Friday 24 May 2013, 16:19
David Bowie – Five Years is a BBC Two documentary exploring five key years in David Bowie’s career using a wealth of previously unseen archive film. Director and producer Francis Whately spoke to the BBC TV blog about his experience making the film:
How did the documentary come about?
I’ve always been a fan and having made a short film with Bowie in the late 90s, I was always keen to make something more substantial about the music.
So when the V&A approached me and said that they were doing an exhibition, I was very excited. I wanted to do something that was complementary to their show, but that was new and very different.
The first thing was to explore what was out there. One of the things that I really wanted to do was take away what the industry calls the voice-of-God commentary and instead let the people who were there do the talking, including Bowie himself.
So we employed a team of people who went through hours and hours of Bowie material and transcripts from radio, TV, journalist interviews, promotional material from the record labels, rushes and outtakes.
I then used the synch highlights from this trawl...
Thursday 23 May 2013, 10:50
This BBC Two programme wonderfully recreates that process of historical debate and features seven historians and historical novelists, of whom I was one, arguing the case.
For some reason, the story of Anne Boleyn's downfall inspires extraordinarily passionate, opinionated disagreement.
There's just the right amount of evidence to keep us guessing – enough to lead to great speculation and several almost-sustainable theories, but ultimately not enough to nail any one entirely.
Although we were all interviewed separately, the film has been brilliantly edited to make our debate seem live. If it had been in practice, I doubt you would have been able to make out anything over the ardent babble!
There's also another interesting natural tension in the programme. Historians and novelists use evidence differently.
Historians feel bound by the precise demonstrable facts of the documents. Novelists can weave empathetic visions into the silences between those facts. Both have their place. Hilary Mantel...
Tuesday 21 May 2013, 11:07
I was excited about the idea of finding interesting stories in seemingly ordinary and bureaucratic situations. So I took off for a three-day tour of my native Northern Ireland, hoping to find an interesting register office there.
I came across several nice ones, but decided on Belfast City Hall, because of its stunning neo-baroque location and the great camaraderie that existed amongst the nine women (and one man) working there.
Also, having never lived in the capital itself, I was excited to explore the everyday culture of Belfast – natural curiosity is probably the best motivation.
My basic approach to finding contributors was to sit on one of the waiting room chairs in the register office and speak to the public when I thought they were open to having a chat.
Body language was everything. If someone looked very upset, I would not approach them at all. If someone looked sad but open to conversation, I would speak to them as sensitively as I could...
Thursday 16 May 2013, 10:18
During the last Ice Age the northern hemisphere was teeming with fabulous megamammals – terrifying sabre-toothed cats, huge woolly rhinos, bizarre glyptodonts – but they all disappeared as the planet moved into a new, warmer era.
I'm one of the producers on the new series Ice Age Giants, who along with the rest of the team, was tasked with bringing those long extinct animals back to life.
The CGI brief was to create animals that looked as real as possible so that the animation could pass as natural history footage.
Having never worked on a...
Sunday 12 May 2013, 15:00
Gillian Anderson stars in BBC Two's new psychological crime thriller The Fall. As Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, she is brought in from the Metropolitan Police by the Police Service of Northern Ireland to review a stalled murder investigation.
What compelled you to take the role of DSI Stella Gibson?
She feels a little like an island but I find that interesting and it makes me want to know more, which is always a good thing where character and drama is concerned.
Can you tell us a detail from...
Friday 10 May 2013, 11:32
I've had Frankie battering around in my head for some time now - a passionate, strong woman, a competent professional who acts impulsively and not always wisely, and can be exasperating but is always well meaning.
What to do with her? She was a character in search of a role.
And then BBC One asked me to write a drama series about district nurses and bingo! There she was, ready made, in her uniform, just raring to go.
I realised she was working as a character when the producer and script editors said they wanted to be a part of her...
Friday 19 April 2013, 10:16
At English Heritage, my role involves the challenging task of tackling heritage at risk; that is everything from the buried remains of Roman villas to important listed buildings that find themselves on the brink of extinction.
The four areas we visited in this series, Stonehenge and the River Avon, Hadrian's Wall, the Norfolk Broads and the Hoo Peninsula are all very different, but each is very special in its own distinctive way.
Thursday 18 April 2013, 09:58
What gift do you buy for a sultan? Comedian Bill Bailey's answer is a tin of biscuits.
Bill first heard about Wallace 15 years ago when he was birdwatching in Indonesia and he's been fascinated by his story ever since.
Friday 12 April 2013, 10:34
That doesn't mean that I don't get nervous at the beginning of each race, but I have so much confidence in her ability so I know she'll be fine.
I know how good she is. I'm lucky that Susie trusted me to make Driven: The Fastest Woman In The World.
Thursday 11 April 2013, 15:10
Keeping Britain Alive: The NHS In A Day was always going to be an ambitious project, to try and take a snapshot of the NHS at such a critical time in its history. After all it treats 1.5 million of us every day.
To get a sense of that scale, we wondered what it would be like if we filmed this enormous institution in just a single day.
What would that make us think about an organisation that touches all of our lives?Surgeon Martin Drage removed Alan's kidney and transplanted it into his wife, Ann
As one of the executive producers I was responsible for helping to shape the initial concept...