BBC Four's new programmes for spring

Wednesday 30 March 2011, 11:00

Richard Klein Richard Klein Controller, BBC Four

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Spring is here, the sap is rising and I am delighted to say that BBC Four has a whole host of wonderful and entertaining shows lined up this season.

A BBC Four audience is one that gets its kicks out of delighting in discourse. I believe that all human life can be found in almost any subject - it just requires some imagination and an insatiable curiosity.

And there's plenty on offer over the next six months to hopefully slake that thirst.

A shot from Green And Pleasant Land

One of the most exciting new shows is Scrapheap Orchestra, a 90-minute film based around a plan to construct an entire orchestra's instruments out of rubbish.

Not some environmental axe being ground, just a fun and sometimes insightful exercise in unpacking what makes instruments work. How do they produce sound, from a violin to a trombone, a drum to a timpani?

And this final 44-piece orchestra is going to prove that it can play proper as it were, by putting on a concert this summer and playing the 1812 Overture.

Another charmer on offer is a wonderfully spirited reassessment of British painting in the 20th century, British Masters.

While the rest of the world was busy discovering itself in abstraction, the British - from Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer, Graham Sutherland and Francis Bacon to David Hockney and Lucian Freud - were linking up with a very British painterly sensibility and producing some of the greatest figurative and landscape works of art of the 20th century.

And who better than art historian Dr James Fox to explore what he believes is an extraordinary flowering of this painterly genius?

By way of contrast, Regency is a three part series on that most dashing of periods - the British Regency of 1811 to 1820.

The mainstream is where BBC Four plies its trade, except the channel reflects that mainstream back in a nuanced, opinionated and provocative way.

And I'm delighted that the irrepressible Dr Lucy Worsley will explore a decade of riotous creativity, passions and, by no means least, outrageous behaviour.

Dr Lucy Worlsey, the presenter of Regency

At the heart of her series stands the compelling central figure of George, the Prince Regent himself. Have fun! Lucy certainly does.

It is spring, after all, and I was keen that the channel reflected what a wonderful moment in the year this always is - a new start, Easter and rebirth acknowledged and now a wonderful, glorious warming of the earth around us.

So to This Green And Pleasant Land, part of BBC Four's landscape moment.

Until relatively recently the idea of depicting what the countryside actually looked like was considered, if considered at all, frankly, bizarre.

This Green And Pleasant land recounts how gradually the glories of our natural surroundings took centre stage.

Look out, in the same season, for Tom Fort's heart-warming film about one of my favourite roads, the A303. It is a journey that spans 94 miles, four centuries and one man's motoring love affair.

To accompany this, we have not just Julia Bradbury back in her walking boots tramping along canals in Canal Walks, but a whole week on Iceland - with some fabulous scenery and scary tales from the Viking age.

There's also a whole season on plants and flowers headed up by our new series Botany: A Blooming History.

And there's tons more. In Afterlife, we're building an installation in Edinburgh's Zoological Gardens, filling it with loads of household goods and food and then turning up the heating to watch how things rot, decompose and, amazingly, go on to form the cornerstones and new building blocks of new life - very BBC Four.

Plus there's a film about Terence Rattigan, Rattigan by Benedict Cumberbatch, a season on how Britain filmed and documented itself, and a Luxury season.

And Timothy Spall's back on his boat, with his partner Shane, continuing his idiosyncratic sail around Britain in Timothy Spall: Somewhere On The Irish Sea.

Sarah Lund and her team in a shot of The Killing 2.

But enough of the lists, the best news is that The Killing is back.

After screening the most talked-about crime thriller in British television for years - The Killing 1 - I am delighted to say that this intense, complex and enthralling drama series is back, Shetland sweaters, Sarah Lund and all.

So relax and enjoy the turning of the seasons with BBC Four.

Richard Klein is the controller of BBC Four.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Good to have the return of The Killing confirmed. A pedant's point [before half a million people write in]: Sarah Lund's sweaters are Faroese not Shetland.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I would like to congratulate BBC4 for showing The Killing, it was a brilliant series and I'm looking forward to the follow-up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    in 1st series when they played recording of cell phone of murdered cop, it seemed to suggest it was Lund whod killed him. Yet earlier hed said hed seen someone elses torchlight in the building. ie. if theyd played this part, it would have been obvious she wasnt the murderer. Maybe someone can answer this point. But nevertheless an awesome series, best for years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I am probably repeating what has been said multiple times already but I must compliment the BBC for showing the recently completed 20-episode thriller series, The Killing. Seldom have I been caught up in such compelling drama. I became an addict, barely able to contain my craving till the next screening. The plotting was superb and the tension maintained throughout in a way suggesting tight directorial discipline. The characters were superbly done with special praise for the actress who played Perneille Birk Larson. Her depiction of complete bewilderment and almost paralysed bereavement was a masterclass of method acting and Marie Askehave was always absolutely toothsome in her role as Rie Skovgard, Troel's political assistant. This series was up there with The Wire and I can think of no higher praise than that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    There are many things about the channel that I might point-up, but bottom line 'The Killing' keeps me manacled to the sofa, viewed through iplayer at ridiculous hours, not able to suppress the addiction. You might appreciate my relief at the announcement. I'm in the thrall of 'noir knitware' [if that be the correct term]. knowing it's faroese, even sweeter. i await correction


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