The BBC is delighted to announce it is partnering with Battersea Arts Centre and Arts Council England in a collaboration with independent theatre-makers from across England and bringing them together to create five pieces of genre-busting theatre for BBC Four and iPlayer.
Live from Television Centre will feature interweaving and eclectic performances from Gecko, Richard Dedomenici, Touretteshero and Common Wealth across a two-hour live broadcast on BBC Four on Sunday 15 November 2015 at 9pm (transmission date TBC). Islington Community Theatre will create a fifth performance released exclusively on BBC iPlayer the same day.
All will be filmed in the iconic Television Centre complex, the headquarters of BBC Television between 1960 and 2013, at locations within Studio One and the Drama Block for the BBC’s first live broadcast there since 2013. This exciting development in theatre for television will include brand new performances and adaptations of existing pieces with short pre-recorded segments integrated with the live broadcast.
Live from Television Centre is part of the BBC’s On Stage - a season of programming across the BBC that celebrates all of Britain’s incredible theatre talent, from world-class actors to cutting-edge regional theatre.
Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor of BBC Four, says: “This project will see live television happening at Television Centre for the first time since the building was decommissioned in 2013. It’s going to be surprising, moving and a lot of fun, as BBC Four opens up the airwaves to a range of voices in our society, and new approaches to making performance, that haven’t had the benefit of a primetime TV showcase ever before.”
Jonty Claypole, Director of Arts at the BBC, says: “Live at Television Centre will make a connection between one of the great factories of live TV and some of the most pioneering new talent working in theatre today. We’re delighted to be partnering with Arts Council England and Battersea Arts Centre to bring this to audiences across the UK.”
David Jubb, Artistic Director and CEO of Battersea Arts Centre, says: “For a long time, theatre created by independent artists has been perceived as fringe or experimental, as opposed to that created by big-building-based theatres. This has always seemed odd to me because much of the theatre by independent artists is deeply accessible. In the music business, independent bands and musicians have mass followings and there is wide appreciation of the value they contribute to the scene. So I am excited by this first step in UK theatre and for these five independent theatre makers to present their work to a larger audience on television. I am delighted this collaboration is happening between Battersea Arts Centre, Arts Council England and the BBC because I think the ideas and perspectives of these independent theatre-makers can speak to a large audience who might not be interested in more conventional forms of theatre.”
Neil Darlison, Director of Theatre at Arts Council England, says: “I am delighted we’re able to support this exciting and innovative project. I hope it will attract new audiences to theatre whilst exploring new ways for theatre and programme-makers to collaborate on commissioning and creating new work for television, online and other platforms.”
The Time of Your Life | Gecko
Since 2001, Gecko has been pushing the boundaries of dance and theatre with their unique brand of beautiful and visceral storytelling. They will kick-off Live From Television Centre with an electrifying performance with an ordinary man at its heart. Desperate to feel different and to find a real human connection in a world consumed by social networks and mass advertising, the man embarks on a journey through rooms representing different milestones in his life. The rooms are transformed using the powerful visual effects of theatre to create an increasingly vivid world for the viewer that disintegrates just as quickly as it appears.
The Redux Project | Richard Dedomenici Memorable moments from 43 years of BBC Television Centre are audaciously recreated in meticulous detail by artist and raconteur Richard Dedomenici, who has made an art form of simultaneously recreating, or ‘reduxing’, scenes from film and television. Dedomenici both sends-up and celebrates moments from early Eurovision Song Contests, Top Of The Pops and BBC News by imaginatively deploying an arsenal of makeshift props, playfully dissecting the broadcast format and encouraging viewers to make their own television too.
Broadcast from Biscuit Land | Touretteshero Artist Jess Thom has Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological condition that gives her a unique perspective on life and makes her say ‘biscuit’ 16,000 times a day. Jess will be filmed in her makeshift dressing room as she prepares for her television debut as part of the Live From Television Centre finale. But as props and costumes are delivered to her door it becomes apparent that her verbal tics have led to comic misunderstandings. She’s left to wonder if half an hour will be enough time to make it to set in one piece and if her act in the impending finale will run to plan.
No Guts, No Heart, No Glory | Common Wealth, co-produced by Contact Based on interviews with Muslim female boxers and former National Champion Ambreen Sadiq, No Guts, No Heart, No Glory was devised in collaboration with five 16-22-year-old Pakistani Muslim women from Bradford. The Scotsman Fringe First-winning show has been performed in a boxing clubs across the UK as well as in the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. Using punchy text and lightning-quick boxing moves, the performance will skew stereotypes and celebrate fearlessness.
Brainstorm | Islington Community Theatre (BBC iPlayer exclusive) Following an acclaimed sell-out run at the National Theatre in July 2015, Islington Community Theatre invites viewers on an exhilarating journey through the lives, bedrooms and brains of teenagers in a BBC iPlayer exclusive. Brainstorm reveals the science behind adolescent brain development, drawing upon life experiences of the cast, and made in collaboration with leading cognitive neuroscientist Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore. Created by one of the UK’s leading theatre companies making work with young people, Brainstorm is a thrilling exploration of the most frustrating, chaotic and exhilarating changes that every teenager faces.
Notes to Editors
Live from Television Centre has been executive produced for the BBC by Peter Maniura and commissioned by Mark Bell.
Live from Television Centre is part of On Stage - a season of programming across the BBC that celebrates all of Britain’s incredible theatre talent, from world-class actors to cutting-edge regional theatre. With filmed theatre productions, specially created performances for television, drama, documentaries, online and radio content, On Stage will put the country’s theatre into the spotlight. On Stage is part of the year-long Get Creative campaign launched in collaboration with What Next?, a movement championing the role of culture in our society.
Television Centre was sold to developer Stanhope for £200m and from this year the BBC will be saving £30m per year in bills and maintenance it would otherwise have been paying if the building was occupied. This has played a significant part in putting the BBC on course to saving in excess of £75 million a year on property costs by 2017.
Battersea Arts Centre
More information about Battersea Arts Centre is available at bac.org.uk.
Television Centre is being redeveloped to become a mix of office and television studio space, 950 new homes, cafes, restaurants, a gym and a new private members’ club. The BBC is retaining a presence at Television Centre with BBC Worldwide’s new headquarters opened in April 2015, and the studios being operated by BBC Studios and Post Production from 2017.