Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
Stephen Fry dissects language in all its guises with his inimitable mixture of learning, love of lexicon and humour in this new five-part series.
From the cutting edge of linguistic research to the glories of world literature, Stephen analyses how people use and abuse language and corral it for good and bad, and seeks out whether we are anywhere near to beginning to understand the complexities of its DNA.
Spanning locations across the globe – including China, Sydney, Israel, Kenya, the east and west coasts of America and many European cities – Fry's Planet Word journeys through the thousands of years since man first mastered speech, up to the cyber world of today with its html, codes and texting.
A Sprout Pictures production
To mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's first novel, Sense And Sensibility, Professor Amanda Vickery, one of the leading chroniclers of Georgian England, explores the ebb and flow of Austen's popularity and the hold her fiction has on people today.
In this 60-minute programme, Vickery considers what it is about Austen's plots and characters that continue to delight, amuse, console and provoke. Her fans insist her current popularity is due to the timelessness of the fictional world Austen created, but for Vickery the question is: why have her novels gone in and out of fashion? What interests Amanda is how different periods and generations have looked for their own reflection in the characters and plots of the novels. She wants to work out what that says about them, as well as about Austen.
Interviewing a variety of literary scholars, film directors and costumed devotees who attend the Austen conventions, Vickery also views the Sotherby's sale of an incredibly rare, handwritten manuscript of an unfinished Austen novel.
The Prime Of Miss Jane Austen is part of Books On The BBC 2011.
A Matchlight production
Waldemar Januszczak returns to BBC Two with a new look at the Impressionists.
Impressionism is often understood as a sunny riverside movement; however, it was in fact the most radical art movement in 500 years, beginning with a group of art students who forged new ways of depicting people's experience of the world. In this series, Waldemar reappraises Impressionist art and illuminates the less familiar aspects of the movement.
Impressionism was a conglomeration of different ambitions and styles. The main players of Impressionism, such as Monet and Renoir, were crucially important, but there were 31 artists in the first Impressionism exhibition, 90 per cent of whom subsequently slipped out of sight.
Even critical Impressionists such as Caillebotte and Berthe Morisot, who were such prominent exhibitors in the movement, are little understood or appreciated these days. Waldemar explores these "forgotten" artists and the revolutionary relationship that the movement had with science, including experiments and examinations of optics, paints and techniques relevant to the time and the artists.
The Impressionists will also be simulcast on the BBC HD channel.
A ZCZ Films production
In a new series for BBC Two Daytime, presented by Melvyn Bragg, The Reel History Of Britain retells the fascinating stories about how life in Britain used to be, through the film collections of the British Film Institute and regional film archives.
Each episode focuses on a different aspect of British life, highlighting the hardships and simple pleasures, as well as the enormous social changes that took place from the 1900s onwards. Melvyn travels around the UK, accompanied at each location by a 1967 custom-built vintage mobile cinema in which he meets the descendents of the historic films featured, as they come face-to-face with their ancestors to discover how they lived their lives.
Along the way viewers see how ordinary British people worked, loved and lived in the 20th century, as seen through social documentaries, tourist information films, newsreels, and government propaganda films.
BBC Productions, Manchester
In 1954, William Golding's Lord Of The Flies, a terrifying vision of the latent savagery of society and the struggle between good and evil, burst upon the polite world of English fiction. It was originally turned down by more than 20 publishers, but has since sold 20 million copies worldwide.
Golding, an unknown schoolmaster and D-Day veteran, went on to win both the Booker and Nobel Prizes. His dozen novels, awesome in their scope, range from the dawn of humanity to medieval man and maritime epics, and reveal an imagination which is dark and powerfully compelling. Arena has been given unique access to Golding's family and to his extensive personal archive for the first film to be made since his death in 1993. Rooted in the mysterious West Country landscape that Golding made his home, and with testimony from his neighbours including John Le Carré, James Lovelock and Pete Townshend, and his admirers Stephen King and Ian McEwan, it embraces the bewildering range of Golding's genius, and the continuing importance of his vision.
Lone Star Productions
The BBC's flagship arts documentary strand, Arena, returns with the first-ever documentary exploring the extraordinary life of Sir Jonathan Miller CBE.
A brilliant humorist, a qualified doctor and a practising artist, Sir Jonathan Miller has straddled the great divide between the arts and sciences while impacting British culture through the media of television, radio, theatre and opera.
Arena follows Miller as he reflects on his participation in television and rediscovers his work on the stage, as well as taking him back to his formative years in Cambridge. There's also a glimpse into his Camden Town house, an enticing wonderland of books and artworks. Departing London, Arena also observes Miller at work on an opera in Florence, a city that has become his second home due to its artistic and scientific heritage.
With Miller himself at the film's centre, Arena explores his rich life and examines how he makes these connections between the worlds of the imagination and scientific fact.
The Culture Show gains exclusive access to the life and work of Hilary Mantel as she writes The Mirror And The Light, the sequel to her Booker prize-winning novel Wolf Hall. Mantel's extraordinarily wide range of work stretches from childhood memoir to Irish giants; from the influence of the Roman Catholic Church to the growth of fundamentalism in Saudi Arabia; and from the French Revolution to the Tudor court of Henry VIII.
Writer and film-maker James Runcie takes Hilary back to her childhood home and to visit the places that have inspired her. He talks to her about the illness that has plagued her life, the ghosts from her past, the process of writing historical fiction, sex, jokes, life, death and the emotional cost of making things up for a living. Intimate, exclusive and unpredictable, this Culture Show Special reveals all about one of the bravest and most brilliant writers working today.
The Culture Show returns this autumn as BBC Two's flagship topical arts strand. Presented by Andrew Graham-Dixon and a host of expert reporters, it provides an authoritative insight into all aspects of cultural life in Britain today with an aim to bring to its audience a fresh take on the best of British arts in an opinionated and thought-provoking way.
In August a three-part Culture Show Special, presented by Sue Perkins, highlights the Edinburgh festival. The autumn run then begins in September, with particular highlights including RIBA's Best Buildings of 2011 hosted by Kevin McCloud and covering the Lubetkin, the Stephen Lawrence and the Stirling Prizes; Britain's Biggest Book Prize 2011: A Village Decides presented by Tim Samuels, with Scottish villagers deciding who should win the Man Booker prize; and, around Remembrance Day, a Culture Show special presented by Tim Samuels showing the incredible results achieved with art therapy on soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
The Review Show, BBC Two's weekly cultural discussion programme with Kirsty Wark and Martha Kearney, will host book-themed programmes as part of Books On The BBC 2011.
Each month the programmes feature famous artists talking about the books that have inspired them, plus in-depth interviews with leading authors, and a panel of experts and book-lovers cast their critical eye over recent releases.
In the first-ever Book Review Show, a new monthly survey of the world of writing, Kirsty Wark is joined by guests including Germaine Greer and John Mullan to discuss women's literature. Topics include the shortlist for the Orange Prize and posthumous publications from Daphne Du Maurier and Beryl Bainbridge. There is also an interview with Lionel Shriver, who wrote We Need To Talk About Kevin, the film of which has just premiered at Cannes; and a literary "salon" with Fay Weldon, Kate Mosse and Ruth Rendell.
The Review Show airs live every Friday night throughout the year.
BBC Productions/Scotland Arts
In April 2010, 4,000 dancers from all over the world, aged between 10 and 25, gathered in Glasgow for one nail-biting, tension-filled week of competition – the World Irish Dancing Championships. This feature-length documentary follows the young hopefuls, their teachers and families as they prepare to do battle in the most important week of their year. It also asks what it is about the dance that makes girls and boys fall in love with it and sacrifice a large part of their childhood for it.
A Well Park production
BBC Two explores the process of songwriting in this new, insightful three-part series which follows a song from the pen to paper to first public performance. Each episode sees songwriter, producer and musician Guy Chambers collaborating with an artist to write a new song each week – a ballad, an anthem and a breakthrough single, with a variety of celebrated musical contributors divulging the secrets of the trade along the way.
Acclaimed singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright joins Guy to write a ballad, The Noisettes link up with him in the studio for the anthem programme and music producer Mark Ronson works alongside him to create a breakthrough single. The series hears from songwriting big-hitters throughout, including Sting, Brian May, Boy George, Neil Tennant, Jesse J and Diane Warren.
A Renegade Pictures production
The 2011 season of Proms features an exciting feast of music and performances by world class orchestras, conductors and soloists. For the second year Katie Derham is the face of the Proms on BBC Two. Katie will profile many of the artists and conductors with filmed interviews on location and live encounters in and around the Royal Albert Hall. The BBC Two Proms, together with BBC HD, maintains a schedule of weekly Proms on Saturdays.
Themes and highlights this year featured on BBC Two include the anniversary composer Liszt, and there are concertos by "companion" composer Brahms. Another major anniversary composer being celebrated is Mahler, with several of his symphonies being performed.
BBC Two sees the return of the outstanding Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela conducted by Gustavo Dudamel; John Wilson and his Orchestra completing a trilogy of proms with Hooray For Hollywood; one of the UK's most celebrated regional orchestras, the CBSO, with their new Latvian music director Andris Nelsons; and the first-ever Comedy Prom with host Tim Minchin and a strong line-up of guests including Sue Perkins and cabaret duo Kit and the Widow. European ensembles Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France with soloists Renaud and Gautier Capucon, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe with soloists Emanuel Ax appear in two Proms featuring the music of Brahms. BBC Two also welcomes the return of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain under Vladimi Jurowski with young British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, who is also the soloist in Liszt's Second Piano Concerto on the First Night – the youngest solo artist ever to appear on an opening night.
Brilliant charismatic pianist Lang Lang and British soprano Susan Bullock are the soloists on the Last Night, part one of which can be seen on BBC Two.
The BBC returns to the world's largest festival to bring audiences a wealth of programming across television, radio and online.
Jo Whiley, Lauren Laverne, Mark Radcliffe and Zane Lowe are BBC Two's hosts across the weekend. Coverage includes live headline sets from major artists including U2, Coldplay and Beyoncé, plus extended slots on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. There are also live highlights from acoustic performances and features on other events happening around Worthy Farm.
Later... With Jools Holland returns for the autumn with its 39th series. The live 30-min show, Later Live... With Jools Holland, is on Tuesday evenings at 10pm followed by the traditional longer version on the Friday (repeated Saturday) on BBC Two and BBC HD.
Artists who appeared during the spring series included Adele, Fleet Foxes, Elbow, Cee Lo Green, PJ Harvey and Arctic Monkeys as well as legends such as Blondie, Brian Wilson, Randy Newman and McCoy Tyner. There were also TV debuts from Vintage Trouble, Maverick Sabre, Ed Sheeran and Anna Calvi.
Ahead of its 20th year, Later... has become one of the longest-running, as well as one of the most celebrated, live music shows in TV history.
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