Saving Ed Mitchell
Friday 18 January 2008 8:00pm – 8:30pm on ITV1.

In December 2007 it emerged that former ITN newsman Ed Mitchell was living homeless on the streets of Brighton.

In Saving Ed Mitchell his friend and former ITN colleague Carol Barnes sets out to discover why Mitchell’s life has taken such a dramatic turn.

Barnes – famously photographed with Mitchell in Downing St back in the early 1980s – paid Mitchell a surprise visit and the cameras followed him before he checked the Priory in a bid to conquer his alcoholism.

The 30 minute film has been made by TwoFour Productions and the executive producers are Joe Houlihan and Emma Morgan.

Saving Ed Mitchell was commissioned by ITV controller of documentaries Jeff Anderson and will air later this month.

Lose 30 Stone or Die
Tuesday 18 December 2007 9:00pm – 10:00pm on ITV1.

Lose 30 Stone or Die is a unique film about a man who is so overweight that his own body is going to kill him within a year, and his painful struggle to reclaim his life. Thirty-six-year-old Colin weighs 48 stone and is a prisoner in his own home because his weight means he can’t even manage to walk more than a few steps.

He is in constant pain, has severe difficulty breathing during the night, needs someone to dress him each day and feels so low he has contemplated suicide.

Doctors have warned Colin that unless he loses weight, he will die. Lose 30 Stone or Die is a poignant and moving account of Colin’s battle to lose the pounds. In emotional scenes, Colin is seen as he prepares to undergo a series of major operations to reduce his stomach and drastically cut his weight.

Colin and his family talk candidly about the distress his weight problem has caused. His mum reveals how she has sold her house in a final effort to raise the money for Colin’s surgery.

The film also uncovers what lies behind Colin’s weight problem: a troubled family history. He says that he used to be very fit and healthy, but reveals how drug and alcohol problems in his early twenties sent his weight spiralling out of control.

He says: “People look at me and say, ‘he must be greedy and eat loads’, but I don’t. I am in constant pain with my back and my legs. I dream of coming through the operation. I want my life back.”

Britain’s Biggest Storm
Tuesday 16 October 2007 9:00pm – 10:30pm on ITV1.

In October 1987 Britain was hit by the biggest storm on record – it claimed 19 lives, was four times as big as a hurricane, had wind speeds of 110mph and caused a billion pounds worth of damage. And we had no warning it was coming.

Now, 20 years to the day since it struck, ITV1 uses reconstructions, computer graphics and actual footage to recapture the moment the country was hit by the worst weather on record. Experts explain what caused the storm to build up and the Met Office reveals the reason why they had little warning about how bad the weather was and in which direction it was heading.

Teachers and students who felt the brunt of the gale during a geography field trip relive their evacuation from their caravan park in the middle of the night as the winds started lifting the holiday homes and overturning them.

One couple tells the film how they battled through high winds and past fallen branches to try to make it to the hospital in time for the birth of their second child. An overturned tree blocked their path and the heavily pregnant mum had to climb over tree trunks and walk for two-and-a-half hours to get back home.

The staff at Kew Gardens talk about the devastation they encountered when they arrived the morning after the storm to see ancient trees ripped from the ground. The south-east lost a total of 15 million trees in one night.

And a fire crew recall the tragedy of losing two colleagues as a tree fell into the cab of their engine.

The film also features an interview with the National Grid boss who had to make the decision to turn off all electricity in London for the first and only time in living memory.

Plus the emergency services reveal they took four months’ worth of calls in just one night and had to deploy every member of staff and machinery they had to help the victims of the storm.

Ian McCaskill, who was working at the Met Office at the time of the storm, tells the programme: “The first time we realised there was something out of the ordinary happening was when wind speeds started coming in from south west approaches, much higher winds than we’d anticipated.

“It was not behaving as it should have done, it was not behaving the way computers said it would behave. All the forecasts we’d put out up to that time were wrong.

“I think by the middle of the next morning we were well aware that damage had been far greater than anticipated. We were in for a troublesome morning.”

Dr Gabrielle Walker, author of the book An Ocean of Air, tells the programme: “It was supposed to go down the channel but, if you can imagine this great unwieldy thing, it was almost like a spinning top that can go here or there, and it just went where it shouldn’t have.”

Margaret Thatcher – The Long Walk to Finchley is Great Meadow Productions’ first wholly independent commission from the BBC.

Commissioned for BBC Four by Jane Tranter, BBC Controller, Fiction, this light-hearted and imaginative single film delves under the skin of the Iron Lady for the first time, taking a look at her early political career.

Focussing on the young Margaret Thatcher’s steely determination to get selected to a “winnable” Tory seat in the Fifties, successful novelist and TV newcomer, Tony Saint’s script imagines what might have gone on behind the scenes during her ten–year struggle as she was rejected by a succession of five home counties Tory selection committees until – against considerable local opposition – she was finally selected for the seat that she became identified with for the rest of her political career.

“… the Conservatives of Finchley and Friern Barnet have armed themselves with a new weapon – a clever woman.”
– Finchley Press

Julie Gardner, BBC Head of Drama Wales, says: “We are delighted to be working with Great Meadow Productions on a drama by writer Tony Saint which shines the spotlight on the private and public life of Margaret Thatcher, and follows the successful single dramas on BBC Four including Fantabulosa and The Alan Clark Diaries.”

Great Meadow Productions’ Executive Producers Robert Cooper and Kate Triggs add: “Whatever your views about Margaret Thatcher, she changed the country we live in irrevocably. And yet she remains something of an enigma.

“Although she is, arguably, the best known living Briton, we hardly know her as a person at all. Tony Saint’s witty, humorous and imaginative script portrays her as a living, breathing young woman up against that most conservative of all institutions – the British Tory Party.”

The cast list includes rising stars Andrea Riseborough (Party Animals) as Margaret; Rory Kinnear (Mansfield Park) as husband Denis; Geoffrey Palmer (As Time Goes By) as her nemesis, Sir John Crowder; Oliver Ford-Davis (Star Wars) plays high-ranking Conservative MP Sir Donald Kaberry; and Samuel West (Cambridge Spies) is fellow future Prime Minister, Ted Heath.

Great Meadows Productions’ other recent credits include the award-winning Bradford Riots for Channel 4 and the critically acclaimed Messiah for the BBC.

Margaret Thatcher – The Long Walk to Finchley follows in the rich footsteps of previous BBC Four dramas including The Alan Clark Diaries, Fear Of Fanny, Miss Marie Lloyd: Queen Of The Music Hall and the award-winning Fantabulosa.

From Gandhi, Four Weddings And A Funeral, to Brief Encounter and Bend It Like Beckham, Britain has been a major player in world cinema for over 100 years and continues to produce award-winning talent.

The Summer Of British Film on BBC Two is a season dedicated to home grown cinema, encompassing all genres from thriller and comedy to the kitchen sink drama.

This unique television event celebrates the rich heritage of British film and has at its centrepiece British Film Forever a seven-part primetime series for BBC Two.

Jessica Hynes (Shaun Of The Dead) guides us through the series examining British film by genre, with highlights from over 200 exclusive interviews from leading actors and directors including Sir Michael Caine, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet, Ewan McGregor, Gurinder Chadha and Richard Curtis.

The series is being made with the support of the British Film Institute and the UK Film Council.

As well as being an enjoyable romp through the greatest films and stars, the series looks at what makes British films unique and what they reveal about British culture.

To complement British Film Forever, BBC Two is dedicating itself to the nation’s finest by screening around 70 British films.

From the premiere of A Cock And Bull Story, through to favourites like Billy Elliot, Gregory’s Girl and From Russia With Love, to classics and rediscoveries, from The 39 Steps, This Sporting Life, Whistle Down The Wind and Witchfinder General.

To celebrate the season, the UK Film Council, in partnership with the BBC, is backing the release of seven of Britain’s greatest films which will play cinemas across the UK on Tuesday’s from 31 July to 11 September.

Playing 136 screens across the UK Film Council’s Lottery funded Digital Screen Network, the season kicks off with the 007 classic Goldfinger on 31 July, followed by David Lean’s Brief Encounter (7 August), John Schlesinger’s Billy Liar (14 August), Laurence Olivier’s Henry V (21 August), Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (28 August), Michael Anderson’s The Dam Busters (4 September) and Bruce Robinson’s Withnail And I (11 September).

Bringing a massive increase in film choice for cinema-goers, the Digital Screen Network is a world first initiative created and funded by the UK Film Council.

Arena celebrates the season with a special programme examining the largely forgotten, edgy side of British cinema in the Forties and Fifties.

Dark melodramas, crime films and horror shockers of these years, almost all of which were derided by contemporary critics, reveal a flamboyant, sometimes spectacular, poetic, perverse, and surprisingly sexy cinema.

This is also a cinema of great feeling and emotional complexity, dealing with the difficulties and occasional traumas of women and men as they come to terms with the post-war world.

And it is a cinema that is centrally and compellingly about Britain and the British, about our ideas of whom we were and who we are.

Among the key films featured are the mystical wartime story A Canterbury Tale (1944), the noir classic They Made Me A Fugitive (1947), the bizarre melodrama Madonna Of The Seven Moons (1944), the taut kidnap drama Obsession (1948) and the gritty, edgy Hell Drivers (1957).

People also have the chance to celebrate British cinema by creating their own versions of classic films. Users can submit their films through the BBC Mini Movies group with favourites being showcased on the BBC’s website

Other users can rate and comment on the films, and pick up tips on creating their own mini movies, the best of which will feature on BBC Two during the season.

From mid-July the website will also feature exclusive video clips from British Film Forever, background information about the films within the season and comprehensive listings for films shown on TV and in cinemas across the UK.

CBBC began celebrating earlier this summer with CBBC me and my movie, a new children’s film-making project with free online resources and summer events taking place across the country.

Children can enter their home-made films into a special CBBC me and my movie award, in association with BAFTA where short-listed nominees will be invited to attend the prestigious Children’s BAFTA Awards ceremony on 25 November.

Children’s films are available to view online in the CBBC me and my movie gallery.

The Summer Of British Film also includes special editions of The Culture Show, The Money Programme and The Proms – which pays tribute to classic British Film with the themes from The Red Shoes, Laurence Of Arabia and Harry Potter among many others, and is hosted by special guest presenter Richard E Grant, with guest star Lord Richard Attenborough.

BBC Two has commissioned an original drama about renowned taste and decency campaigner Mary Whitehouse – 40 years after her battle with the BBC Director-General over the Beatles’ use of the word “knickers.”

With Julie Walters starring as Mary Whitehouse and Hugh Bonneville playing her arch-enemy, BBC Director-General, Hugh Carleton Greene, Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story will bring to life the battle for Britain’s morals that raged in the Sixties.

Julie Walters said: “I am very excited to be playing Mary Whitehouse, and to be looking at the time when she attacked the BBC and started to make her name.”

In an era that spawned Carnaby Street, the Profumo scandal, and the Fab Four, Mary Whitehouse was the voice of a majority that had no desire to join the permissive age.

Armed only with her own sense of good Christian values and a sharp tongue, Mary Whitehouse was on a mission to stop “filth” entering family homes via the media.

Backed by her loyal husband Ernest (Alun Armstrong), Mary set out to fight an almighty war with some heroic and surprising victories along the way.

Based on first-hand documented accounts, the film has at its heart two great, and very strong-willed, characters – Mary Whitehouse who leads her Clean-Up TV campaign donned in her best coat and hat, versus BBC Director-General Hugh Carleton Greene, who in his determination to modernise British television, responds to Mary’s campaign by commissioning a painting of a nude, five-breasted Mrs Whitehouse for his office.

Leanne Klein, Executive Producer at Wall to Wall, said: “We are totally delighted to have such a wonderful actress as Julie Walters in the starring role. She will bring so much to the surprising and often very funny story of the rise of Mary Whitehouse, and her David-and-Goliath type struggle with the BBC.”

Lucy Richer, Commissioning Editor, Independent Drama Commissioning, BBC, commented: “This fantastic, revealing film brings to light the controversy that marked the launch of BBC Two, whose groundbreaking programmes so infuriated Mary Whitehouse.

“The clash of values between Mary and Hugh Carleton Greene is a battle of hearts and minds – an entertaining portrait of a time which shaped the TV we watch today.”

Produced by Richard Burrell (Robin Hood) and directed by Andy de Emmony (Bafta-nominated Fantabulosa!, The Canterbury Tales), Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story is a landmark film for BBC Two, and the latest instalment in a number of rich dramas commissioned by the channel, from Shoot The Messenger, Tsunami, and The Line Of Beauty, to forthcoming dramas on Robert Maxwell (Maxwell) and Daphne du Maurier (Daphne).

Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story, a 90-minute film to be broadcast in 2007, is commissioned by Jane Tranter, BBC Controller, Fiction, from independent production company Wall to Wall.

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