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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Autumn highlights from BBC Northern Ireland

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BBC Northern Ireland is launching an exciting new season of programmes for autumn.

Viewers can look forward to a diverse range of programmes from two documentaries presented by former Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvine to brand new comedy, hard-hitting documentaries, factual-drama and music.

Ailsa Orr, Head of Programmes, BBC Northern Ireland, says: "I'm delighted to announce this brand new TV schedule for autumn, which is literally bursting with new programmes offering something for everyone on BBC Northern Ireland, right across the week.

"For fans of factual TV our Mondays At 9.00pm slot promises ambitious, landmark films such as How The Celts Saved Britain and Show Me The Mummy.

"We branch into factual drama with Scapegoat and into personality-driven documentaries such as In The Footsteps Of Blair Mayne and The Man Who Could Fly in which Eddie Irvine throws light on two of his local heroes – Blair Mayne and Harry Ferguson.

"For audiences in the mood for something lighter, we've got brand new comedy for Friday evenings with Find Me The Funny, while for fans of music and archive on Wednesdays there's The Music Makers.

"These are just some examples of the very rich mix of content we've planned across the week for this autumn and we hope our audiences will join us to enjoy it."

Some highlights from BBC Northern Ireland this autumn season include:

Monday evenings on BBC One Northern Ireland at 9.00pm will continue to showcase high-impact, factual programmes such as A Necessary Evil?

A BBC Northern Ireland/BBC Scotland production, it tells the story of two men who committed some of the most atrocious crimes in British history – the infamous Burke and Hare.

William Burke and William Hare were two labourers from Northern Ireland who became inextricably linked with the maverick Scottish doctor, Dr Robert Knox, who was obsessed with pushing back the boundaries of modern medicine.

The one-hour programme uses dramatisations of the events of 1828 and examines the evidence around one of the most macabre chapters in medical history.

The life of Robert Blair 'Paddy' Mayne, one of the most decorated soldiers of the Second World War, comes under the spotlight in a new documentary for BBC One Northern Ireland.

Blair Mayne's exploits read like a Boy's Own story... destroying airfields deep behind enemy lines, rescuing fallen comrades, single-handedly tackling overwhelming odds.

And he was pivotal in the creation of the SAS, a fighting machine so successful that its model has been copied all over the world.

In The Footsteps Of Blair Mayne, a Hotshot Films production, sees former Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvine retrace the steps of the legendary soldier he idolised as a boy in a fresh portrait of a remarkable war hero.

Like Mayne, Eddie Irvine grew up in Newtownards and attended the same school, Regent House.

When a book on Mayne's life was published in the Eighties the proceeds were used to send a young Eddie Irvine to his first European race meeting, where he got noticed. Their connection was cemented forever.

In his second programme for BBC Northern Ireland, The Man Who Could Fly, Eddie Irvine tells the dramatic story of the young aviator Harry Ferguson who, at Hillsborough in 1909, was the first man in Ireland to build and fly an airplane. 

Eddie looks at a hidden chapter in the life of one of Northern Ireland's most successful engineers and entrepreneurs, long before he turned his attention to tractors. 

Made by DoubleBand Films, it's also the story of a maverick, of a dashing and ambitious young man who was surrounded by doubters, but who was determined to succeed. 

Dan Snow presents How The Celts Saved Britain

Well-known TV historian Dan Snow blows the lid on the traditional, Anglo-centric view of history and reveals how the Irish saved Britain from cultural oblivion during the Dark Ages, in How The Celts Saved Britain, a provocative two-part documentary.

Travelling back in time to some of the remotest corners of the British Isles, Dan unravels the mystery of the lost years of 400 to 800 AD, when the collapse of the Roman Empire left Britain in tatters.

Lads To Dads, an intimate documentary, follows the lives of a number of young men aged between 15 and 23 as they try to cope with the pressures of fatherhood and the stigma often attached with being a father at a young age.

This programme follows their personal stories – whether it's trying to deal with becoming a father for the first time or trying to play a more significant role in their child's life.

Made by Tern TV, it also observes a fathers' scheme set up to help young men get a better understanding of parenting skills and responsibilities.

Losing Our Religion is a documentary following presenter William Crawley as he goes in search of answers to questions at the very heart of life in Northern Ireland: what is the role, and, the relevance, of religion in our modern-day society?

William travels the length and breadth of the country to meet a diverse range of religious leaders and followers – as well as people of no faith.

The documentary, made by DoubleBand Films, offers a remarkable insight into what religion really means to the people of Northern Ireland today.

In 1952 Patricia Curran, the daughter of a high court judge, was murdered in County Antrim. The murder caused a sensation in Northern Ireland.

Scapegoat is a period drama based on the real events surrounding the murder and subsequent investigation.

A young RAF airman, Iain Hay Gordon, was ultimately tried for the murder and found guilty but insane. But, with so many discrepancies and anomalies in the case, even at the time, many people suspected Gordon was innocent.

Scapegoat, written by the Hole in the Wall Gang in a departure from comedy, in association with Waddell Media, follows the case through the eyes of Rossiter Lewis, a psychiatrist, hired by the defence team to examine Gordon and give evidence of his "insanity".

Initially he believes Gordon is guilty but, as he delves deeper in to the facts, he believes Gordon is being used as part of a wider cover-up involving the police, the justice system and the Northern Ireland establishment.

In October 2006, the Ulster Museum closed its doors to allow major refurbishment to take place. Its contents were stored away in a dark, secret location. Light was to be shed, however, on one of the museum's most beloved exhibits, the mummy Takabuti.

Show Me The Mummy: The Face Of Takabuti, made by Borderline Productions, gathers together a crack team of top scientists and historians and travels as far as the deserts of Cairo and Luxor in Egypt to piece together the history of the mysterious Takabuti.

Through the wonders of modern technology and science, this revealing programme will show where she lived, what life was really like for her during the Egyptian 25th Dynasty, how she came to be in Belfast and, most intriguingly, what she looked like.

The issue of the 11+ has led to fierce debate and divided opinion across Northern Ireland on the merits and fairness of academic selection.

It's a debate that has dominated the news in Northern Ireland for a number of years and which has also led to uncertainly about the future of our education system among parents, teachers and pupils.

Now, in a lively and refreshing approach to the 11+ debate, The School Report, made by DoubleBand Films, follows two experts with strong and opposing views on our education system as they visit a range of schools across Northern Ireland – Chris Woodhead, the former and controversial Chief Inspector of Schools who is firmly pro-selection, and the outspoken education campaigner Fiona Millar, a passionate believer in the comprehensive school system and once adviser to Cherie Blair.

A Breed Apart: Iona Pirie with Silken Song, Philip Troughton, Helen Troughton and Ellen Olson with Silken Charm

Wednesday nights on BBC One at 10.35pm canter into the new season with A Breed Apart.

A new two-part observational documentary by Imagine Media for BBC Northern Ireland, it tells the story of a year in the life of one of Northern Ireland's leading stud farms.

A life-long love affair with horses inspired Helen Troughton to start Ballinteggart stud in County Armagh in 1985 as a companion business to her husband Philip's farm.

These intimate, behind-the-scenes programmes open a window on a unique world. The cameras follow Helen through a year of highs and lows as she prepares her horses, then travels with them to international competitions in Dublin and Scotland.

Some of our most celebrated musicians are featured in The Music Makers, as BBC Northern Ireland takes an in-depth look at their careers.

The programmes look at how their work has shaped, styled and influenced music on these shores and beyond.

This reflective and intimate series delivers an undiluted and special insight into the musical journeys of Paul Brady, Mary Black, Neil Hannon and Mary O'Hara. It's also a chance to see BBC Northern Ireland's rich and, in some cases, rare musical archive.

It's now 30 years since the late Pope John Paul II visited Ireland.

When The Pope Came To Ireland looks back at that visit in September 1979. The programme will tell the story of 48 hours of celebration through first-hand accounts and archive images.

It was a weekend in Ireland like no other and contributors will reflect on the visit 30 years on.

Viewers will hear from some of those who turned out in their millions to see the Pope as he criss-crossed the country and those with a role in the events, such as Sir James Galway and the Pope's helicopter pilot, Sean Oakes.

Comedy guru Kurtis Matthews in Find Me The Funny

Brand new comedy kicks off on Friday nights on BBC One Northern Ireland with Find Me The Funny.

Frank Carson, Roy Walker, Jimmy Cricket, and Paddy Kielty – all local comedians who have made it big outside of Northern Ireland – but where is our comedy future?

Find Me The Funny, made by Wild Rover productions, is a groundbreaking new six-part TV series in which Kurtis Matthews, US comedy guru, has just eight weeks to find and train a group of new comedians from Northern Ireland for a show at the Edinburgh Festival.

BBC Northern Ireland Press Office

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