Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

BBC Four Autumn and Winter 2010/11

Elgar – The Man Behind The Mask

Elgar – The Man Behind The Mask

With his noble bearing, stiff upper lip and imperial moustache, Edward Elgar, the composer of Land of Hope and Glory, is often seen as the epitome of Edwardian England. But this image was deliberately contrived, and far from reality.

Based on the enigmatic clues he left in his music and in his private correspondence, this feature-length documentary looks behind the moustache to discover the apparently self-confident Elgar as a brilliant but neurotic musician, with a chip on his shoulder about his lowly origins and his Catholic religion, who despised the Establishment, yet longed to belong to it.

Elgar's intense relationships with several women apart from his wife belong to his restless, obsessive nature, and fresh evidence of the nature of these relationships is revealed in the film.

With contributions from Sir Colin Davis, Sir Mark Elder and Vladimir Ashkenazy, and specially-filmed performances by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner, director John Bridcut (Britten's Children, The Passions Of Vaughan Williams) this film explores the secret conflicts in Elgar's heart, which produced some of Britain's greatest music.

RK2

Crux productions

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English National Ballet

English National Ballet

With unique access to one of the country's most respected and successful arts institutions, this documentary profiles the English National Ballet in its 60th anniversary year as it strives for success and survival and endeavours to attract a larger, more varied audience.

Like the rest of the world, the elite ballet touring company faces potentially its toughest 12 months since it was founded in 1950, as the economic downturn takes its toll. Box office success is vital and everything rests on the success of high profile productions like Swan Lake and the challenging end of year run of the newly-staged Nutcracker.

Individual dreams are realised and shattered every day as young dancers from an extraordinary range of backgrounds compete for the principal roles. From the rehearsal room to the boardroom to the magical first night, this film follows the main players within English National Ballet over an industry-defining year.

Publicist TBC

A Tiger Aspect production

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Macbeth

Macbeth

Sir Patrick Stewart stars as Macbeth and Kate Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth as Rupert Goold directs a film version of his highly-acclaimed production, originally staged by Chichester Festival Theatre, which was a sell-out hit in the West End and on Broadway.

Shot on location in the mysterious underground world of Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire, the film is set in an undefined and threatening central European world. Immediate and visceral, this is a 20th-century presentation of Shakespeare's intense, claustrophobic and bloody drama.

Patrick Stewart won the best actor and Rupert Goold the best director prizes in the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for the stage production and Stewart and Fleetwood were both nominated for Tony Awards for their performances.

Rupert Goold (director of Enron and the Royal Shakespeare Company's current production of Romeo and Juliet) was described by critic Benedict Nightingale as "the hottest, most exciting director around". Macbeth marks his debut as a film director. Production company, Illuminations, recently filmed the RSC's Hamlet for BBC Two, which was screened on Boxing Day 2009.

TD

An Illuminations production

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Anna Nicole – The Opera

Anna Nicole – The Opera

The turbulent, dramatic life of the glamour model, who infamously married a billionaire oil tycoon more than 60 years her senior, is retold as an opera commissioned from Olivier award-winning composer Mark Anthony Turnage for the Royal Opera House.

This new work for broadcast on BBC Four, continues the channel's commitment to presenting opera and classical music in all its forms.

Former Playboy model, sex symbol and television personality Anna Nicole Smith hit the headlines in 1994 when she married J Howard Marshall. From a high school drop-out who worked at Jim's Krispy Fried Chicken shop to the bereaved wife, who died of an overdose of prescription drugs aged just 39, Anna Nicole's diva-like life was packed with drama, and is ripe for this new stage interpretation.

Described as witty, clever, thoughtful and sad, and reflecting a slice of our times, the librettist is Richard Thomas, the director is Richard Jones with Antonio Pappano on the podium. The title role will be sung by Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek.

RK2

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Chopin – The Women Behind The Music

Chopin – The Women Behind The Music

Frederick Chopin is known for his technically demanding and expressive piano compositions, but he was also passionate about the female voice.

Chopin – The Women Behind The Music follows maverick young pianist James Rhodes on a journey to Warsaw, Paris and London to discover the women whose voices had such a powerful influence on the composer.

Exploring Chopin's life, James encounters the singers who enchanted the composer with their voices – Konstancja, a young soprano and the object of his teenage affections; Delfina, the sexually notorious Polish Parisian émigré countess; fellow composer and opera singer Pauline Viardot, and the Swedish opera star Jenny Lind, who so affected Chopin in the final years of his life.

James performs a selection of Chopin's piano music, while rising young opera star Natalya Romaniw sings some of the arias that inspired the composer. There are also musical contributions and comments from the great Chopin practitioners Emmanuel Ax and Garrick Ohlsson, biographer Adam Zamoyski and Chopin expert Jeremy Siepmann.

RK2

A Prospect Wales/Cymru production

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Tony Palmer Film Selection

Tony Palmer Film Selection

BBC Four presents a selection of films by Tony Palmer as he returns to the BBC after 40 years, including his new film about Gustav Holst.

Winner of dozens of international prizes, including the Italia Prize (twice), Tony Palmer's films have been described by David Attenborough as "thrilling, controversial, occasionally outrageous, but with profound musical insights".

A season of his films begins in January with the account of the Salzburg Festival; an exploration of the legend of Parsifal with Plácido Domingo; a profile of Rachmaninoff with music conducted by Gergiev, 15 minutes of Rachmaninoff's home movies and private letters read by Sir John Gielgud; and films about André Previn and the secret life of Carl Orff.

The first ever full-length tv biography of Holst includes previously unseen material with his daughter Imogen, his pupils Michael Tippett, Herbert Howells, Edmund Rubbra and the 102 year-old Elliott Carter, as well as a dozen pupils from St Paul's Girls School in Hammersmith who remember him.

RK2

An Isolde Films production

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Reggae Britannia

Reggae Britannia

Reggae Britannia tells the story of how reggae music and culture has formed an intrinsic part of British life since the mid-Sixties and how black reggae and ska musicians, either from Jamaica or British-born, found their music and identities shaped by the rejection or acceptance of British audiences.

This documentary delves into the world of reggae, exploring everything from the music, the bass lines and the spliffs, to black kids speaking Brummie or Cockney, the romance of Jamaica and the smell of British streets in the Seventies. It also investigates reggae's impact in a decade when a whole new argument about national and racial identity raged.

Directed by Jeremy Marre, the documentary includes contributions from Prince Far-I, Matumbi, Big Youth, Judge Dread, Linton Kwesi Johnson and a host of other reggae greats.

SG

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Get Your Clogs On

Get Your Clogs On

Conductor and Radio 3 presenter Charles Hazlewood has just two weeks to get Newcastle city centre clog dancing.

There was a time when each district of Britain was defined by its own style of folk music and dance, which grew from the industries, landscape and people who'd settled there in the past. Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire formed Morris dancing strongholds, while Yorkshire resounded to the dances of longsworders and out-of-work ploughboys entertained East Anglian crowds with their molly dances.

Clog dancing ruled the mill towns of the 19th-century North East. In this series, Charles makes it his mission to reclaim the North East's national dance and the area's cultural identity by reconnecting the people of Newcastle with their cultural and dance heritage.

Made by the creative talents behind The Choir and Faking It, Get Your Clogs On tells of one man's mission to bring a community together through a re-discovery of their region's lost heritage of dance, and to stage the biggest clog dancing event the UK has ever seen.

RK2

A Studio Lambert production

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The Royal Ballet Celebrates Kenneth MacMillan

The Royal Ballet Celebrates Kenneth MacMillan

BBC Four presents a two-part programme celebrating the genius of choreographer Kenneth MacMillan, staged in the year in which he would have turned 80.

Founder member of Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet and a protégé of choreographer, dancer and director Ninette de Valois, MacMillan created more than 60 ballets, including five full-length works.

The three contrasting works featured in these programmes showcase the beauty and dramatic power of his choreography. Concerto is an early work danced to the music of Shostakovich. In Elite Syncopations, brightly coloured dancers burst into life to the music of ragtime.

The second programme looks at The Judas Tree, the Laurence Olivier Award-winning ballet which was MacMillan's last work before his untimely death of a heart attack at the age of 62. Set on a building site in Canary Wharf, it is a highly-charged ballet of brutal betrayal and tense sexual violence.

These programmes, narrated by Katie Derham, feature interviews with the lead dancers in rehearsal, including Carlos Acosta, Sarah Lamb and Leanne Benjamin as well as Monica Mason, director of the Royal Ballet, and MacMillan's widow Deborah.

RK2

BBC Productions

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Herb Alpert, Tijuana Brass And Other Delights

Herb Alpert, Tijuana Brass And Other Delights

A tale of deals on the beach, accidental pop stars, friendships, breakdowns, comebacks, multimillion dollar deals and new discoveries, this is the story of musician, producer, record industry mogul and artist, Mr Herb Alpert.

Best known as the trumpet player who created the Tijuana Brass and sold the "sound of Mexico" to America and the world, Herb is also the crooner who made the ladies swoon when he sang This Guy's In Love With You.

From his first job working with soul legend Sam Cooke, to creating A&M records, one of the world's most successful independent record labels, Herb's life reads like a story of dreams come true. This profile follows him today and profiles his music and art as he exhibits his sculptures for Hollywood's art elite.

Programme contributors include: Herb Alpert, Lou Adler, Quincy Jones, Richard Carpenter, Sting, Jam and Lewis and Stephen Fry.

BBC Front Desk Publicity

BBC Productions, Leeds

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Sister Rosetta

Sister Rosetta

This documentary biopic tells the story of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, one of the most extraordinary black American women of the 20th century, and one of the most influential popular musicians.

With her forceful, vibrant singing of Gospel, Blues and Soul, coupled with her spectacular virtuosity on the newly electrified guitar, Sister Rosetta attained great popularity in the Thirties and Forties.

This programme follows this incredible musician's life-story for the very first time on British television. With the help of archive film, dramatic reconstructions and interviews, the life of the "original soul sister" of recorded music is told by the people who knew her best and who have been greatly influenced by her remarkable musical legacy.

SG

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Thin Lizzy

Legends

Thin Lizzy – Bad Reputation

Legends presents an affectionate but achingly honest portrait of Thin Lizzy, arguably the best hard rock band ever to come out of Ireland.

From very early footage of bassist and frontman Phil Lynott in Ireland, in his pre-Lizzy bands the Black Eagles and Orphanage, the programme follows as he, guitarist Eric Bell and drummer Brian Downey formed the basic three-piece that became a legendary band.

Using original interviews with Bell, Downey, their first manager and the A&R man who signed the band, Legends traces Lizzy's early years leading to the eventual recruitment of Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham, the two guitarists who completed the "classic" line-up.

It also features some of the band's most insightful anecdotes and the stories behind the making of The Boys Are Back In Town, the hiring of Midge Ure and the "revolving door" that saw guitarist after guitarist hired and fired.

Travelling through the years, the programme also delves deeper into the band's lives, looking at how the dependency of some members on drugs and alcohol affected them and how, ultimately, the music suffered.

Using a vast number of stills, some never seen before on TV, and stunning archive from contemporary shows, this film takes us from Thin Lizzy's classic album Jailbreak on a rock n roll rollercoaster ride.

Interviewees include: Brian Downey; Scott Gorham; Eric Bell; Brian Robertson; Midge Ure; Bob Geldof; Tony Visconti; Joe Elliot and many more.


Mark Knopfler

One of Britain's most popular and legendary artists, guitarist Mark Knopfler's work over more than 30 years has created a fanbase crossing generations and geography. This year alone, Mark has completed an 82-date world tour and won yet more critical acclaim for Get Lucky, his seventh solo album to date.

This film in the Legends series traces the roots and inspirations for many of Mark's most endearing songs, some of the most recognisable tracks in the world of popular music.

Covering his days with Dire Straits up to his most recent work as a solo artist, it investigates Knopfler's motivations as a songwriter rather than as the ultimate rock star.

Combining exclusively shot interviews, new performances and archive, this film explores the personal story of one of Britain's most iconic artists. It also revisits Mark's childhood, hearing how he has drawn on his early upbringing in Glasgow and Newcastle, and his travels around the world, for lyrical and musical inspiration.

SG

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Chess Records

Chess Records

This one-hour documentary commemorates the 60th anniversary of American record label, Chess Records.

Based in Chicago, Illinois, the artists on this iconic blues, rock 'n' roll; R&B and soul label radically shaped the musical landscape of the second half of the 20th century.

Run by Polish immigrant brothers Leonard and Phil Chess, the company produced and released recordings by every major blues performer, from John Lee Hooker to Muddy Waters. If it wasn't for the extraordinary blasts of innovation from Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Etta James and other Chess luminaries, music today just might not have been the same.

SG

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ELO – 40 Light Years

ELO – 40 Light Years

Charting the fascinating story of musical genius, singer-songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and Electric Light Orchestra leader Jeff Lynne, this film celebrates 40 years since ELO's first groundbreaking hit recording.

The programme follows the band through their successes, up to their brand new ELO album – their first for almost 10 years.

With exclusive access to Jeff Lynne, this documentary charts his story from his early years in Birmingham with cult legends the Idle Race, through to his first UK chart success with the Move. It also investigates his international mega-stardom with ELO and beyond, with The Travelling Wilburys – Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Bob Dylan – Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, the Beatles, Del Shannon, Regina Spektor and many more.

SG

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Song Writers Circle

Song Writers Circle

BBC Four combines great singer-songwriters for unique concerts celebrating the craft of the song, in a season celebrating the first-person songbook.

Filmed at Bush Hall on Uxbridge Road in West London, these casual concerts bring together three simpatico songwriters, give them an hour or so to rehearse in a dressing room and then sends them forth to perform four or five rounds of songs before a small live audience.

Each songwriter performs a song in turn, while the others look on or add the odd harmony or guitar part. The songwriters chat about their songs – where they came from and what they've come to mean to them. It's an intimate evening with some of the world's best singer-songwriters and some of our favourite songs.

Shows to be featured in this season will include the following "circles":

Richard Thompson, Suzanne Vega and Loudon Wainwright.

Justin Currie, Chris Difford and Boo Hewerdine.

Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely and John Hiatt.

The series will be accompanied by a collection of hour-long archive compilations with the working title Singer-Songwriters At The BBC, showcasing some of the greatest performers from the Seventies to the present day.

Songwriters' Circle first appeared on the BBC in the late Nineties with concerts featuring Nick Cave, Chrissie Hynde and John Cale; Neil Finn, Graham Gouldman and Roddy Frame, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, John Martyn and Paul Heaton/Dave Rotheray. These are the first new shows in more than a decade and the first for BBC Four.

SG

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Arena – Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way

Arena – Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way

Arena profiles jazz legend Dave Brubeck in his 90th year. This is the third in a trilogy of films co-produced by Arena with Clint Eastwood; the others were Tony Bennett – The Music Never Ends (2008) and Johnny Mercer – The Dream's On Me (2010).

Dave Brubeck – In His Own Sweet Way tells the story of a living genius.

His career began 65 years ago with revolutionary experiments that would come to be called cool jazz; he was the first jazz musician to appear on the cover of Time magazine and had one of the biggest popular hits in jazz history with Take Five, a sound as familiar today as it was in 1959.

Brubeck's daring experiments with time marked him out as one of the most adventurous and technically accomplished jazz musicians ever. A year ago he received America's most prestigious cultural accolade – the Kennedy Centre Lifetime Achievement Award.

Arena – Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way is produced and directed by Bruce Ricker and executive produced by Clint Eastwood and Anthony Wall.

JB

BBC Productions

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Music & Performance

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