Press Office

Friday 22 Aug 2014

BBC Four Autumn 2009/Winter 2010

Arts and Culture are at the heart of the new season on BBC Four
Helena Bonham Carter stars as Enid Blyton
Helena Bonham Carter
stars as Enid Blyton

An ambitious season of arts and culture this autumn/winter on BBC Four

The new season on BBC Four explores arts and culture through dramas, documentaries and dedicated seasons.

Helena Bonham Carter, Jane Horrocks and Anne-Marie Duff star as Enid Blyton, Gracie Fields and Margot Fonteyn in three dramas that ask what drove these iconic women at the peak of their artistic powers. The dramas look behind their public personas and explore the relationship between their art and their private lives.

A season assessing the current state of British Modern Art; a Russian Season celebrating that country's contribution to art, ballet and literature and a major new series documenting the spread of Latino Music's influence are also among the cultural jewels BBC Four unveils this autumn and winter.

Synth Britannia and Metal Britannia continue BBC Four's ongoing assessment of popular music's most significant movements. There'll also be opera performances and piano recitals as a result of the channel's partnership with the Royal Opera House and the Leeds Piano Festival, and Simon Russell Beale returns with a new series on Sacred Music.

Richard Klein, Controller, BBC Four, says: "BBC Four is curious about arts and culture's contribution to, and place in, society. We're exploring this through a unique range of programmes ranging from high quality dramas with big name stars through to authored documentaries on modern art and live performances of classical music.

"This season of programmes is intellectually satisfying, entertaining and designed to deliver arts and culture programming to a broad audience of hundreds of thousands of viewers."

An International Perspective
BBC Four bolsters its unrivalled reputation for programmes with an international perspective as Sophie Okonedo stars as Mrs Mandela. This highly nuanced drama asks how Winnie Mandela's character has been shaped by her tough life, and whether she is saint, sinner or both. Award-winning international documentary strand Storyville, a series on The Lost Kingdoms Of Africa and Digging Up The Dead, Michael Portillo's very personal essay on the controversial exhumation of Spanish Civil War graves, are among the other international highlights.

Distinctive Seasons
Seasons which cleverly blend distinctive original programmes and forgotten gems from the BBC's archive are a signature dish of BBC Four. Electric Revolution examines our changing relationship with technology and features Micro Men, an affectionate comedy about the fledgling home computer market, starring Martin Freeman and Alexander Armstrong. This Is Scotland looks at Scottish identity, while The Play Season and The Glamour Season celebrate the culture of gaming and the advent of glamour in the Twenties and Thirties respectively.

Big Science Questions
As ever, BBC Four poses the big science questions. Beautiful Minds interviews three of Britain's most influential and respected scientists to discover their unique perspectives on why science matters. Professor Jim Al-Khalili, who recently presented Science And Islam, asks how chaos theory can be used to explain the mysteries of the universe in The Secret Life Of Chaos while Aristotle's Lagoon investigates how the father of philosophy is also seen as the founder of modern biology.

Religion, Politics and Society
BBC Four also turns to domestic matters, as Westminster political auteur Michael Cockerell reveals how the mighty empires of the Foreign Office, Home Office and Treasury have shaped our lives in The Great Offices. Former British Ambassador to the US Sir Christopher Meyer looks back at 500 years of intrigue and adventure to construct a history of British diplomacy from the inside for the series Getting Our Way. Award-winning filmmaker Vanessa Engle, who produced the series Jews, turns her attention to sexual politics in Women, charting the rise of feminism and interrogating its impact on contemporary women's lives, while leading historian Diarmaid MacCulloch authors and presents a landmark series on The History of Christianity.

Comedy favourites make a welcome return to BBC Four. The inimitable Charlie Brooker cuts mercilessly through the chaff of 24-hour news culture in the return of Newswipe and more celebrity guests battle to answer viewers' questions, thus avoiding the clogs of defeat, in the surreal new quiz show We Need Answers. And finally, familiar faces from Have I Got News For You, Andy Hamilton and Reginald D Hunter, host a new series, It's Only A Theory, in which experts submit their carefully thought out theories to rigorous testing by the programme's panel.

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Notes to Editors

On average 8.6 million people watch BBC Four every week.

Programmes which have proved particularly popular on BBC Four over the last 12 months include (figures for first broadcast only):

  • Getting On – 0.9m enjoyed the comedy written by and starring Jo Brand making it the highest rating original comedy on the channel to date.
  • Breaking The Mould – 0.5m watched the original broadcast of this one-off drama starring The Wire's Dominic West as the man who developed penicillin.
  • Who Killed The Honey Bee? – This timely science documentary was one of the most popular in BBC Four's Outdoor Season attracting an audience of 0.6m.
  • Glastonbury 2009 – 3.8m viewers watched our festival coverage, well up on last year's 1.4m.
  • D-Day Night – 0.5m viewers watched our evening broadcast commemorating this momentous anniversary from the beaches at Normandy.
  • Hidden Japan – this idiosyncratic look at Japanese culture brought a younger and broader audience to the channel of 6.2m.
  • Flight Of The Conchords – the comedy duo from New Zealand continue to grow in popularity, with their second series attracting audiences of up to 0.5m.

Programmes which have won awards this year:

  • Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives – Grierson Award Best Science Documentary
  • Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe – RTS Award for Best Digital Programme
  • Mad Men – RTS Award for Best International Programme
  • The Curse Of Steptoe – RTS Award for Best Single Drama

BAFTA Television Awards 2009 nominees:

  • Blood And Guts: A History Of Surgery (Best Specialist Factual Programme)
  • Hancock & Joan (Best Actor – Ken Stott & Best Actress – Maxine Peak)
  • The Curse Of Steptoe (Best Actor – Jason Isaacs)
  • The Long Walk To Finchley (Best Actress – Andrea Riseborough)
  • Mad Men (Best International Programme)

BBC Four is Freesat Digital Channel Of The Year.

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