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BBC Four's new programmes for spring

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Richard Klein Richard Klein | 10:00 UK time, Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Spring is here, the sap is rising and I am delighted to say that BBC Four has a whole host of wonderful and entertaining shows lined up this season.

A BBC Four audience is one that gets its kicks out of delighting in discourse. I believe that all human life can be found in almost any subject - it just requires some imagination and an insatiable curiosity.

And there's plenty on offer over the next six months to hopefully slake that thirst.

A shot from Green And Pleasant Land

One of the most exciting new shows is Scrapheap Orchestra, a 90-minute film based around a plan to construct an entire orchestra's instruments out of rubbish.

Not some environmental axe being ground, just a fun and sometimes insightful exercise in unpacking what makes instruments work. How do they produce sound, from a violin to a trombone, a drum to a timpani?

And this final 44-piece orchestra is going to prove that it can play proper as it were, by putting on a concert this summer and playing the 1812 Overture.

Another charmer on offer is a wonderfully spirited reassessment of British painting in the 20th century, British Masters.

While the rest of the world was busy discovering itself in abstraction, the British - from Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer, Graham Sutherland and Francis Bacon to David Hockney and Lucian Freud - were linking up with a very British painterly sensibility and producing some of the greatest figurative and landscape works of art of the 20th century.

And who better than art historian Dr James Fox to explore what he believes is an extraordinary flowering of this painterly genius?

By way of contrast, Regency is a three part series on that most dashing of periods - the British Regency of 1811 to 1820.

The mainstream is where BBC Four plies its trade, except the channel reflects that mainstream back in a nuanced, opinionated and provocative way.

And I'm delighted that the irrepressible Dr Lucy Worsley will explore a decade of riotous creativity, passions and, by no means least, outrageous behaviour.

Dr Lucy Worlsey, the presenter of Regency

At the heart of her series stands the compelling central figure of George, the Prince Regent himself. Have fun! Lucy certainly does.

It is spring, after all, and I was keen that the channel reflected what a wonderful moment in the year this always is - a new start, Easter and rebirth acknowledged and now a wonderful, glorious warming of the earth around us.

So to This Green And Pleasant Land, part of BBC Four's landscape moment.

Until relatively recently the idea of depicting what the countryside actually looked like was considered, if considered at all, frankly, bizarre.

This Green And Pleasant land recounts how gradually the glories of our natural surroundings took centre stage.

Look out, in the same season, for Tom Fort's heart-warming film about one of my favourite roads, the A303. It is a journey that spans 94 miles, four centuries and one man's motoring love affair.

To accompany this, we have not just Julia Bradbury back in her walking boots tramping along canals in Canal Walks, but a whole week on Iceland - with some fabulous scenery and scary tales from the Viking age.

There's also a whole season on plants and flowers headed up by our new series Botany: A Blooming History.

And there's tons more. In Afterlife, we're building an installation in Edinburgh's Zoological Gardens, filling it with loads of household goods and food and then turning up the heating to watch how things rot, decompose and, amazingly, go on to form the cornerstones and new building blocks of new life - very BBC Four.

Plus there's a film about Terence Rattigan, Rattigan by Benedict Cumberbatch, a season on how Britain filmed and documented itself, and a Luxury season.

And Timothy Spall's back on his boat, with his partner Shane, continuing his idiosyncratic sail around Britain in Timothy Spall: Somewhere On The Irish Sea.

Sarah Lund and her team in a shot of The Killing 2.

But enough of the lists, the best news is that The Killing is back.

After screening the most talked-about crime thriller in British television for years - The Killing 1 - I am delighted to say that this intense, complex and enthralling drama series is back, Shetland sweaters, Sarah Lund and all.

So relax and enjoy the turning of the seasons with BBC Four.

Richard Klein is the controller of BBC Four.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


  • Comment number 1.

    Good to have the return of The Killing confirmed. A pedant's point [before half a million people write in]: Sarah Lund's sweaters are Faroese not Shetland.

  • Comment number 2.

    I would like to congratulate BBC4 for showing The Killing, it was a brilliant series and I'm looking forward to the follow-up.

  • Comment number 3.

    in 1st series when they played recording of cell phone of murdered cop, it seemed to suggest it was Lund whod killed him. Yet earlier hed said hed seen someone elses torchlight in the building. ie. if theyd played this part, it would have been obvious she wasnt the murderer. Maybe someone can answer this point. But nevertheless an awesome series, best for years.

  • Comment number 4.

    I am probably repeating what has been said multiple times already but I must compliment the BBC for showing the recently completed 20-episode thriller series, The Killing. Seldom have I been caught up in such compelling drama. I became an addict, barely able to contain my craving till the next screening. The plotting was superb and the tension maintained throughout in a way suggesting tight directorial discipline. The characters were superbly done with special praise for the actress who played Perneille Birk Larson. Her depiction of complete bewilderment and almost paralysed bereavement was a masterclass of method acting and Marie Askehave was always absolutely toothsome in her role as Rie Skovgard, Troel's political assistant. This series was up there with The Wire and I can think of no higher praise than that.

  • Comment number 5.

    There are many things about the channel that I might point-up, but bottom line 'The Killing' keeps me manacled to the sofa, viewed through iplayer at ridiculous hours, not able to suppress the addiction. You might appreciate my relief at the announcement. I'm in the thrall of 'noir knitware' [if that be the correct term]. knowing it's faroese, even sweeter. i await correction

  • Comment number 6.

    Without doubt, The Killing is the best murder mystery thriller, and possibly the best series of any sort, ever to have been shown on TV. Like other viewers, I've raved over it to my friends and, notwithstanding iPlayer, I really hope that BBC decide to repeat the first series for the benefit of the millions who missed out and who would like to see it on the TV screen. BBC1 next time?

  • Comment number 7.

    And the best bit is at the bottom - good to see having seen the Series 2 teaser at the end of the last episode!!

  • Comment number 8.

    Thanks for all your comments, everyone - great to get the feedback.

    Shetland jumper man - yes, sorry! My mistake. I used to have one, and a Fair Isle sweater too, hence the mix up but you're absolutely right - Sarah Lund wears a Faroese sweater. Next time I do an interview I'll wear one!

    By the way, if you like The Killing, you might like Spiral, our new French cop thriller drama on Saturday nights. It is another gripping who-dunnit, tougher perhaps than The Killing and a little more cop and town hall focused but just as enthralling and beautifully scripted. Try it.

    And by the way, BBC Four is reapeating the whole of The Killing in July. Can you wait?

    Also, just come off the Richard Bacon Radio Five Live afternoon show, which was fun. He was interviewing me about BBC Four's new Spring and Summer season programmes and it did give me a chance to mention another great up-and-coming show, our dashing new history series all about the Regency. Mr Darcy, at last, graces BBC Four!


  • Comment number 9.

    Can someone tell me what's happened to Room at the Top advertised for 7th April 21.00 and now mysteriously replavced by Fanny Hill

  • Comment number 10.

    I don't think we're supposed to talk about R*** A* T** T**.

    I mean if we were, they'd have shown it, or at least explained, but despite having a stonking big website and eight telly channels and goodness knows how many radio stations, it has been disappeared.

    Next you'll be asking why Nurse Jackie is never on and you have to hang about outside the station lavs to be handed a piece of paper saying when the next episode will be shown.

  • Comment number 11.

    Can we also ask what has happened to Room at the Top BBC4, and why is it impossible to find out through your Web site.

  • Comment number 12.

    A few of us are asking but we aren't getting any answers.

    Did you know the controller of BBC 4 is paid a quarter of a million pounds a year, but he can't be bothered to come to the website to answer our question?

  • Comment number 13.

    I, too, would like to know what happened to Room at the Top and am puzzled by the absence of an explanation either on air or on the website.

  • Comment number 14.

    I wonder if BBC will repeat series 1 before the next series. I have been away and missed a lot of eps and should love to catch up with this excellent series.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi all, I'm afraid Richard is not around to reply today, but as BBC Four's press person I thought I would give you a quick update. Thanks for asking about Room At The Top. As Mach a Seo, Hewson Queen and others on here have already noted, it didn't go out last night. A potential contractual issue has emerged in the last few days which means that we have had to postpone it. Sorry to everyone who was looking forward to seeing it last night.

  • Comment number 16.

    OK, so there was a "potential contractual issue". But why not give out this information, possibly in conjunction with an apology, rather than simply trying to airbrush Room at the Top from the schedule?

  • Comment number 17.

    I agree. The big story, since you're a press officer, is that you kept all this a secret, and even getting this statement from you was an effort. The fact that licence payers are getting this information from a press officer rather than the heid man suggests very strongly that the news is being managed.

    Why weren't you open with licence payers to begin with?

    Why is there still no explanation on the web page for RATT?

  • Comment number 18.

    A propos The Killing, has anyone mentioned the fantastic music? Not intrusive but just there, underlining the storyline, with a great buildup at the end of every episode. Does anyone know who wrote it?

  • Comment number 19.


    On the subject of "Euro crime", I asked on DigitalSpy for suggestions as to what BBC4 could get in the future for our delectation. Not sure if it's OK to post a URL so here's a "brief summary" of stuff that was suggested:

    From Italy, "Inspector Montalbano" - more please!
    From France, "Maigret", "A Cran" and "Central Nuit"
    From Sweden, "Beck", "Irene Hess", (plus some not-yet-shown Lassgard "Wallanders", but you may already have those planned?)
    From Norway, "Varg Veum" (quite a few suggested that)
    From Russia, and old series about "Sherlock Holmes"
    From Germany, "Tatort", "SOKO"
    From Denmark, "The Eagle", "The Protectors"
    From Finland, "Raid"
    From Belgium, "Witse"

    There are other suggestions as well. If someone can let me know if it's OK to post a link to the DigitalSpy thread, I'll post it so you can read all of them.

    As I hope you can see, there's plenty to choose from!


  • Comment number 20.

    Just one question, I loved the recent series "The Killing", but think I must have missed something vital, as I joined in about the 6th episode. Can someone please explain to me, what exactly happened in the flat used by the councellors, as the murder of Nanna happened in a different flat owned by her parents. I am really confused!! Thank you very much, Mary

  • Comment number 21.

    Hi maryfraqnk (and anybody else still scratching their heads after watching The Killing),

    If you go to the BBC's Buzz page for The Killing, it links to plenty of bloggers who've explained the plot and attempted to tie up any loose ends - there should be a few answers, and further discussion there.

    A quick word of warning - some of the blogs will contain spoilers, so anybody who's not watched the last episode might want to wait until they've finished it before exploring what other bloggers have to say about it.

    Assistant Content Producer, BBC blog

  • Comment number 22.

    Hello Florestana #18,
    About the music - tracklistings for episode one have now gone up on the The Killing programme page. They're working on extracting tracklistings for further episodes if possible. Thanks for your comment.

  • Comment number 23.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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