BBC

The BBC College of Comedy today announced two exciting new initiatives for 2010. All Mixed-Up is a sitcom writing competition where writers will be asked to submit proposals which reflect multicultural Britain.

The second initiative will be in collaboration with CBeebies In-house Production to develop a writing workshop which explores the creation of new comedy for viewers aged four to six.

Writers who are interested in All Mixed-Up, and can demonstrate some professional achievements, are requested to submit the first 10 pages of a script with a limit of six characters and three settings.

The best six scripts will be workshopped in preparation for a showcase with a professional cast at the Soho Theatre on 4 December, where a celebrity panel will choose the best two for further development by BBC Comedy.

Both scripts will be optioned, with the winner’s option worth £1,000, and the runner-up £500.

The competition is being run in association with Triforce Promotions, which promotes talent across a multicultural network of people in the media industries.

The aim is to encourage work by diverse voices and to provide promising writers with an opportunity to develop their professional skills.

Writers of the next best six scripts will be invited to attend workshops on 4 December and to join the showcase audience.

Micheál Jacob, college creative head, said: “We hope the competition will attract entries from writers who may feel their lives are not currently reflected in television comedy, and will introduce us to funny and fresh new voices.”

The second initiative will see the college and CBeebies run a four-day workshop to explore the creation of a new comedy for viewers aged from four to six.

Invited writers will be given an insight into the CBeebies audience, hear case studies on hit shows for the channel, including Gigglebiz and Grandpa In My Pocket, and work together to develop ideas for a live action programme.

The workshop will be held in Newcastle in November.

“Watching CBeebies is fun,” Micheál Jacob says. “They have some excellent shows and I’m very excited to be exploring whether the College can add to them.”

Information on how to enter All Mixed-Up will be available from 31 August at bbc.co.uk/writersroom.

BBC Radio Solent presenter Jon Cuthill will be the new face of BBC South’s current affairs television programme Inside Out when the show returns in October.

Jon, who currently presents the radio station’s mid-morning programme was born in Christchurch and has been working for the BBC in the south for 10 years. He has hosted Radio Solent’s mid-morning show for four years and has already presented several reports in the last series of Inside Out, as well as working on South Today and BBC Video Nation.

Jon will present two series of the programme, which aims to bring viewers surprising stories from familiar places across the south. The last series regularly attracted audiences of more than 450,000 and will return to BBC One in the south from Monday 18 October at 7.30pm.

Jon said: “I still can’t actually believe it. It’s an amazing opportunity and I am over the moon to be joining such a fantastic team. I had so much fun when I worked with them on a couple of stories in the last series, so to get the gig full time is a real dream come true.

“Of course, I am really going to miss my Radio Solent listeners, they have the best sense of humour and it’s been a pleasure talking to them for the last four years. But, hopefully, I’ll see some of them when I am out about with Inside Out and they’ll enjoy the new series.”

Jon’s new role now means Radio Solent is looking to fill his mid-morning shoes for the next year. Confirming the search is under way, and an announcement would be made in due course, BBC Radio Solent’s Managing Editor, Chris Carnegy, added: “Of course we’re really happy for Jon as this is a fantastic opportunity, but he’ll be sorely missed by his army of Solent fans.

“His quick wit and love for the region have made him a firm favourite, so he leaves big shoes to fill. The good news is that he’s only across the corridor so I know we’ll stay in touch”.

Inside Out executive producer Jane French added: “Jon’s such a genuine, warm presenter – he has a real gift with people. We were really impressed when he presented for us last season, so he seemed the perfect choice when Joe decided to move on.

“We delighted to have him onboard and I know the audiences will enjoy his efforts, too.”

Jon takes over from Joe Crowley, who is moving on to report for BBC’s The One Show.

Praising Joe Crowley, Jane French said: “We always knew Joe is a great talent and we are so pleased he stayed with us for three fantastic years. His commitment, together with his confidence, compassion and sheer determination, has helped deliver some of BBC South Inside Out’s most challenging investigations and we, like our viewers, are going to miss him as he moves onto the next stage of his career.”

And as he looks towards his new challenges on network television, Jon’s predecessor, Joe Crowley, also wished the new presenter well.

Said Joe: “I’m sad to move on but, equally, I know I’ve been fortunate to have had three terrific years with an extremely talented team. I’ll always be grateful the BBC South team took a chance on me at the beginning of my career and over six series I’m proud to have been part of the original journalism and compelling current affairs television we broadcast.

“The variety of Inside Out is always a challenge but having worked with Jon it’s clear to me there’s no one with better wit, experience and energy – he’s perfect for the programme in every way.

“While there are new challenges ahead, I won’t be straying far in the BBC One schedule, appearing regularly as a reporter on the One Show, continuing on Country Tracks and Real Rescues, and I’m currently filming a new BBC One daytime show to be aired in the next year.”

BBC South Inside Out with Jon Cuthill returns to BBC One from Monday 18 October at 7.30pm.

Goldie, the drum and bass pioneer, DJ, graffiti artist and former BBC Two Maestro finalist, will be scouting raw musical talent across the country for his forthcoming TV series and will be taking his specially chosen group to perform at Buckingham Palace, in the presence of guest of honour Prince Harry, at the grand finale of his mentoring programme.

A few days ago, Goldie and Prince Harry met to discuss details of the project and the concert, which will take place in front of a specially invited audience later this year.

The new series, Goldie’s Band – By Royal Appointment, for BBC Two, will follow Goldie on a mission to discover young people whose talent and passion for music is at the centre of their lives.

After a personal nationwide search, 12 young musicians will be invited to a three-day residential where they will be mentored by a team of industry experts including composer Guy Chambers, jazz artist Soweto Kinch and singer/songwriter Cerys Matthews.

After undergoing intense training the group, aged between 17 and 24, will attempt to stage a thrilling concert for an audience of special guests, including Prince Harry, at Buckingham Palace. The nature of the set and the individual contributions of the musicians to the concert will be determined during their time at two residencies.

Goldie says: “This is one of the most inspiring projects I’ve ever been involved with. It’s all about unearthing musical talent that’s under the radar in Britain – finding young people who’ve faced huge challenges and have never had the opportunities that they deserve.”

Jackson exits MasterChef

Olympic hurdler Colin Jackson has exited Celebrity MasterChef in the first episode of Knockout Week. The athlete was narrowly beaten by Christine Hamilton and Neil Stuke on the BBC One show. Hamilton and Stuke will compete against Lisa Faulkner, Dick Strawbridge and Chris Walker for the title.

Celebrity MasterChef pulls 4.26m

BBC One’s Celebrity MasterChef drew an audience of 4.26 million viewers on Wednesday night, giving it a 20% audience share in the 8pm hour slot. New Channel 4 show Newlyweds pulled in 2.3 million in the 9pm hour.

Webb to host new Channel 4 comedy

Robert Webb will host a new comedy show for Channel 4 which will look at social networking sites and other online sources. The series will be entitled Robert’s Web and will screen alongside Peep Show next year.

BBC Three pilots to screen online

Three BBC pilots will screen online a week before they hit TV screens to allow fans to get in early. Neil Morrissey’s Inn Mates, The Klang Show and The Adventures of Daniel will all be available to watch on the BBC Three blog, with Inn Mates online now.

Rickitt returns to UK screens

Ex-Coronation Street actor Adam Rickitt will return to British screens this August in kiwi soap Shortland Street. Living will be screening the show weeknights starting from where Rickitt’s character Kieran entered the soap.

The licence fee is a prickly topic that sees people vigorously defending the BBC or attacking them for having an unfair advantage over other stations… or in some cases, people don’t like the way it is spent.

Well, according to one thinktank called the Adam Smith Institute, the £3.5bn annual licence fee should be scrapped and replaced with a voluntary subscription service.

The report, Global Player or Subsidy Junkie? Decision time for the BBC, reckons that Auntie could be offered a “transitional guarantee” of income from 2012 when viewers would first be told they didn’t have to pay the licence fee.

An interim annual fee of £145 (the current cost of the licence fee) would be charged up to 2015, the report proposes, after which BBC services would become subscription-only.

David Graham, the report’s author and a former BBC producer who now runs the media consultancy Attentional, tells the Guardian that the BBC “invests heavily in opinion management and capturing UK regulators rather than looking outwards towards the international media market”.

“Continuing with the current funding model means justified hostility from the rest of the industry, contraction and decline for the BBC,” he added.

“The new government seems ready to rethink fundamentals. I hope this paper will help to encourage a serious debate, at a critical time, about a very important British institution.”

In terms of the licence fee the report argues that the BBC would, over a “limited period of time”, allow licence fee payers to “either lapse or switch to voluntary subscription”.

What are your thoughts?

From the Boxkite to the rise of supersonic aviation – a new BBC documentary will explore a century of local aircraft production in Filton’s Fabulous Flying Machines, on BBC One Monday 26 July at 7.30pm in the West region.

This July marks 100 years since Filton’s first aircraft, the Bristol Boxkite, made its maiden flight at Larkhill on Salisbury Plain. A century on and Britain’s first aircraft factory, in a former tramway shed at Filton on the outskirts of Bristol, continues to put the region on the map as a centre of excellence in aircraft design, production and engineering.

In this landmark documentary, military historian Saul David chronicles the extraordinary history of aviation innovation at Filton – from the humble Boxkite through two world wars and on to the Concorde era of supersonic air travel.

Founded by Sir George White, the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company – later known as the Bristol Aeroplane Company (BAC) – quickly became famous around the world. During the First World War its Bristol Fighter won notoriety for its agility in the sky and its ‘sting in the tail’ – a second machine gun operated from the rear.

The Second World War saw the invention of the multipurpose Bristol Beaufighter used as a night fighter, ground attack aircraft and torpedo bomber. The Bristol Beaufighter’s impact was such that the Japanese nicknamed the plane Whispering Death.

Former pilot Doug Gregory logged hundreds of hours flying the Beaufighter and won the Distinguished Flying Cross for his courage.

Doug says: “You have to master it until it does what it’s told and then it’s a very nice aeroplane. Put your foot down and make it do what you want it to do and it will be lovely.”

The documentary includes footage of a recently discovered Beaufighter shot down in 1943 while attacking enemy shipping close to the Greek island of Naxos. Incredibly, both the crew survived the crash and were smuggled back to safety by resistance fighters.

Presenter Saul David also describes how the Filton Factory itself was targeted by German bombers and how, on one fateful night in September 1940, 149 people were killed. Arthur Backhurst was in one of the factory’s air raid shelters at the time and recalls what happened.

Arthur says: “The bomb had gone into the soft earth by the side of the shelter and exploded underneath. The shelter went up and it burst open and I went up through the gap. I went about 30ft in the air and, while I was in the air, I actually laid down on my hands thinking this was the end – but it wasn’t the end and I came down with a bump.”

After surviving two world wars, the company concentrated on civil aviation, producing the Brabazon and the Britannia. But it was Concorde that really captured the public’s imagination.

Former Bristol MP Tony Benn was Technology Minister at the time. In the documentary he reveals some of his home videos shot during Concorde’s fourth test flight and describes how he sought to protect the investment in local jobs that the Concorde contract brought to Filton.

Tony Benn says: “Concorde was the most advance civil aircraft ever produced in the world. It gave people a perspective of global travel at high speed which had been inconceivable before.

“I worked out there were about a quarter of a million people employed on Concorde at the time in Britain and France. It would have been a very serious thing to have cancelled it at that stage and I decided that I would try and save it.”

Filton’s Fabulous Flying Machines has been made by local independent production company Serendipity Pictures. It can be seen on BBC One (West) on Monday 26 July at 7.30pm and will also be available on the BBC iPlayer for seven days after transmission.

 

The BBC’s London 2012 website, the new “home” for all of the BBC’s London 2012 content, will be launched tomorrow to mark two years to go until the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games. World Olympic Dreams will be launched on the site at the same time.

The 2012 site, bbc.co.uk/2012, will give users a single entry point to a showcase of BBC content related to London 2012, drawing on news, sport, programmes from the BBC Archive and more. The site will also contain prominent links to external content such as information about volunteering in 2012 and how to buy tickets for the Olympic Games.

Nearer the Games it will be the home of the BBC’s Torch Relay coverage online, building in technical innovation from the BBC’s Future Media & Technology division and external development companies.

The Torch Relay begins in May 2012 and will cover the UK, before reaching its climax at the Opening Ceremony in London on 27 July.

Among other highlights will be World Olympic Dreams, a project which will feature 26 individual stories and 46 athletes from around the world as they strive to achieve Olympic glory in 2012, and World Class, a sister project which aims to twin British schools with others around the world. Also reflected on the site will be the array of high profile Cultural/Festival 2012 activity and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The look and feel of the site will adapt to the dominant theme of the 2012 journey. For example, when the Torch Relay is under way, the site will fit with that theme and, before the Games themselves get under way, traffic and travel information will be added so that users can easily check on how to get around London and to the other Olympic venues.

Roger Mosey, the BBC’s director of London 2012, said: “Telling the story of London 2012 from now until the end of the Games is one of the biggest challenges the BBC has ever undertaken. We want our coverage to bring the whole of the UK together to enjoy this unprecedented period of events, and the BBC’s website will be the place where people can find out about everything from the 100 metres final and the latest Olympic News to the greatest cultural performances.”

World Olympic Dreams is an innovative multi-platform project which will be broadcast across TV, radio and online and will follow athletes drawn from six continents and competing in 17 different Olympic sports (see Notes to Editors for full list of athletes).

The series of short films will be collated through the BBC’s worldwide reporting network, with correspondents in each of the countries featured providing the relevant footage.

Viewers will be given a real insight into each of the athlete’s unique stories and very different personal circumstances while they all work towards the same goal of Olympic success: personal training regimes; coaches; diet; family; friends; their likes and dislikes; and the sacrifices they all have to make.

Two new films will be broadcast every month and the World Olympic Dreams website will be updated with the latest news from all the athletes. The site will also contain features such as Q&As and blogs as well as the athletes personal social media sites, where users will be able to interact with the athletes.

In addition, BBC Breakfast, World News, World Service, News Channel and BBC Radio 5 Live will carry coverage.

BBC Sport news reporter and Olympic gold medallist Matthew Pinsent will front the series and will be bringing regular updates and reports on each of the 26 stories.

To mark the launch of the new London 2012 website, the BBC Archive is releasing a brand new collection of television and radio programmes online.

Programmes from the archives take you back to the Austerity Games to reveal how the BBC coped with their first time broadcasting television from any Olympic games, and also how the bombed and battered city of London managed to host the Olympics on a shoe-string.

“Pictures showing the Olympics from a different angle – from behind the cameras – have been released publicly for the first time.” The pictures include shots of crowds cheering on the British team as they parade through Wembley, and the British Gymnastic team getting ready for the Games by practising in Hyde Park.

The collection can be seen by visiting bbc.co.uk/archive from 27 July.

 

Jana Bennett, Director of BBC Vision, today outlined plans to see more of the UK’s communities, cultures, and landscapes on the BBC’s network programmes.

In a speech, Putting Programmes On The Map, given in Cardiff this morning, Bennett said: “The message from the audience is clear: they love it when they see their communities and landscapes and hear their voices on our TV programmes.

“We can point to many, many positive examples of programmes which powerfully portray different parts of the UK. I believe there is more we can do to unlock the creative potential that exists across the UK and reflect its communities to our audiences.

“When people know a programme is made near where they live it can make them value them even greater, make the enjoyment even deeper. Setting programmes “somewhere2 rather than “nowhere” and giving a vivid sense of place enriches our content, and reflects the true character that exists in communities across the UK.

“We have already started moving production out across the UK, building real centres of excellence in the nations and English regions. That was a first step. The BBC will now sharpen its focus on ensuring its content reflects the nations and communities of the UK accurately and authentically.

“BBC network television programmes will reflect and celebrate life right across the UK in greater breadth and depth. Out output will offer a more authentic window on the communities, landscapes and cultures of the UK.”

Bennett announced a plan to better reflect the cultural and regional diversity of the UK that will see the BBC: increase the amount of network TV content which offers distinctive voices with an authentic sense of place encourage Commissioners and Controllers to consider settings and location as part of their wider editorial strategy raise local audience awareness of the programmes made in their areas, ensuring audiences see more clearly the BBC’s footprint across the UK regularly assess how the BBC network output reflects the UK’s nations and regions continue to assess the impact of how audiences respond to programmes in different ways across different parts of the UK.

Bennett emphasised that quality programming was at the heart of what the audience wanted, saying: “Gavin And Stacey wasn’t commissioned because it delivered portrayal of Wales and Essex, but because it was full of great characters with universal appeal. Its impact came from its authenticity. Ruth Jones and James Corden were writing from real experience and an understanding of the two communities.”

Announcing the commission of two new network programmes from Scotland, Bennett said: “Two fantastic new dramas have been commissioned to be made and set in Scotland. Case Histories, a new series for BBC one, is an adaptation of Kate Atkinson’s compelling mysteries, set and filmed in modern Edinburgh. And Young James is inspired by the true story of how the world’s most famous vet, James Herriot, came to learn his trade in Glasgow. We’re also working with Ruth Jones on a new entertainment commission for BBC Two from Wales. Such productions are building on the success of what is already being filmed in the nations.”

In October 2008, Bennett laid out BBC television plans to increase network production in the nations and English regions to meet a target for total network spend outside of London of 50 per cent, including a 17 per cent target for the nations, by 2016.

There has been a 50 per cent increase in the level of network production in the nations in the past twelve months, from 7.9 per cent of total network programme spend in 2008 to 11.7 per cent in 2009.

The Weakest Link, Tonight’s The Night, Eggheads and The Review Show have moved to Scotland; See Hear recently moved to Birmingham; Casualty and Crimewatch will move to Wales over the next 18 months; and successful dramas such as Five Minutes Of Heaven and Occupation have been commissioned from Northern Ireland with the new Sunday Morning Live religion series currently broadcasting from BBC studios in Belfast.

“However, to build on this momentum, we must also gain a creative benefit in terms of the voices we hear, the stories we tell and the pictures we paint. We believe that growth in production around the UK will help us tap more deeply into the experiences of different communities across the UK, and bring our output even closer to the lives of our audiences,” said Bennett.

New research commissioned by the BBC to look specifically at geographic portrayal shows that the further away audiences live from London, the harder broadcasters need to work to reflect their lives and their communities.

Audiences in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England place a relatively high value on seeing their lives and their stories shared with audiences in other parts of the UK. It is also very clear in the research that programmes that are clearly set in specific locations – and that perform well across the UK – perform even better in the localities that they’re set.

For example, Trawlermen had 7 per cent more audience share in Scotland than the UK average. Gavin And Stacey had a 10 point lead in Wales, and Best: His Mother’s Son (about George Best) had a massive 15 point lead in Northern Ireland.

The research commissioned by the BBC also provided some interesting insights into how audiences in different parts of the UK respond to the BBC’s programmes.

The most important factor affecting the audience’s appreciation of network programmes is quality. That was paramount in whatever part of the UK people were interviewed. The BBC’s audiences also expect to see their lives and their stories being shared with audiences in other parts of the UK.

Although there are different ways in which this can be achieved, accent on its own does not make audiences feel as if they are being portrayed adequately. Locations and cultural references are far more important. This kind of portrayal can be delivered through existing strands – such as Antiques Roadshow, which travels the length and breadth of the UK – and through original new content including drama as well as factual, entertainment and comedy.

In Wales, due to the large number of network productions coming from the nation, expectations have been raised and there’s pride and a sense of ownership over the network productions. Welsh audiences want content that reflects a contemporary Wales, the research found.

In Scotland, the research showed that there is an appetite for representation of a more contemporary representation of their lives.

In Northern Ireland, audiences also hope to see programmes which will go beyond reflecting the legacy of 30 years of sectarian violence, reflecting more broadly the cultural and social diversity of the nation. However, this doesn’t preclude the idea of ever dealing with this difficult part of their history, so long as it is done with sensitivity and subtlety. as in Five Minutes Of Heaven, which gained strong and appreciative audiences in Northern Ireland.

In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland it was clear that the further away people were from the main urban centres, the more they felt strongly that they would like to see more portrayal of their communities on network TV – as Lambing Live recently demonstrated on BBC Two.

Figures also showed that developing new formats has delivered great dividends. For example, Live At The Apollo was a highly successful programme throughout the UK but Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, which visited venues across the UK, performed even better in the nations and English regions.

Bennett also drew attention to pan-UK formats, such as Countryfile, Coast and the forthcoming Village SOS (from BBC Wales), that can deliver a richer portrayal of life beyond the major cities.

 

Following his critically acclaimed and sold-out run at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House as Verdi’s eponymous Simon Boccanegra, Plácido Domingo tackles his next major baritone role in a live film of Verdi’s Rigoletto, titled Rigoletto In Mantua, on BBC Two.

First performed in 1851 at La Fenice in Venice, Oscar winning-director Andrea Andermann now takes the action to the heart of its fictional setting, Mantua.

In a ground-breaking and innovative television event BBC presenter Katie Derham introduces the opera as it is performed live from locations across the city with Domingo in the role of the hunchback court jester, Rigoletto in Verdi’s tragic masterpiece.

Swapping the Duke’s classic La Donna é mobile for the passion and vigour of Rigoletto’s Cortigiani, Domingo himself admits: “When Andrea Andermann invited me to interpret the part of Rigoletto, I replied that there were so many good baritones in the world who could sing it.

“But Andrea said that he wasn’t looking for a baritone, but rather for the Rigoletto whom I, Plácido Domingo, could bring to life.

“It certainly is one of the most moving roles that exist, and I’m not sure that I won’t be overcome by the tears that will well up in my throat when I sing it.

“This is the first opera that I heard; the character of Borsa is the first role that I sang; and then I climbed a step higher and became the Duke – and I have even conducted the opera many times.

“Being able to take the part of Rigoletto in this ‘live film,’ precisely ‘in the settings’ that Verdi chose and worked so stubbornly to bring off, resisting the censors, will be a privilege that I want to share with those viewers all over the world who will be watching this two-day event.”

Jan Younghusband, Commissioning Editor, Music & Events, BBC Television, says: “As part of a wonderful summer of live classical music on the BBC we are delighted to be able to bring BBC Two viewers this very special production in what promises to be a sumptuous musical feast.”

Rigoletto In Mantua is a live film directed by Palm d’Or-nominated Vincere Marco Bellocchio, conceived and produced by Andrea Andermann, conducted by Zubin Mehta and filmed by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro.

Rigoletto In Mantua will be broadcast live over the nights of Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 September 2010 on BBC Two.

Following the transmission of the first act on Saturday 4 September BBC Two joins Suzy Klein at the Royal Albert Hall for that evening’s BBC Prom with Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic performing works from Wagner, Strauss, Schoenberg, Webern and Berg.

 

The BBC is to provide viewers with a definitive look at a seminal period of history, the resonances of which can still be felt today, in a season focusing on the Normans across BBC Two, BBC Four and BBC Learning.

Leading the season is The Normans, a three-part series on BBC Two presented by Professor Robert Bartlett that will be broadcast from Wednesday 4 August at 9pm. The series examines the extraordinary expansion and unchecked ambition of this band of warriors between the 10th and 13th centuries.

The series will bring the history of the Normans to life by uncovering the personal stories of shadowy figures like Tancred of Hauteville, best remembered as a poor 11th-century Norman lord who fathered no less than 12 sons, two of whom left their homeland and risked their lives to become great rulers in the Mediterranean and Middle East.

Martin Davidson, Commissioning Editor, History and Business, says: “The Battle of Hastings in 1066 is such an iconic landmark in our history, but what do we really know of the dynasty of dukes and warriors that staged this Norman invasion? And what do we know of the frenetic energy of the centuries that followed? I’m extremely pleased that a world authority like Robert Bartlett will be at the helm of our Norman season, providing BBC Two viewers with a definitive look at the warrior-race whose ambition and power transformed Europe and irrevocably changed the course of British history.”

The Norman Season also launches Hands On History, a two-year BBC Learning campaign offering audiences inspiring opportunities to take the next step from watching programmes to discovering history around them. Working in partnership with a range of heritage and history organisations, Hands On History will offer a range of events and activities as part of the Norman Season, including Norman walks. See bbc.co.uk/history for details.

 

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