BBC Four Winter/Spring 2007
Who we were then... Who we are now... A very British Winter/Spring 2007 on BBC Four
BBC Four holds up a mirror to the British this Winter/Spring, looking at British society today as well as looking back at a time not so different to now, with a major new season of programmes, The Edwardians – People Like Us?
Introducing the new season, BBC Four Controller, Janice Hadlow, says "As BBC Four celebrates its fifth birthday year, I'm pleased to unveil our biggest season to date with The Edwardians – People Like Us?.
"It's our grandparents' generation – a generation whose legacy still impacts on our everyday lives. We ride on their tube trains, shop in their department stores, read their tabloid newspapers, eat the same foods and use their inventions – from Marmite to the vacuum cleaner.
"I'm thrilled that we've secured such brilliant on and off-screen talent for the season including Jessie Wallace who plays the larger than life music hall star, Marie Lloyd; Andrew Davies who has created a superb adaptation of George and Weedon Grossmith's The Diary Of A Nobody; Kelvin MacKenzie's Gotcha! which delves into the murky origins of the tabloid newspaper industry; Ian Hislop's affectionate look at the scouting movement in Scouting For Boys; Giles Coren and Sue Perkins' challenge to exist on a gargantuan Edwardian diet in Edwardian Supersize Me; and Mark Gatiss' extraordinary tale of the search for penguin eggs in The Worst Journey In The World."
The Way We Live Now
In this mini-season of documentaries, BBC Four explores what makes the British unique, observing their daily lives, unpicking their passions and questioning the location of the elusive Middle England.
The centrepiece of the season is Holidays, a new series by the makers of the award-winning series National Trust, who this time take a wry look at four very different destinations and the Brits who holiday there: Rock in Cornwall, Blackpool, Sunsail holidays in Turkey and MyTravel package holidays in Florida – and now China.
The Way We Live Now also includes The Hunt For Middle England, in which comedian Chris Addison attempts to track down Mr and Mrs Middle England – with hilarious results; a series of moving observational documentaries watching the British in Waiting Rooms; and Trophy People in which Marcus Brigstocke celebrates British people's passion for unusual pastimes, from bell-ringing to Scrabble.
For the first time on British television, BBC Four chronicles the history of photography, in a major landmark series The Genius Of Photography.
The series considers the importance of photography as an art form, looking at a multitude of the world's greatest photographs, interspersed with exclusive interviews with renowned photographers such as William Klein and Martin Parr.
The series conjures up a picture of just how the camera has changed the way in which people view themselves and the world around them.
Continuing the photography theme comes an incredible nine-part series, Archive Of The World, in which thousands of stunning colour photographs from the early 20th century are unveiled.
They were commissioned by French financier Albert Khan as one of the most ambitious photographic projects ever to be undertaken, and the documentary series charts his amazing photographic journey across continents.
A very different kind of journey is undertaken by Rageh Omar as, with incredible access, he goes back for a second time to Tehran to tell the story of the region through the experiences of ordinary Iranians.
Rageh Inside Iran presents a unique view of Tehran, presenting a more intimate side to a complex and fascinating society.
Science You Can't See
Following the success of series that have unravelled complex scientific subjects such as Time, comes a season of programmes devoted to Science You Can't See. It's about making major scientific breakthroughs, such as the discovery of the atom, both visible and comprehensible.
In Atom, physicist Jim Al Khalili charts the truly extraordinary story of humanity's greatest-ever scientific discovery, revealing the scientific process as a gloriously human endeavour, riddled with jealousy, rivalry, missed opportunities, and, just occasionally, moments of genius.
Film-maker David Malone tells the tale of a handful of mathematicians who were driven insane or even committed suicide by glimpsing the numbers that make up the universe, in Dangerous Knowledge.
Absolute Zero is a scientific detective tale telling the story of a remarkable group of pioneers who wanted to reach the ultimate extreme: Absolute Zero; a place so cold that the physical world as we know it doesn't exist.
Continuing with extraordinary scientific stories comes Medical Mavericks. Presented by Michael Mosley, the series delves into the curious, and sometimes fatal, ways in which some doctors have increased medical knowledge through self-experimentation.
The British theme continues with two major new music series, examining British Soul and Classical Music.
From the makers of the hugely-acclaimed Folk Britannia comes Soul Britannia, an in-depth examination of the impact of Black American and Caribbean sounds on British music and society.
The series features rare archive and performances as well as fresh interviews and insights from a variety of major artists including Van Morrison, Sir Elton John, Sir Tom Jones and Paul Weller.
Classic Britannia tells the compelling story of British classical music from 1945 to 2006 – a period bursting with experimentation, confrontation, political engagement, social idealism, fallen crowns and rising stars.
Never before has there been such an exhaustive study of what makes Britain's musical heritage so uniquely fascinating.
The series features all the key players on Britain's classical music scene, from Benjamin Britten to Cornelius Cardew and from Jacqueline du Pré to Vanessa Mae.
BBC Four gets into a Tight Spot with four exciting new comedies in which the central characters are all stuck in very different situations: Freezing, Stuck, HR and Lift.
The comedies feature a stellar cast, including Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Richard E Grant, Joely Richardson (Freezing), Jonathan Pryce and Nicholas Le Prevost (HR).
Other highlights this Winter/Spring on BBC Four:
- The Reichenbach Falls. Based on an original idea by Ian Rankin and written by James Mavor, this dark and powerful new drama combines a murder investigation in Scotland's capital with a parallel journey into Edinburgh's literary past.
Cast includes Alastair Mackenzie, Alec Newman, Laura Fraser, Nina Sosanya, Richard Wilson and John Sessions.
- The Women's Institute. A warm and humorous documentary series that observes a great iconic British institution as it finds its way into the 21st century.
- The Protestant Revolution. Tristram Hunt tells the story of a revolution that has affected every person in the West and nearly every country in the world.
- The Art of Eternity. Andrew Graham-Dixon goes in search of the pre-perspective world – the art of the early Christians, the tumultuous world of the Byzantine Empire and the dramatic shift in Western art between the 12th and 14th centuries.
- A Short History Of Racism. As part of the BBC's season marking the 200th anniversary of the Act of Abolition of the Slave Trade, this powerful and at times shocking new series chronicles the impact of racism on global human history.
- Milosevic On Trial. Acclaimed film-maker Michael Christoffersen was allowed privileged and exclusive access behind the scenes at the biggest war crimes trial since Nuremberg. This is his remarkable story.
Notes to Editors
End of year viewing figures:
- Over 2006 BBC Four continued to grow at a strong and steady rate, with weekly reach up nearly 40% (from 3.6 to 5.0 million), percentage weekly reach up 18.8% (from 9.6 to 11.4% reach) and a 0.1% share point change to 0.7% share in 2006.
- BBC Four enjoyed success in 2006 via major seasons including The Century That Made Us (18th century) and the Silent Cinema season including Paul Merton's Silent Clowns.
- In addition 2006 saw BBC Four showcase the highly successful science series, Time, along with distinctive drama such as Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa - BBC Four's highest rated drama – as well as breaking new comedy such as Lead Balloon.