Kim Shillinglaw announces raft of new commissions

BBC Two has a strong platform from which to continue to be creative and lively and I’m looking forward to the New Year with ambitious plans for the future.Kim Shillinglaw, Controller, BBC Two and BBC Four
Date: 08.01.2015     Last updated: 13.02.2015 at 15.17
From thought-provoking documentaries that engage in the national conversation to new shows looking at the working lives of everyday Brits, Kim Shillinglaw, Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, today announced a number of new factual commissions that demonstrate BBC Two's ambition in 2015.

Kim Shillinglaw said: "BBC Two had a fantastic 2014, ending the year as the only terrestrial channel to grow both reach and share in peak in Christmas week. BBC Two has a strong platform from which to continue to be creative and lively and I’m looking forward to the New Year with ambitious plans for the future.

"Two new series show our commitment to tackling contemporary issues in lively and intelligent ways, with Chinese School exploring why Britain is struggling to compete in international education league tables and Britain's Hardest Worker looking at the low wage economy.

"We’re also taking a fresh look at the working lives of everyday Brits in two new shows, with Mobile Phone Idol following salespeople from around the country in one of the UK's fastest moving retail sectors as they pursue a life changing dream; and Scrappers, the popular series which introduced viewers to the impressively entrepreneurial Terry, Lyndsay and their Bolton scrap empire, is coming to BBC Two.

"And finally, we are fast forwarding one modern family through 50 years of food history in Back In Time For Dinner, based on an extraordinary historical resource, the nation's most comprehensive survey of what we all eat.”

Chinese School

This new three-part series will conduct an unprecedented experiment, giving four teachers from China a class full of British teenagers to find out if China’s much-lauded education system could teach us lessons here in the UK.

The Chinese education system has swept the board in world rankings year after year. Disciplined, hard-working and great at maths, it seems their kids will soon be wiping the floor with British kids out in the real world...

Chinese School will see whether British school children can thrive too under the rigours of the Chinese education system and if they have what it takes to compete in the global educational jungle. For half a term, Year 9 of a British school will become part of a television first.

In a project overseen and measured by educational specialists, 50 pupils will be taught 'Chinese-style' in English, Science and Maths by some of China’s best teachers. Their progress will be measured against a similar group of school children who have continued to be taught as normal.

Chinese School is a BBC Current Affairs production, it was commissioned by Clive Edwards, Head of Commissioning, Current Affairs, and the Executive Producers are Sam Bagnall & Gian Quaglieni.

Britain's Hardest Worker

BBC Two explores the front line of our nation's low wage economy in this new series which follows Brits from across the country through a series of real-world jobs to find Britain’s Hardest Worker.

These jobs will take place both out in the workplace and within the confines of a specially created factory, a warehouse space which over the course of five episodes will be transformed to cover the UK's largest blue collar sectors.

The contestants are all there for one reason: to make money. The least effective workers will be asked to leave until only one is left, to be declared Britain’s Hardest Worker.

The series will tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time: why is British productivity low? Is the benefits system providing many with a reason not to work or hindering their working opportunity? Is the hidden truth about immigrants simply that they work harder than Brits – and we need them as much as they need us - or are they simply prepared to work for a lower wage? And have the young simply not inherited the work ethic of older generations or have working conditions just got too hard? Who in Britain still knows how to graft? It’s time to find out.

Britain’s Hardest Worker (5x60) is being made by Twenty Twenty. It was commissioned by Clive Edwards, Head of Commissioning, Current Affairs; the BBC Commissioning Editor is Tom McDonald; and the Executive Producer is Tim Carter at Twenty Twenty.

Mobile Phone Idol

BBC Two takes viewers behind the scenes of this prestigious annual competition which scours all corners of the UK to find the best mobile phone salesperson in the country. The stakes are really high. As one judge says, it's the "Pulitzer Prize of Telecoms".

The winner is announced on stage at the Mobile Industry Awards in front of the crème de la crème of the telecoms world. As well as the title of 'Shop Idol 2015', the winner is rewarded with a fast-tracked career going on to get the most coveted jobs in the industry. But the pressure on them is intense.

Following the contestants, from companies big and small from across the whole of the UK, this warm, entertaining series also gives a window into modern Britain where retail is bigger than ever and mobile phone technology increasingly rules our lives.

Mobile Phone Idol (6x30) was commissioned by Tom McDonald, Acting Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History. It is a BBC Production and will be Executive Produced by Samantha Anstiss.

Back In Time For Dinner

In this innovative and entertaining six-part series, presented by Giles Coren, one modern British family will be fast-forwarded through 50 years of food history to explore how the food we eat has changed massively, and how that has helped shape who we are.

The food the family eat is based on the National food survey, which ran from 1940 to 1999 and meticulously recorded what thousands of British families ate for breakfast lunch and dinner, giving an extraordinary insight into the dining habits of the nation over 50 years.

The family's own kitchen will become a time machine, moving forward at the rate of one decade per week and taking them from the post war austerity of 1950 through to the slick modern convenience of today. The family will experience the new foods and kitchen technology, cooking fads and dining fashions across each era - from life with no fridge to meals at the touch of a button; domestic drudgery to labour-saving appliances; and meat and two veg to haute cuisine.

Back In Time For Dinner is a 6x60-minute series for BBC Two made by Wall To Wall. It was commissioned by Alison Kirkham, Head of Commissioning, Features and Formats and will be Executive Produced by Leanne Klein and Series Produced by Emily Shields for Wall To Wall.


Terry and Lyndsay Walker are back at the yard for a new series of Scrappers, this time on BBC Two. The stakes are even higher for these hardworking consummate entrepreneurs as they struggle to build the business back up after financial troubles and Terry’s forced to spend money on new equipment and training after a visit from environmental health. There’s a huge emphasis on family, as Terry introduces his daughter Cathy into the business and tries to turn the yard into the ‘slicker, quicker’ operation he’d be happy to pass on to son Jon. The workforce is as challenging as always and there’s lots of new faces as well as some old favourites - but with Terry on a short fuse, he could turn on anyone.

Scrappers was commissioned by Tom McDonald, Acting Head of Commissioning, Science and Natural History and is a Liberty Bell production. It is Executive Produced by Michele Carlisle and Jamie Issacs.

Notes To Editors

BBC Two ended the year as the only terrestrial channel to grow both reach and share in peak (18:00-22:29) in Christmas week, defined as BARB week 52 (22-28 December).