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24 September 2014
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Essential Poems (To Fall in Love With)

BBC TWO, February

This Valentine's Day, the BBC celebrates the nation's love of poetry with a season of programming to inspire lovers and poets everywhere, together with an online competition to search out budding talent.

Essential Poems (To Fall in Love With) uses a host of top acting talent in this innovative five-part visual anthology of poetry for BBC TWO.

In Essential Poems, writer Daisy Goodwin leads viewers on a poetic journey through the ups and downs of being in and out of love, using the lasting appeal of some of the world's most memorable love poems to capture the emotions of each stage from the early, heady days of romance to the pain of breaking up.

Filmed in the style of a mini-drama set in a contemporary location, the poems are recited by over 35 favourite actors and celebrities, including Alison Steadman, Matthew Macfadyden, Christopher Lee, Damian Lewis, Amanda Holden and Prunella Scales.

Never before have poems been seen to be so seductive, humorous or uplifting.

To complete the poetic experience on BBC TWO, poems performed by well-loved actors and celebrities will be popping up in unusual places throughout the schedule for the duration of the season, from William Shakespeare's Sonnet 129 to Wendy Cope's Bloody Men.

A BBCi online competition launches the search for the UK's most exciting new poetic talents. In association with Talkback, viewers are challenged to write a poem of no more than fourteen lines on the theme of first love.

Budding poets have a unique opportunity to bring their work to a wider audience with the publication of an exclusive collection of shortlisted poems; and in a programme for National Poetry Day, 9 October, actors will perform the ten favourite poems and the winner will be announced.

Members of the public can enter by post or by email via a dedicated BBC website.

Daisy Goodwin comments, "Great poetry is furniture for the mind. Become familiar with the right poems and you change the way you think for ever."

First Flush

Flirting, playing the dating game and the heartache of unrequited love – the perils of looking for love. In the first programme in the series, Daisy Goodwin examines poetry to seduce and enchant, for the giddy first days of meeting someone and falling in love.

Liza Tarbuck answers the question on the lips of all single women as she recites Nina Bourne's Where the Single Men Go In Summer; Damian Lewis considers the joys of flirtation in To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell; Jimi Mistry performs Shelley's persuasive Love's Philosophy; Margaret Atwood reveals how to be irresistible to the opposite sex in a sultry rendition of Siren Song by Naomie Harris; and Ioan Gruffudd is hopelessly lovestruck in the captivating First Love by John Clare.

Wild Nights

You've met someone you like and who likes you back – what next? Essential Poems gets raunchy as Daisy Goodwin leads viewers through an arousing poetic journey of the physical manifestations of love.

From the wild nights captured perfectly in the erotic intensity of John Donne's The Good Morrow, performed by a convincingly amorous Lennie James, to the morning after, be it the warm tenderness of Saturday Morning by Hugo Williams, recited by Andrew Lincoln, or the torture of self reproach of Shakespeares' Sonnet 129, vividly recreated by Greg Wise. Then there are the wedding bells of Tennyson's Marriage Morning.

The programme has poems guaranteed to inject passion into any relationship.

Talking in Bed

The joys and concerns of family life have long preoccupied the world's poets. In the third part of Essential Poems, Daisy Goodwin luxuriates in the happiness of domestic bliss as perceived through poetry.

The programme includes sumptuous verses about the pleasures of intimacy, such as Gloire De Dijon by D H Lawrence, performed by Ioan Gruffudd; it looks at poignant observations of parenthood including Child by Slyvia Plath performed by Jo Whiley and featuring her own child; and tries to navigate through the often fraught relationships with in-laws when Naomie Harris performs Father-In-Law by Paul Engle.

And Daisy Goodwin draws on poems dealing with that perennial problem of the difference between the sexes. Ian Hart, performing Glynn Maxwell's Perfect Match proves football is all he really cares about; Prunella Scales is a disgruntled housewife awaiting the return of her partner in Home Is The Hunter by Pamela Gillilan; and Alison Steadman reads Wendy Cope's Being Boring.

The Grass is Greener

In part four of Essential Poems (To Fall in Love With), Daisy Goodwin offers a classy alternative to weepy love songs with an examination of poems that deal with the pain of falling out of love.

Parting by Michael Drayton and recited by Rupert Penry-Jones and Ending by Gavin Ewart and performed by Stephen Tomkinson are an acute reminder of the pain of breaking up.

For the 'tantalizing temptation' of infidelity, Sarah Parish tells the Story Of A Hotel Room by Rosemary Tonks and Ian Hart observes a pair of lovers in Vernon Scannell's Taken In Adultery.

For invaluable advice on how to act at that difficult parting, the brave face masking the inner anguish described in Maya Angelou's The Lie is truly something to aspire to.

And for something to cheer the soul, the heroine of Wendy Cope's poem bemoans the Loss of something truly terrible – the corkscrew.

Love in a Life

Marriage can go up as well as down and to profit you have to be in for the long term. In the final part of Essential Poems (To Fall in Love With), Daisy Goodwin celebrates the power of enduring love.

Daisy Goodwin's thematic journey considers the tenderness of the long term relationship through to the death of a loved one.

Anna Massey recites Mr Teodoro Luna's Two Kisses by Alberto Rios; Prunella Scales performs In A Bath Teashop by Sir John Betjeman; John Shrapnell recreates Love Poem by John Frederick Nims; Robert Burns' A Red, Red Rose is brought to life by Douglas Henshall; and Christopher Lee performs A Marriage by R S Thomas.

And the programme reveals poets are, like the rest of us, not averse to the odd regret, athough few can say it as eloquently as W B Yeats in When You Are Old performed by Matthew Macfayden.

Notes to Editors

The Series Producer is Alannah Richardson.

Essential Poems (To Fall in Love With) is a Talkback Production for BBC TWO.

About Daisy Goodwin

Daisy Goodwin worked as an arts producer for the BBC, producing programmes such as Bookworm and The Nation's Favourite Poem.

In 1998 she left the BBC to join Talkback where she is now Editorial Director. At Talkback, Daisy Goodwin has been behind series such as Would Like to Meet, Life Laundry, She's Gotta Have It, and most recently, Jamie's Kitchen.

Daisy Goodwin has also published four best selling poetry anthologies. The first two - 101 Poems to Save Your Life and 101 Poems to Get You Through the Day (and Night), are published in America in January 2003. Her book based on her Argentinian family, The Silver River, is also published in 2003.

Daisy is married with two children and lives in West London.

Pictures and preview tapes are available, for media use only, via the BBC Press Office.

Essential Poems (To Fall in Love With), is a poetry anthology edited by Daisy Goodwin and published by HarperCollins.

Also coming up in March - Love Again

A new drama documentary for BBC TWO examines the life and work of Philip Larkin.

Using privileged access to unpublished letters and recordings, Love Again explores Larkin's complex relationships and how his sometimes clumsy and cruel personal behaviour was the price to be paid for his extraordinarily sensitive and poised poetry.

Hugh Bonneville plays poet Philip Larkin in the BBC TWO film Love Again (24.01.03)

All the BBC's digital services are now available on Freeview, the new free-to-view digital terrestrial television service, as well as on satellite and cable.

Freeview offers the BBC's eight television channels, as well as six BBC radio networks.

The soon to launch BBC THREE will become available as it goes on air.



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