This summer, a full week of the BBC ONE schedule will be devoted to
bringing the colour and contradictions of African life and culture to
UK audiences as the culmination of a unique collaboration between the
BBC's family of TV, radio and online services.
It marks the biggest ever exploration of one continent on BBC ONE.
From documentary to drama, from news to natural history, BBC ONE will
turn over its schedules to a season of programmes that will give viewers
a new perspective on, and a deeper understanding of Africa in a year
when it will dominate headlines.
The G8 conference, the Commission for Africa and the 20th anniversary
of Live Aid are just some of the events that will push awareness of
the continent to the fore this year.
It was in November 1984 that Michael Buerk's BBC News report shocked
the world into action, and those images have defined Africa in the public's
consciousness for the two decades since.
But they are images that only reveal part of the picture of Africa
in the 21st Century.
It is due to these terrible events that most of the UK thinks of Africa
first and foremost as a land of famine, disease and war.
But it is also a land of art, music, dance, drama, amazing sights
and unique sounds.
The programmes commissioned will offer a more varied view of Africa
through the channel and a deeper understanding of the stories and lives
behind the issues it faces in the near future.
In Geldof on Africa, Bob
Geldof takes a personal journey through Africa to learn more
about the culture and, through people's experiences, understand the
forces that make the continent what it is.
In a funny and poignant love story, Richard Curtis combines his comedic
touch with a powerful humanitarian message about the willingness of
the richest countries to combat poverty in the third world. The
Girl In The Café stars Bill Nighy and Kelly
Special editions of popular BBC ONE shows will give viewers the chance
to experience a number of different views of life and culture from the
Ground Force bids a fond farewell
with a specially commissioned episode where the team join forces with
the Eden Project for one of their biggest challenges yet: building a
'Garden for Africa'.
BBC News will play a full part in the African season with George
Alagiah presenting a series of special news reports from different
African countries on the Six O'Clock
and Ten O'Clock News.
BBC Breakfast will be presented
daily live from studios in London and South Africa, and David
Dimbleby hosts a special edition of Question
Time from South Africa.
Lorraine Heggessey, Controller of BBC ONE, says: "2005 is a year
in which Africa will dominate headlines, thoughts and conversations
as never before.
"People will see the continent being discussed and dissected on
television, radio, in magazines and papers - and yet very few of the
UK audience will have seen or experienced Africa first hand.
"There is a kaleidoscope of different views, opinions and sensations
in Africa and the issues and problems we frequently hear about are only
part of the picture.
"It is with this in mind that we have put together a wide range
of programmes to give the viewer a 360 degree portrayal of African life
and culture through special editions of favourite shows as well as new
"I travelled there last year and it changed my viewpoint completely.
"My hope for this season is that viewers enjoy the programmes
and see the continent in a different light afterwards.
"If BBC ONE's African output manages to whet the UK's appetite
for understanding and appreciating more about Africa it will have been
a worthwhile exercise.
"BBC ONE is a window onto the world for the UK. I hope people
enjoy the view."
Other highlights include:
Dr Ric Griffin (Hugh Quarshie) leaves behind his colleagues
in Holby City and travels to his
native Ghana. Staying with his brother and working in a charity hospital
makes him question his return to Holby.
The Elephant Diaries will be stripped
across the week giving viewers an insight into the work of Kenya's elephant
rehabilitation centres, capturing on film the dramatic and moving rescue
of orphaned elephants and their reintroduction into the wild.
A British family sample life in Northern Namibia, staying with a family
of the Himba tribe in Worlds Apart.
They soon find that their new lifestyle means more than simply giving
up the comforts of their UK home.
Rolf Harris discovers the diversity of African art,
learning more about the styles and skills before finally producing a
painting that reflects the African people and landscapes that have inspired
him in Rolf on African Art.
Johannesburg, South Africa is one of the most violent cities on earth;
Trauma in Africa reveals the extreme
conditions local staff battle with in South Africa's busiest hospital,
government-run Johannesburg General Hospital.
Five celebrities of African origin are each paired with an African dance
troupe for intensive training before performing a traditional African
dance in Strictly African Dancing.
Kwame Kwei-Armah travels to South Africa for Songs
Of African Praise to reflect on the pivotal role that music
and songs play in people's lives. Archbishop Desmond Tutu
talks about the importance of music to South Africans and how they express
their spirituality through music.
Notes to Editors
BBC activity across all services
BBC ONE leads the initiative with a full week's schedule given over
to African themed programming.
Drama, arts, entertainment, news, documentary, natural history, sport
and children's programmes will all provide different opportunities for
BBC ONE's mass audience to build a broader picture of Africa.
BBC News will play a full part in the season with live broadcasts from
the continent and special editions of news and current affairs programmes
dedicated to African issues.
BBC TWO, BBC THREE, BBC FOUR and CBBC will expand on the BBC ONE output.
Complementary programming across all channels will provide opportunities
for audiences to dig deeper into areas that interest them from documentaries
to international films and from music to art.
Throughout 2005 BBC Radio will bring a huge breadth of programmes
focussed on Africa, beginning on BBC Radio 3 in February with coverage
from Africa Remix at the South Bank Centre and the Africa 05 exhibitions.
Themed programmes will incorporate drama, live music, oral culture,
debates and an African/Caribbean classical crossover weekend.
Across the BBC, Radios 1, 1Xtra, 2, 3, 4, Five Live, 6 Music, BBC 7
and the Asian Network will between them feature a spectacular range
of African themed programmes including live music events, documentaries
and features plus news and current affairs.
Newly commissioned programmes will be broadcast along with regular
network strands and the diverse output will also include new African
music, sport, live broadcasts on location in Africa and links to radio
stations and schools.
bbc.co.uk will host the website for the Africa 05 series of events
and exhibitions and will provide a central point for viewers and listeners
to find out more about the BBC season and to engage with interactive
content about Africa.
The BBC's Africa On Your Street website, which celebrates the African
music scene in the UK, will be linked to the other web sites.
BBC World Class
In addition to the wide range of programming on an African theme,
the BBC Africa season will also join with current pan-BBC initiatives
such as BBC World Class - a unique and ambitious project to gather together
1,000 British schools in partnership with 1,000 similar schools worldwide.
BBC Prime will aim to simulcast much of the BBC Television output across
its African service.
Nations & Regions
BBC Local Radio will encourage audience engagement through community
events and programmes throughout the year's activity.
Using links with BBC World Service, BBC Local Radio will twin with
African radio stations and help drive take-up of the World Class schools