Sunday 22 Dec 2013
BBC Two offers up a happy new year of programming for viewers, with a rich range of stimulating, entertaining and rewarding television across all the genres in the winter and spring, 2010.
Says Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two: "We've got a great line-up for the new year. From major series on Britain's past and present and the wider world including the solar system to a remarkable film tracking Obama's election campaign, drama set in the Eighties and smart new comedy, BBC Two will be offering rewarding television across all genres.
"This season is BBC Two at its best. It goes to the heart of what the channel is about – intelligent, diverse television that talks in different voices to different people about the world they live in. It's a contemporary view of the world, reflecting a curiosity about who we are, how we got here, and I think viewers will get real pleasure and value from the rich range of programmes we have lined up for them."
This season, BBC Two will be creating scheduling events around two significant moments in the calendar. It's one year since the inauguration of Barack Obama and BBC Two has the British premiere of a remarkable Storyville film, By The People: The Election of Barack Obama. Filmed by two young filmmakers who were given remarkable access to Obama's election campaign, it has captured moments of extraordinary candour and intimacy. This film will be complemented by Simon Schama's two-part film, Obama's America, which considers the daunting challenges facing the president; and God Don't Live Here Anymore?, in which theologian and writer Dr Robert Beckford journeys into heartland America to investigate the impact of Obama, both as a politician and a believer.
With millions of lambs born every year in the UK, the birth of a new generation of lambs is one of the most important events in the farming year. In Lambing Live, Kate Humble will track the life and death drama of lambing week in March as it unfolds on a 900-ewe sheep farm in South Wales – following every aspect of the breeding process as it unfolds.
BBC Two continues its commitment to music and arts in the heart of the schedule, with several major series and performance pieces this winter and spring. In The Secret Life Of The Novel, best-selling author Sebastian Faulks celebrates the brilliance of the British novel, exploring the history of the form through its characters.
Paul Roseby, the Artistic Director of the National Youth Theatre, brings two groups of very different school children together to perform a classic Shakespeare play. In When Romeo Met Juliet, Paul has eight weeks to get them to overcome their aversion to Shakespeare and cut it as actors.
There will also be an Elvis Night on the channel which will include Elvis By The Presleys Uncut, a home movie portrait of Elvis by his nearest and dearest, and a new documentary looking at what Elvis did for Las Vegas, Elvis In Vegas. Alan Yentob will also be presenting a film which looks at the evolution of Las Vegas, through its distinctive art and culture, titled A Kick In The Head – The Lure Of Las Vegas.
Gareth Malone will take on his biggest challenge so far in Gareth Goes To Glyndebourne, joining the production team at Glyndebourne in the role of youth chorus leader on his first opera. There will also be other opera programming to accompany this series.
Before this, at Christmas there will be a chance to see soprano Anna Netrebko and tenor Rolando Villazon, in a feature-film version of Puccini's La Boheme. Plus, the long-awaited television performance of Hamlet, starring David Tennant in the lead role of the Royal Shakespeare Company's award-winning production. This will have a major online offering, created in collaboration with the RSC.
Kirsty Young presents a major new series for the channel, The British Family. In a powerful and moving account of an experience that frames all of our lives, Kirsty takes a historical look at the story of the British family from the end of the Second World War to the present day.
The Noughties examines the defining events that have shaped British life in the first decade of the 21st century; while The Empire Of The Seas presented by Dan Snow reveals the Royal Navy's surprising past and reveals how its ships, technology and organisation have helped shape the history of Britain. Museum of Life presented by Jimmy Doherty tells the story of mysteries, dinosaurs, diamonds and audacious attempts to hold back extinction through access to the Natural History Museum.
Father Christopher Jamison, Abbot of Worth, who emerged as the key figure in the BBC Two series The Monastery, believes that if people can be silent they can communicate with God, and rediscover their souls. In a new religious documentary series, The Silence, five people attempt to put silence at the heart of their everyday, busy lives.
Next year there will be a pan-BBC focus on science with BBC Two playing a key role, working closely with BBC Four. Major new series include Seven Wonders Of The Solar System, in which physicist Brian Cox chooses seven of the most remarkable things to be found in the solar system and explores some of the mysteries at its heart. In the landmark series, Science Story, Michael Mosley (Blood And Guts) reveals the unique nature of science, the attitude of mind that made science possible, the power it has unleashed and why people struggle to accept much of what it has to say.
BBC Two takes a curious look at contemporary life, through a range of approaches. In Digital Revolution Dr Aleks Krotoski examines the profound changes that have shaped all our lives since the invention of the world wide web 20 years ago.
Muslim Driving School is an intimate and revelatory insight into the lives of a diverse group of Muslim women across the north of England as they attempt to learn to drive – and through driving, have more control over different aspects of their lives. Inside John Lewis goes behind the scenes of one of Britain's biggest and best-known department stores as it tackles changing tastes, tougher competition and the worst recession for 80 years. Meanwhile Megacity looks further afield to Lagos for a three-part documentary series exploring life in one of the most extreme urban environments on the planet, considered by some to be an apocalyptic vision of the future.
Jimmy Doherty seeks to discover the hidden lives of farmyard animals for an extraordinary new series, The Secret Life Of… Cows/Chickens/Pigs. Using scientific experiments combined with observational filming, he hopes to solve the big mysteries of the farmyard: Do cows have best mates? Can chickens tell the time? And do pigs' grunts mean anything?
Two new series explore the far reaches of the world. Explorer Simon Reeve embarks on his most ambitious journey yet, following the Tropic Of Cancer; while The Great Rift investigates the forces that have shaped the turbulent landscape of Africa's Great Rift Valley and its remarkable wildlife.
The Winter Olympics 2010 take place in the breathtaking setting of Vancouver, Canada, with Team GB looking to emulate their summer counterparts by achieving one of their highest ever medal hauls. BBC Two offers extensive television coverage of all the action, with presenters Sue Barker, Hazel Irvine and Clare Balding.
BBC Two presenters are passionate and knowledge about their subjects and Sophie Dahl is a welcome addition to the line-up. The Delicious Miss Dahl brings her culinary prowess to television for the first time with a cookery series marrying her storytelling talents with fresh, enticing recipes. Meanwhile, Delia Through The Decades marks Delia Smith's 40 years in cookery, celebrating her incredible career and the impact she has had on the nation's eating habits.
In spring 2010, BBC Two will rediscover its recent past through a series of programming focusing on the Eighties. This includes a drama adapted from Martin Amis's cult novel, Money, starring Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Shaun Of The Dead) as torpid anti-hero, John Self. A fable of greed and flawed ambition, this film taps into the guilty nostalgia for the Eighties. There's also a new drama by Bafta award-winning writer Abi Morgan, titled Royal Wedding. Set against the backdrop of the much-celebrated marriage of the, then, Lady Diana Spencer to the Prince of Wales in 1981, the inhabitants of a small Welsh village come together for the occasion and a chance to forget some of their own problems.
Other drama includes The Secret Diaries Of Miss Anne Lister, which stars Maxine Peake (Criminal Justice, Little Dorrit) as the Yorkshire landowner, industrialist, traveller and diarist. Anne Lister, 1791-1840, was a lesbian who, despite needing to keep her sexuality secret from society at large, defied the conventions of her times by living with her female lover and keeping a detailed account of her life, loves and emotions.
There's also a new two-part drama from Dominic Savage, Dive, which captures a young couple falling in love for the first time, while coping with the highs and lows of growing up in the UK; and Vexed, a fast-paced, glossy comedy drama, about a detective duo with real chemistry (played by Lucy Punch and Toby Stephens), written by Howard Overman (Misfits, Merlin).
Finally there's brand-new comedy on the channel, starring some of Britain's top comedic talent. Alfred Molina and Dawn French star in a two-hander, Roger & Val Have Just Got In, focusing on the lives of a middle-aged couple in the first half-hour after they arrive home from work.
Bellamy's People reunites Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson for their first television collaboration in 10 years. After his successful BBC Radio 4 debut on Down The Line, hapless radio talk show host Gary Bellamy makes the transition to BBC Two, where he'll be jumping into his Triumph Stag "personality vehicle", to travel the length and breadth of the land, meeting the people of Britain to find out what makes them tick.
Plus, a new comedy quiz, The Bubble, hosted by David Mitchell, will play on the fact that some news stories are so hard to believe you'd think they'd been made up for a joke. Three celebrity contestants are locked away in a media-free zone for four days (the Bubble) and then are asked to identify which news reports or images are true. Because they have been away and out of touch, they'll believe almost anything.