Press Office

Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

Press Packs

BBC Arts, Music and Culture 2009 – literature: poetry season

Update – 13 May 2009: this page has been updated to reflect new titles for some of the programmes in the Poetry Season. For the latest information please see the BBC Poetry Season press pack.


Across BBC Television, Radio and Online from Spring 2009

The BBC's Poetry Season represents a major commitment across television, radio, online and the BBC's nations and regions. The BBC is working closely with external partners on the season, including the Poetry Society, the Poetry Archive and National Poetry Day.

Off By Heart – BBC Two

Learning by heart is the best way to experience a poem, but the method has fallen from favour as part of the educational system. To encourage primary school children to engage with poetry, BBC Learning has launched a new campaign, Off By Heart. Central to the BBC's Poetry Season, this national recitation competition continues in 2009 with BBC Two following children across the UK as they progress from regional heats to the grand final in Oxford, compered by Jeremy Paxman.

John Donne – BBC Two

Simon Schama celebrates the life and work of Britain's greatest love poet, John Donne. For Schama, Donne is the poet who transformed English poetry through his use of language and emotional honesty. With the help of academic John Carey, biographer John Stubbs and actor Fiona Shaw, he undertakes a passionate appraisal and forensic examination of Donne’s work.

Armando Iannucci In Milton's Heaven and Hell – BBC Two

Armando Iannucci explores his passion for John Milton – a poet often considered too difficult or too obscure for today's reader. Preoccupied with ideas of sin, liberty and the fall of man, Milton may seem out of step with 21st century Britain but, as Iannucci explains, he has never been more relevant.

Why Poetry Matters – BBC Two

Griff Rhys Jones launches the BBC's poetry season with a passionate and personal plea about why poetry matters – how verse has the power to move, and why everybody needs it. Within this witty, stylish, high-impact hour, Griff makes the case that poetry is accessible, enjoyable and downright compelling.

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight – BBC Four

Poet Simon Armitage goes in search of one of the jewels in the crown of British poetry, Sir Gawain And The Green Knight, following in the footsteps of the poem's hero, Gawain, through some of Britain's most beautiful and mystical landscapes to discover more about the poet, his world and the stories that inspired the poem.

BBC Learning

BBC Learning is promoting the season with a host of events and online gems. These include an online vote to determine the nation's favourite poet, a series of star-studded viral clips and a search engine to highlight poems for any occasion.

Poetry Pie – CBeebies

A huddle of children bake a magical pie from which emerges a series of funny and charming animated poems written for the CBeebies audience by popular contemporary poets. The poems are brought to life by a cast of animals to inspire the pre-school audience.

BBC Radio

BBC Radio's poetry season highlights include Radio 3’s Sunday Feature – Children Of The Whitsun Weddings, where poets Kate Clanchy and Paul Farley take a train through "Larkinland" as they explore their mutual admiration for Philip Larkin's work. Radio 3 and Radio 4 mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Alfred Lord Tennyson, while The Essay – A Laureate's Life, also on Radio 3, offers five personal takes on the role of poet laureate from around the world. This content is in addition to Radio 3's ongoing speech output – Between The Ears, Night Waves, Sunday Feature, The Essay and The Verb, all of which prominently feature poetry.

My Life In Verse With... – BBC Two

From Milton to Milligan, Shakespeare to John Cooper-Clarke, many people, without even realising, have fragments of poetry lodged in their brains. In My Life In Verse With..., some of the nation's best-loved celebrities, including Malorie Blackman, Sheila Hancock and Cerys Matthews take a journey of discovery into the poems that inspired them.

Ian Hislop's Changing Of The Bard – BBC Four

Ian Hislop welcomes the new Poet Laureate of 2009 with a history of one of the oldest and oddest offices in the British establishment.

Lines On The Land – BBC Four

Owen Sheers explores six works of importance to British culture. The poems, including works by Wordsworth, Matthew Arnold, Dylan Thomas, Philip Larkin, Louis MacNeice and George Mackay, explore a sense of place and help define a collective understanding of identity and land.

Lost Voices – Radio 4

Poet Brian Patten looks at four forgotten English poets; Rosemary Tonks, Dom Moraes, Harry Fainlight and W.H. Davies.

The People's Poetry – 30 Years Of Poetry Please – BBC Four and Radio 4

Regularly attracting one million listeners, the world's longest-running poetry programme, Radio 4's Poetry Please, reaches its 30th anniversary. BBC Four pays tribute to the programme in a half hour film.

Arena: T.S. Eliot – BBC Two

Arena contributes to BBC Two's Poetry Season with a profile of T.S. Eliot which, with unprecedented co-operation from the Eliot Estate, tells the story of one of the 20th century's most celebrated and elusive writers.

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