Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
Celebrating the brilliance of the British novel, BBC Two presents a major four-part documentary series for spring 2010 presented by Sebastian Faulks, best-selling author of The Girl At The Lion d'Or, Birdsong, Charlotte Gray and Engleby.
The Secret Life Of The Novel explores the history of the form through its characters. In each programme, Sebastian focuses on a different archetype and looks at the development over the centuries of The Hero, The Lover, The Snob and The Villain.
Journeying around the country, with the occasional foray abroad, Sebastian uses his unique personal understanding of characterisation to get under the skin of some familiar and not so familiar creations of British literature. From Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe to Martin Amis's John Self (see the Drama section for details of a new adaptation of Martin Amis's Money), from Jane Austen's Emma to Monica Ali's Chanu, Sebastian puts them all on the psychiatrist's couch.
Coventry is just down the road from Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford-upon Avon, but for many of the city's teens it might as well be a thousand miles away.
The challenge for Paul Roseby, charismatic artistic director of the National Youth Theatre, is to overcome the prejudices of young people who find Shakespeare less inspiring than incomprehensible.
Assisted by husband and wife duo Adrian Lester (Hustle, and The National Theatre's Henry V) and Lolita Chakrabarti (The National Theatre's Midsummer Night's Dream), who act as mentors, Paul has eight weeks to bring two very different schools together to perform Romeo And Juliet. Can they overcome their aversion to Shakespeare and cut it as actors, iambic pentameters and all?
Casting the Capulets from Coventry's leafy suburbs and the Montagues from the inner city, Paul, Adrian and Lolita must put on a performance at a professional theatre with this most unlikely of Shakespearean ensembles.
BBC Productions, Bristol
The opera world's dream team, soprano Anna Netrebko and tenor Rolando Villazon, star in this feature film version of Giacomo Puccini's immortal opera La Bohème. It is directed by Academy Award nominee Robert Dornhelm and Bertrand de Billy conducts the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Set in Paris in the 1830s, writer Rodolfo agrees to join his friends for a drink to celebrate Christmas Eve, but there is a knock at the door; their neighbour Mimì, whose candle has gone out, asks for fire and it is love at first sight.
Their happiness is cut short as Mimi develops a fatal illness and leaves. It is only when she is dying that the lovers are briefly reunited.
The Royal Shakespeare Company's award-winning production of Hamlet, directed by RSC Chief Associate Director Gregory Doran, stars David Tennant in the title role.
This screen version of Shakespeare's great tragedy retains the quality and tone of the critically-acclaimed stage production but was filmed on location. All key original members of the cast, including Patrick Stewart as Claudius, star in this special 180-minute production, alongside the same creative team. The film is directed by Gregory Doran and designed by Robert Jones, who also designed the stage production. Chris Seager is Director of Photography and the producers are John Wyver and Seb Grant.
To support this new film of Hamlet, a rich online BBC website is being created in collaboration with the RSC, featuring behind-the-scenes stills and footage; specially-shot interviews with the actors talking about their characters and their approach to the play; interviews with the director and other key backstage personnel; and a comprehensive range of links through to the full depth of BBC Learning's content on Shakespeare and RSC Education's content on Shakespeare in performance.
An Illuminations/Royal Shakespeare Company production
Thirty years ago there were 35,000 registered brass bands playing in the UK. Today only 700 survive.
The Dinnington Colliery Band has been in existence for more than 100 years, playing through the Depression, strikes and the pit closures. Now the band is down to just six members, and most of them are more than 70 years old.
As the band faces closure, in a time of recession when the locals need it more than ever, an unlikely saviour appears – step forward Sue Perkins. Together they launch a plan to recruit new players and get them competing again. Can Sue help the band revive its fortunes and those of the whole brass band movement in Britain?
BBC Front Desk Publicity
A Shine Production
Days before what would have been Elvis Presley's 75th birthday, BBC Two celebrates the life and legacy of "The King" with an evening of new and archive programmes.
Elvis Night includes Elvis By The Presleys Uncut, a 90-minute home movie portrait of Elvis by his nearest and dearest. And there is a new documentary with a working title of Elvis In Vegas, looking at what Elvis did for Las Vegas, and what Las Vegas did for him, during the latter years of his career following his International Hotel debut in 1969.
There will also be two performance specials: Elvis – The Comeback Concert from 1968 and Elvis – Aloha From Hawaii from 1973.
Alan Yentob visits this dream city, the demon city, the mirage in the desert. A city that has starred in many movies and looks like a film-set in its own right, Las Vegas is living theatre; it's pop art.
Alan looks at the history of the neon lights and fantastical buildings, at the mythology and the reality of this strange and fascinating place that has always been a byword for bad taste.
The city was founded by the mob, and flourished on gambling, sex – and music. Alan talks to the producers and performers who remember the "golden days" when Sinatra and Dino held the stage. Hollywood mogul Jerry Weintraub was on the set of their original version of Ocean's 11 and tells of swapping the Rat Pack for the Brat Pack in his own Oceans 11 to 13.
Art critic Dave Hickey loves his home town: "People come here and look at the pyramid and say, it's a joke. And I say, 'Well, do you get it?' Las Vegas – the honest fake."
Gareth Malone, star of BBC Two's The Choir, takes on one of his biggest challenges to date, joining the production team at Glyndebourne in the role of youth chorus leader on his first opera.
Having led youth and community projects for Glyndebourne since 2000, Gareth returns to help them find new young talent and reach teenagers who would never usually get the chance to perform at one of the world's most celebrated opera houses. He visits local schools and community groups to handpick young chorus stars for composer Julian Philips's new opera Knight Crew, to be performed at Glyndebourne in the spring of 2010. Retelling the King Arthur legend in an urban gangland setting, it has been adapted by the novel's author Nicky Singer.
Gareth Goes To Glyndebourne follows the project from its early stages through to the performance itself. Will Gareth find his chorus stars and will they want to take part in an opera?
BBC Two will also be showing other opera programming to accompany this series.
A Twenty Twenty production
In the new year, the BBC will launch a new cultural discussion programme in the Newsnight Review slot.
Produced in Scotland, and presented from BBC Glasgow by Kirsty Wark and Martha Kearney, the new review show will have cultural conversation at its heart, retaining all the wit, intellect and controversy that Newsnight Review has fostered.
Ranging even more widely over the cultural, current affairs and artistic landscape, the review will debate, devour and dissect big ideas, while capturing cultural trends and exploring landmark events in the arts world.
BBC Productions, Scotland
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