BBC Four Winter/Spring 2008
Jews is a new series from award-winning director Vanessa Engle. A set of unique and personal stories about faith, identity and community, this series documents different aspects of contemporary Jewish life in Britain but, in each case, highlights dilemmas facing both religious and secular Jews today.
In one film, personal interviews and archive describe the psychological impact of the inherited trauma of the Holocaust, while the other two are observational documentaries with extraordinary access to the Hasidic community in Stamford Hill and the community of Modern Orthodox Jews in Hendon, London.
This series offers a remarkable and unprecedented insight into Jewish life in Britain today.
Motor City's Burning – Detroit From Motown To The Stooges
Detroit – America's Motor City – didn't just build cars, it also put together some of the greatest music of the 20th century.
In 1967, the Motor City suffered the biggest riot in American history, but the riot wasn't the only revolution going on – Detroit was creating music that would change the world.
In the early Sixties, Motown made black pop music for America and the world. In the late Sixties, a rock scene led by MC5 and The Stooges created what was to become known as garage rock.
This narrated documentary boasts an impressive soundtrack, archive footage and contributions from top names of the time including Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, George Clinton, Mary Wilson, Lamont Dozier, Martha Reeves and John Sinclair.
The Worlds Of Fantasy
From Harry Potter to The Lord Of The Rings, fantasy fiction appears to be the genre taking over the world.
This new three-part series looks at how and why fantasy has come to top the bestseller lists and broken box-office records.
The series delves into the role of the child-like hero and reveals how fantasy kingdoms are created. It explores the reasons behind the extraordinary recent resurgence of fantasy and how gaming technology is bringing it to a new generation.
Contributors include Philip Pullman, Terry Pratchett, AS Byatt and Guillermo Del Toro (director of Pan's Labyrinth).
The Book Quiz
Kirsty Wark hosts this entertaining and highly competitive quiz, from the team behind University Challenge. Testing and celebrating the British love affair with literature, Kirsty referees the contest between two teams of two, culminating in a grand final.
Well-read contestants, authors and high-profile guests compete to show off their knowledge and love of books, and every fast-paced round provides an opportunity for viewers to test themselves against the on-screen guests.
A Year In Tibet
For the first time, BBC cameras have been able to film inside Tibet unsupervised by Chinese authorities. Following the lives of ordinary Tibetans across an extraordinary year, the series reveals an intimate portrait of a society and a compelling insight into the impact the Chinese Communist party has on Tibetans' lives.
This unprecedented access provides a remarkable insight into the significance of Buddhism in everyday life, and the complex and often surprising relationship between Tibetans and the Chinese immigrants whom they live and work alongside.
Accompanying A Year In Tibet is The Lost World Of Tibet, a one-off documentary that brings together stunning, colour archive film from the Forties and Fifties to show what the country was like before China sent in troops.
Acclaimed actor Simon Russell Beale explores the flowering of Western sacred music, in a story spanning six centuries. His musical pilgrimage begins at St Paul's Cathedral in London, where he was a chorister; he then journeys to Paris where, in the 12th century, plainsong became polyphony. His next stop is Italy to uncover the links between the Papal intrigues of Renaissance Rome and Palestrina's music.
Back in England, he tells the story of Tallis and Byrd, the composers at the centre of our own musical Renaissance in the Tudor period. Simon's travels end in Germany where Luther's Protestant Reformation led to a musical revolution and, ultimately, to the glorious works of JS Bach.
The performers, specially recorded on location, are the award-winning choir The Sixteen, directed by Harry Christophers. The documentaries are complemented by an Easter celebration of music from the series performed by the choir at LSO St Luke's in London.
Blood And Guts – The History Of Surgery
Today, surgery saves hundreds of thousands of lives a year. However, getting here has not been a simple story of selfless men working tirelessly in the pursuit of medical advancement.
Instead, it's a bloodstained tale of blunders, arrogance, mishap and mistakes. It's a path littered with lobotomised patients, grave-robbing and even experiments on the daughters of American Presidents.
Presented by Michael Mosley, himself a doctor of medicine, the series looks at how some of the brilliant surgical breakthroughs have happened. It is a powerful insight into the way mistakes – sometimes humorous, often tragic – have shaped the evolution of modern medicine.
Jonathan Meades – Magnetic North
Jonathan Meades travels from Flanders to Finland in search of the essence of "northernness".
Certain essences are ubiquitous – grain spirit, herrings and beer. So are certain architectural characteristics – crow-step gables and gothic spires can be found all the way from Arras to Tallinn – but the illusion of uniformity is just that.
Jonathan sets out to find what dykes and Hieronymus Bosch have got to do with dogs in space and totem poles in forest clearings, and what womb-like buildings have to do with the exquisite Hanseatic port of Stralsund.
There are an estimated 350 million school children in China. This series takes a small town in rural Anhui as its subject and focuses on the lives of a group of families, teachers and children during the course of a single academic year – the year of the Golden Pig.
The schools are like many thousands of others across this vast nation, but through individual stories of hardship, joy and success, a revealing and intimate portrait emerges of a town and a group of children in the midst of enormous change. This is modern China as it is rarely seen.
Storyville is BBC Four's flagship international documentary strand which showcases the best and brightest of non-fiction film from around the world. In its 10 years it has been garlanded with awards and acclaim, and there are more inspiring, fascinating, and sometimes shocking, films lined up.
To mark the 60th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel, Storyville showcases a season of films from the country. They include the personal My Israel, by Yulie Cohen Gerstel, and Flipping Out, by Yoav Shamir, which tells the stories of young, often recently de-mobbed, Israelis who experiment with drugs in India with tragic consequences.