BBC Two has cemented its reputation for distinctive, original drama and comedy with more RTS wins than any channel, including awards for Marvellous, Harry And Paul’s Story Of The Twos and Inside No 9...Kim Shillinglaw
Date: 28.08.2015 Last updated: 28.08.2015 at 17.52
Speaking today at the Edinburgh Television Festival, Kim Shillinglaw, Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, talks about her first year at the helm of BBC Two and announces a wide range of new titles, which demonstrate her ambition for the channel.
New adaptation of China Mieville’s acclaimed fantasy thriller The City And The City, from Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas writer Tony Grisoni
New comedy about the making of Dad’s Army starring Paul Ritter, Shane Ritchie, John Sessions, Sally Phillips and Kevin Bishop
Major new season goes behind the scenes of Britain’s Black Economy
New historical entertainment series searches for the Ultimate Gladiator
Unprecedented access to Barack Obama’s White House in new documentary series from Norma Percy
Maxim Shostakovich conducts a special performance of his father’s 7th Symphony as part of new Russia season across BBC Two and BBC Four
Kim Shillinglaw says: “I’m proud BBC Two is in such good shape, with recent highlights ranging from the distinctive and powerful documentary series The Detectives to the important journalism of Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, and from the stunning natural history of Japan: Earth’s Enchanted Islands to the compelling true-story drama, The Scandalous Lady W, our third-highest drama launch this year.
"BBC Two has cemented its reputation for distinctive, original drama and comedy with more RTS wins than any channel, including awards for Marvellous, Harry And Paul’s Story Of The Twos and Inside No 9, and Emmy nominations for the Honourable Woman and Wolf Hall.
"I want BBC Two to give writers and directors the space to do their most creative, signature work and I’m really proud to be announcing an adaptation of China Mielville’s novel, The City And The City. Mieville is one of the country’s foremost fantasy writers and I’m really pleased that we are bringing his highly original voice to the screen, adapted by acclaimed writer Tony Grisoni. And who can resist the behind-the-scenes story of the making of British legend, Dad’s Army, brought to us by a highly talented on and off screen team?
"I also want BBC Two to be part of the national conversation, tackling contemporary issues in lively and intelligent ways. As Britain emerges from years of unprecedented economic turbulence, our Black Economy season explores how different levels of society are coping. From tax havens to get-rich-quick schemes, who are the winners – and who are the losers in Britain’s Black Economy?
"The entertainment content I’m announcing illustrates how BBC Two can be uniquely both entertaining and enlightening - from searching for the Ultimate Gladiator in a highly immersive, historically accurate setting to the launch of a challenging new history quiz hosted by Kirsty Young.
"Finally, the close relationship between BBC Two and BBC Four continues to be of great importance to me and I’m delighted to be announcing a new season across both channels looking at Russia, with BBC Two recreating an extraordinary moment of defiance during the siege of Leningrad in 1942 whilst on BBC Four, Lucy Worsley takes a deeper look at the Romanov dynasty.”
BBC Two - Supporting writers and directors to do their most creative work
The City And The City
Tony Grisoni (Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, Southcliffe, The Red Riding Trilogy, The Unloved) adapts this existential thriller from one of Britain’s most distinctive fantasy writers. China Mielville, three-time winner of the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award, published The City In The City in 2009 to dazzling acclaim and drew comparisons with Kafka, Orwell and Philip K Dick.
In a new departure for fantasy that will challenge the head as well as the senses, the body of a mutilated foreign student is discovered in the streets of the crumbling European city of Besźel. Cases like this are run of the mill for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad - until his investigations uncover evidence that the dead girl had been involved in the political turmoil between Besźel and its 'twin city' of Ul Qoma, in a universe of parallel worlds. For Borlú to solve the case he will be required to go on an odyssey of the mind, a journey across borders that must be 'unseen', to the city which is both a complement and rival to his own.
The City And The City is to be produced by Mammoth Screen (Poldark, Parade's End). Mammoth's Rebecca Keane, Preethi Mavahalli and Damien Timmer developed the project with producer Robyn Slovo (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and Tony Grisoni.
The Making of Dad's Army (w/t)
The dramatised story of how Jimmy Perry and David Croft overcame BBC management scepticism, focus groups and cast constipation to get the much loved legend onto air.
Running from Perry's initial idea in 1967 until the transmission of the first episode in 1968, this affectionate and witty film shows the beginnings of Perry and Croft's writing partnership and the casting woes, personal clashes and production difficulties that put the show's very existence in jeopardy. It reveals to fans and newcomers alike what went on behind the scenes in the making of Dad's Army and is a true love letter to British creativity.
Cast confirmed so far includes: Paul Ritter to play Jimmy Perry (Friday Night Dinner, The World's End, Quantum of Solace), Richard Dormer as David Croft (Fortitude, Good Vibrations, Game of Thrones), John Sessions to play Arthur Lowe (Filth, Gangs Of New York), Julian Sands as John Le Mesurier (The Killing Fields, The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo, A Room With a View), Mark Heap as Clive Dunn (Friday Night Dinner, Green Wing & Spaced), Shane Richie to play Bill Pertwee (EastEnders), Kevin Bishop as James Beck (The Kevin Bishop Show, Whites), Keith Allen to play Paul Fox (Bodies, Robin Hood, The Comic Strip Presents…), Michael Cochrane as Arnold Ridley (The Archers), Ralph Riach (Braveheart, Hamish Macbeth) to play John Laurie and Sally Phillips as Ann Croft (Smack The Pony, Bridget Jones' Diary, Miranda). Further cast details will be announced at a later date.
The Making of Dad's Army (w/t) is a 1 x 60' episode. It is being produced by DSP, part of Endemol Shine Group. It was commissioned by Shane Allen, Controller BBC Comedy Commissioning and Gregor Sharp, Commissioning Editor BBC Comedy. It was written by Stephen Russell (Hattie, Shameless, Coronation Street, Garrow's Law) and will be directed by Steve Bendelack (Spitting Image, the Royle Family, The League of Gentlemen). The Executive Producers are Charlotte Surtees and Emily Dalton and the Producer is Brett Wilson at DSP. The drama will be filmed in Northern Ireland and has been part funded by Northern Ireland Screen.
This sumptuous drama is set in a world of power, politics, betrayal, lust and declarations of war. The year is 1667 and King Louis XIV is a 28 year-old monarch on the cusp of greatness. A 17th century rock star and an utterly ruthless leader, he will stop at nothing to seize control of France and his enemies - and his weapon is the construction of a new seat of power and authority – the most beautiful palace in Europe and a symbol of absolute monarchy: Versailles.
Versailles takes the period genre to new dimensions, injecting a vibrant modernity into an era that put France at the epicentre of glamour, culture and fashion. The series stars George Blagden (Les Miserables, The Vikings) and Alexander Vlahos (Merlin) as Louis and his brother Philippe and was brought to life by a critically acclaimed creative team including showrunners Simon Mirren (Without a Trace, Criminal Minds), David Wolstencroft (Spooks, The Escape Artist), producers Claude Chelli (Braquo) and Anne Thomopoulos (Rome, The Tudors) and director Jalil Lespert (Yves Saint Laurent).
To accompany the drama, historians Lucy Worsley and Helen Castor draw back the curtain on the seductive world of the real Louis XIV to reveal how he became the longest serving absolute monarch in European history. As they discover in this special one hour film, it was a feat all the more remarkable as he presided over a court beset by Machiavelian intrigue, revenge, sexual scandal and bitter betrayal.
Versailles, Palace of the Playboy King is Executive Produced by Eamon Hardy, BBC Television.
Great acting talent, Olivier Award winner and Bafta-nominated actress, Lesley Manville (Another Year) and Peter Mullan (Stonemouth, Top Of The Lake) are confirmed in the lead roles in this new comedy from the creative team behind the Bafta award-winning Him & Her.
Lesley Manville stars as 'Mum', a mother at a milestone in her life after her husband Dave's death. She is joined by Peter Mullan who plays supportive life-long friend Michael. Through a year of new beginnings she rebuilds her life surrounded by her family; Sam Swainsbury plays her son Jason and Lisa McGrillis plays his girlfriend Kelly. Sibling support is offered up from Ross Boatman who plays her brother Derek, with Dorothy Atkinson as his new partner, Pauline. Cathy’s in-laws are played by Karl Johnson (currently on stage with Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet) and Anna Karen (On The Buses).
Mum is being made by Big Talk Productions, the Writer/Executive Producer is Stefan Golaszewski, the Director, Richard Laxton, the Producer is Lyndsay Robinson and the Executive Producer is Kenton Allen.
BBC Two - Part of the national conversation
Britain's Black Economy season
Britain’s black economy is said to be worth more than £150 billion a year - 10 percent of our total GDP. It’s all around us - and most of us are in on it, operating out of view of the tax-man. Half the British public - over 30 million of us - admit dipping into to it. This season examines how its tentacles spread from the top to the bottom of British society.
As we emerge from years of unprecedented turbulence and face new austerity measure ahead, this season of programmes explores how different levels of society are coping. How do the wealthy and big multinationals use tax havens to protect their profits? How are ordinary people lured into get-rich-quick schemes and what are the tricks of the trade in Britain’s backstreet economy?
BBC Two goes behind the scenes to discover how Britain's Black Economy really works. Who are the winners - and who the losers?
Britain's Trillion Pound Paradise - Inside Cayman
How do the wealthy operate in the shadowy world of the global black economy?
Four and a half thousand miles away from here lies a secretive slice of Britain; a sun-soaked Caribbean paradise the size of Bognor Regis: the Cayman Islands.
Watched over by a Governor appointed from Whitehall, the Caymans are well and truly British. But with one big difference: no-one seems to be paying a penny of tax. Not locals. Not expats. Not big global corporations. And thanks to this tax-free status, Cayman has built a finance industry that's brought one and a half trillion pounds into its banks. There are twice as many companies registered here as there are people.
But what's really going on? Is it tax avoidance on an epic scale? President Obama thought so - he described one building here, Ugland House, home to nearly 20,000 registered companies, as "either the biggest building, or the biggest tax scam, on record". And are our household brand names mixed up in it?
Now Jacques Peretti has been given unprecedented access to Cayman's politicians and financiers, its millionaires and the ordinary British expats who've built a life here in the sun. He's on a mission to get to the heart of what makes Cayman tick - and to uncover the unexpected truth about what its existence really means for all of us.
The Executive Producer is Lucy Hetherington. It is being Produced by Chalkboard TV.
Just how tempting is it to flirt with easy money when you’re an ordinary law-abiding middle class pillar of the community?
Pyramid Women is a 90-minute drama written by George Kay (My Mad Fat Diary, Our Zoo, Stag), which tells the story of ordinary law-abiding women who find themselves caught up in an extraordinary series of events.
Inspired by real events, this film tells the story of a vast Pyramid Get Rich scheme which challenges friendships and takes communities to breaking point. It follows the story of best friends Anita and Louise, who are both drawn into and captivated by a scheme that offers them the chance to re-write their future.
The scheme is so organised, it has its own committee. Run by a group of normal middle-class pensioners, they are shown how to create wealth without needing permission from husbands and partners and without hurting anyone. Or so it seems.
Loyalties are tested and friendships become frayed when the women and committee find themselves at the heart of a serious investigation and a cat and mouse game with the authorities.
Pyramid Schemes have taken communities by storm all over the world at various times in the last decade. They are unsustainable and eventually people lose their money. For example, the Give & Take (‘G&T’) syndicate in Bristol hit the headlines when the Competition and Markets Authority (formerly the OFT) orchestrated an investigation to shut it down which resulted in three court cases over two years and led to five women being sent to prison. It was worth £20million and had more than 10,000 members. Under consumer legislation Pyramid schemes like these are not legal and operating and promoting one is now punishable by law.
The Executive Producers are Samantha Anstiss, Caroline Skinner and Claire Faragher.
Black Economy Grafters
No-one is more strapped for cash than those at the economic bottom, so why pay more than you have to, especially if much of it ends up in the hands of the taxman? Britain’s black economy grafters will sort you out, and you’ll have some spare cash to treat the family. The way they see it, they dice with the law so the rest of us don’t quite have to...
This character-driven film will spend a few months in the lives of the grafters - and the people out to get them. Each year, the government loses £1.3 billion in taxes to counterfeiting, and taxpayers lose nearly £2 billion a year in revenue from tobacco smuggling alone. And that’s not even counting the millions spent on chasing down and prosecuting these black profiteers. As well as our cast of outspoken grafters, this film will follow some of the dogged investigators perpetually on their trail: the Trading Standards agents and private detectives whose job it is to stop them. The film will focus on the lives of three different sets of grafters: counterfeiters, ticket touts and tobacco smugglers.
The Executive Producer is Samantha Anstiss and the director is Max Shapira.
BBC Two – Powerful documentaries
With unprecedented access to Barack Obama’s White House, this series from Norma Percy’s acclaimed documentary team (The Death Of Yugoslavia, Putin, Russia & The West, The Iraq War) tells the inside stories of Obama’s greatest successes and failures. Four one-hour programmes look at how he brought America out of the Great Recession faster than anywhere else; how his triumphant reform of America's healthcare system was followed by defeat at the polls at the hands of the Tea Party; the inside story of the secret nuclear negotiations with Iran; and how he has so far failed to close down Guantanamo or pass gun control. This is one of the most important stories of our times, told with Norma Percy’s trademark distinctiveness.
This innovative new film documents the investigation of an alleged British miscarriage of justice. In an experimental new form, the series will interweave layers of unfolding narrative, telling the past tense story of the crime along with the present tense investigation. The series examines the details of a historic conviction in order to ask the question: is the right person in prison?
It is Produced by Raw, the Director is James Newton (The Detectives) and the Executive Producer is Richard Bond.
BBC Two - Entertainment that enlightens
They were the Rockstars of the Roman Empire. The legend of the gladiators of the arena has long outlived the society that bore them. Now, a group of 21st century men have the opportunity to walk in these great warriors’ sandals, as they learn to live, train and go into combat in The Ultimate Gladiator.
As they’ll discover, in Roman times, some gladiators enjoyed extraordinary fame and wealth and even had fan clubs. Treated like champion race horses by their owners, they lived on a strict vegetarian diet, drank only water and had access to the very best medical techniques.
Our modern day contributors will learn more about this world and discover the distinct types of gladiators that existed, each with their own individual silhouette, legend, weapons and fighting style from the Thraex, a heavily-armoured fighter carried a shield and an exotic curved sword called a sica to the Retiarius, who carried a trident and net.
It will be a gruelling ordeal requiring precise techniques and skills, guaranteed to push even the toughest competitors to find out what it took to be a gladiator. They will be doing it for real but protected by ground breaking technology.
Filmed entirely in on location, with the bouts taking place in an authentic setting, this series will uncover the surprising world of some of history’s toughest individuals.
The series will be made by BBC Entertainment, working in partnership with BBC Specialist Factual. It was developed by Ana De Moraes, Damon Pattison, and Jason Bidmead from BBC Central Development, Rachel Ashdown is the Commissioning Editor and it will be overseen by Head of Format, Clare Pizey. Cameron Balbirnie is the Co-Executive Producer.
Dance Hall Days
BBC Two is on a mission to revive the glory days of the British Dance Hall in this new three-part series. Dance Hall Daysfollows renowned choreographer Jack Murphy as he leads a dance hall revival in the Greater Manchester town of Bolton. During his 30 year career in film and theatre, Jack has specialised in historical dance, teaching Daniel Craig to jive and Emily Blunt to waltz.
He believes a new generation is missing out on the community spirit and social interaction the dance halls offered. Like thousands of other original dance hall patrons his parents met on the dance floor in the 1950s. Now Jack's hoping to start a revival and is taking over a once glamorous Dance Hall in Bolton. The Palais de Danse, a venue that once hosted Come Dancing, was at the heart of Bolton's social scene until it became a discotheque in the late 1970s. Jack hopes to throw open the doors to the Palais but a revival relies on a whole new generation of locals of all ages learning the dance hall classics. Can Jack get the locals to dance arm in arm and waltz, tango and jive?
The Executive Producers are Rachel Arnold and Becky Clarke.
The Great History Quiz
Hosted by Kirsty Young, this new quiz show gives viewers the chance to pit their wits against some of the country’s most respected historians. Between them, they’ve racked up 16 university degrees, published 18 books and contributed to more than 200 hours of television. They are author and broadcaster Dr Kate Williams; author and Horrible Histories consultant Greg Jenner; and team captain Dr Lucy Worsley, Joint Chief Curator at Royal Palaces. Challenging them are author and broadcaster Dr Anna Whitelock, architectural historian Dr Jonathan Foyle and their Team Captain the broadcaster Dan Snow.
This hour-long special is dedicated to that notorious dynasty the Tudors, who ruled the country from 1485 to 1603 and changed the face of British history forever. Across seven fascinating and challenging rounds The Great History Quiz will bring the kings, queens, courtiers, noblemen and women, sailors and discoverers, heroes and villains, playwrights and poets, rogues and vagabonds who helped shape this extraordinary period back to life.
The History Quiz was commissioned by Pinki Chambers, the Executive Producer is Caroline Wright and the Producers are Genevieve Dolittle and Jon Kelly.
BBC Two and BBC Four working together - Russia
To accompany BBC One’s major adaptation of War And Peace, BBC Two and BBC Four are coming together to celebrate key moments in Russia’s epic cultural history. On BBC Two The Siege of Leningrad tells the astonishing story behind an extraordinary moment of artistic defiance during one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history, the Nazi Siege of Leningrad in 1942; whilst on BBC Four Lucy Worsley travels to Russia to reveal the story of the extraordinary creative powerhouse that was the Romanov dynasty.
The Siege of Leningrad
On Sunday 9 August 1942 a concert took place in Leningrad that defies belief. A year before, the Germans had begun the deadliest siege in history that would kill 750,000 civilians. Now, in the midst of the terror, a starving group of musicians assembled in Leningrad to perform Shostakovich’s mighty 7th Symphony. The piece had been smuggled back into the city to which it truly belonged, having been completed by the composer in exile and performed around the world as the siege continued, for this extraordinary moment of defiance inside the city. For the first time, this new film tells the story through music, archive and first-hand testimony and a special performance of Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony conducted by the son of the composer, Maxim Shostakovich, who has agreed to appear, especially for the film.
Rekindling their successful partnership (in BBC Two’s award-winning Messiah At The Foundling Hospital and this year’s La Traviata And The Women Of London) historian Amanda Vickery will explore the astonishing story of the city, its people and the siege and BBC Radio 3 broadcaster Tom Service will lift the lid on Shostakovich and his music. Tom and Amanda’s journeys will be underpinned by extracts from Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony (the ‘Leningrad’) specially performed for the film by the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra in the exact location of that historic concert - the Shostakovich Philharmonic Hall.
The Siege of Leningrad will be made by Reef Television: it will be produced and directed by Tim Kirby; the executive producers are Ben Weston, head of specialist factual at Reef Television, and Liz Hartford. The film has been commissioned for BBC Two by Cassian Harrison and Jan Younghusband.
The Real Romanovs: Russia’s Absolute Dynasty - BBC Four
Lucy Worsley travels to Russia to tell the extraordinary story of the dynasty that ruled the country for more than three centuries. It’s an epic tale that includes giant figures such as Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, the devastating struggle against Napoleon in 1812, and the shocking murders of Nicholas II and his family in 1918 which brought the dynasty to a brutal end.
The Romanovs were the most powerful European monarchs since the Middle Ages, wielding unmatched authority into the 20th century. Lucy will see how they embraced and sponsored the arts on an astonishing scale, commissioning artworks and building spectacular palaces that still dazzle today. Yet many ordinary Russians were little better than slaves, and the failure of the Romanovs to address their condition would ultimately lead to revolution.
In this new three-part series, Lucy will apply her characteristic insight, attention to detail and wit to the Romanov dynasty. Her understanding of royal tradition and culture, and her gift for bringing historical characters vividly to life, will create a fresh and compelling account of this unique royal family.