Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

BBC Four Spring/Summer 2010

Italian opera to soap opera, BBC Four explores the cultural spectrum this Spring/Summer

Whether it's an in-depth season on opera, a bawdy series on satire, a film on fathers in literature or a drama on the birth of Coronation Street; arts, culture, music and knowledge programming are woven in to the fabric of the new spring/summer season on BBC Four.

Richard Klein, Controller BBC Four, says: "BBC Four aspires to be the most culturally enriching channel in the UK and the channel of distinction for people seeking a depth to their programming they cannot find anywhere else. It gives us an excuse to be unashamedly ambitious and as curious as we want about the role of arts and culture in our modern society. From the big arts subjects like opera and modern art to examining how popular programmes have shaped our culture, from documentaries on the history of the sea to the biology of dads, BBC Four's aim this spring and summer is to be as enjoyable as it is knowledgeable and insightful.

"The recent review of BBC strategy underlined the ambition for BBC Four to reaffirm its commitment to arts, music, culture and knowledge programming. I believe this season reflects a channel that is already heading firmly in this direction and we will continue to take our ambitions higher still."

Arts and Music

This spring, BBC Four takes a major role in The BBC - A Passion For Opera, a pan-BBC season with BBC Two, Radio 3 and Radio 2. In Opera Italia, Antonio Pappano, Music Director of the Royal Opera, traces the history of Italian opera and the role that it plays in the country's history and culture. Stephen Fry confronts Wagner's troubled legacy and explores his fascination with the controversial composer in Stephen Fry On Wagner. Diva Diaries follows soprano Danielle de Niese as she makes her debut in the role of Susanna in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at the famous Metropolitan Opera House in New York, while tenor Rolando Villazon explores the technical, physical and artistic demands of his craft in What Makes A Great Tenor. Performances of The Marriage Of Figaro, Aida and La Boheme accompany other new programmes for this season on BBC Four.

A new two-part documentary, Goldsmiths – This Is Modern Art, follows a group of artists from Goldsmiths as they struggle to create art for their final masters' show and make a name for themselves in the months that follow. BBC Four comes over all vulgar to explore three centuries of satirical, lewd and bawdy art, literature and popular culture in Rude Britannia. An accompanying programme, Frost On Satire, sees Sir David Frost charting the story of satire in the UK and America, and its impact on 20th century politics.

For The Love Of Mockingbirds marks the 50th anniversary of the influential novel To Kill A Mockingbird, with writer Andrew Smith visiting Monroeville in Alabama, the setting of the book, to see how things have changed in half a century. Meanwhile Rich Hall sets his keen eye and acerbic wit on his homeland, The Dirty South, sifting truth from fiction as he explores the southern states of the USA through Hollywood films.

Summer is the season for live music performance, with BBC Four taking extensive coverage of the BBC Proms, including regular live broadcasts. Plus, as Glastonbury celebrates its 40th anniversary, BBC has a special programme P Is For Pyramid: An A-Z Of 40 Years Of Glastonbury, as well as some of the best live performances.


BBC Four produces some of the most talked about and ambitious factual dramas. This season it turns its attention to Britain's longest-running soap opera, which has both helped to reflect and create popular culture. As Coronation Street reaches its 50th anniversary, Florizel Street (working title – and the title by which the soap was originally known) tells the astonishing story of its difficult birth. In 1960, Tony Warren was a writer with a dream of bringing to screen characters from the Salford he knew and loved. This drama charts how Warren's vision made it to the screen against fierce opposition from his bosses. Florizel Street forms part of BBC Four's The Great Northern season (see British Culture).

Christopher Eccleston plays John Lennon in a film charting his transition from Beatle John to enduring and enigmatic icon. Lennon Naked spans a period of wildly fluctuating fortunes for Lennon between 1967 and 1971, as he lost his manager Brian Epstein, re-established contact with his father and met Yoko Ono.

Plus, Sci-fi comes to BBC Four. In a move to bring more modern literatary adaptations to the channel, BBC Four will be showing HG Wells's The First Men In The Moon, adapted by and starring Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen, Doctor Who) as the Edwardian scientist Professor Cavor.

British Culture

With its characteristic curiosity, BBC Four explores the influence of nature and location on British culture through a number of impactful seasons.

Sea Fever – A British Love Affair explores the crucial ways in which the sea has helped shape modern Britain, from history and culture to economics and science. The season includes Sea Fever: White Sails And Grey Mist, a series combining previously unseen amateur film archive with 20th century history and fascinating tales of our relationship with the sea. There's also a series with Timothy Spall – Somewhere At Sea, plus documentaries on the history of British seafaring, on the changes brought about by global container shipping, and the art and literature of the high seas.

BBC Four will also be decoding Maps this summer. Maps: Power, Plunder And Possession, which is an HD production, tells the epic history of cartography and reveals the impact of maps on power, discovery, riches and belief, presented by Professor Jerry Brotton. The Beauty Of Maps has a supporting website which allows users to explore five historic maps in detail.

From great buildings to great food, great television to great big lads on the rugby field, The Great Northern Season celebrates the culture, history, life and architecture of northern England in a season of films. This includes, 1960: Year Of The North, which sees author Andrew Martin exploring how new voices in books, film, TV and music woke Britain from its post-war slumber, and Florizel Street, a drama charting the birth of Coronation Street (see Drama section).

BBC Four's Outdoor Season celebrates the great British love affair with the countryside, including: Britain By Bike, in which Clare Balding embarks on a pedal-powered odyssey across the UK, rediscovering the magical world of Fifties-style cycling; Wild Swimming With Alice Roberts; and Dan Cruickshank revealing the rich history of the evolution of the Nation's parks in Britain's Park Story.

History and Science

A season of programmes encompassing documentary, science, drama and entertainment celebrate Fatherhood in an historical and contemporary context. A Century Of Fatherhood charts the revolution in fatherhood in Britain; child psychologist Laverne Antrobus investigates the psychology of families in The Biology Of Dads; and Andrew Martin takes a light-hearted journey through three centuries of literary fatherhood in Disappearing Dad. John Lennon's role as a father and the impact of the brief and unhappy reappearance of his own absent father into his life is the focal point of single drama, Lennon Naked, starring Christopher Eccleston (see Drama section).

With a remit to work closely with BBC Two to create high impact factual moments, this summer the two channels will be joining forces to highlight the effect that the Normans have had on our civilisation. BBC Four turns the spotlight on art and culture with art historian Lady Helen Rosslyn examining one of the most famous medieval chapels in the world, in The Stones Of Rosslyn; Dr Janina Ramirez telling the story of The Art Of The Anglo-Saxons; and poet Simon Armitage demonstrating through literature how the legend of King Arthur matured, in The Making Of King Arthur.

Also working with BBC Two, the channel marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle Of Britain with a documentary on the remarkable Spitfire Women who, against all odds, flew planes for the Air Transport Auxiliary in the Second World War.

In a welcome return to documentary making, Penny Woolcock examines social history at close range, with an intimate film about Britain's homeless. Shot over a period of eight months, On The Streets tells the often surprising stories of some of the people living on our city streets.


Finally, BBC Four continues to offer viewers a window on the world with an in-depth look at international culture. In advance of this year's World Cup, the channel looks at the arts and culture, life and landscape of southern Africa, in Wonderful Africa, with famous photographer, Rankin explaining why it's the photography of South Africa that has always gripped his imagination; award-winning journalist Sean Langan telling the story of modern day Africa through those who live, work and depend on the Freedom Railway, in African Railroad Adventure; a series The Tutu Talks, in which Archbishop Desmond Tutu tackles the most challenging issues facing Africa today; and Richard E Grant, a native of Swaziland, exploring the controversial History Of Safari, among other programmes.

In John Sergeant's Tracks Of Empire, the political commentator will be embarking on a 3,000 mile journey across India to discover how the lifeblood of the country – its railways – can be used to track an extraordinary history. Plus, Storyville continues to produce world-class films on international subjects, including a three-part series, Shanghai Tales, which takes an insider's look at how the Chinese really live their lives.

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