Lauren Laverne and Steve Lamacq present live coverage on the night

Digital radio station BBC 6 Music builds up to the ceremony with a special week of programming

The BBC is to broadcast comprehensive coverage of the Mercury Prize 2009 across TV, radio and online.

Coverage of the night will be presented live from the event by Lauren Laverne on BBC Two and Steve Lamacq on BBC 6 Music.


From 10.00pm on Tuesday 8 September, The Culture Show and 6 Music presenter Lauren Laverne presents live TV coverage on BBC Two (10.00-10.30pm) including the announcement of the result and reaction from the winner, plus clips of live performances from all 12 shortlisted artists.

An extended Mercury Prize special with Lauren will be broadcast on Friday 11 September (11.40pm) featuring, for the first time, full performances from all 12 shortlisted artists and highlights from the evening.

BBC 6 Music

Steve Lamacq presents live coverage of the award ceremony (8.00-11.00pm) from the heart of the action at the Grosvenor House Hotel.

Alongside interviews with some of the shortlisted artists, and the attending great-and-good of the music industry, the show features live performances from the night and expert analysis of proceedings from Lamacq, 6 Music news and industry insiders on the build-up to the live announcement of the winner.

Immediate reaction and analysis of the decision follow, plus an interview with the winner before the end of the show.

Paul Rodgers, Editor, 6 Music, said of the station’s coverage: “This is a valuable opportunity for the BBC and 6 Music to offer an in-depth look at this influential prize with the help of our expert presenters, including Steve Lamacq and Guy Garvey.

“And with 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne presenting TV proceedings it will prove to be a big night for the station.”

6 Music’s special week of programming

Digital radio station BBC 6 Music will also reflect the Mercury Prize in a week of special programming prior to the night. Highlights include:

A Month Of Mercurys

6 Music’s Sunday slot A Month Of… is given over to Mercury shortlisted artists for the month of September, starting on 6 September (3.30-5.30pm) with a special two-hour programme by The Horrors who play and discuss the music that has influenced them. Other nominees under the radio spotlight include Friendly Fires, La Roux (in conversation with Steve Lamacq) and Sweet Billy Pilgrim.

Elbow’s Finest Hour

On the day of the ceremony (8 September) Guy Garvey, 6 Music presenter and lead singer with Mercury Award-winning band Elbow, presents Elbow’s Finest Hour (7.00-8.00pm), where Guy and his band mates discuss the making of the Seldom Seen Kid, highlights of the past year, and what’s next for Elbow.

Mercury Winners: The Albums

In Mercury Winners: The Albums (12midnight-1.00am) a DJ from each of the six BBC music radio networks champions a previous winning album. A download of each programme will be available on on the day of broadcast.


The BBC Mercury Prize site – – offers audiences exclusive Mercury-related content, from video interviews with the shortlisted acts, to films from a selection of journalists, DJs and musicians, including Gary Lightbody and Roots Manuva, who discuss their personal picks for who should win. The site will have all the news as it happens on the night via Twitter as well as video performances from all the shortlisted artists.

BBC Two’s factual entertainment offering is expanding, with the commission of two new spin-off shows from The Restaurant – Raymond Blanc; Step By Step and Plate Expectations (working titles).

Raymond Blanc; Step By Step will dish up an accompaniment to The Restaurant for the channel in the form of a cookery series from the show’s star and world-renowned chef Raymond Blanc.

Plate Expectations will follow series two runners-up, Alasdair and James, as they go it alone as event caterers.

Always minutes away from disaster in the show, they have since been taken under Raymond’s wing, learning the trade at one of his top restaurants. Now it’s time to see whether they can tell their caviar from their calamari as they cater for a different event each week.

Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two, says: “The Restaurant is a popular, well-established programme with lots of potential for expansion and I think these two new series will complement and enhance the brand.”

Both shows were commissioned by Mirella Breda, Executive Editor for Entertainment Commissioning, and will be produced by BBC Vision Productions. The executive producers are Chloe Solomon (Raymond Blanc; Step By Step and The Restaurant) and Rachel Arnold (Plate Expectations).

Just 28% of people in England believe the Labour Government has delivered on Tony Blair’s priority of “education, education, education” suggests a survey conducted for BBC Two’s Newsnight programme.

The results of the ComRes survey forms part of Labour’s Children, a Newsnight special programme (BBC Two, 27 August at 10.30pm) examining the first children to be wholly educated under a Labour government as they receive their GCSE results.

The survey suggests just under two-thirds (60%) think Labour’s education policies have failed to live up to expectation, while a third (34%) disagree.

The majority of those surveyed – 56% – disagree that Labour’s management of the education system has given parents more choice regarding schools.

A third (35%) believe the Conservatives have the best education policies, a quarter (25%) Labour and 15% the Liberal Democrats.

A season marking the anniversary of the collapse of the Lehman Brothers bank will air next month on BBC Two and includes a unique collaboration between two BBC departments – factual and drama.

Crash Season begins with The Love Of Money, a three-part series that chronicles the interlinked events of the Lehman Brothers’ crisis that took capitalism to the brink of collapse.

The Love Of Money features an unparalleled range of eye-witness contributions from most of the major players at the centre of the storm including: Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, Mervyn King, Tim Geithner, Alan Greenspan, the Finance Ministers of France, Germany and Iceland, the CEO’s of Merrill Lynch and Barclays, Lehman’s lawyer Rodgin Cohen and its bankruptcy lawyer, Harvey Miller, as well as US Congressional leaders.

The series will also reveal exclusive footage showing former Lehman Brothers’ CEO Dick Fuld struggling to keep his bank afloat in the weeks leading up to its collapse.

The Love Of Money is executive produced by Dominic Crossley-Holland and series produced by Michael Tuft.

As previously announced BBC Two will also broadcast The Last Days Of Lehman Brothers, a work of fiction inspired by the real events that saw the bank go to wall on the weekend of 12 September 2008.

This one-off 60-minute drama was written by Craig Warner (Maxwell, The Queen’s Sister), executive produced by Ruth Caleb (Short Stay In Switzerland, Born Equal, Judge John Deed) and produced by Lisa Osborne (Little Dorrit).

The Last Days Of Lehman Brothers is the result of an extraordinary collaboration between the BBC’s factual and drama departments.

During the drafting of the script the two teams worked together to ensure the drama had its feet in fact while still giving the drama the licence to give its own unique interpretation of the events.

Dominic Crossley-Holland, who has overseen the season, says: “The BBC Two’s Crash Season provides the definitive account of the causes, consequences and cost of the greatest financial crisis for 80 years.

“To start with there’s an exciting creative collaboration in a gripping double bill produced by BBC Factual and Drama departments. We deconstruct the collapse of Lehmans, a seminal moment of the crash which had a devastating impact worldwide.

“Combined, The Love Of Money series and The Last Days Of Lehman Brothers drama offer viewers an exciting way into one of the most important moments in the history of business.”

Ruth Caleb says: “The drama simply could not have happened without cooperation from the Factual team. Their advice, support and huge generosity were key to us proceeding, and collaborating at the research stage enabled the writer, Craig Warner, to get access to an in-depth and detailed account of events.

“The drama was conceived, written and produced at great speed and this could only be done with considerable input from Dominic Crossley-Holland and his team.”

Other programmes in the BBC Two Crash Season include:

Warren Buffett: How To Be Rich – Evan Davis meets the one of the world’s richest men, a hugely successful and legendary investor.

Bonfire Of The Bankers (working title) – the story of the Lehman Brothers’ collapse.

BBC World Service will also be investigating the impact of the global recession in Aftershock, a new season broadcasting across the BBC’s international news services, with BBC World News and, in September.

Opening the season on 5 September, The Day That Lehman Died on BBC World Service is a new 60-minute radio drama which marks the anniversary of the collapse of this banking giant.

It is a fictionalised account of events over the weekend prior to the bank’s demise, where bankers argued and negotiated, all too aware that Lehman was not the only one of its kind in trouble. This drama looks at how the critical decision to let Lehman die was made.

Written by Matthew Solon, an award-winning writer whose work has featured on BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4, the play is directed by John Dryden, whose previous credits include the 10-part serialisation of Vikas Swarup’s Q & A (Slumdog Millionaire) for Radio 4, which won the 2008 Sony Award for Best Drama.

The drama was recorded on location in and around Wall Street, including at the New York Stock Exchange, with cast members including John Shea and John Rothman. It was made with the assistance of WNYC Public Radio in New York.

The Day That Lehman Died was commissioned by Tony Phillips and executive produced by Jeremy Skeet and Marion Nancarrow.

James Cromwell (Six Feet Under, 24, W, LA Confidential), James Bolam (New Tricks), Ben Daniels (Law And Order: UK, The Passion), Michael Landes (Love Soup, Material Girl) and Corey Johnson (Spooks, United 93, The Bourne Ultimatum) will star in The Last Days Of Lehman Brothers, a BBC Drama Production for BBC Two.

A work of fiction inspired by the real events that took place on the weekend of 12 September 2008, The Last Days Of Lehman Brothers tells the story of what happened the weekend that Lehman’s Bank went to the wall.

Executive Producer Ruth Caleb (Short Stay In Switzerland, Born Equal, Judge John Deed) says: “In the year following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, writer Craig Warner has written a very engaging script inspired by those events.

“We are also very fortunate that we have an exceptional cast, including James Cromwell, Ben Daniels and James Bolam to bring those events to life.”

By Friday 12 September 2008 confidence in the American bank Lehman Brothers had plunged.

Its clearing bank was demanding more collateral, its attempts to raise money from a Korean bank had stalled and credit agencies warned that, if it did not raise more capital, it would be downgraded.

The heads of Wall Street’s biggest investment banks were summoned to an evening meeting by the US Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson (James Cromwell), to discuss the plight of another – Lehman Brothers.

After six months’ turmoil in the world’s financial markets, Lehman Brothers was on life support and the government was about to pull the plug.

Lehman CEO, Dick Fuld (Corey Johnson), recently sidelined in a boardroom coup, spends the weekend desperately trying to resuscitate his beloved company through a merger with Bank of America or UK-based Barclays.

But without the financial support of Paulson and Lehman’s fiercest competitors, Fuld’s empire – and with it, the stability of the world economy – teeters on the verge of extinction.

The Last Days Of Lehman Brothers (1 x 60-minutes) was written by Craig Warner (Maxwell, The Queen’s Sister) for transmission on BBC Two this autumn.

It also stars Alex Jennings (The Queen, The State Within), William Hope (Aliens, Sherlock Holmes), Michael Brandon (Dead Man Weds, Dempsey And Makepeace) and Peter Polycarpou (Holby City, Empathy).

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

The director is Michael Samuels (Caught In A Trap, The Curse Of Steptoe) and the producer is Lisa Osborne (Little Dorrit).

A new documentary featuring never-heard-before fragments of conversation, along with interviews and rare footage of The Beatles in the studio, will form the centrepiece of a season of programming as BBC Two and BBC Four join forces for Beatles Week.

The joint season, celebrating the Fab Four’s enduring legacy and continuing influence, begins on BBC Two on Saturday 5 September 2009.

Kicking off an evening of programming on BBC Two on 5 September, The Beatles On Record offers a concise history of The Beatles in the studio and sits alongside other highlights including the first TV showing of The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit, the Maysles brothers’ film charting the Fab Four’s arrival in America in 1964.

BBC Four’s programming includes Storyville’s extraordinary story of how The Beatles’ music may have contributed towards the collapse of the USSR; a documentary on the making of The Beatles’ First U.S. Visit; and a new compilation of archive footage featuring an eclectic range of artists who have covered Beatles songs over the decades.

In 1962 an unknown group from Liverpool entered Abbey Road Studios to record their debut single. During the next eight years they created what is arguably regarded as the greatest collection of studio recordings of the 20th century.

The Beatles On Record, directed by Bob Smeaton, charts The Beatles’ extraordinary journey from Please Please Me to Abbey Road and reflects on how they developed as musicians, matured as songwriters and created a body of work that sounds as fresh in 2009 as the time it was recorded.

Narrated entirely by John, Paul, George, Ringo and their producer Sir George Martin, the documentary features more than 60 classic songs, rare footage and photos from The Beatles’ archives and never-heard-before out-takes of studio chat from the Abbey Road recording sessions.

This is followed on the same evening on BBC Two by The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit.

It is 1964, Beatlemania is beginning in America and from airport to hotel to TV studio, the pioneering Maysles brothers are at The Beatles’ shoulders on their first US visit. This is the inside story of the two remarkable weeks when Beatlemania first ignited in America.

BBC Two will also be reshowing Timewatch: Beatlemania, the inside story of the rise and fall of Beatlemania. By 1966 the Beatles had played more than 1,400 gigs, toured the world four times and sold the equivalent of 200 million records. At the height of their popularity, and without warning, they pulled the plug and never toured again.

There’s also another chance to see the action adventure spoof Help!, directed by Richard Lester.

The season continues with a week of programming on BBC Four from Sunday 6 September.

Storyville: How The Beatles Rocked The Kremlin tells the extraordinary unknown story of how The Beatles’ music may have contributed to the collapse of the USSR.

In August 1962 director Leslie Woodhead made a two-minute film in Liverpool’s Cavern Club with a raw and unrecorded group of rockers – The Beatles. He arranged their first live TV appearances on a local show in Manchester and then watched as the Fab Four phenomenon swept the world.

Twenty five years later, while making films in Russia, Woodhead became aware of how – even though they were never able to play in the Soviet Union – The Beatles legend had soaked into the lives of a generation of youngsters.

This film meets the Soviet Beatles generation and hears stories about how the Fab Four changed their lives.

Other programming throughout the week on BBC Four includes Sings Beatles, a new compilation of archive footage featuring a diverse range of artists – from Sandie Shaw to Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Carpenters to Candy Flip – who have covered Beatles songs over the years.

Plus there’s an opportunity to see Filming The Beatles’ First U.S. Visit: Albert Maysles, which takes viewers behind the scenes with the legendary documentary director of The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit that screens on BBC Two on 5 September.

George Entwistle, Controller, Knowledge Commissioning, says: “This is a chance for viewers to enjoy some rare footage and fascinating insights into the career of the greatest pop group of all time.

“Through BBC Two and BBC Four’s close working relationship we will be inviting our audience to join us on a rich and colourful journey across two TV channels, through new and archive content, shown in just one week in September.”

BBC Sport provides extensive, live coverage of this year’s largest international sporting event – the World Athletics Championships from Berlin, Germany – across TV, radio and online.

Coverage features on BBC Two and BBC Radio 5 Live from Saturday 15 August to Sunday 23 August.

Triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt starts as red-hot favourite, with his showdown against reigning World 100m and 200m champion Tyson Gay set to light up Berlin on the first weekend (BBC Two, Saturday 15 August: 10.00am-12.30pm, men’s 100m heats; 4.45-8.45pm, men’s 100m quarter-finals; Sunday 16 August, 5.00-9.00pm, men’s 100m finals).

For Britain, Jessica Ennis also goes for gold in the women’s heptathlon over the opening weekend, while defending 400m champion and Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu hopes to beat her arch-rival, Sanya Richards of the USA, as she did gloriously in Beijing last year (BBC Two, Saturday 15 August, 10.00am-12.30pm, women’s 400m heats; Sunday 16 August, 5.00-9.00pm, women’s 400m semi-finals).

Presenters Hazel Irvine, John Inverdale and Jonathan Edwards are joined by a BBC team of expert commentators and analysts including: former multiple Olympic 200m and 400m champion and current 400m world record holder, Michael Johnson; former Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis; and double 110m hurdles World champion and 60m hurdles world record holder, Colin Jackson.

Describing the action from Berlin is a team of expert commentators including Steve Cram, Jonathan Edwards, Paul Dickenson, Steve Backley and Brendan Foster. In addition, Phil Jones will be on hand to carry out interviews with all of the big names.

Approximately 50 hours of TV coverage is planned across BBC Two, BBC HD and BBC Red Button.

The extensive BBC Two coverage will keep viewers bang up to date with all the latest live action as well as previewing all the key events and big stories coming up.

The service on BBC Red Button complements the main TV programming: there are looped repeats of BBC Two’s live coverage and a daily 20 to 30-minute highlights programme in which viewers can catch up on all the very best action, from both the morning and evening sessions [see Notes to Editors].

Radio 5 Live and 5 Live Sports Extra also have extensive coverage, starting with a special 5 Live Sport Track And Field previewing the Championships with John Inverdale (Thursday 13 August, 9.00pm).

There will be commentary on the opening day’s action in 5 Live Sport (Saturday 15 August), with coverage every evening in 5 Live Sport throughout the Championships, as well as early-evening coverage on Sports Extra from 5.00pm on 17, 18 and 19 August.

John Inverdale will present live from Berlin alongside 5 Live athletics correspondent Mike Costello, Allison Curbishley and Sonja McLaughlan, with expert opinion from former javelin world record holder Steve Backley and Olympic Gold medal sprinter Darren Campbell.

The BBC Sport website will feature between five and eight hours of live video coverage every day, as well as extensive on-demand daily highlights (UK only).

The video will be accompanied by a daily live text commentary, featuring blow-by-blow updates from the text commentator, texts from readers and updates from journalists at the stadium in Berlin.

Blogger Tom Fordyce will be at the stadium each day, blogging and sending updates via Twitter and photos via Flickr.

And there will be analysis from top BBC pundits such as Steve Cram, Michael Johnson, Colin Jackson, Denise Lewis and Darren Campbell, as well as 5 Live athletics reporter Sonja McLaughlan.

Following the huge success of the Victorian Farm series, BBC Two is presenting the same intrepid team with a brand new set of challenges as they are forced to get to grips with the trials and tribulations of life on an Edwardian Farm.

Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two, says: “Victorian Farm was an innovative format that really seemed to resonate with the way people feel towards their community and relate to each other in the current economic climate.

“Faced with tough challenges, it showed just what can be achieved by a team of people when they work together towards a common goal and the popularity of the series showed us that there is a real thirst amongst the viewing public for good-hearted, intelligent programming that hits a familiar note.

“Edwardian Farm will bring with it a different set of challenges which I am sure will prove every bit as stimulating and inspiring as Victorian Farm.”

Victorian Farm was extremely popular on the channel this year, drawing an average audience of 3.6 million (14% share), with the final episode attracting over four million viewers – almost twice the timeslot average.

Archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn and domestic historian Ruth Goodman will return to front Edwardian Farm, spending a full year delving into Britain’s rural heritage.

They will make their home in a stunning new location, exploring the challenges posed by the British countryside at a time of great change and tumult; a time when farming was becoming increasingly mechanised at home, and abroad the world was moving gradually towards war.

As in the first series, the action will be based primarily on the farm, but the new setting will also allow the team to explore wider aspects of the working countryside, including rivers and coasts, boat-building, mining, fishing and market gardening.

The 12 x 60-minute series will be produced by Lion Television.

David Upshal, Executive Producer at Lion Television, says: “We’re really excited to have this chance to further explore the lost world of Britain’s rural heritage; a world that has struck a chord with so many people.

“The new series will be bigger and even more ambitious, whilst maintaining the warmth and engaging charm of Victorian Farm.”

The series was commissioned by Martin Davidson and Emma Willis at the BBC.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the world wide web, BBC Two is teaming up with the web’s inventor in an ambitious new project that will explore the profound impact of his seminal invention on almost every facet of our lives.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee will today help to launch Digital Revolution (working title), a landmark series for BBC Two with a ground-breaking open source approach to its production process.

The Digital Revolution team will give web users early access to programme content by making their rushes available online and sharing some of their key arguments, inviting comment, input and story leads from the web community.

George Entwistle, Controller, BBC Knowledge Commissioning, says: “After 20 years of tumultuous innovation, now feels like the right time for us to take stock of the profound change our society has undergone since the birth of the web.

“I’m delighted the BBC audience will have the opportunity to play a pivotal role in the creation of this project, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it unfold online in the months leading up to TV transmission.”

Journalist and academic Aleks Krotoski will kick the project off with a series of manifesto blog posts at

She will ask the web community to join in an open debate, sharing opinions and suggesting stories.

The team will also marshal web users in a series of online experiments, developed in consultation with the Web Science Research Initiative – a joint endeavour between the University of Southampton and MIT – which Sir Tim Berners-Lee co-directs.

This online debate will shape the production of the BBC Two documentary series, informing Aleks’ arguments as she assesses the claims made over many years by the web’s key innovators and testing them against the hard realities of the emerging web today.

She will uncover some of the extraordinary human stories that illustrate how the web is being used and abused today, and look for clues to evaluate its – and our – uncertain future.

Dominic Crossley-Holland, Executive Producer for the BBC Two series, says: “This is a hugely important and timely series and it’s very exciting that the father of the web himself, Tim Berners-Lee, is involved.

“The production team is committed to being as open as possible in a way that may have far-reaching consequences for the way that TV is produced in the future.”

The four-part documentary series will be aired next year on BBC Two.

Digital Revolution is a co-production with the Open University. The commissioner for the BBC is Martin Davidson; the commissioner for the OU is Emma De’Ath.

Initially known for an international modelling career, Sophie turned her focus to writing and is now a best-selling novelist and columnist who has written widely about her passion for food and cooking.

She now brings her talents to TV.

Food for Sophie is a way of life, she says: “For me, food is more than just fuel; it’s a joy and an adventure.

“Cooking often serves as an emotional barometer, and with this show we will run the gamut – from a solo dinner that suits melancholy to a homecoming feast for 20, it’s cooking with an anecdotal thread, irreverent, unpredictable and not without flaw.

“I am delighted to be working with both Fresh One and the BBC.”

Sophie’s kitchen is her familiar terrain, a place of solace and retreat where she can put on the radio and enjoy the sanctuary of cooking.

Her recipes reflect her unique approach to food and in this new series she will be sharing with viewers her favourite home-made delights.

Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two, says: “We are delighted to be bringing Sophie’s culinary talents to the channel.

“Not only are her recipes fantastic, she’s honest, funny and warm.

“And she’ll be in great company alongside our other homecooking heroines, Delia and Nigella.”

The 6 x 30-minute programmes will begin shooting this summer for transmission next year.

Each episode will focus on a different theme for which Sophie will revisit treasured and nostalgic places giving insight into the resonance and meaning behind each recipe. 

Zoe Collins, Head of Fresh One Productions, added: “Sophie really is a terrific cook and with her relaxed and refreshing style is a great new talent in the world of television food programming.

“We are excited to be working with her.”

The series has been commissioned by Jo Ball, BBC Commissioning Editor for Factual Features. Executive Producers for the BBC are Lisa Edwards and Alison Kirkham.

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