BBC FOUR Autumn
BBC FOUR rustles up a feast of programmes this autumn
Cookery takes centre stage in BBC FOUR's autumn line-up, with two powerful and emotive dramas about a couple of women who changed the face of cooking in their day – Mrs Beeton and Fanny Cradock.
Introducing the new season, BBC FOUR Controller, Janice Hadlow, says: "Mrs Beeton's Book Of Household Management transformed women's lives in the 19th century and in its various adaptations has sold in the millions since 1861.
"Most people would expect Mrs Beeton herself to be dumpy, matronly and middle-aged. Far from it. She was a sassy, feisty young journalist and editor whose personal life was riddled with tragedy and a dark secret that led to her untimely death aged 28.
"Anna Madeley gives a captivating performance as the cultural icon.
"From the management of 19th century households to Sixties TV celebrity chefs, Julia Davis perfectly captures the essence of the fearsome yet emotionally vulnerable Fanny Cradock, as does Mark Gatiss who plays her much-maligned husband, Johnnie.
"I'm thrilled that once again BBC FOUR is putting single dramas on the map, attracting big writers and talent, as well as nurturing new talent."
Jean Rhys's passionate and erotic prequel to Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea, comes to BBC FOUR this autumn. With powerful performances by Rafe Spall (The Chatterley Affair), Rebecca Hall (The Prestige) and Nina Sosanya (Casanova), Wide Sargasso Sea offers an alternative to Charlotte Bronte's depiction of Bertha Mason, Mr Rochester's 'mad' first wife.
Frustration is a big part of Rick Spleen's life, the successful but world-weary stand-up comedian played by Jack Dee in Lead Balloon, the new comedy series for BBC FOUR.
Lead Balloon is a wry, satirical and sometimes dark comedy in which co-writers Jack Dee and Pete Sinclair have created an eclectic host of hilarious and scarily recognisable characters.
Engaging new factual
December this year marks the 70th anniversary of Edward VIII's abdication of the throne "for the sake of the woman he loved."
Acclaimed film-maker, Denys Blakeway (The Downing Street Years) goes in search of the true story of the Abdication, exposing the secret roles many politicians and diarists played in blackening Wallace Simpson's name and tarnishing Edward VIII's reputation.
Alongside Wide Sargasso Sea and BBC ONE's Jane Eyre, Daisy Goodwin gets under the skin of the loved and loathed genre of romantic fiction in a three-part documentary series, Reader, I Married Him.
From Jane Eyre to Mills and Boon and from Pride And Prejudice to Jilly Cooper, Daisy explores what gives romantic fiction its enduring appeal and whether it can really help reduce stress levels.
Janice Hadlow says: "BBC FOUR has become known for taking big propositions and creating ambitious seasons from them, most recently with our successful season on the 18th century, The Century That Made Us.
"This autumn we'll be tackling British science fiction, anthropology and Seventies California, with the distinctive BBC FOUR trademark blend of factual, drama and classic archive."
Science fiction fans are in for a special treat this autumn, as BBC FOUR pays homage to the cult genre that encompasses everything from HG Wells and John Wyndham to Blake's 7 and Doctor Who.
At the centre of the Science Fiction Britannia season is a new science fiction drama, Random Quest, based on a John Wyndham short story.
BBC FOUR's Anthropology season is all about us looking at other peoples of the world. The season looks at the history of anthropology and some of its great names, including a documentary on the eccentric yet hugely influential Tom Harrisson, narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
It also tackles the more current question of whether it is possible or, indeed, morally desirable, for the observation of one group of humans by another to ever be anything other than subjective.
At the extreme end of this is First Contact, in which presenter Mark Anstice considers the moral dilemma surrounding the ethics of first contact and meets a man who sets up tourist trips to meet uncontacted tribes.
It was as close to paradise as any place on Earth. Seventies California offered an ideal world to those with the money, the looks or the attitude to fit in.
BBC FOUR's California Dreaming season takes a long look back to the music, movies, art, design and politics of Seventies California. It includes a major music documentary series in which musicians and performers, industry heavyweights, fans and LA scenesters tell their stories.
It also takes a look at the bizarre role of the California Governor and the design creations of the time – epitomised by the waterbed and the Jacuzzi.
Other highlights this autumn on BBC FOUR:
The Haunted Airman - To tie in with Hallowe'en, BBC FOUR offers a tale of horror and suspense, with a new drama adapted from a Dennis Wheatley short story.
Voyages Of Discovery - Intrepid explorer Paul Rose travels the world, following in the wake of great adventurers such as Magellan and Captain Cook.
The People's Chorus - A thousand singers gather together to attempt one of the most difficult, and rarely performed pieces of choral music ever composed – Thomas Tallis' Spem In Alium. How will they respond to one of the biggest challenges a choir can face?
BBC FOUR interactive
My Science Fiction Life is an ambitious online project tying in with BBC FOUR's Science Fiction Britannia season. The project will mix editorialised content - a linear timeline of all the major creative endeavours in British Science Fiction - with the audience's own personal stories and unexpected connections. The project will run for a six-month period beyond the season, becoming its own fascinating repository of science fiction.
All episodes of Lead Balloon will be available to watch online as a series stack after broadcast via bbc.co.uk/bbcfour.
Notes to Editors
January to end July 2006: 11.2% average weekly reach among digital audiences (4.6 million) and share 0.74% (compared with January 2005 to end July 2005 with 8.8% average weekly reach among digital audiences (3.2 million) and share 0.53%).
Channel reach increased by 40% from July 2005 to July 2006 (from 3.1 to 4.3 million per week).
Growth in overall reach is up by more than a third, year on year, since the channel launched in 2002.