BBC Four Autumn 2007
BBC Four looks at a time when Britain went too far
This autumn, BBC Four explores an age of excess in a season of drama and documentary. The first television adaptation of John Cleland's novel Fanny Hill, two accompanying documentaries and supporting archive material reveal a world characterised by unrestrained indulgence.
Introducing the autumn schedule, acting BBC Four Controller George Entwistle said:
"As the 18th century unfolds it seems more and more clearly defined by an 'anything goes' atmosphere, perhaps best symbolised by one of the most controversial novels ever written, Fanny Hill. Our new season looks at the forces which shaped this extraordinary time and asks how far the excess of the period explains the prudery and restraint of the Victorian era that followed.
"I'm delighted to be bringing the first television adaptation of this famous novel to television. Written by Andrew Davies, it has a fabulous cast including Alison Steadman, Samantha Bond and Hugo Speer, alongside newcomer Rebecca Night in the lead role. While missing none of the period's provocative flavour, Andrew's adaptation raises some surprisingly modern questions about what women must do to survive in a male world."
A new documentary, The Curse Of Success, tells the story of the novel's author, John Cleland,who always felt the book had blighted his career and ruined his reputation.
While in The Age Of Excess, writer and broadcaster Matthew Sweet delves into a world where bawdy ballads, licentious pamphlets and erotic prints helped set the aesthetic tone of 18th century England.
In one of the most significant arts series anywhere on British television this year, BBC Four's The Genius Of Photography tells the comprehensive history of the most influential art form of the 20th and 21st centuries.
This six-part series examines the way this unpredictable, democratic, magical medium has transformed the way we see ourselves and the world around us. From daguerreotype to digital, portraits to photo–journalism and high art to advertising, every aspect of photography is explored with interviews from some of the biggest names in contemporary photography including Nan Goldin, Juergen Teller, Sally Mann and Martin Parr.
BBC Four is also excited to be bringing two new acquisitions to the channel in the coming months.
Starting this week is Flight Of The Conchords – a quirky, offbeat comedy from HBO that follows the daily trials and tribulations of New Zealand's "fourth most successful folk act" as they try to break on to the world stage in New York.
While, for 2008, the channel is delighted to have acquired Mad Men, the new series from Matthew Weiner, Emmy Award-winning writer and executive producer of The Sopranos.
Set on and around Madison Avenue – home of America's ad agencies in Sixties New York and the "Mad" of the title – this sophisticated, high quality, morally ambiguous drama series delves into the lives, loves and professional ambitions of the ruthlessly competitive men and women working at Sterling Cooper advertising agency. Cinematic in its scale and depth of characterisation, Mad Men runs to 13 compelling episodes.
This autumn, BBC Four is also reworking its offer for Saturday nights with the promise of classic BBC television drama.
George Entwistle says: "The Saturday night audience is ready to be entertained and we want to offer them a distinctive and consistent BBC Four take on that idea.
"We're lining up a two hour block every Saturday where viewers can enjoy the best of BBC drama – grown-up storytelling for people who want to be diverted but want to be stimulated too. Starting with John Le Carré and moving into the complete Jane Austen in the winter, Saturdays on BBC Four will be a promise of the best of British television drama."
Award–winning international documentary strand Storyville celebrates its 10th anniversary this November and, to mark this milestone, the BBC is broadcasting a special selection of Storyville documentaries reflecting the history of this unique, pioneering strand.
The highlight of the season is Why Democracy?, an ambitious look at one of the most dominant political issues of modern times. BBC Four and BBC Two are joining broadcasters from around the world to show a series of documentaries aimed at starting a global conversation about democracy.
Among our forthcoming science programmes, leading theoretical physicist Dr Michio Kaku lays out his Visions Of The Future in a three-part series which examines the science fact behind many of the ideas that have driven science fiction in recent decades. Dr Kaku's over-arching inquiry is into the nature of humanity's relationship with science – and science's capacity to make us superhuman.
Two accompanying programmes explore similar themes in different ways. In Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives, the lead singer from the rock band Eels, Mark Everett, goes in search of the father he never really knew, quantum physicist Hugh Everett III, whose great theory on parallel worlds has its 50th anniversary this year.
And in The History of the World Backwards, comedian and author Rob Newman shares his unique perspective on history in an innovative comedy series. Featuring comedy, archive and music, the programmes are a time warp in which the world runs in reverse, but time still flows forwards.
The huge impact of the changing styles of British pop and dance are explored in two seasons.
Pop On Trial puts pop music in the dock, scrutinising the best of pop from each decade starting with the Fifties.
Pop Britannia and Dance Britannia tell the definitive story of how these movements have shaped and been shaped by social change in Britain since the Second World War.
Finally, look out for Russell Brand as he takes to the road in the footsteps of his literary hero Jack Kerouac and his classic book in On The Road With Russell Brand.
Notes to Editors
BBC Four has enjoyed its strongest ever summer. Stephen Fry Night gave the channel its best daily share (2.82% over transmission hours) and its best performing documentary to air on the channel with Stephen Fry: 50 Not Out (641,000 and 3.68% share).
The channel also enjoyed two weeks of record breaking share in week 33 (1.09% in transmission hours) and week 34 (1.25% in transmission hours).
Other strong programmes this year were:
- Bombay Railway (555,000 and 3.1% share)
- Edwardian Supersize Me (547,000 and 2.8% share)
- Wainwright's Walks (500,000 and 2.5% share)
- Secret Life Of The Motorway (498,000 and 3% share)
- Children's TV On Trial (330,000 and 1.8% share)