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Thursday 24 Apr 2014

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The Violence Season on BBC Two

Michael Portillo posing with local Bolivian man as they prepare to take part in a Tinku (local festival), where they will engage in unarmed combat

BBC Two presents a season of four programmes that looks at the social, historical and psychological causes of violence.

Since the dawn of time, violence has been an inextricable part of human life. Through war, we have developed advanced infrastructures to use it for our own gain, yet at the same time we repress and punish it through the legal system and prisons.

Psychologically, we are both fascinated and appalled by violence, and experts are deeply divided on the causes of it. Is it something we're born with, or do we learn it? Can we ever eradicate it and would we want to?

Against the backdrop of the recent shootings in America and Germany and with the 10th anniversary of the Columbine Massacre approaching, The Violence Season looks at what makes an individual violent and explores whether we all have the capacity for extreme violence.

And, by examining the history of one British street, the season goes behind the headlines to find out just how violent society is today compared to the past.

The Executive Producer for the Season is Charlotte Moore.

Speaking about the season Charlotte says: "Violence is part of the human experience – it can both repel and, fascinate us. By exploring issues from Gun Crime in America to modern warfare, the season asks if we all have the capacity to be violent within us and what lessons we can learn about violence."

Fighting Passions challenges common perceptions of war. Bypassing the familiar images of remembrance and grief, it confronts the modern British soldier's love affair with battle.

The film explores the feelings of excitement, exhilaration and even pleasure that arise out of the violence of war through recalling the experience of British warriors in modern conflicts starting with the Falklands and ending with the present conflict in Afghanistan.

Fighting Passions is a Blakeway production for the BBC.

The Violent Highway tells the chequered history of The Highway, London E1. Formerly known as the Ratcliffe Highway, it has been notorious for centuries for the easy availability of cheap alcohol, opium and prostitutes. The Old Bailey Records reveal 150 violent incidents connected with the area have come to trial over the past 300 years.

By interweaving stories from The Highway's past with an observational portrait of violence there today, the programme looks at how today's crime statistics measure up when used against the example of one violent street

The Violent Highway is a Blast! Films production for the BBC.

Going Postal looks at the high school, campus and workplace shootings which have cast a shadow over American society over the past 20 years and have again hit the headlines with such devastating consequences.

Ten years on from the Columbine shootings, the film looks at five shootings, and talks to experts including Mark Ames, author of Going Postal, and Professor Katherine Newman, a leading sociologist from Princeton University, to build up a picture of how and why this violence occurs. The stories of the different shootings are woven together with a vein of images drawn from American gun culture and from the immediate locales where the shootings occurred.

Going Postal is a Blakeway production for the BBC.

In Horizon: How Violent Are You?, Michael Portillo is on a personal mission to uncover the extent to which every one of us has the capacity for violent behaviour.

During the programme, he meets a South American community who believe in violence as a means of social harmony, has the first fist-fight of his life, undergoes an extreme sleep-deprivation test and witnesses the shocking truth about people's capacity for violence when they feel it is justified.

Portillo's initial scepticism is slowly chipped away by compelling scientific evidence, and he is forced to reassess his own potential for violence.

The Violence Season will be shown on BBC Two in April 2009.

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