BBC Two unveils its Autumn 2008 highlights
Remembering the fallen in BBC Two's most ambitious single documentary ever
This autumn BBC Two remembers every single serviceman and woman who has died while serving with the British Armed Forces in the current conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan, in an epic three-hour documentary.
The Fallen, from acclaimed filmmaker Morgan Matthews, spans the last seven years of conflict and will chronicle all those who have died, focusing in detail on the stories of a significant number of these.
With intimate testimonies from families and loved ones, combined with compelling archive, the film acknowledges these individuals' sacrifices and the effects of grief on those who loved them.
Says Roly Keating, Controller BBC Two: "The Fallen remembers all of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country in the current Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and we hope will go some way towards creating a televisual memorial.
"It's a hugely moving and dignified account of what it means to lose someone you love to conflict and wholly worthy of the three hours of primetime television we will be dedicating to it.
"The Fallen reflects the scale and ambition of factual programmes on the channel this season: from a landmark series exploring the hidden world of the planet's oceans to the painstaking piecing together of what really happened behind closed doors in WWII; from Simon Schama's historical journey on the American election trail to Bruce Parry's treacherous and fascinating journey down the Amazon; from Griff Rhys Jones's startlingly honest look at anger to John Prescott's personal exploration of Britain's class system.
"We've also got some great new comedy on the channel in the form of The Cup and Beautiful People, some extraordinary single dramas with star names including David Tennant and Uma Thurman, plus viewers' favourite returning series and faces, like The Restaurant, Heroes, Top Gear, Graham Norton, Dr Alice Roberts and Louis Theroux."
Scale and ambition
This autumn, BBC Two goes on an odyssey into the unknown with a major new series, Oceans, exploring the hidden stories in the planet's oceans.
More is known about the surface of Mars than the depths of the Earth's oceans so this series will seek to unravel the oceans' mysteries, as four experts dive deep to uncover the world of underwater archaeology, geology, marine biology and anthropology.
Explorer Paul Rose (Meltdown), environmentalist Philippe Cousteau Jr, maritime archaeologist Dr Lucy Blue and marine biologist Tooni Mahto will explore the world's seas for the most fascinating stories, including the Southern Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Arctic Ocean and the Mediterranean.
WWII - Behind Closed Doors takes a step back in time to the Second World War to reveal what really happened at the highest level of decision making.
Written and produced by award-winning filmmaker Laurence Rees (Auschwitz) over three years, it reveals Joseph Stalin's unlikely relationships, not just with leaders of the great democracies such as Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt but also, earlier in the war, with Hitler.
It draws on carefully sourced archive material – much of it only available since the fall of Communism – and features interviews with eyewitnesses, including members of Stalin's secret police, who have never before spoken on camera.
British Style Genius is a landmark series looking back in time to explain what makes British fashion now so distinctive – and so influential.
Examining the looks and trends that have come to define British style – from the high street to high-end couture, from bespoke tailoring to street cool, from fashion rebels to traditionalist Sloane – it talks to the designers and models, the stylists and stars, the retail movers and shakers who together have created a major industry.
Kate Moss, Twiggy, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Paul Smith, Ozwald Boateng, Philip Green and Stuart Rose are some of the names who feature in the series.
A new clothes swapping series featuring the original supermodel, Twiggy's Fashion Trade, will complement this series.
Simon Schama captures history in the making, as he follows the 2008 Presidential election for The American Future – A History. He travels through America, past and present, to reveal the big picture at a critical moment of choice – for the United States, and for the world.
In Amazon, explorer Bruce Parry embarks on his greatest adventure yet as he journeys to the source of the Amazon – the world's greatest river, its largest forest, the most bio-diverse habitat on the planet and home to some of the last uncontacted tribes left on Earth.
Along the route of his breathtaking journey he tells the stories of the people who inhabit the greatest forest on earth. Bruce's journey can already be followed online at bbc.co.uk/amazon.
Griff Rhys Jones takes a startlingly honest look at anger in himself and others in Losing It – Griff Rhys Jones On Anger. It's an increasing problem in modern life. In homes and offices, on the road and in the air, frustration and rage are all around, yet very few people acknowledge their anger.
Griff believes that anger helps him in his life and can even be creative – but how do other people react when they are on the receiving end? Griff investigates anger and the ways in which people seek to control it.
Former cruise ship steward and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott takes us on a very personal exploration of the current state of the British class system.
In Prescott On Class he investigates the dreams and aspirations of the richest and the poorest, grapples with political apathy, middle-class syntax snobbery and the wealth gap in modern Britain.
With intimate access to John and his wife Pauline, the series also includes autobiographical material, some illustrated with personal family archive dating from the Fifties.
This autumn, Heroes 3 will transmit shortly after its American premiere, which means fans of the hit drama won't have long to wait. Complementing this, the channel will continue its commitment to single dramas with feature-length dramas featuring big names, in front of and behind the camera.
David Tennant and Andy Serkis star in Einstein And Eddington by Peter Moffat (Criminal Justice, Hawking) about two extraordinary men striving for truth amid the chaos of the First World War.
Albert Einstein (Serkis) spent years working on his General Theory of Relativity, which threatened to overturn two centuries of Newtonian certainty. Arthur Eddington (Tennant) was a prominent British astrophysicist who, as a Quaker, believed that "truth knows no boundaries" and bravely championed Einstein's theories while Britain rejected anything German.
There are also two adaptations of acclaimed stage plays.
Uma Thurman, Jonathan Pryce and Paddy Considine star in a film adaptation of David Hare's acclaimed play My Zinc Bed, exploring the nature of addiction, faith and friendship.
Tom Wilkinson and Rhys Ifans play a father and son whose relationship is brought into question, in a screen adaptation of British playwright Caryl Churchill's stage play, A Number.
Meera Syal and Olivia Coleman star in Beautiful People, an adaptation by Jonathan Harvey (Gimme Gimme Gimme) of the childhood memoirs of Simon Doonan, Creative Director of Barneys, New York.
Exploring Simon's memories of his desire to escape suburban Reading and live among the "beautiful people" from the perspective of his New York department store window, it features a host of eccentric characters.
The Cup, a new comedy series shot in mockumentary style, is about Bolton-based Ashburn United Football Club and their quest to win the North and Midlands' Under 11s Cup in Birmingham. The real story is the appalling behaviour of the kids' parents as they try to live their own dreams through their children.
Other season highlights
World-renowned chef and restaurateur Raymond Blanc returns for The Restaurant, the series in which nine couples compete for the unique opportunity to open a new restaurant with him. This time, he takes a more hands-on approach, inspiring the couples by sharing and demonstrating his creative talents with them each week.
Making his debut on TV, culinary free spirit and chef Valentine Warner combines his two great passions – food and nature – as he hunts, fishes and cooks his way across Britain to create delicious meals from the very best seasonal food, telling us What To Eat Now...
The Bar opens its doors to cameras for the very first time in Barristers, a documentary series following students as they aspire to join one of the world's most elite professions.
Reknowned British choreographer Wayne McGregor allows BBC Two unique access, as he works on his first new work for the Royal Ballet since becoming its resident choreographer in 2006. Wayne McGregor: A World Premiere will provide an insight to the intimate process of creating a high-profile and complex new work of dance and will culminate in the premiere performance at the ROH, which will be broadcast in full.
Some popular BBC Two faces return to embark on fresh journeys:
- Dr Iain Stewart (Earth – The Power Of The Planet) looks at how climate science has developed over the last 30 years, and studies the evidence for anthropogenic climate change, in The History Of Climate Change.
- Charley Boorman takes his most daring journey so far in Ireland To Sydney By Any Means. Charley gets off his bike and on to local forms of transport to cover the vast distance between the two cities.
- James May travels the world seeking answers to questions that perplex him, such as "can scientists make a double of me?" in James May's Big Ideas.
- Louis Theroux joins Philly PD (the Philadelphia Police Department) who patrol the most dangerous part of the city.
- Dr Alice Roberts returns for a second series of Don't Die Young, her friendly and informative guide to healthy living, taking viewers on a tour of the human body.
- Anjum Anand returns with a second helping of her series Indian Food Made Easy.
- Plus, a return of The Graham Norton Show, Later Live With Jools Holland, The Culture Show and other popular series.