Newbold as Matty

Chanel Cresswell as Hailey

 

Bafta Award-winning writer Abi Morgan returns to BBC Two with her first-ever drama series, from Kudos Film and Television. Revealing, entertaining and crackling with sexual frisson, The Hour takes viewers behind the scenes of a broadcast news room in London 1956.

With a highly competitive, sharp-witted and passionate love triangle at the heart of the series, it is through the lens of the lives of enigmatic Bel and her rivals, Freddie and Hector, that viewers witness the decade at its most exciting – from the ruthless sexual politics behind the polite social façade to the revelations that redefined the world for a new generation. Over the six episodes, Abi explores the interplay and intense ambitions between our rising news team.

Abi Morgan says: “The Hour is a challenging new direction for me with the chance to return to characters again and again and see them develop in a series format. I’m excited about the potential of their stories.”

Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, says: “Strongly authored drama series are absolutely key to re-establishing BBC Two’s reputation as the home of distinctive, intelligent and ambitious drama.

“The Hour signals this confident new direction, Abi Morgan is one of this country’s leading writing talents and she has created a breathtakingly original and surprising series that will entertain audiences.”

Jane Featherstone, Kudos Film and Television, creative director and executive producer, says: “We are chuffed to bits to be working with the fantastic Abi Morgan again, this time on her first series for television.

“The Hour is a stunning character-driven piece, focusing on the lives of three characters as they confront their own fears for their futures, while the country does the same. It is compelling, original and will make irresistible viewing.”

The Hour is a 6×60-minute drama series, commissioned by Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two, and Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning.

Executive producers are Jane Featherstone and Derek Wax for Kudos Film and Television, Lucy Richer for the BBC and Abi Morgan. The producer is Ruth Kenley-Letts.

The director and casting are still to be announced.

 

The BBC today announced the commission of a brand new series with female comedy duo Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver, for BBC Two.

Produced by BBC Productions, the 6 x 30-minute series will be filmed later this year in front of a live studio audience with a mix of ‘live’ and pre-recorded sketches.

Best friends since school, Watson & Oliver are well known on the live comedy circuit. They have had three consecutive sell-out Edinburgh Festival shows and appeared in a wealth of comedy greats such as the BAFTA-winning Peep Show, The IT Crowd and We Are Klang.

They have also starred in and written for The Wrong Door, The Wall and Watson & Oliver’s Funny Cuts. Other writing credits include The Peter Serafinowicz Show, School Of Comedy and Tonightly.

Cheryl Taylor, Controller, Comedy Commissioning, said: “We are thrilled to announce that this talented and funny duo are going to be lighting up our screens with a whole series for BBC Two. BBC Comedy in-house have worked hard to bring the pilot to screen and the series commission is a fitting testimony to the passion and hard work of everyone involved.”

Mark Freeland, Head of Comedy, said: “Watson & Oliver have a wonderful brand of feelgood, daft comedy. It’s so great that this will  be seen by a wider audience. It’s brilliant that BBC Two are backing new talent like this.”

The series follows a pilot that was commissioned by Cheryl Taylor and Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two.

It will be produced by BBC in-house in association with Popper Pictures. The series will be Executive Produced by Jo Sargent (Miranda, Two Pints Of Lager & A Packet of Crisps, Absolutely Fabulous, French & Saunders) and Robert Popper (Look Around You, Peep Show, Friday Night Dinner).

 

Ian Hislop is to examine the dramatic cultural revolution that Britain underwent in the 19th Century in The Do-Gooders (working title), a new series for BBC Two focusing on influential Victorian reformers.

Wingspan productions are to produce the new three-part series that will look at one of the most remarkable periods of social change in our history.

It will explore attitudes to children, sex, alcohol and institutional morality, reclaiming the achievements of those high-minded men and women who Ian believes left us a Britain worth living in.

Ian Hislop says: “Victorian do-goodery is easy to mock and tends to be presented nowadays merely as hypocrisy. In fact, its extraordinary energy rescued a society in turmoil and gave it many of the moral bearings we still rely on today.

“The Do-Gooders, in their way, were as much the engineers of modern Britain as Brunel or Stephenson – they looked at their equivalent of “broken Britain” and had the conviction and energy to try to fix it.”

Martin Davidson, Commissioning Editor, History and Business, adds: “The influence of our Victorian ancestors is still to be seen all around us today, so I’m delighted that Ian Hislop will be applying his characteristic dynamism and rigour to the exploration of our debt to them.”

The series will be packed with extraordinary characters, fascinating vignettes and contemporary resonances. In uncovering these stories, the series will attempt to relocate those values which the Victorians bequeathed to us and which, though they’re easily mocked, have made us much of who we are.

The executive producer for the BBC is Cassian Harrison. For Wingspan, the series producer is Deborah Lee and the executive producer is Archie Baron.

Archie says: “We’ve hugely enjoyed working with Ian in the last three years on single documentaries for the BBC like Scouting For Boys, Off The Rails – BBC Four’s highest rating factual programme ever – and Changing Of The Bard.

“Now, in this series, Ian lends his unique combination of wit and wisdom to a much bigger subject with incredible resonance today.”

A fungus which could be a newly-discovered species and an incredibly rare beetle reported only once before in the UK during the past 40 years are some of the amazing and unexpected discoveries made during a BBC Springwatch event at an urban park.

Scientists and members of the public also unearthed a male and female stag beetle during the Springwatch Wild Day Out at Alexandra Palace Park in London, leading experts to believe there is a breeding population of Britain’s largest beetle – a protected species – in the park.

The surprise finds were among over 700 different species of plant, animal and fungi spotted at the park during a 24-hour BioBlitz organised as part of the Wild Day Out by the BBC, the Natural History Museum and Open Air Laboratories (OPAL), a community-based science project supported by the Big Lottery Fund.

Around 100 scientists, naturalists and students were joined by more than 8,000 members of the public to explore the park’s wildlife and race against the clock to identify as many species as possible.

Although the majority of the plants, birds, mammals, amphibians and invertebrates were typical of the biodiversity of wildlife in an urban park, scientists were thrilled by several unexpected discoveries.

A rare variety of the Bolbitius fungus was found by a volunteer. It is only the fourth time that it has been found in the UK and London-based experts are now using DNA testing to investigate whether it should be classed as an entirely separate species.

The rare beetle Amphotis Marginata was also found. This is only the second time that it has been reported in the UK since 1969.

The surprise discovery of stag beetles – Lucanus cervus – will be supported by conservation activities held during the BioBlitz, as the London Wildlife Trust built a stag beetle loggery with the help of participants.

Alexandra Palace Park also contains an important area of acid grassland. It is the only site in Haringey where the grass Danthonia decumens can be found and scientists were delighted to see the population doing so well.

The Springwatch Wild Day Out, held earlier this month, was one of many Springwatch-themed events and activities taking place across the country as part of the BBC’s popular Breathing Places campaign. More than 150,000 people attended the free events, which marked the International Year of Biodiversity 2010, promoting the importance of protecting a wide range of species across the UK and around the world.

The Springwatch Wild Days Out also aimed to encourage biodiversity in gardens, parks and outside spaces and to inspire new wildlife heroes to do something for nature.

Dr John Tweddle from the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity, part of the Natural History Museum, says: “Finding well over 700 different species in an urban park shows the incredible diversity of wildlife living around us. Many members of the public spotted plants and animals that the scientists hadn’t yet found, so everyone contributed. Feedback from participants has also been really inspiring, with many saying that they will now view the park in a new way and look out for its inhabitants!”

Springwatch presenter Chris Packham says: “It’s great that so many people were motivated to go out and join in with the Wild Days Out. While the vast majority of people will be seeing common things for the first time, unleashing that many people outdoors, the trained eyes amongst them were bound to make some exciting finds. It’s fantastic, a win-win.”

On Sunday 20 June viewers can join Chris, Kate Humble and Martin Hughes-Games from the Springwatch team on BBC Two for an inspirational Wild Night In – a two hour fund-raising extravaganza featuring David Attenborough, Graham Norton, Edith Bowman and other celebrities in support of threatened wildlife and wild places through the work of the BBC Wildlife Fund.

 

The Springwatch team is offering viewers the opportunity to own a little piece of Springwatch by putting its iconic sofa under the hammer for the BBC animal charity – the BBC Wildlife Fund.

The rather shabby chic sofa has been a stalwart of the show since its birth six years ago.

Producers felt its moth-eaten look reflected the down-to-earth, no frills tone of the show – although many presenters over the years have complained that it’s uncomfortable and rather small!

Now the sofa is to be auctioned off after its last show on Thursday 17 June. Viewers can bid for it via bbc.co.uk/wild, until 22 June. The lucky new owner will be able to bask in its provenance.

Last year, Kate Humble said she would not only eat her hat, but also eat the Springwatch sofa if Simon King managed to film wild polecats – and he did! Luckily, in order to preserve props, Kate was released from the wager.

The team has always wondered if an animal would actually choose to nest in it (it has lots of handy holes in it with soft interior).

During Springwatch 2008, in Pensthorpe in North Norfolk, a family of wrens nested in the studio while the show was going out, but they never used the sofa itself. It’s possible that the parent wrens could have used the sofa stuffing to line their nest.

On Sunday 20 June, Kate Humble, Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games will be going global in a live fundraising extravaganza for conservation projects across the world, in BBC Two’s Wild Night In.

The team will be joined by celebrity guests, including Edith Bowman and Graham Norton, and there will be contributions from David Attenborough and conservationists in the front line.

Audiences will be invited to donate cash and continue fundraising for the BBC Wildlife Fund during the two-hour telethon.

Since the fund was launched in 2007, it has raised over £2m to help save threatened animals and wild places in the UK and abroad.

 

BBC Two today announces James Cracknell and Ben Fogle’s next big adventure – to cycle The Tour Divide, from Canada to Mexico.

The Tour Divide is the world’s longest off-road bike race. At 2745 miles (4418 km) long and the mountainous route is the equivalent of climbing Everest seven times to and from sea level.

Ben and James have previously crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a rowing boat in the RTS award-winning Through Hell And High Water, and raced to the South Pole in the crushingly cold Antarctic in On Thin Ice, but this new adventure will challenge them, both physically and mentally, like never before. Although James has some experience on road bikes, neither is yet trained in mountain biking, and Ben is not a cyclist at all.

To add to the pressure, they are attempting to break the current course record and complete the route in less than the current best time of 17 days and 21 hours. This inspirational challenge is no mean feat for mountain biking novices – to beat the record they will have to cover at least 160 miles (257km) every day.

Commenting on why they’re taking on this particular adventure, James Cracknell comments: “As ‘fun’ as the last two challenges were, the scenery in the Atlantic and on the Antarctic Plateau wasn’t that varied so the chance to see the Rockies on a bike whilst pushing hard and seeing how close we can get to the record is an irresistible combination.”

The route starts in Banff, Canada, and traverses the Rockies along the Continental Divide, which is the watershed between the Pacific on the West Coast and the Atlantic on the East Coast. But although being an unbelievably arduous physical feat, the bigger test is likely to be maintaining the mental stamina required.

Talking about the expedition, Ben Fogle says: “I love a challenge, but as a cycling novice this is a huge test and could well prove to be the toughest yet. In training, I’ve already had broken fingers and black eyes and I’ve yet to step foot in the Rockies!”

To attempt to beat the current world record, they must race unsupported so there will be no back up team alongside them with equipment or supplies. They must carry everything they need on their bikes, including all their camera equipment, but they are allowed to send supplies to pre-arranged locations to pick up en route.

The challenge of handling the unending miles ahead cannot be underestimated and will undoubtedly put a strain on their personal relationship. The experience of their other expeditions has shown them that team work is the key to success, and in this adventure it is going to be more important than ever.

The production crew behind both their previous adventures will film their training and shadow them where possible during the record attempt which Ben and James plan to start in August 2010.

BBC Executive Producer, Lisa Edwards, comments: “We’re delighted that James and Ben are returning to BBC Two with another inspirational challenge which, as their previous series have done, is sure to keep viewers enthralled.”

Melanie Leach, Twofour’s Executive Producer, says: “It’s really exciting to be working with Ben and James again on a third world-beating adventure.

“We have followed them over the sea and ice, and watched in awe as their grit, determination and good humour has seen them through. This cycle race will test them to the limits and it will be fascinating to see how their relationship develops as they chase yet another record.”

This is a Twofour production for BBC Two. Executive producer for Twofour is Melanie Leach, series director is Alexis Girardet. For the BBC, commissioned by Jo Ball, executive producer is Lisa Edwards. The 4×60 minute series will be broadcast later in the year.

 

In the wake of the deepest recession in decades, a new BBC Two current affairs series will examine the state of the nation’s family fortunes and offer practical financial advice for living through the tough times ahead.

Money Watch presented by Sophie Raworth and Justin Rowlatt will investigate whether we’re getting richer or poorer; our financial prospects over the coming years; and what, if anything, we can do about it.

The three-part magazine series airing in July will focus on personal finance and family budgeting, each episode taking a particular theme. It will also feature practical advice from leading personal finance experts.

The first programme of the series, Earning it (7 July 2010 at 8pm), presented from Birmingham, tackles pay, tax and jobs, and ways of boosting income. The Money Watch team will assess what’s happened to pay in the recession and why top earners in the private sector are more likely than the rest of us to get a rise in the recovery; they’ll look at the role of part-time work in keeping unemployment lower than expected so far and which jobs may be facing the axe in the recovery; and for those worried about how to match their family income to expenditure, money saving expert Martin Lewis offers some practical financial advice.

The second programme, Spending it, presented from Liverpool, will explore expenditure – including mortgages, spending, and debt – and offers inventive ways of managing our household budgets more prudently.

Growing it, the final programme in the series, presented from London, will focus primarily on saving, pensions and investing.

Presenter Sophie Raworth says: “We’re setting out on a journey to find out where we all are now financially and what the recovery might bring. Whether you’re worried about jobs, debt, mortgages, saving or pensions, we’ll be trying to help you stay afloat during this financial storm.”

Justin Rowlatt says: “The idea is that it should be a travel guide into the unexplored world of the new British economy.

“By the end of the series we hope we’ll have a better idea of just what kind of mess we are in, and how we can protect ourselves and our families from its worst effects.”

Executive producer Lucy Hetherington adds: “We’ve had a severe recession, an election fought on the economy and now chilling predictions about the squeeze ahead. We want to give viewers clarity about some of the main issues affecting their personal finances, so they can take informed decisions.”

 

The BBC is pleased to announce that hard-hitting panel show Mock The Week has now rejected the opportunity to form a coalition with Have I Got News For You and The One Show and chosen to go it alone in tackling the advent of a new Prime Minister, possible financial disaster and certain World Cup disappointment.

The show returns on Thursday 17 June at 10pm and early indications are that BBC Two’s top-rated comedy will continue with the unique policy of quiz, performance and topical discussion that has seen the series regularly pulling in viewing figures of more than 3 million and winning swathes of the popular vote on iPlayer and the BBC’s YouTube channel. It will run until mid-October, with a break throughout August.

Fresh from his sell out nationwide tour, host Dara O’Briain has resolved to form a workable panel of all talents utilising the established popularity of topical craftsman Andy Parsons, Outnumbered’s Hugh Dennis and star of Russell Howard’s Good News err… Russell Howard, alongside the sharpest talent from the stand-up circuit in a bid to give the people the strong satirical comment they deserve.

The show has also pledged to continue providing opportunities for the younger generation by showcasing rising stand-up stars such as Jack Whitehall, Kevin Bridges, John Bishop and Andi Osho in the way that it previously has for the likes of Michael McIntyre, Stewart Francis, Rhod Gilbert and David Mitchell.

When Mock The Week began way back in 2005, David Cameron was just a little-known Shadow Education spokesman, Nick Clegg had only been an MP for five weeks and Gordon Brown was a popular and respected Chancellor. The series is proud to have watched and possibly helped their various peaks and troughs in the intervening years. As a new era dawns, whether we face a golden, glittering summer of sporting triumph and economic recovery bathed in the blinding glow of Cameron and Clegg’s Camelot-style court, or a luckless, miserable season of sogginess overshadowed by the groans of a creaking coalition, rest assured the team will be present to reflect on the historic events with all the underlying danger of John Terry at a WI Christmas party and the inherent comedy of a Harriet Harman leadership bid.

Mock The Week was created by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson, the creative force behind the iconic improvisation based show Whose Line Is It Anyway? which ran for ten years on British TV before successfully transferring to the United States. Suzanne Gilfillan is the Executive Editor for the BBC. It is produced for the BBC by independent production company Angst Productions.

 

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