Tuesday 22 Jul 2014
Panorama's Richard Bilton investigates sham weddings in the UK and takes on various guises to expose all the links in the chain that helps immigrants stay in the country illegally.
It may only be a London register office on a wintry day, but it's Ali and Maria's big moment. Ali, from Pakistan, is marrying Maria, who says she's Spanish, in front of a few of Ali's close friends. Sadly, no one is here for the bride, and one of the handful of mates turns up in a London Transport uniform and admits he was only invited the day before and that he's never heard of the bride.
This isn't as surprising as it sounds: Maria isn't even Maria. The real Maria is in Spain – the woman at the register office has used Maria's identity for the purposes of the marriage. The registrar is suspicious but powerless to stop the marriage going ahead. So, within half an hour, Ali and Maria are husband and wife. Ali now has the right to stay in the country for at least another five years before the Home Office is allowed to check if it really is a love match. Ali and Maria's wedding has been added to nearly 600 suspected sham marriages that happen each year. And that figure is rising.
This spring, a major barrier to sham marriages is abolished following a ruling by the Law Lords and the Home Office to stop checking applications for marriages between EU citizens and those from most non-EU countries. Panorama hears from people who fear that this decision means the floodgates to bogus weddings will be flung open.
In this Panorama Special, reporter Richard Bilton investigates an Eastern European gang that supplies teenage prostitutes as bogus brides for £8,000 each; the immigration solicitor who prepares the legal paperwork for sham couples; and how the Church of England, too, has been targeted by sham marriages.
Written by acclaimed playwright Kevin Elyot, Lindsay Duncan, Imogen Poots, Toby Jones and Douglas Booth join Matt Smith in a one-off drama which chronicles the formative years of Christopher Isherwood.
Christopher Isherwood escapes repressive English society and his suffocating relationship with his mother, Kathleen, for the decadent – and politically unstable – world of Thirties Berlin.
The hedonistic Berlin cabaret scene is in full swing when a young and wide-eyed Christopher Isherwood arrives in the city, unable to speak a word of German. To Isherwood's reserved English sensibility, the city's thriving gay subculture is thrilling and intoxicating. But Christopher soon finds himself heartbroken after the failure of a hopeless love affair and so sets out on a process of self-discovery...
Matt Smith stars as Christopher Isherwood; Lindsay Duncan as his mother, Kathleen; Imogen Poots as Jean Ross, an aspiring actress and singer who provided Christopher with the inspiration for the Sally Bowles character of Cabaret fame; Toby Jones as Gerald Hamilton, a peculiar man who provided the inspiration for the title character in the celebrated Isherwood novel, Mr Norris Changes Trains; Pip Carter as Wystan Auden, the famous poet with a droll sense of humour who persuaded Christopher to join him in Berlin; and Douglas Booth as Heinz, a street cleaner who Christopher meets and falls in love with during his time in Berlin.
Christopher And His Kind is simulcast on the award-winning BBC HD channel – the BBC's High Definition channel available through Freesat channel 109, Freeview channel 54, Sky channel 169 and Virgin Media channel 187.
Christopher And His Kind reflects the major new investment for drama on BBC Two. This year marks the rebirth of drama on the channel with a range of truly original pieces that all signal this confident new direction.
White Van Man is a new comedy series starring Will Mellor as the proverbial man with a van, written by stand-up comedian Adrian Poynton.
Mellor plays good guy Ollie, reluctantly putting his dreams of running a restaurant on the back burner when his ailing father, Tony, turns to him to take over the family handyman business. Unfortunately for Ollie, the business comes complete with a dodgy van, some questionable tips and an even dodgier assistant.
Meanwhile, Ollie tries to scrape a living while doing the right thing and somehow always managing to fail at both.
First there's Darren, his incorrigible liability of an assistant who manages to upset either Ollie, their clients and usually both while doing his best to do as little as possible. In the midst of this is Ollie's old crush from catering school days, Emma, not only a successful restaurateur but back in town and looking to set up a new business. There's also Darren's sister, Liz, who works behind the counter at the local hardware shop. She's one of Ollie's only true admirers – although even he's not quite sure just how serious her admirations are.
Out of his depth, and out of pocket, Ollie's only option is to get on with learning the ropes. Kicking things off, he has to deal with light-fingered Ricky, as well as his nemesis, the local parking attendant, who's got it in for Ollie. Worst of all, Ollie has to deal with a heavily pregnant Joanne and her more than unhappy father, Terry.
All that's left for Ollie is to try and escape from it all in his trusty white van – that is if it hasn't already been clamped.
Will Mellor plays Ollie, Clive Mantle plays Tony, Joel Fry plays Darren, Georgia Moffett plays Emma, Naomi Bentley plays Liz, Blake Harrison plays Ricky, Vicky Longley plays Joanne and Ricky Grover plays Terry. White Van Man also features guest appearances from Gavin & Stacey's Joanna Page, Hotel Babylon's Dexter Fletcher, Psychoville's Debbie Chazen and, making her first ever television appearance with her daughter, Georgia Moffett, actress Sandra Dickinson.
Ollie decides it's time to modernise the family business and kicks into marketing overdrive to promote Curry & Sons Home Maintenance, as the comedy starring Will Mellor continues.
His flyer campaign seems to do the trick, bringing in a nice bit of trade, but little does he know that it's also ruffling a few shady feathers. Meanwhile, things are looking up for sidekick Darren in the romantic stakes, when he discovers a kindred spirit in their web designer, Kat, and bonds with her over Star Trek. Being Darren, though, things are bound to go wrong...
White Van Man stars Will Mellor as Ollie, Joel Fry as Darren, Georgia Moffett as Emma, Naomi Bentley as Liz and Clive Mantle as Tony. Kat is played by guest star Joanna Page (Gavin & Stacey).
Rosamund Pike, Rachael Stirling, Rory Kinnear and Joseph Mawle star in Women In Love, a compelling new two-part drama by William Ivory (Faith, A Thing Called Love, Common As Muck) for BBC Four. Based on two novels by DH Lawrence – The Rainbow and Women In Love – which Lawrence originally intended to publish as one, Ivory has melded the books together in line with Lawrence's original vision as part of BBC Four's new Modern Love exploring love and sexuality in 20th-century literature.
Women In Love charts the lives and loves of two sisters, Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen, viewed chiefly through their relationships with two friends, Rupert Birkin and Gerald Crich. As the two relationships intensify, the couples leave the Midlands and go abroad together, leading to conflict and tragedy.
Passionately in love with Birkin, meanwhile, Hermoine grows increasingly frustrated when love is not reciprocated and Birkin turns his affections towards Ursula.
William Ivory says: "DH Lawrence is an extraordinary writer. That he is still so revered and so reviled in equal measure is indicative of the passionate, unapologetic approach he brought to his work. You might like him, you might not. He didn't really care. All that mattered to him was the relationship between himself and his subject – and trying to fashion a new and elemental way of expressing that relationship of re-defining the link between experience and the re-counting of experience.
"In order to adapt the two novels, I've attempted to achieve a similar thing – to lay out the soul of the books in a way which is new and fresh and which delivers the experience of being in the books. To do that I've tried to understand the collective consciousness which binds the novels together and then tried to put that on screen. One is left with, I believe, a rich and visceral experience which gets to the very core of what was, to Lawrence, life's central mystery: how might one exist outside of the mind and consciousness – only sensuously."
Rachael Stirling plays Ursula Brangwen; Rosamund Pike plays Gudrun Brangwen; Rory Kinnear plays Rupert Birkin; Joseph Mawle plays Gerald Crich; Saskia Reeves plays Ursula and Gudrun's mother, Anna; Ben Daniels plays Will, Anna's husband; and Olivia Grant plays Hermoine.
BBC Four's new Modern Love Season, exploring love and sexuality in 20th-century literature, also features Amanda Coe's adaptation of John Braine's novel Room At The Top.