BBC FOUR - Autumn highlights 2005
Other Autumn highlights
Shakespeare's Happy Endings
This comic genealogy of rewritten Shakespeare is penned,
presented and performed by Patrick Barlow, who stars
as Professor Simon Starkman - academic, amateur thespian and novice
Romeo and Juliet, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
and West Side Story are just some of the many classic reworkings of
Shakespearean text, paying due homage to his work, the apotheosis of
the art of the dramaturge.
Barlow embarks on a whistle-stop tour of some of the
most interesting and ludicrous bowdlerisations of Shakespeare throughout
the history of theatre.
Some theatrical howlers from this litany of shame include:
The History Of Richard II (1680), making Richard sympathetic … withdrawn
after one performance; The History Of King Lear (1681), in which the
Fool is removed, Cordelia is married off to Edgar, and which concludes
with Lear being restored to two thirds of his kingdom; and a Romeo And
Juliet (1597) in which, surprisingly, the young couple live together
happily ever after, which played on alternate nights with the original
tragedy. One stood the test of time; the other…
Patrick scrutinises the lunatic scribblings of Nahum
Tate, Kemble and Dryden, the bombast of Garrick, the entrepreneurial
Victorian actor-manager Henry Irving and the ludicrously camp 20th century
player Wolfit, among others.
Part documentary, part staged performance, Shakespeare's
Happy Endings builds on BBC FOUR's reputation for grown-up humour, candid
biography and a surprising take on a subject that everyone thinks they
A BBC production.
Waste of Shame
An intense drama about the passionate and destructive
love triangle that consumed Shakespeare in his troubled middle years,
A Waste of Shame adapts some of the most celebrated, sexual, raw, bitter
and vitriolic love poems ever written.
Shakespeare's Sonnets are the most compelling source
for an emotional and dramatic journey into the psychology of the man
Self-analytical and brutally honest, they allow us to
go behind the scenes of this complex genius - they are his story told
in his very own words.
Internationally-acclaimed novelist and screenwriter
William Boyd has written A Waste of Shame and brings
to life Shakespeare's inner thoughts.
The drama is biographical: it focusses on Shakespeare's
mysterious relationships with the 'lovely boy' and his extra-marital
relationship with the 'dark lady' of his sonnet sequence.
The film tells the fraught, passionate love story behind
the composition of the Sonnets.
Based on academic sources, A Waste of Shame delves into
the mystery of the identity of who these people really were, and how
they influenced and affected the greatest writer in our literary canon.
They didn't just tug at his heartstrings: they also
changed the direction of his play-writing.
Shakespeare is presented as a corpulent, middle-aged
writer and businessman, separated from his wife Anne Hathaway and grieving
for the death of his son Hamnet.
Plague has sprung up again in London, and the theatres
have all been closed as a result.
Desperate for work, Shakespeare takes a commission
to write 17 sonnets for an androgynous young lord, William Herbert,
soon-to-be Earl of Pembroke.
This young man gives one half of the inspiration to
Shakespeare for the most celebrated love poems ever written.
The second half is given by the 'dark lady' Lucy, an
exotic courtesan who sells sexual favours to the literati of Elizabethan
A Waste of Shame is the story of how these two liaisons
dangerously intersect in Shakespeare's life.
A BBC production.
Thick of It
The caustic comedy from the award-winning Armando Iannucci
makes an eagerly-awaited return for a second series on BBC FOUR.
Peter Capaldi reprises his role as
the bullying, foul-mouthed Number 10 Chief Political Advisor (Malcolm
Tucker) alongside Chris Langham as his unfortunate
Minister of Social Affairs (Hugh Abbot) in this sharp
satire of the world of British politics.
The new series sees the team adding more paranoia, back-stabbing
and power games to the day-to-day running of the department - while
trying to deal with a ministerial visit to a factory that goes horribly
wrong, a Prime Minister's blue-skies thinker who's gone out of control,
an abusive email that shouldn't have been sent and a minister caught
lying to a Parliamentary Select Committee - all this and a cabinet reshuffle
just around the corner.
The series also stars James Smith as Glenn Cullen,
the Senior Special Advisor; Chris Addison as Oliver Reeder, the Junior
Policy Advisor; Jo Scanlan as Terri Coverley, the Press Officer; and
introduces Polly Kemp as Robyn Murdoch, Junior Press Officer.
is written by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and
A BBC production.
Tales from the Palaces
Britain's historic royal palaces are lovingly cared for by a
All their hard work is funded by tourism so
the more visitors they get the better – or is it?
presence of tourists creates some of the problems that
conservationists have to tackle.
Tales From The Palaces takes a peek behind the public
displays and pageantry to reveal what really goes on to
preserve the traditions, heritage and fabric of the buildings
so that future generations can enjoy them.
Narrated by Robert Lindsay, this warm, funny and
sometimes moving series tells the story of a year in the life
of the conservation teams at the Tower of London,
Hampton Court, Kew Palace, Kensington Palace and the
Join staff as they conserve buildings, artworks and
costumes, devise centuries-old recipes for one of today's
Michelin-starred chefs and dress up as kings and queens in
painstakingly researched costumes.
It's a tough job enticing
people through the door…
A BBC production.
TV Factual Publicity
Storyville - A Very English Village
Ditchling is an archetypal English village. With a population
of just 1,600, the village boasts 44 village societies,
including Britain's leading village film society, the oldest
village horticultural society and a feisty local hunt opposed
to the new law.
Unsurprisingly, with so much to offer, the
village has several celebrity residents, including Dame Vera
Lynn, and was previously the home of HRH The Duchess
Filmmaker and resident Luke Holland has been recording
life in the village over the last decade.
This series depicts
life in the contemporary English countryside and asks how
the village can retain its rural character with an ever-encroaching
A Zef production.
'Scroungers' and 'layabouts' are words often used to
For three years, Asylum has followed the fortunes of three
newly-arrived families from Algeria, Somalia and Afghanistan
as they struggle to build new lives for themselves and
The emotional journey they make is a rollercoaster of
contrasting moods, affected by their feelings of isolation,
homesickness and hopes for the future.
This multi-layered documentary uses news and
observational footage, telling personal and developing
stories that are as much about us as a nation as they are
about the families.
A BBC production.
Should serially offending drug addicts be locked up or given
the chance to change?
By significantly increasing funding
over the next three years, the Government has given a clear
signal that it believes rehabilitation is the answer.
Phoenix House treatment centres offer addicts the
chance to change their lives through a six-month
Some arrive voluntarily, destitute
and at the end of their tether; others have been sent by
the courts and face lengthy prison sentences should they
fail the programme.
With unique and intimate access to the therapeutic
process, this moving, observational film follows a number
of residents on an intensely personal journey that could
literally save their lives.
Rehab has been made by the same team behind the
acclaimed Care House documentary shown on BBC FOUR
A Century Films production.
Afghanistan – The No. 1 Ladies' Driving School
Four years after the collapse of the Taliban regime, life is
changing in Kabul.
Women walk the streets in western
clothes, men talk on mobile phones and children cram into
ice-cream parlours to watch the latest pop videos.
thanks to the first ever 'Ladies and Gentlemen's Driving
Course' in Kabul, women are now also learning to drive.
Sean Langan, journalist and documentary maker, returns to
Afghanistan to witness the changes taking place following
the end of the Taliban's power.
The female learners are from all walks of life – from
students and mothers, to politicians and doctors.
climb in behind the wheel they tell their stories of life
under Taliban rule.
Whilst some managed to flee to
Pakistan, those who remained were often beaten for minor
infractions of the strict laws. But despite this, all have hopes
and dreams for the new Afghanistan.
Their instructors are male, ex-Taliban fighters and aren't
happy with women drivers - but in spite of this the school
has more than 200 female graduates.
Most admit that whilst the
state may now allow female drivers, they wouldn't allow
their wives or daughters to learn to drive. And some of the
families of the female students feel ashamed and refuse to
let their daughters appear on television.
Meanwhile, tension is mounting with the approach of the
Sean Langan's previous work includes the celebrated film
for BBC FOUR, Mission Accomplished: Langan in Iraq and the
BBC TWO series, Langan Behind The Lines.
A BBC production.