Press Office

Monday 01 Sep 2014

Press Release

BBC Controller of Drama announces new commissions from three of world's leading creative talents: Sam Mendes, Jane Campion and Sir David Hare

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To mark two years in post, BBC Controller of Drama, Ben Stephenson unveiled the new season of drama coming up on the BBC over the next six months across all four channels.

Speaking tonight at the event to the press, industry and artists, Ben Stephenson said: "Two years in this job has put the fire in my belly to stand up for British drama. I love the passion for drama in this country – opinionated writers and audiences who demand quality drama. The BBC should embrace all of these – we should be contradictory and a broad church in our ability to mix high art with the best of popular culture.

"The Song Of Lunch should rub shoulders with EastEnders, Sherlock with Shakespeare, Sir David Hare with Steven Moffat, Emma Thompson with Idris Elba… Tonight, I have some pretty incredible announcements and only BBC Drama could bring you this kind of quality and ambition.

"Epic film versions of four of Shakespeare's History plays from award-winning stage and film director Sam Mendes, by some of the best theatre directors in the country. A major new single play written and directed by playwright and screenwriter Sir David Hare. Finally, authored, original drama at its finest from Oscar-winning writer/director Jane Campion."

Shakespeare on BBC Two from Neal Street Productions

Ben Stephenson announced BBC Drama's commitment to Shakespeare with new screen versions of four of the History plays - Richard II, Henry IV part I and II, and Henry V from Neal Street Productions, with Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) and Pippa Harris (Starter For Ten, Stuart A Life Backwards) executive producing.

The producer will be Rupert Ryle-Hodges (Cranford), with Simon Russell Beale as associate producer. The directors include Sir Richard Eyre (Iris, Notes On A Scandal) and Rupert Goold (Enron, Macbeth).

Commissioned by Ben Stephenson and Controller, BBC Two, Janice Hadlow.

Executive producer Sam Mendes said: "I couldn't be more delighted to be making these Shakespeare films for the BBC. One of my earliest introductions to Shakespeare was watching the plays on TV, and it's terrific to have the opportunity to bring them to a new, wider audience."

He also added that: "Richard's production of 'King Lear' and Rupert's 'Macbeth' were two of the best Shakespeare productions I've ever seen, and it's an honour to have them on board."

Jane Campion's Top Of The Lake for BBC Two

Startling, atmospheric new multi-part drama series announced for BBC Two from Oscar-winning writer/director Jane Campion (The Piano, Sweetie, Portrait Of A Lady, In The Cut, Bright Star).

Top Of The Lake is authored, original drama at its finest, bringing to screen a unique landscape – remote, mountainous New Zealand – in a powerful and haunting story about our search for happiness in a paradise where honest work is hard to find.

A twelve-year-old girl stands chest deep in a frozen lake. She is five months pregnant, and she won't say who the father is, insisting it was 'no one'. Then she disappears. Robin Griffin, the investigating detective, will find this the case that tests her to her limits. In the search for Tui she will first have to find herself.

Directed by Jane Campion, and written by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee. It is a multi-part serial for BBC Two and will film in 2011, produced by Emile Sherman and Iain Canning of UK/Australian company See-Saw Films.

Commissioned by Ben Stephenson and Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two.

Sir David Hare

English playwright and screenwriter returns to the BBC with a single play which he will also direct, through Christine Langan Creative Director of BBC Films. More details to be announced soon. His credits include Plenty (1985), Wetherby (1985), My Zinc Bed (2000) and The Permanent Way (2003).

SH5 / MO / LH2 / RN /CM4

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