BBC Two Daytime has commissioned Brighter Pictures, an Endemol company, to produce a brand new game show called Pointless in which obscure knowledge is the key to success.

Presented by comedian Alexander Armstrong, Pointless sees five pairs of contestants compete for a cash prize – by winning the fewest points.

Every question on Pointless has been asked to a panel of 100 people before the show to find out the most obvious and the most obscure answers.

The contestants are fighting their natural instincts, aiming to get the fewest points possible by finding the least obvious correct answer for each question.

The holy grail is the pointless answer – an answer that none of the 100 polled thought of. These add money to the prize jackpot and contestants can win the lot in a thrilling end game.

David Flynn, Managing Director of Brighter Pictures, says: “Pointless is brilliantly simple and you can’t resist playing along.

“We’re delighted to have Alexander Armstrong as host, the format has an inherent humour that he’ll be the perfect presenter to bring out.”

Liam Keelan, Controller, BBC Daytime, adds: “Pointless is a wonderfully irreverent addition to our portfolio of daytime quizzes, which I’m sure will keep viewers entertained.”

The Executive Producers for Brighter Pictures are Tom Blakeson and David Flynn, and Series Producer is Michelle Woods.

The series – 30 x 45-minutes launching summer 2009 – was commissioned by Liam Keelan and executive produced for the BBC by Pam Cavannagh.

Commissioned by BBC Daytime’s Commissioning Executive, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Jo Street, and made by STV, Antiques Road Trip is a series which pairs eight of Britain’s best-loved antiques experts and sends them on a road trip across the UK in a selection of beautiful classic cars. They’ll compete with each other to make the most money buying and selling antiques.

Each expert will have a starting budget of £200. From this they will try to continually trade up so that they increase their profits every time they sell at auction.

While searching for antiques to sell, they’ll be painting a picture of Britain as they travel through a changing landscape of stunning countryside, coastal villages, bustling market towns and sprawling cities in their selection of beautiful classic cars. On the way they will meet some of our most colourful and eccentric characters as they drive off the beaten track in search of some antique gems.

Although competing as individuals, they will travel in pairs. Witty banter and a growing competitive relationship will all be part of the proceedings.

Week one of the series will see Anita Manning and David Barby kicking off in Aberdeenshire.

In week two David Harper and James Lewis will begin their leg of the journey in Northern Ireland before travelling to the Lake District.

In week three Philip Serrell and Charles Hanson will start in North Wales and make their way down through the Midlands and the West Country.

In the final week, James Braxton and Mark Stacey will concentrate their efforts in Norfolk and the South East of England.

At the end of every week the expert who has traded up best and made the most money will be the winner. But expertise, reputations and egos are still on the line as the ultimate crown of series winner will be decided at a nail-biting grand finale auction in one of London’s most prestigious auction houses. Presiding over the finale auction and crowning the Antiques Road Trip winner will be antiques legend Tim Wonnacott.

Antiques Road Trip is a series that’s guaranteed to provide fun and drama in equal measure, not to mention a comprehensive cross-country guide to buying and selling antiques for profit.

BBC’s Controller of Daytime, Liam Keelan, says: “Antiques Road Trip is a very feel-good format, with some of our best-known antiques experts pitting their wits against each other from the top to the bottom of Britain.”

Commissioning Executive Jo Street adds: “I’m delighted that STV’s first ever commission for the BBC is a daytime series to be made in Glasgow. The STV team worked hard to find out what works for our viewers and came up with Antiques Road Trip – a great idea packed with high production values which we hope the audience will love.”

Elizabeth Partyka, Deputy Director of Content and Head of Daytime at STV, said: “We are delighted to have won our first ever series commission from the BBC and look forward to working with them on what promises to be a fantastic series. Having the commissioner based next door at Pacific Quay has contributed hugely to this. We have been able to work closely with Jo Street since she arrived and that has made the whole process much more focused and productive. Antiques Road Trip is now in production and we are confident of delivering an entertaining and quality series for BBC Two.”

The BBC Executive Producer for Antiques Road Trip is Jo Street and for STV they are Wendy Rattray and Elizabeth Partyka.

It is a BBC network production from Scotland by BBC Daytime.

Restoration Roadshow is a brand new series commissioned by BBC Controller of Daytime Liam Keelan, made by Transparent Television for BBC Two Daytime, and fronted by antiques expert Eric Knowles.

A squad of antiques restorers visit towns across the country where members of the public are invited to bring along items from damaged heirlooms to attic treasures which they hope can be restored.

Featured items will be appraised and valued before restoration and viewers will discover the back story and history to the item, plus the reason the owner would like them to be restored.

Restoration Roadshow will then follow the restoration process of featured items throughout each episode.

At the end of the journey the owners will have the opportunity to sell their antiques at auction and hopefully make a bigger profit than they would have made from selling the damaged piece.

Liam Keelan says: “Restoration Roadshow should prove very popular with our audience. Long-forgotten antiques are lovingly restored leaving their owners with the dilemma of whether to sell them on or give them pride of place back in their homes.”

Jazz Thwaite, Joint Managing Director of Transparent Television, adds: “We’re delighted to have Liz Mills on board as Creative Director and Exec Producer with us. She brings an impressive track record across all genres and a wealth of experience in daytime with an infectious energy that is boundless.”

Creative Director and Executive Producer for Transparent Television, Liz Mills, says: “I’m so excited to be working with Transparent Television and to have won our first daytime series for the BBC with Restoration Roadshow.

“This is a fresh series tapping into not only restoring anything that can be restored but also, in these times, enabling us to make some money from selling it too!”

The BBC Executive Producer is Tracy Forsyth and for Transparent Television the Executive Producers are Jazz Thwaite, Liz Mills and Richard Hughes. Restoration Roadshow is a Transparent production made for BBC Daytime (20 x 30-minutes).

Filming has begun on the brand new comedy sitcom, Miranda, due for transmission in Autumn 2009 on BBC Two.

Miranda is based on the semi-autobiographical writing of comedy actress Miranda Hart (Not Going Out, Hyperdrive, Absolutely Fabulous). The show started its life as a TV pilot and then moved onto becoming the critically acclaimed, Sony Award nominated radio series, Miranda Hart’s Joke Shop, on BBC Radio 2.

Patricia Hodge (Maxwell; Betrayal; The Life And Loves Of A She-Devil) returns to our TV screens playing Miranda’s mother and is joined by a stellar cast, including Sarah Hadland (Moving Wallpaper; That Mitchell & Webb Look), Sally Phillips (Bridget Jones’ Diary; Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason; Smack The Pony) and Tom Ellis (Miss Conception; EastEnders) in this farcical, eccentric and affectionate family sitcom.

Miranda is desperate to fit in, but her public school background makes her a bit of a misfit down the pub and she’s never quite fitted in with Sloane Ranger childhood rival Tilly (Sally Phillips) or the rest of ‘the girls’ (not least because she’s a foot taller than them all).

Due to years of agoraphobic tendencies she can’t quite grasp how to behave socially and constantly fails to avoid embarrassing situations, especially around men.

A constant disappointment to her mother Penny (Patricia Hodge), and lacking any real capacity or interest for business, Miranda employs her childhood friend Stevie (Sarah Hadland) to manage her joke shop.

It doesn’t matter what Miranda attempts in life – dating, joining the gym, job interviews or simply dealing with her overbearing mother – she always seems to fall flat, quite literally, and is incapable of leaving a room without knocking something over.

Miranda comments: “Since I can remember I have wanted to be a comedian and so to have my own show on the BBC is a total thrill, albeit slightly unnerving! To have actors like Patricia Hodge and Sally Philips interested in my writing, let alone agreeing to do the job, is a real honour.

“Comedy is such an important part of my life, if I hadn’t had people like French and Saunders, Morecambe and Wise and Joyce Grenfell to watch, my life would have been a much duller place and so to be a part of this wonderful industry is a real blessing – I can’t believe my luck.”

Guest stars include Peter Davison as Miranda’s old French teacher, Adrian Scarborough (Gavin And Stacey), Luke Pasquilino (Skins), Alex Macqueen (The Thick Of It) and Katy Wix (Not Going Out).

The 6 x 30-minutes series was commissioned by Lucy Lumsden, Controller of Comedy Commissioning, and Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two.

The producer is Nerys Evans and the director is Juliet May.

The executive producer is Jo Sargent, Creative Head, BBC Comedy Entertainment, who adds: “We are delighted to be working with Miranda. She is an extraordinary talent – a huge star in the making. Miranda’s skills, both as a performer and a writer, are very impressive – it is rare to find someone so uniquely talented.”

Miranda is a BBC production for BBC Two.

The BBC is set to challenge the concept of beauty in modern art in a new season of programmes due to transmit this autumn.

The Modern Beauty Season will examine the perception of beauty both in modern and classical art forms through a collection of films on BBC Two and BBC Four.

Mark Bell, Commissioning Editor for Arts, says: “This short season of films takes the temperature of art now.

“We look forward to shedding new light on the big questions: Has modern art lost touch with the public? Are classical values still possible in the modern era? And what do we mean when we talk about beauty?”

BBC Two will open the debate on modern versus classical art with two authored films.

The first is from art critic Waldemar Januszczak who will fly the flag for modern art in Ugly Beauty, arguing that art today is as interested in beauty as it always has been.

The second film, from writer and philosopher Roger Scruton, will argue for the principles of classical art in Scruton On Beauty.

Also on BBC Two, art critic and broadcaster Matthew Collings will present a mischievous guide to beauty from the earliest points in history through to the present day in This Is Beauty.

With BBC Two and BBC Four continuing to work in partnership to offer viewers a richer viewing experience, BBC Four adds more context to the Modern Beauty Season with a documentary from historian and art expert Gus Casely-Hayford, who will take a journey to discover the state of British art today.

The documentaries will broadcast around the centrepiece to the Modern Beauty Season – the forthcoming Saatchi’s Art Stars on BBC Two, a four-part series following the search for the next generation of new British artists.

Filming has commenced on a new sitcom set in an advertising agency (title to be announced), for BBC Two, starring Adam Buxton (BBC 6 Music’s Adam & Joe, Hot Fuzz), presenter Iain Lee (11 O’ Clock Show, Absolute Radio), Simon Farnaby (Jam & Jerusalem), Daisy Haggard (Psychoville, Ashes To Ashes) and stand-up comedian Jarred Christmas.

The series, which will be filmed in front of a live studio audience and air later this year, comprises six 30-minute episodes.

The series is penned by former advertising executive and debut screenwriter Jonathan Thake and script edited by Andrew Collins (Not Going Out).

Set in fictional advertising agency HHH&H, the under-worked and overpaid agency staff spend all day trying to persuade you to buy things you don’t want with money you don’t have.

They are uncontrollable urge-bag Keaton (Simon Farnaby), who wants everything and everyone he hasn’t had already; Billy (Iain Lee), who’s smart and funny but still works in advertising; spoiled neurotic Emma (Daisy Haggard), who would like to break the glass ceiling but only if it doesn’t damage her lovely hair; and boss Clive (Jarred Christmas), the most Australian man on the planet.

Then there’s hopeless, witless, feckless Greg (Adam Buxton), who wants to be as ambitious and amoral as his colleagues but can’t seem to manage even that.

The series was commissioned by Lucy Lumsden, BBC Controller, Comedy Commissioning, and produced by Bwark, the makers of The Inbetweeners, Angelos and Free Agents.

Lucy Lumsden says: “I’m delighted to have Bwark’s next comedy on BBC Two. It is another great example of our commitment to developing the audience sitcom and showcasing exciting new and emerging on and off-screen talent.”

The executive producers are Simon Wilson for the BBC and Iain Morris and Damon Beesley for Bwark. Directed by Tristram Shapeero (Reggie Perrin, Peep Show) and produced by Jon Rolph (Taking The Flak).


On Sunday 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ended a landmark four-day trip on the Apollo 11 spacecraft and made history by becoming the first humans to step foot on the Moon. Forty years since those first “small steps” were taken, BBC Two and BBC Four take a voyage “out of this world” with a month-long Moon Season of programming to celebrate this most momentous historical event, “launching” this summer.

As the season’s centrepiece, Top Gear’s James May makes his own very personal mission to travel to the ends of the Earth in two one-off documentaries.

On BBC Two, James May On The Moon takes the presenter on a personal voyage to fulfil his lifelong dream of flying to the edge of space. Along the way, he meets some astronauts who give their own personal accounts of what it is like to fly to the Moon.

BBC Four then travels 70,000 feet above the Earth to find out more about James May’s intergalactic journey into the unknown, in James May At The Edge Of Space. Flying in a U-2 spy plane, James looks out of his plane to see Planet Earth far below him.

Throughout the rest of the month, BBC Two and BBC Four will celebrate the auspicious events of 20 July 1969 with programmes featuring in-depth interviews and insight from the people who were there at the time, together with amazing restored archive footage.

In addition, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live will mark this landmark historical date through dedicated programming themed around the Moon landings.

BBC Archive is also supporting the Moon Season by releasing a new online collection that tells the story of the Apollo moon missions, how they got off the ground and why they came to an abrupt end.

This is the latest collection being released by BBC Archive that enables the public to take advantage of the BBC’s access to unique historical content. The new collection will be found at when the Moon Season begins.

BBC Two Daytime today announces it has commissioned a brand new 20 x 30-minute series Travels With Bradshaw (working title).

Commissioned by Liam Keelan, Controller, Daytime, for BBC Two, the series will be presented by Michael Portillo and is a TalkbackThames production.

In a series of epic train rides that criss-cross the length and breadth of Britain, Michael Portillo will chart the great British romance with the railways.

Passionate about trains, Portillo will follow in the footsteps of the cartographic legend George Bradshaw, who wrote the first national railway timetables and travel guides in the 1840s.

Armed with Bradshaw’s guide, he will travel all over the country to find out how much of Bradshaw’s Britain remains, see what’s changed and discover how our love-hate relationship with the railways all began.

Michael Portillo will retrace four of the epic journeys, for example Swindon to Penzance and Liverpool to Scarborough, which will be charted nightly across the week.

He will make regular stops along the way to visit the cities, villages and landmarks from Bradshaw’s guide.

He’ll meet up with a fascinating cross-section of the British public who live along those routes, hearing stories of how their lives have been shaped in some way by the railways.

Travels With Bradshaw will create a revealing portrait of Britain as it was in Bradshaw’s time, and how it is today, 150 years later.

Michael Portillo says: “Some of my earliest memories are of long overnight journeys from a smoky King’s Cross to Scotland. I have never quite lost my excitement at embarking on epic trips, whether at high speed or dawdling along branch lines.

“I enthuse about Victorian stations, tunnels and viaducts and I deeply admire those who built them. It will be a privilege to escort the viewing public as we retrace Bradshaw’s footsteps””

Liam Keelan says: “This series will delve right into the heart of one of the great British institutions – our railways. I’m delighted to have secured Michael Portillo to present this new series for BBC Daytime.”

Travels With Bradshaw is a 20 x 30-minute TalkbackThames production for BBC Two Daytime. Executive producers are Charlie Bunce and Camilla Lewis. The series producer is Fiona Caldwell. The BBC executive producer is Damian Kavanagh.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s award-winning production of Hamlet, directed by RSC Chief Associate Director Gregory Doran, and with David Tennant in the title role, will premiere on BBC Two later this year.

Produced by Illuminations, the screen version of Shakespeare’s great tragedy will retain the quality and tone of the critically-acclaimed stage production but filming will take place on location.

All key original members of the cast, including Patrick Stewart as Claudius, are confirmed to star in this special 180-minute production, alongside the same creative team.

Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two, says: “This is a wonderful opportunity for BBC Two to bring one of the great stage successes of last year to a wider audience.”

RSC Artistic Director Michael Boyd said: “We are very pleased that this RSC production will be seen by so many people when broadcast.

“As the show was sold out for its entire run, this is a really great opportunity for our work to be seen by so many who could not come to the theatre and see it on stage.”

Filming begins in June for broadcast later this year on BBC Two.

Broadcasts in the United States and Japan will follow in 2010.

Illuminations previously worked with Doran and the RSC on the filmed version of Macbeth with Antony Sher and Harriet Walter.

Chris Seager is in post as Director of Photography; Robert Jones, who designed the stage production, will also design the film and, as on stage, the music is composed by Paul Englishby, the movement director is Mike Ashcroft and the fight director is Terry King.

John Wyver is the producer for Illuminations and Bethan Jones is executive producer for BBC Wales. The project was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, and George Entwistle, Controller, BBC Knowledge Commissioning.

The director Gregory Doran said: “Contrary to press reports at the time, the RSC always had plans to make a recording of this production but had the inevitable long journey in getting the cast together again and securing funding for this project. The Hamlet cast and the RSC are all really delighted that we now have the chance to share this show with audiences around the world, and I would like to thank all those involved in making this plan a reality at last.”

To support the new film of Hamlet, a rich online BBC site is being created in collaboration with the RSC. It will feature behind-the-scenes stills and footage; specially-shot interviews with the actors talking about their characters and how they’ve approached the play; further interviews, with the director and other key backstage personnel; and a comprehensive range of links through to the full depth of BBC Learning’s content on Shakespeare and RSC Education’s content on Shakespeare in performance.

George Entwistle said: “We hope we can use our experience in building compelling online sites to encourage a large TV audience to pursue their interest in Hamlet and Shakespeare as far as possible, off the back of a superb TV version of the play.”

Renowned presenter Kirsty Wark (Newsnight) is to present A Question Of Genius, a new quiz show which tests general knowledge, judgement and strategy in outwitting the competition.

Scottish-born Wark will present Question Of Genius (25 x 45-minute programems) for BBC Daytime from BBC Scotland’s Pacific Quay studios in her home town of Glasgow.

Transmission is due for BBC Two, from Spring 2009.

The series gives competitors the opportunity to prove their expertise on a chosen subject when they face their “Question of Genius”, one of the toughest questions on TV, to win a cash prize.

In order to reach this point they will need to beat their fellow contestants over a series of rounds testing their knowledge, judgement, strategy and risk-taking abilities.

The show is looking for intelligent, competitive, outgoing and charismatic personalities from across the UK.

Liam Keelan, Controller BBC Daytime, says: “We’re delighted to welcome Kirsty to the BBC Daytime team based in Scotland.”

Kirsty Wark adds: “I’m excited to be fronting this brand new quiz which will give competitors from across the UK the chance to prove how much of a genius they really are.”

Alan Tyler, Head of Comedy and Entertainment for BBC Scotland, says: “We’re delighted to have secured a significant commission for Daytime with A Question Of Genius which, along with Life Of Riley and The Old Guys, enhances Glasgow’s reputation as a major location of comedy and entertainment programmes.”

A Question Of Genius has been commissioned by Sumi Connock and Jo Street, Daytime’s newly appointed Nations Commissioning Executive.

The BBC series editor is Jon Murphy and the show will be produced by Gillian McNeil.

The new HD Studio A on the banks of the River Clyde has recently been the location for new network comedy sitcoms Life Of Riley (which stars Caroline Quentin and which started transmission on BBC One last week) and The Old Guys (starring Roger Lloyd Pack and Clive Swift and which transmits on BBC One later this month).

Other entertainment and children’s shows will also film in Studio A as BBC Scotland ramps up its output for the networks over the next few months, as part of the BBC’s broader Network Supply Review to drive more content from the nations.

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