These new commissions demonstrate my ambition for BBC Two - to bring the increasingly complex and changing world to the audience through challenging perspectives, human engagement and great storytelling.Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two
Date: 23.08.2017 Last updated: 23.08.2017 at 10.00
Speaking today at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two, announced a range of ambitious new titles across factual, arts, comedy and drama.
Major new interactive history series explores the story of the 20th Century through the people who made it
New documentary series goes behind the scenes of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at a time when UK's global relationships are in state of unprecedented flux.
New film profiling legendary artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat
New documentary series has unique access to British Army during a period of intense change over the last year
Acclaimed director John Singleton’s first drama for TV, Snowfall, comes to BBC Two (pictured above)
The League of Gentlemen reunite after 15 years for three special new episodes
Patrick Holland says: “It has been an exhilarating year on BBC Two with major new series like Hospital commanding headlines and standout pieces like King Charles III, Muslims Like Us and Top Of The Lake winning critical praise.
"It is hugely exciting to be guiding the channel as it evolves to be ever more timely, challenging and mischievous. BBC Two has a mission to question and innovate, so its success cannot be judged on audience figures alone. However, it’s fantastic to see the channel in such great shape with share up year on year for all hours and peak. I’m proud that we have shown such a wide range of highly acclaimed and successful programmes across the genres.
"I’m pleased to be announcing today a number of brilliant new titles for the channel, from an ambitious new history series telling the story of the 20th century to the much anticipated return of The League Of Gentlemen. Elsewhere, I’m delighted that we are bringing John Singleton’s singular, mesmerising vision of early 80's LA to BBC Two and that we are profiling the extraordinarily talented artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in a new film with access to his sisters who have never spoken before about their brother on television.
"These new commissions demonstrate my ambition for BBC Two - to bring the increasingly complex and changing world to the audience through challenging perspectives, human engagement and great storytelling.”
Please note: All titles are working titles.
Icons: The Story Of The 20th Century
BBC Two is launching a major new global history series telling the definitive story of the 20th Century through the people who made it.
From the individuals who came to define our concept of what a great leader is or were instrumental in the struggle for equality and civil rights to those whose inventions transformed the way we live or whose work came to enrich and influence the lives of billions, the series tells the story of a century of seismic change through the lives of the iconic figures who made it.
Each individual episode, presented by a well-known public figure will focus on a particular field - leaders, scientists, activists, artists, revolutionaries, inventors and entertainers - with the presenter identifying three particular icons of the 20th century. The historical figures will be chosen by a panel of experts according to their achievements and legacy. The presenters will tell the story of their icons, demonstrating how the world changed and how the lives and achievements of these people have a direct impact on our lives today.
At the end of each programme, the public will be asked to vote for their winner in that category. The series will finish with a live final where the presenters will champion the winner in their category and the overall winner, the ultimate icon of the 20th Century - will be chosen in a final vote.
The series will be accompanied by a rich and dynamic online and social media presence and will partner with museums, foundations and educational institutions across the country.
Icons: The Story Of The 20th Century (8x60) was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. It is being made by 72 Films in partnership with the Open University and the Executive Producers are David Glover and Mark Raphael.
Inside The Foreign Office
For the first time in more than twenty years BBC Two has been granted access to one of our most fascinating and most prestigious government departments, yet arguably one of the least understood: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Filming will take place during a crucial 12 months when the FCO plays a pivotal role responding to a fast changing, unpredictable world. The organisation and its staff will be tackling global conflicts from Syria and Somalia to Ukraine and Libya; they’ll be fighting to maintain our precious international influence as we exit the EU, forging crucial relationships with the new US administration in Washington as well as repositioning Britain in the middle east, in Europe and the world beyond. The series will examine how the FCO promotes Britain’s interests overseas and works to keep UK citizens and businesses safe. It will explore what diplomats really do for us in the 21st century and interrogate the pleasures and pressures their unique role brings.
The three-part series from BBC Studios will feature staff on the front line dealing with the thousands of Britons abroad seeking help, right up to the senior figures tasked with redefining Britain’s role on the world stage.
Inside The Foreign Office (3x60) was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning Documentaries. The Commissioning Editor is Danny Horan. It is being made by BBC Studios where the Executive Producers are Aysha Rafaele, Creative Director, The Documentary Unit, and Shona Thompson.
Army: Behind The New Frontlines
This new three-part observational documentary series has unique access to the British Army during one of the most testing moments in its history, as it tackles recruiting and budgetary challenges whilst addressing complex new threats at home and overseas; this is the untold story of the British Army during an intense period of change.
Filmed over 12 months, the series follows British soldiers as they operate across the globe, and witnesses the British Army tackling terrorism in Iraq during the battle to liberate Mosul, a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan and Russian aggression in the Baltic States.
With intimate access to all ranks from the Head of the British Army to new recruits, these three films will explore the multiple roles the British Army fulfil in some of the most troubled parts of the world.
Army: Behind The New Frontlines (3x60) was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, BBC Documentaries. It is being made by Wild Pictures where the Executive Producers are Paul Hamann and Tom Anstiss, and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Jamie Balment. The Series Producer is Matt Haan and Richard Wyllie is the Producer/Director.
Los Angeles, 1983: a storm is coming and its name is cocaine.
Following an ensemble cast of characters set on an intense collision course, Snowfall explores the infancy of the crack cocaine epidemic and the major impact it had on American society and culture. Franklin Saint (Damson Idris - main picture) is a young street entrepreneur on a quest for success, whilst Gustavo Zapata (Sergio Peris-Mencheta - pictured above) is a Mexican wrestler caught up in a power struggle in a Mexican crime family. Lucia Villanueva (Emily Rios) is the self-possessed daughter of a Mexican crime lord, and Teddy McDonald (Carter Hudson) is a CIA operative running from a dark past who begins an off-book operation to fund the Nicaraguan Contras.
Snowfall (10x60) was created by Boyz n the Hood director John Singleton, alongside Eric Amadio and Dave Andron, who also serves as showrunner. Its Executive Producers are Singleton, Andron, Amadio, plus Thomas Schlamme, Michael London and Trevor Engelson. The series has been acquired by Patrick Holland and Sue Deeks, Head of Programme Acquisition, for BBC Two. It is distributed by 20th Century Fox Television Distribution and will air on BBC Two this autumn.
Basquiat: Rage To Riches
Nearly 30 years after his death from a drug overdose in 1988, the legendary artist Jean-Michel Basquiat managed to take the world by storm yet again, when one of his Skull paintings from 1982 recently sold at Sotheby’s for the record-breaking sum of over 100 million dollars. The monetary value and art historical importance of work by this former Downtown NYC graffiti artist is now considered alongside the stars of 20th Century painting such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Francis Bacon.
This film features exclusive interviews with Basquiat’s two sisters - Lisane and Jeanine Basquiat - who have never before talked about their brother and his art for a TV documentary. Contributing alongside them are some of the world’s most powerful and legendary art dealers such as Bruno Bischofberger, Larry Gagosian and Mary Boone. They helped fuel Basquiat’s reputation as he rocketed to art world fame while their own careers and fortunes may have benefited just as much and possibly more. With striking candour, art world colleagues and his most intimate friends, lovers and fellow artists draw a portrait of a handsome, charismatic and fragile personality and spill the beans on the cash, the drugs and the pernicious racism which Basquiat encountered. The main weapon which Basquiat used to fight the prejudice was his art; the beating heart of this documentary is the painting; the game-changing ways in which it embodied and reflected breakthroughs in music, poetry, and a new type of expressionism in modern art.
Basquiat: Rage To Riches (1x90) was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Mark Bell, BBC Head of Commissioning, Arts, and the Executive Producer is Janet Lee. The Producer/Director is David Shulman for BBC Studios.
The League Of Gentlemen
BBC Two can confirm that the much-loved and critically-acclaimed comedy The League Of Gentlemen will be back on screen later this year for three special episodes, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary since their debut on BBC Radio. Their career launched with the BBC in the same year they won the Perrier Award for Comedy at the 1997 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and Jeremy Dyson will be reuniting for a return to Royston Vasey. The League Of Gentlemen ran for three series on BBC Two and won the Rose D'Or and the BAFTA for Best Comedy Series in 2000.
The specials are commissioned by Patrick Holland and Shane Allen, Controller BBC Comedy, and they will be produced by BBC Studios. Executive producer is Jon Plowman, the producer is Adam Tandy, and the director is Steve Bendelack.