Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Programme Information

New this week

Rosh Hashanah – What Is The Point Of Religion?

Tuesday 27 September
11.15-11.45pm BBC ONE

To mark Jewish New Year, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks examines the hotly debated concept of the Big Society.

He argues that the point of religion is as an antidote to society's ills and a means of building a "Big Society" or a "Good Society". To make his case he looks at three examples of where society has broken down – in families, in communities and between generations – and illustrates how Judaism in action can restore broken bonds.

He visits a Jewish family to show how family ties are created. He also goes to Finchley Synagogue and attends one of their community educational programmes – an evening in conversation with ex-Prime Minister's wife Sarah Brown. And he visits the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Centre in Golders Green where the Jewish Social Care Organisation helps to bring generations together.

Sacks's argument is supported but also challenged by two guests: the eminent Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam, who draws from evidence he has collated in the USA about the changes in society through half a million interviews over a period of 25 years; and Maurice Glasman, a Labour life peer and a leading academic in the debate over the Big Society. Glasman has also worked for 15 years with different faith groups in London.


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BBC TWO New this week


High Definition programme
Thursday 29 September
9.00-10.10pm BBC TWO and BBC HD
Ruth Negga plays Dame Shirley Bassey in an intimate and revealing drama
Ruth Negga plays Dame Shirley Bassey in an intimate and revealing drama

Leading BBC Two's Mixed Race season, Ruth Negga (Misfits, Criminal Justice, Five Daughters) leads an all-star cast in Shirley, an intimate and revealing drama that looks at the life of Dame Shirley Bassey – one of the world's most enduring and successful divas and a national treasure.

The film charts Bassey's early career, from her humble roots in Wales in the Thirties to the start of her rise to international stardom in the Sixties. But this is no ordinary rags-to-riches story.

Born in Tiger Bay in Cardiff, Shirley was one of eight children from a poor mixed-race family. An audition with struggling London agent Mike Sullivan puts Shirley firmly on the path to success, as he grooms her into a solo performer fit to take on the world.

But Shirley is hiding a secret – she's an unmarried teenage mother. Persuaded to give her daughter, Sharon, to her elder sister to look after, Shirley works day and night to perfect her routine and complete the transformation from the poverty-stricken girl from Tiger Bay to the star she so desperately wants to become.

With a hit song soon under her belt, and a controversial marriage to her first husband Kenneth Hume, a small-time assistant film director from South London, Shirley couldn't be happier. But beneath the wealth, diamonds and furs, her life swings between triumph and tragedy as she catches her husband with another man.

The supporting cast includes Lesley Sharp as Eliza Bassey, Shirley's tenacious mother; Charlie Creed-Miles as Mike Sullivan, her domineering manager; and Henry Lloyd-Hughes as Kenneth Hume, her personal manager and husband.

Shirley is simulcast on the award-winning BBC HD channel.


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Fry's Planet Word – Babel Ep 1/3

New series
Sunday 25 September
9.00-10.00pm BBC TWO

Stephen Fry explores language in its amazing complexity, variety and ingenuity in this new five-part series.

In his own distinctive way he comes to understand how we learn it, write it, sometimes lose it and why it defines us to our very core. In this first episode he seeks to uncover the origins of human language and how and why humans are so advanced in their levels of communication.

Talking to psycholinguist Steven Pinker, neuroscientist Cathy Price, evolutionary anthropologist Michael Tomasello and geneticist Wolfgang Enard (currently working on FOXP2, the so-called language gene), Stephen maps out the current state of research and what it is that physically and cognitively differentiates us from the rest of creation.

Delving through the history of feral children, sign languages and watching how a child learns to speak over nine months, Stephen begins to see how language itself is constructed, revelling in its majesty.

The debate about whether it is an innate or learned faculty has become less heated since the early days of Chomsky but the question remains as to whether the thousands of languages still existing on the planet are inherently different or just dialects of one language. The Grimm brothers' early philological work in the 19th century showed the similarities of many Indo-European languages and hinted an underlying protolanguage.

Stephen ends by asking whether it is the very differences that make language so richly fascinating and whether it might even be that this variety is an evolutionary advantage.


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The Marvellous Mrs Beeton, With Sophie Dahl

New series
Thursday 29 September
8.00-9.00pm BBC TWO
Sophie Dahl explores the legacy of Mrs Beeton
Sophie Dahl explores the legacy of Mrs Beeton

Best-selling author and food writer Sophie Dahl tells the compelling story of Mrs Beeton – one of the most famous food writers in British cooking. Mrs Beeton's Book Of Household Management was once a must-have on the wedding list of every aspirational Victorian bride and it became an instant best-seller when it was first published in 1861.

Isabella Beeton was a fantastically modern woman – one who shaped the appetites and habits of an empire – but little is known about her fascinating life. The Marvellous Mrs Beeton, With Sophie Dahl mixes social history with cookery and storytelling to celebrate the life of this extraordinary woman.

Immersing herself in the world and times of her heroine, Sophie traces the journey of Mrs Beeton from modest childhood to wife, fashion journalist, editor and best-selling author, who died tragically at the age of 28. Along the way, Sophie tries out a few of Mrs Beeton's stalwarts such as carrot jam, pigeon pie and lobster à la Française to see whether they stand the test of time and still appeal to the modern palate.

Sophie also meets experts and historians who still cite Mrs Beeton as a powerful influence in today's society. Sophie cooks centuries-old recipes on a Victorian range with food historian Annie Gray; bakes cakes and biscuits with the Women's Institute; and recreates Mrs Beeton's cold cure with ethno-botanist James Wong.


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Home Cooking Made Easy – Comfort Ep 1/4

New series
Monday 26 September
8.30-9.00pm BBC TWO

Hot on the heels of her highly successful BBC Two series Baking Made Easy, Lorraine Pascale is back, spreading her culinary wings in a new feel-good series, Home Cooking Made Easy. Sharing her delicious home cooking recipes, secrets and passion, Lorraine uses her know-how to inspire everyone to home cook the food they love.

The series kicks off with easy recipes for comfort food, including a cosy deep orange and seasonally spicy roasted butternut squash soup with chilli and ginger, and two chocolate treats – chocolate marshmallow brown sugar fudge and peppermint creams sugar rush.

Pasta has got to be on the comfort menu and Lorraine thinks that life's definitely not too short to make your own. Her easy home-made cracked black pepper pasta is fantastic with a simple creamy pancetta, mushroom and parmesan sauce made from standby ingredients.

Comfort in a jar comes in the form of Asian chilli jam; it's ideal to give as a gift or eat by the fireside when the nights are drawing in.

Lorraine has got dessert covered too, with an unbelievably dramatic Swiss roll bowl cake. Lorraine says: "You can see why this is on my comfort cooking list – three ingredients, no cooking, huge rewards ... I love that."

And for dinner she thinks that after a hard day nothing beats five-spice baked ribs with a sticky honey sesame sauce. Home Cooking Made Easy is feel good, homely food at its very easiest.


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