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Summer and Autumn on BBC Two

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Janice Hadlow Janice Hadlow | 17:08 UK time, Friday, 24 June 2011

A publicity still from BBC Two Production 'The Hour'

Dominic West stars in BBC Two's new production, The Hour.

This week we've launched the new BBC Two Summer and Autumn season highlights online. It's a schedule that has been months, indeed years, in the planning and I hope by seeing all the programming together you will get a sense of the range, breadth and, of course, the distinct flavour that is BBC Two.

So what's coming up? Well, we'll be continuing our resurgence in drama and comedy. Any moment now, you'll be able to enjoy The Hour - our next six-parter, set in 1956 in a BBC newsroom, written by Abi Morgan. We're delighted to be showing Page Eight, David Hare's first TV drama for 20 years, and definitely well worth the wait; and also Paula Milne's evocative adaptation of Sarah Walter's book, The Nightwatch.

And I can reveal that next year we can also look forward to an exciting multi-part series from Stephen Poliakoff. Dancing On The Edge is set in 1930s London and follows the stories of a black jazz band and their circle.

These pieces will be part of an amazingly rich drama offer in 2012 including an ambitious adaptation by Tom Stoppard of Ford Maddox Ford's Parade's End; Top Of The Lake, a thriller from acclaimed New Zealand director Jane Campion; Paula Milne's White Heat, which follows a group of friends from their first meeting in 1969 to the present day; and Sam Mendes's take on what for me are some of the greatest of all Shakespeare's history plays. Can't wait...

There's new comedy from Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, showcasing the talents of short actor Warwick Davis; and we can also look forward to the return of the much-loved Rev, Episodes and Grandma's House.

Meanwhile factual continues to fire on all cylinders. There's a rich mix of new, exciting factual programming, that engages with the contemporary world in a very BBC Two way: whether its exploring the landscape of modern British life in the Mixed Race Season; reflecting on ten years of war in Afghanistan; joining the Hairy Bikers as they campaign for the survival of Meals on Wheels in their next series; or enjoying Brian Cox and A Night With The Stars, an unplugged encounter between the nation's coolest particle physicist and an opinionated gathering of scientific scholars and enthusiastic amateurs.

One of the things I most hoped to see on the channel when I took over were more women doing more things more often and with more authority. So it was particularly pleasing to see that ambition begin to bear fruit over the last year. We welcomed some great new female talent to the channel, including: Amanda Vickery, presenter of At Home With the Georgians, which put the domestic lives of real people in the historical spotlight. She's now working on a film about Jane Austen for BBC Two; Lorraine Pascal whose debut series Baking Made Easy was one of the biggest popular factual successes of last year and who we hope will be starting work soon on a second series, Home Cooking Made Easy; and Lyse Doucet, who is already part of the BBC Two family with wonderful reports she's done over the years for Newsnight and has now made an extraordinary film for us in our Afghanistan season, about life in that country behind the headlines. It's a great programme - it goes out in two weeks, and will add a whole new dimension to your understanding about that troubled country.

And on top of all that, BBC Two is also the channel that brings you Top Gear, Dragon's Den, Coast and Springwatch. That offers distinctive journalism almost every night of the year in Newsnight. That will bring you Ian Hislop on Victorian bankers and Waldemar Januszczak on the Impressionists. That will tell you how to bake the perfect scone as well as explore the hidden mathematical patterns which underpin the natural world in Marcus du Sautoy's forthcoming series The Code. BBC Two will make you laugh with Mock the Week and cry with Great Ormond Street revisited. As a channel, BBC Two isn't always easy to pin down; sometimes we defy categorisation. But for me it's this rich variety, this eclectic mix of intelligent output, that makes us interesting.

Janice Hadlow is Controller of BBC Two

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