BBC Two

BBC News today announces a Money Matters Roadshow in Glasgow, bringing together the weight of the BBC’s financial journalists with a team of experts, advisers and financial planners to help our audiences navigate the recession and make more informed decisions about their finances.

On Wednesday 14 October, TV, radio and online teams will join forces with a team of financial experts, this time at the Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow, to explain directly to our audiences how the financial situation is developing across the country and give people the chance to find out answers on the issues that matter to them.

As well as hearing what is on the minds of our audiences, the roadshows will take in a wide variety of issues including tax, benefits, credit and debt, redundancy and pensions with experts on hand to offer practical tips and guidance. There’ll also be people on hand to discuss mortgages, student finances and small businesses.

The BBC will be broadcasting live throughout the day across BBC TV, radio and online. This includes coverage on BBC Breakfast, Reporting Scotland, the BBC News Channel and BBC Radio 5 Live.

There will be a special hour-long edition of BBC Two’s Working Lunch at 1.30pm, BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours will be on air at midday, and Moneybox Live will be broadcasting at 3.00pm.

Working Lunch presenter Declan Curry says: “People are crying out for impartial information and advice in these tough times, and we’re delighted to help by bringing some of the best guests that appear on our programmes around the country.”

The roadshow is one of a series being planned across the country as the BBC helps audiences to understand what the latest developments will mean for them.

The first of these roadshows was held in Manchester in February, when the economy officially entered recession. A team of financial advisors were overwhelmed when hundreds of people descended on the Trafford Centre in Manchester. During the day, around 500 people managed to speak with one of the advisors about their money worries. Afterwards the BBC was inundated with people wanting to know when and where the next roadshow would be.

Working Lunch editor Tracey Hobbs, who is responsible for overseeing the roadshow, said: “By far and away the most popular issue was ‘what on earth do I do with my savings?’ There was a real feeling of bunkering down and surviving – people wanted safety for their money above anything else. The event proved a great barometer on which to take the economic temperature with the public, and get a sense of how the global downturn was impacting on household budgets.”

Since February unemployment has risen, interest rates have remained stubbornly low for savers, and despite a few more products coming on to the mortgage market many are still finding it extremely tough to borrow.

Tracey added: “It will be very interesting to see how money priorities have changed, and what’s on the minds of the people in Glasgow. Events like this help us tailor our future output, giving our audiences across radio, TV and online the information they need to help manage their money.”

The BBC, Hat Trick Productions and Showtime announced today the commission of Episodes, a six-part series from the highly acclaimed writing partnership of David Crane (Friends) and Jeffrey Klarik (Mad About You), for transmission next year on BBC Two.

Episodes is the story of a British couple who try to recreate their UK comedy hit for American TV with disastrous results, and features Matt LeBlanc playing himself.

Jimmy Mulville of Hat Trick Productions comments: “These are some of the best scripts I’ve read in a long time by two writers at the top of their game. To have the opportunity to make a show with David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, with Matt LeBlanc playing a hilarious version of himself, and then to make that show for both Showtime and the BBC, whose combined portfolios of comedy are second to none, is both a thrill and a great privilege. Episodes promises to be one of the great comedy treats for 2010.”

The series was commissioned by BBC Comedy and Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two, who says: “I’m delighted that Matt LeBlanc will be starring in an original comedy for BBC Two, and to be working with Showtime and Hat Trick on such a unique format.”

Matt LeBlanc adds: “Jeffrey and David have a great idea – I love it. I am really excited to be working with Showtime and the BBC. And I am also so glad I got the part; seeing someone else playing Matt LeBlanc would have been devastating.”

The series will be produced by David Crane, Jeffrey Klarik and Jimmy Mulville with Simon Wilson as executive producer for the BBC.

Episodes will shoot next year in London and Los Angeles for BBC Two and Showtime.

Andrew Buchan (Party Animals, The Fixer) and rising German star Ken Duken (Inglorious Basterds, Bavarian TV Award winner for Willkommen Zuhause) are joined by Brian Cox (Manhunter, The Bourne Supremacy, The Take) and Lindsay Duncan (GBH, Longford, Rome) in The Sinking Of The Laconia, a powerful new two-part drama for BBC Two from acclaimed writer Alan Bleasdale (Boys From The Blackstuff, GBH, Jake’s Progress).

The drama tells the true story of the amazing heroism shown by ordinary people in the face of extraordinary adversity during the Second World War.

Brian Cox plays Captain Sharp, whose armed British vessel, the RMS Laconia, was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat 156 on 12 September 1942.

Also on board was 3rd officer Thomas Mortimer (Buchan), who heroically risked his life to help the passengers reach the lifeboats.

Six hundred miles from the coast of Africa, the mixture of English civilians, Allied soldiers and Italian Prisoners of War faced certain death until U-Boat Commander Werner Hartenstein (Duken) made a decision that went against the orders of Nazi High Command.

The U-boat surfaced and Hartenstein instructed his men to save as many of the shipwrecked survivors as they could.

Over the next few days the U-156 saved 400 people, with 200 people crammed on board the surface-level submarine and another 200 in lifeboats.

Hartenstein gave orders for messages to be sent out to the Allies to organise a rescue of the survivors but, in an unbelievable twist, they were spotted by an American B-24 bomber who moved in to attack.

The Sinking Of The Laconia takes a look at the human side of the remarkable events that took place: the friendships that developed, the small acts of heroism, and the triumph of the human spirit in the most incredible of situations.

The cast also includes some of Germany’s biggest names, including Matthias Koeberlin, Frederick Lau and Thomas Kretschmann.

Laconia is a TalkbackThames production, in association with Teamworx and ARD.

The executive producers for TalkbackThames are Johnathan Young, Lorraine Heggessey and Sara Geater, and the executive producer for the BBC is Matthew Read. For Teamworx, the executive producers are Nico Hofmann, Klaus Zimmerman and Dr Jürgen Schuster.

The director is Uwe Janson.

It was commissioned in 2008 by former Controller of BBC Two, Roly Keating, and the then Controller of BBC Fiction, Jane Tranter.

Filming began last week on the 67th anniversary of the sinking of The Laconia.

More content about The Sinking Of The Laconia will be published, as transmission approaches, on this page: www.bbc.co.uk/tv/comingup/sinkingofthelaconia

Jana Bennett, Director, BBC Vision, announced today that investment in children’s programmes would be increased by at least £25million across the next three years.

She made the announcement during a speech delivered at the BBC Vision Forum, an annual event for in-house and independent programme makers focusing on BBC Vision’s creative and business priorities.

Jana Bennett said: “In response to a firm recommendation from the BBC Trust that we should strengthen our role as the cornerstone of home-produced children’s output in the UK, I’m pleased to say that we’ve identified more funding for Children’s – at least £25 million over three years – which we’ll be formally discussing with the Trust.

“This additional funding, derived from efficiency savings, once again recognises the particular pressures facing this genre and it will be used to reinforce the creative strength of BBC Children’s, and help the CBBC channel maintain its position.”

Jana Bennett also confirmed that BBC Two’s drama spend would increase by 50% over the next three years and that the channel would become the home for BBC Films, “to create a core of distinguished fiction on the channel”.

She said: “This extra money has been found after a tough re-prioritisation of funds within Vision because … I believe the genre needs support.

“It will be targeted at distinctive, authored series that will continue the great tradition of BBC Two drama, with the aim of providing the next generation of television classics.”

The Children’s and Drama investment has been achieved through re-prioritisation across BBC Vision and by re-investing efficiencies that have already been made.

During her speech Jana Bennett laid out priority areas for her division over the next year including:

A new learning strategy to be led by the newly-appointed Controller of Learning Saul Nassé
– The introduction of a Multiplatform Foundation Course for producers to develop skills in new technologies enabling them to enhance their own programme websites
– The creation of four Vision Bursaries per year beginning in 2010. The bursaries will allow assistant producers or producers to step away from production to pursue groundbreaking ideas and to produce pilots that will air on broadband or TV
– Speaking about creative risk, Jana Bennett said: “It’s our duty to take more risks with new forms and ideas. To commission home-grown content for British audiences. To offer different windows on the world. To be committed to a wide range of genres and subjects – and not just those with guaranteed mass appeal.

“We can invest in tough investigative programming, new kinds of comedy, groundbreaking children’s drama, without having to analyse the commercial return at every stage of development, commissioning and production. That is the privilege the licence fee gives us.”

She added: “We used to think of Religion, Current Affairs and Music and Arts as the classic market failure genres – areas of output in which the BBC had a special responsibility.

“To those, we could now legitimately add Children’s, Comedy, Specialist Factual and Drama. All these genres could be endangered in this tougher commercial world …

“It’s therefore vital that BBC Vision continues to invest in range and quality content during the current downturn, so that afterwards there is still a healthy production sector to provide audiences with great British content.”

Last night’s 30th News and Documentary Emmy Awards in New York saw the BBC win awards for both the highly-acclaimed Storyville documentary strand and for BBC Bristol’s Natural History Unit six-part landmark series, Wild China.

Wild China, which explored deep into relatively undiscovered China to portray its endangered wildlife, won three awards: Outstanding Achievement in a Craft: Cinematography – Nature Documentaries category, Outstanding Editing and Outstanding Music and Sound.

Storyville also scooped three awards at the ceremony. Taxi To The Dark Side, an in-depth look at the suspicious death of an Afghan taxi driver in US custody during the War on Terror, triumphed in two separate categories – Best Documentary and Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Research.

The film was commissioned by Storyville’s Nick Fraser and was shown on BBC Two as part of the Why Democracy? season, exploring the state of democracy in the world.

Meanwhile, The Chuck Show picked up the award in the Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming category. The film tells the compelling story of Chuck Connelly, the prodigious painter who sabotaged his career and squandered his talent rather than curb his strong opinions and unorthodox behaviour. Shot over six years, the film was acquired by Nick Fraser.

Storyville also had a successful night at the Primetime Emmy Awards on 20 September.

Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired won two awards – Outstanding Directing for Non-Fiction Programming and Outstanding Writing for Non-Fiction Programming.

The film is a perceptive and intelligent exploration of the circumstances that gave rise to Polanski’s public conviction for having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor – something that has dogged the acclaimed director’s career for 30 years. Executive Producer was Storyville’s Greg Sanderson.

George Entwistle, Controller, BBC Knowledge Commissioning, says: “I’m delighted that the BBC’s creativity and excellence in documentary film was recognised with such fantastic success at the Emmy Awards – well done to all involved.”

More than a third of people (36%) have not heard of the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, according to an opinion poll carried out by ORB for BBC Two’s Newsnight.

When asked whether they had a favourable or unfavourable opinion of Nick Clegg, 28% said they had an unfavourable or very unfavourable opinion; 36% said they had a favourable or very favourable opinion.

But an equal number (36%) said they had never heard of him.

Asked to name who they thought would make the best Prime Minister, just over one in 10 (11%), said Nick Clegg.

The poll also suggests that, among those who voted Liberal Democrat at the last election in 2005, around one in three named the Liberal Democrat leader as the man who would make the better Prime Minister.

But even more former Liberal Democrat voters, around two in five, said David Cameron would make the better Prime Minister.

More than a quarter (26%) of those polled did think that Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats “represents change in politics”. That was fewer than those who said David Cameron and the Conservatives (42%) “represents change in politics” but more than those that said Gordon Brown and Labour (14%).

Finally, when asked which UK political leader, if any, is most like Barack Obama, 3% said Nick Clegg.

But double that number (6%) said the Liberal Democrats Treasury spokesman Vince Cable was like the US President.

The opinion poll is part of an exercise conducted for Newsnight for the party conference season.

Newsnight has invited American Pollster, Cornell Belcher, to find out what the public in the UK make of their politicians.

His second film focussing on opinions towards the Liberal Democrats can be seen on tonight’s Newsnight (Monday 21 September).

Two further films will broadcast during the conference season focusing on Labour and the Conservatives.

Cornell Belcher employs many of the polling techniques he developed when working for the Democratic Party and Barack Obama ahead of last year’s Presidential election.

On his first visit to Britain, Belcher was teamed up with British pollster Johnny Heald and research company ORB who carried out the polling and organised the focus groups on behalf of Belcher.

As well as the opinion poll, he has conducted focus groups in marginal seats.

Poll findings

Q: Please tell me for each of the following people whether you have a very favourable, favourable, unfavourable, or very unfavourable opinion of them?

All respondents Base: 1,056
Nick Clegg
Very favourable 3%
Favourable 33%
Unfavourable 22%
Very unfavourable 6%
Never heard of 36%

Q. Which of these UK political leaders, if any, is most like Barack Obama? If you think a previous political leader is more like Barack Obama, just tell me which one?

All respondents Base: 1,056
David Cameron 18%
Gordon Brown 11%
Tony Blair 7%
Vince Cable 6%
Nick Clegg 3%
Margaret Thatcher 2%
Others 3%
None like Obama 46%
Don’t know 2%

Q: Now I’m going to read you some phrases and characteristics other people we have interviewed have used to describe the political parties in the UK. For each phrase or characteristic, please tell me whether you think each is a better description of…? …. Represents change in politics

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party 14%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party 42%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats 26%
None of them 10%
Don’t know 8%

Q: Regardless of your own political views, who do you think will make the better Prime Minister?

All respondents Base: 1,056
Nick Clegg 11%
Other names to be announced on Newsnight at a later date.

More Think Cameron Rather Than Brown Will Make Right Cuts In Public Spending, Suggests Newsnight Poll

More people think that David Cameron rather than Gordon Brown will make the right cuts in public spending, according to an opinion poll carried out for BBC Two’s Newsnight.

Newsnight has invited American Pollster, Cornell Belcher, to find out what the public in the UK make of their politicians.

His first film can be seen on tonight’s Newsnight and then three further films will broadcast during the conference season focusing on Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

Cornell Belcher employs many of the polling techniques he developed when working for the Democratic Party and Barack Obama ahead of last year’s Presidential election.

On his first visit to Britain, Belcher was teamed up with British pollster Johnny Heald with research company ORB who carried out the polling and organised the focus groups on behalf of Belcher.

As well as the opinion poll, he has conducted focus groups in marginal seats.

The poll, conducted last weekend, asked which leader will make the right cuts in public spending – 39% said David Cameron and the Conservatives, less than a quarter (24%) said Gordon Brown and the Labour Party and 17% said Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.

Asked whether they approve or disapprove of the way in which Gordon Brown is handling his job as Prime Minister, 29% of those polled said they approved, 67% said they disapproved.

Cornell Belcher noted that this approval rating is worse than that of US President George W Bush, at a similar time in the electoral cycle.

Two-thirds (67%) of those asked also think that the country is “pretty seriously off on the wrong track” as opposed to under a third (30%) who think it is “moving in the right direction”.

Even among those who voted Labour at the last election, in 2005, there is a majority 51% who think the country is on the “wrong track” – 47% of those 2005 Labour voters asked think it is moving in the “right direction”.

When asked who “is someone I can trust” and who “will prioritise families”, Gordon Brown came out badly.

Just over a fifth of those asked, 21%, think Gordon Brown “is someone I can trust” compared to just under a third, 30%, who think that of David Cameron. Although almost the same number of people – 29% – said this applied to “none of them”.

Just less than a quarter of people asked, 24%, think Gordon Brown and the Labour Party “will prioritise families”. For David Cameron and the Conservatives that figure was 42% and 15% think that of Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.

But, on one of the key issues which could decide the election, Gordon Brown and David Cameron are neck-and-neck.

When asked who “will stand up for ordinary people during an economic crisis”, 31% said Gordon Brown and the Labour Party, with 30% saying David Cameron and the Conservative Party; 18% of those asked said Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.

Cornell Belcher wanted to know how the British politicians compare in the public mind to the US President, Barack Obama.

Asked whether they have a favourable or unfavourable opinion of Barack Obama, 88% of the people polled said they had a favourable or very favourable opinion as compared to 9% who had an unfavourable or very unfavourable opinion.

And, asked if any UK leader was like Barack Obama, David Cameron had a clear lead with 18% thinking him more like the US president, 11% thinking that of Gordon Brown and only 3% thinking that of Nick Clegg.

Seven per cent of those asked named former Prime Minister Tony Blair even though he was not listed. Also not listed but named by 2% was former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

But the largest group of those polled, 46%, said no British politician was like the US President.

Poll findings


Q: Will make the right cuts in public spending

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party 24%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party 39%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats 17%
None of them 10%
Don’t Know 9%

Q: Please tell me for each of the following people whether you have a very favourable, favourable, unfavourable, or very unfavourable opinion of them?

Barack Obama
Net: Favourable (that is favourable + very favourable) 87%
Net: Unfavourable (that is unfavourable + very unfavourable) 9%
Never Heard of 4%

Q Which of these UK political leaders, if any, is most like Barack Obama? If you think a previous leader is more like Barack Obama just tell me which one?

David Cameron 18%
Gordon Brown 11%
Tony Blair 7%
Vince Cable 6%
Nick Clegg 3%
Margaret Thatcher 2%
Others 3%
None like Obama 46%
Don’t Know 2%

Q Do you approve or disapprove of the way in which Gordon Brown is handling his job as Prime Minister?

Approve 29%
Disapprove 67%
Don’t Know 4%

Q Generally speaking, do you think things in Britain are moving in the right direction or are they pretty seriously off on the wrong track?

All/Labour voters 2005
Right Direction 30% 47%
Wrong track 67% 51%
Don’t know 4% 3%

Q Now I’m going to read you some phrases and characteristics other people we have interviewed have used to describe the political parties in the UK. For each phrase or characteristic, please tell me whether you think each is a better description of David Cameron, Gordon Brown or Nick Clegg?

Will stand up for ordinary people during an economic crisis

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party 31%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party 30%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats 18%
None of them 13%
Don’t Know 8%

Will prioritise families

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party 24%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party 42%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats 15%
None of them 9%
Don’t Know 9%

Is someone I can trust

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party 21%
David Cameron and the Conservative Party 30%
Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats 15%
None of them 29%
Don’t Know 6%

Tribute was paid today to chef and TV presenter Keith Floyd, who has died at the age of 65.

Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two, said: “From the very beginning of his long and successful relationship with BBC Two, Keith Floyd pioneered a new kind of cookery programme driven by his exuberant passion for good food, good wine and a good time.

“His refreshingly informal approach to presenting brought food into people’s homes in a new way and helped pave the way for today’s on-screen chefs. He will be much missed and our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Tiger Aspect and Bafta award-winning writer Abi Morgan (White Girl, Sex Traffic) re-unite to produce Royal Wedding, a 90-minute single drama for BBC Two.

Jodie Whittaker (St Trinian’s, Cranford) and Darren Boyd (Little Dorrit, Kiss Me Kate) head up the cast in a story set against the backdrop of 1981’s much-celebrated marriage of the then Lady Diana Spencer to Charles, Prince of Wales.

Rich in cultural references and humour, Abi Morgan says: “The Eighties was my decade. It spanned from the start of my teenage years to my leaving home. A maelstrom of disastrous haircuts, awkward fumblings, teenage rebellion, heartbreak and pop.

“The world was in turmoil and the long hot summer of ’76 seemed well and truly over. Britain was rioting. Maggie had taken on the miners and initially lost. We knew worse was to come. Royal Wedding feels like the final party before everything went wrong. It is the decade from which we have yet to recover and yet it is veiled in a warm nostalgia, an innocence that still haunts. For that one day in July it felt like fairytales and happy endings were possible.”

The drama’s action is set in a small Welsh village where locals are beginning to feel the negative effects of Margaret Thatcher’s free market policies. The Royal Wedding gives the community and the Caddock family a chance to forget their problems and unite. During the course of their celebrations, events unfold which will change their lives forever.

Also starring alongside Boyd and Whittaker are Kevin Bishop (The Kevin Bishop Show), Rebekah Staton (Pulling, Tess Of The D’Ubervilles), Alun Raglan, Sarah Hadlan and newcomer Gwyneth Keyworth.

Tiger Aspect’s Head of Drama, Greg Brenman, said, “It is such a great privilege to be working with Abi again. She has delivered a script which beautifully captures this iconic event in 1981 while resonating so poignantly with today. As ever, it is an emotionally-charged piece infused with Abi’s unerring ability to introduce wry humour into any given situation. We know this story will enthral its audience.”

Royal Wedding will be executive produced by Greg Brenman and produced by Rebecca de Souza and Roanna Benn. James Griffiths directs. Juliette Howell is executive producer at the BBC.

Filming begins this week in Wales for transmission in 2010.

Royal Wedding was commissioned by Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC Two, and Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning.

In a rare interview granted to the BBC Two documentary series The Love Of Money, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Dr Alan Greenspan, claimed that bankers knew they were under pricing risk but thought they could get out before the financial crisis hit.

Dr Greenspan says: “What happened to the bankers – yes they knew that they were involved in an under pricing of risk and at some point that correction would be made. I fear that too many of them thought they would be able to spot the actual trigger point of the crisis in time to get out.”

Seen by many as a key architect of the global free market economy and the crash of 2008, 83-year-old Dr Greenspan also argues that human nature will lead to a repeat of events similar to those that have unfolded around the world over the last year.

“Crisis will happen again but it will be different. They are all different but they have one fundamental source and that is the unquenchable capability of human beings when confronted with long periods of prosperity to presume that that will continue and they begin to take speculative excesses with the consequences that have dotted the history of the globe, basically since the beginning of the 18th, 19th century or back to the South Sea Bubble…or even before.

“It’s human nature – unless somebody can find a way to change human nature we will have more crises – none of them will look like this because no two crises have anything in common except human nature.”

When asked how he feels about being singled out as the person most responsible for the crisis, Dr Greenspan says: “You know I’m not saying I’m flawless and I’ve made no mistakes… that’s ridiculous.”

He goes on to cite the importance of the rise of China as a world financial powerhouse in bringing about the crash. With its virtually limitless supply of cheap labour it had grown to become a major player in the global free market, resulting in low interest rates and cheap money, and this helped to inflate the Western asset bubble.

“As a result of the shift of the developing world towards an ever-increasing emphasis on competitive markets, there was explosive growth. And the growth was so rapid and the income increases were so rapid that you could not get enough spending to absorb the income.”

Any use of information in this release must credit BBC Two’s The Love Of Money, which starts on Thursday 10 September.

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