Paul Merton On Hitchcock
BBC Four puts science at the heart of its Autumn/Winter schedule
Paul Merton On Hitchcock
Paul Merton continues his love affair with silent cinema by looking at Alfred Hitchcock's British films - 10 of which were silent.
Paul, who presents and directs the
film, regards the master of suspense
as a man immersed in the visual
language of cinema and who
understood how to use camera
movement and lighting for dramatic
For Hitchcock, heavily
influenced by German Expressionist
cinema, the pictures would always
be more important than the
Combining innovative visual
vignettes, stunning clips and archive,
Paul weaves together a fascinating
narrative of the early career and
macabre world of Alfred Hitchcock,
revealing a man with a great sense
Paul talks to those who knew and
worked with him, including director
Roy Ward Baker (A Night To
Remember); Hitchcock's official
biographer, John Russell Taylor; and
cinematographer Gil Taylor (Dr
Strangelove, Star Wars) about
working on two Hitchcock films at
either end of his career – Number Seventeen in 1932 and
Frenzy in 1972.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin...
This autumn, Picture Book tells the
story of children's fiction through the
pictures, comic strips and
illustrations that have been the
secret of the genre's success.
company of the fictional characters
many of us as adults still love, the
series takes in the earliest picture
books such as Noddy and Thomas
The Tank Engine, moving through to
the more grown-up writing of JRR
Tolkien and Philip Pullman.
With contributors from the literary
world, including Raymond Briggs,
Philip Pullman, Jacqueline Wilson,
Lauren Child and Quentin Blake,
each of the three episodes explores
a different stage of childhood.
Starting with babies and pre-school
children, continuing through to
infants who begin to read alone and
on to early adolescence and the
growing pains of teens, Picture Book
examines the gateway through
which young readers tap into the
awesome power of imaginary
Michael Rosen, the Children's Laureate, believes that all children have the right to love reading - and it doesn't take money but vision.
In this inspirational documentary Michael takes up the challenge of turning
reluctant readers into young people who are truly passionate about books.
For eight weeks he works with teachers, governors, caretakers, dinner ladies
and parents to start a reading revolution.
It's an experience of discovery and delight for 200 lucky children aged five to
11 – and for the adults around them.
Just Read reminds us all why reading
and books matter; it's about transforming children's lives through the
power of the written word – no more, no less.
Why Reading Matters
Advances in brain scanning enable
this science documentary to
demonstrate the profound way that
reading rearranges the very
organisation of the brain.
expert testimony and contributions
from writers and readers, the
programme enters the silent world
It includes practical
demonstrations and recreations of
key experiments to explain why
How Reading Made Us Modern
Clues to how Britain became a
modern country lie in an
understanding of when Britain
began to read en masse, how people
read and what kind of material they
Professor John Mullan discovers how reading went from
being a pursuit that was feared and
controlled, to being the cornerstone
By the end of
the 18th century, being "modern" meant, above all, being a reader.
The Lost Libraries Of Timbuktu
Timbuktu was never the capital of
any empire, but its fame and wealth
were legendary in the West, where it
became a byword for the
Five times the size
of London, from the 13th to the 16th
centuries it was a seat of learning
and its black African scholars were
revered throughout the Islamic world
for their erudition.
In Timbuktu, their legacy survives in
the hundreds of thousands of
manuscripts that have come to light
in recent years.
colonialism dismissed Africa's
history and replaced it with Western
preconceptions, but black Africa's
literary tradition alongside song and
dance is revealed in this absorbing
The Golden Age Of Steam Season
Ian Hislop Goes Off The
Rails to launch The Golden Age Of Steam season.
Ian appraises the impact of the notorious
Beeching Report of 1963, which led to the
closure of many of Britain's rural railway
lines and stations.
Was Dr Richard
Beeching a kind of Genghis Khan with a
slide rule, ruthlessly axing any bits of our
rail network he deemed unprofitable, or
was he simply the fall guy for something
that had to happen?
Time Shift observes two very different
aspects of the railways.
The Last Days Of
Steam asks why, when the rest of the
world was committing to diesel trains,
Britain was building hundreds of
The Lines: Railways In Fiction And Film,
novelist Andrew Martin finds out how the
train came to shape the works of writers.
With lovers parting at the station,
runaway carriages and secret
assignations in confined compartments,
railways have long been a staple of
romance, mystery and period drama.
British Transport Films – A Nation
On Film Special reviews the work of
Edgar Anstey and his team of
film-makers in the state-owned British
Transport Films Unit after the Second
The archive features beautiful
documentaries and travelogues, but did
they strike the right balance between
truth and propaganda?
Finally, Julia Bradbury sets out along old
tracks, through overgrown cuttings and
across ancient viaducts, in Railway
In doing so she discovers Britain's
lost Rail Empire, a symbol of Britain's
industrial might, Victorian ambition and
the rise and fall of entire communities.
With a track record of more than 10 years of film-making
excellence, BBC Four's international documentary
strand Storyville continues to enthral and entertain with
a season of definitive stories from around the world.
Three of Storyville's films are cinema-related, telling very different and
Thirty years after Roman Polanski's public conviction for
having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl, Roman Polanski: Wanted And
Desired offers an insightful re-opening of the infamous case.
In an amusing
clash of cultures, When Borat Came To Town charts the progress of
high-flying American lawyers encouraging the small Romanian village of
Glod, famous for being the spoof home of Sacha Baron Cohen's Kazakh
character Borat, to sue the movie-makers for $38m.
Shot In Bombay is a tale
of glamour and chaos behind the scenes of a Bollywood gangster picture.
The film's police hero is played by mega-star Sanjay Dutt, whose ongoing
trial for firearm offences puts the production in jeopardy.
In Blast! a team of astrophysicists venture on to the ice caps in a risky
bid to discover the meaning of the universe.
Other films in the season include: Prodigal Sons, the story of Paul, an
American high school football star who becomes Kimberly, and Operation
Iraqi Filmmaker, recounting the misadventures in the west of Muthana of a
budding Iraqi film student, given a big break by Hollywood film director
David Reynolds, Professor of International History
at Cambridge University, takes a fresh look at the
events and personalities that brought about the
Armistice of 1918.
Unravelling the First World War's bitter end game, Reynolds tells the story of
wounded egos behind the lines, political scheming and revolution and, at the
front, sustained brutality, with half a million men killed or wounded, even as
peace was negotiated.
He argues that these momentous last months of the "war to end all wars" tragically sowed the seeds of even more appalling
conflict to come.
Armistice is part of Remembrance 90, the BBC's commemoration of the 90th
anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Leading up to Armistice Day on
11 November 2008, the BBC will feature documentaries, dramas and live
events on television, plus coverage on national and regional radio, online and
on the BBC big screens as well as a learning campaign.
The Joy Of Motoring
BBC Four gets behind the wheel for a
season of films dedicated to the British
love of driving.
In The Joy Of Motoring Tristram Hunt explores our love
affair with the car, from the post-war golden age to the
contemporary disillusionment of today, while actor
Richard Wilson rediscovers a motoring history as he
drives a range of classic Fifties cars on some of the
most beautiful routes in the country in Britain's
The season also pays homage to Caravans.
For more than 100 years they have been British icons:
built in Britain and at the heart of the nation's
recreational life. Love or hate them there's no denying
In The Fast Lady Penelope Keith retraces a journey
from London to Liverpool in 1905 by Dorothy Levitt,
pioneering Edwardian motoring "It" girl and author of a
popular guide for female motorists.
Twenty-first-century British life is inconceivable
without cars. In Michael Smith's Drivetime the writer
and broadcaster asks the fundamental question, how
has driving changed us?
Other programmes in the season explore how Ford Of
Dagenham sold Britain the American dream; and tell
the extraordinary story of Rolls-Royce in India in The
The Department Store
Years ago, every town had its
own charming version of
Grace Brothers, the shop made
famous in the sitcom Are
You Being Served?
But now many are being driven to the brink
of extinction by large out-of-town retail
parks and big-name chains.
Richard Macer wants to know if the great
independent British department store is
still relevant in the modern dog-eat-dog
world of the high street.
His quest takes him to the oldest and most
famous department store in Wales; and a
family-run establishment in the Yorkshire
Dales where the patriarch's impending
retirement is causing turmoil on all floors.
What he discovers is a world of eccentric
and passionate shopkeepers serving older
and very loyal customers, who are often on
first name terms with the staff and where
woolly knickers are still one of the most
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