New programmes on BBC Four this autumn

Thursday 26 August 2010, 16:15

Richard Klein Richard Klein Controller, BBC Four

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It's mid-August, it's raining and blowing an autumnal gale and the Edinburgh TV Festival beckons. Must be time for BBC Four's autumn/winter launch.

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This time last year I wrote about the pleasures of three artistic women's lives dramatised - Enid, Gracie and Margot. This year, it's the story of how one man rewrote the rule of British television drama when he created in a single moment ITV's premier TV asset, Coronation Street.

Tony Warren's story of ordinary working people's everyday lives, set in a backstreet of a northern English industrial town was a sensation from the moment it hit the airwaves - live, no less! - in December 1960.

But it very nearly didn't happen. The Granada TV bosses decided people wouldn't want northern working classes voices in their living rooms via the telly. How wrong they were.

What was at first called Florizel Street went on to become Coronation Street, one of television's most enduring dramas.

It's not the only great show of course.

Back row: Jessie Wallace as Pat Phoenix, David Dawson as Tony Warren and Jane Horrocks as Margaret Morris. Front row: Lynda Baron as Violet Carson and Celia Imrie as Doris Speed.

This autumn sees the always-excellent Michael Wood stand centre stage in Michael Wood's Story of England, a major series that tells the story of the English through the ordinary garden discoveries of people living in a small market town in Leicestershire - and you've never seen so much excitement and fuss over a few bits of broken pottery!

But it is amazing, truly, to see just how close to the big historical events even this village is, that this village's story of ordinary people through the ages, from Anglo-Saxon, Norman, Tudor, Georgian, Industrial Revolution and onwards, is reflected in this place. Terrific.

One other highlight I'd raise is BBC Four's Germany season. Yes, I am German, brought up on a farm in north Germany, and as a (semi) foreigner I have always been struck by how little the British seemed to know or comprehend of Germany's extraordinary culture, physical beauty and history.

Of course two World Wars don't half obscure the view and I understand that. But in Andrew Graham-Dixon's lovely series Art Of Germany I hope you'll see a new side of this country, culturally speaking, and in Julia Bradbury's charming German Wanderlust you'll hopefully be astounded and wowed by the sheer physical beauty of this vast country.

And, finally, I hope you'll be entertained by Al Murray's German Adventure (yes the Pub Landlord himself) as he tours Germany and finds out more about the country on a whistle-stop tour.

There's plenty more interesting programmes - from The Story Of British Sculpture to Anna Nicole - The Opera, the new Royal Opera House piece on glamour model Anna Nicole Smith, to the return of Jo Brand in Getting On.

And now, back to the rain, the wind and August.

Richard Klein is controller of BBC Four

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    Comment number 1.

    If you want me to watch BBC4 get rid of the dog!!!!!

    With nearly every TV being 16/9 there is no excuse whatsoever for having a dog in the 4/3 safe area and that strong.

    If you really must have it then at least move it to the corner and reduce the intensity to the minimum.

    And tell your BBC3 counterpart to do the same!!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Yup. Hate the DOG - it's annoying and an insult, as is the credit squeeze.

    Look, BBC 4 viewers aren't going to be dim. Ignoring viewing online (because you have to actively go to the website to stream), if you have digital TV - and BBC 4 is only on digital TV - you have an EPG for both Freeview and Sky (and probably Virgin too) that tells you when you change channel which one you've picked as you 'hop'. I have Sky and three Freeview decoders, and they all work that way. If you want to know what's on next, you can look it up very easily, again using the in-picture or full listing EPG. You don't need some continuity announcer with an inflated sense of their comic ability, BBC Three, killing the ends of programmes, especially (BBC everywhere) when the credits have been ruined for an announcement which is followed by a trail for that same damned programme you weren't interested in thirty seconds ago! You have no idea how irritating that is!

    The idea that viewers don't know what they're watching is a myth to justify the jobs of marketing bods with nothing better to do that copy whatever comes out of America. I know of no-one who gets confused about what channel they are watching. I know of no-one who doesn't know how to find out how and where to watch programmes; a six year old can do it.

    In fact the credit squeeze seems to be counter-productive when it comes to channel hopping. For myself (and I know others do this) once the end of the show has been ruined by Jeremy Paxman cutting in while I'm trying to see who played 'Charlie Scoggins' in the show I was just watching, I actively switch to the full EPG to find something else, given the channel I was viewing seems to have no respect for its own creative output. This is especially disheartening coming from from BBC 4, whose programming is quite distinctive anyway. If I'd stayed to the end of the programme, uninterrupted and without advance warning that the next programme might be uninteresting, I might've stayed on and taken the chance, and maybe being surprised. Killing the show before its done, however, guarantees I will begin to look elsewhere.

    I really hoped the Radio Four of TV would be more mature and independent of spirit, and not just do this that and the other because that's what Sky One does so therefore we have to do it too, but I'm repeatedly disappointed.

    If the BBC are looking to make cuts, I know of just the people it can do without...

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I bet these programs aren't promoted as often as the rubbish on BBC3/BBC1

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    BBC 4's Enid was a 'hatchet job'. Apparently she made efforts to contact her brother, he didn't just suddenly turn up in the way shown in the drama. But the true facts were changed by the film-makers to make her look worse because that suited their agenda.

    Also is it time that BBC4 stopped making period drama? I watch these and there are so many historical anachronisms. Panelled doors painted with white gloss in the 1920's in Enid, flat screen TVs in a 1960's/1970's production gallery in the drama about Hughie Green and an obviously 1990's staircase in one scene.

    Just looking at one of the stills from the forthcoming Coronation Street drama it seems unconvincing. White topped tables with black tubular curved supports in 1960? More 1980's or early 1990's I would suggest.


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