With so many bold and thought-provoking new commissions, Hear Her will look at how far female empowerment and equality has come over the past 100 years, examine what it is like to be a woman in 2018 and celebrate strong female voices and achievements.Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content
Date: 06.05.2018 Last updated: 18.06.2018 at 13.22
The BBC is set to showcase women's voices in a dedicated season of content across TV, radio and online to mark 100 years since suffrage and the centenary anniversary of women being able to vote in the UK.
Acclaimed filmmaker Vanessa Engle to direct promotional films to celebrate the season
Award-winning writer Jeanette Winterson OBE to deliver this year’s Dimbleby Lecture
Brand new commissions across TV, radio and online; from documentaries and discussions to short-form, digital and educational content
Newly announced today, acclaimed filmmaker Vanessa Engle will direct a series of short promotional films to celebrate the BBC’s Hear Her season, while award-winning writer Jeanette Winterson OBE (pictured above) - author of Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit - will give this year’s Dimbleby Lecture on BBC One, becoming the 42nd speaker of the annual lecture given in honour of legendary British broadcaster, Richard Dimbleby. Also on BBC One, hit genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? follows Our Girl star Michelle Keegan as she traces her family heritage, unearthing a special connection to suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst and extraordinary evidence of her great-great grandmother’s support for the fight for votes for women.
Further programmes announced include, a new observational documentary about Germaine Greer for BBC Two and Women’s Monologues w/t for BBC Four; an eight-part series of ambitious and challenging monologues from celebrated female playwrights. BBC Four will also air The Many Primes of Muriel Spark with Kirsty Wark and broadcast the Donmar Warehouse’s all-female Shakespeare Trilogy, beginning with Julius Caesar in June. Meanwhile, BBC Three will dismantle taboos and rail against expectation in new four-part series, Body Language.
Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, says: “I am so proud to be bringing this important and wide-ranging season of content to audiences across the BBC. With so many bold and thought-provoking new commissions, Hear Her will look at how far female empowerment and equality has come over the past 100 years, examine what it is like to be a woman in 2018 and celebrate strong female voices and achievements."
Vanessa Engle’s short promotional film series will explore the past, present and future through voices of real women from across Britain and are set to make a bold and inspiring statement about being female in Britain today. Vanessa previously documented three generations of feminism in her series Women and this project for the BBC promises to celebrate women’s voices in an original and moving way.
Vanessa Engle says: “As a documentary-maker whose films have always been from a female perspective, as well as often being about women, I am delighted to be involved in the BBC's ‘Hear Her’ season and making these trails which will convey the importance and urgency of giving women a voice. There are so many diverse women’s stories needing to be told and this feels like an especially exciting time to be telling them”.
One hundred years on from the first women in the UK securing the right to vote and sixty years since women could be members of the House of Lords for the first time, Jeanette Winterson’s Dimbleby Lecture will examine the recent campaigns promoting the equality of women and explore what can be learnt from the Suffragettes a century ago. This year, for the first time, the lecture will be given in the Houses of Parliament, in the Robing Room in the House of Lords, in honour of these important anniversaries.
Jeanette Winterson says: “I am delighted to be asked to give this year’s Dimbleby Lecture. I want to address how historically women have been outside - outside of the clubs and boards, outside of the promotions and pay rises, outside of the mainstream, outside of our own bodies, struggling with weight, shape, fashion, attractiveness, threats, trolling, violence of every kind. And how in 2018 we are beginning to celebrate women on the inside”.
There will also be a range of programmes across radio as part of the Hear Her season. BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 1Xtra will host a Sex and Consent Life Hack Special and discuss female empowerment in 1Xtra Talks. BBC Radio 3 will continue to champion female artists and composers by broadcasting a track each weekday evening throughout the season from unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar female classical composers. On BBC Radio 4, Home Front will illustrate some of the huge changes to women’s lives, The Listening Project will host an evening to celebrate women's suffrage and Woman’s Hour will continue to look at the achievements of the suffragists and suffragettes.
100 Women, an award-winning annual initiative from the BBC’s international news services, will reflect on the life of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, using never-before-seen personal letters. As part of the season, BBC Teach will also host a collection of curriculum-linked content for the classroom, including 100 years of the Women’s Movement and a History Hunt to discover the story of the suffragette, Muriel Matters.
A unique Hear Her virtual reality experience will use the power of voice to break through the barriers faced by the suffragettes. Created by BBC VR Hub with Anagram, and incorporating archive interviews with suffragettes, it will empower users to follow Emmeline Pankhurst’s advice and "make more noise".
Previously announced programmes as part of the Hear Her season include, Anne Robinson: What Women Want w/t (BBC One); How Women Won The Vote with Lucy Worsley w/t (BBC One); a special edition of Antiques Roadshow (BBC One) and The Great Art Fightback (BBC Four). Mass participation artwork PROCESSIONS, with commissions by over 100 women artists, will also be covered live on BBC One and on BBC News around the UK.
The Richard Dimbleby Lecture
One hundred years on from the first women in the UK securing the right to vote, Jeanette Winterson OBE will examine the recent campaigns promoting the equality of women and explore what can be learnt from the Suffragettes a century ago.
The Richard Dimbleby Lecture was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, and Alison Kirkham, Controller of Factual Commissioning. It will be produced by Victoria Simpson and the Executive Producer is Phil Dolling, Head of BBC Events.
The Richard Dimbleby Lecture
Every year the BBC broadcasts a television lecture by a well-recognised leader in their field on a subject of national or international importance. It is a tradition that honours the legendary British broadcaster, Richard Dimbleby, and has run for over four decades. The first lecture was given in 1972 by Lord Annan entitled What Are Universities For Anyhow - himself a Provost of UCL. Last year’s lecture, Staying Safe in a Turbulent World, was given by the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John O. Brennan.
In previous years the speakers have included: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales; former President Bill Clinton; Managing Director of the IMF Christine Lagarde; Bill Gates; the writer, Sir Terry Pratchett; The Archbishop of Canterbury; author Michael Morpurgo and dotcom pioneer, Baroness Lane-Fox.
Who Do You Think You Are?
Our Girl star Michelle Keegan uncovers some exceptional women on her family tree in this episode of Who Do You Think You Are?. On her mother’s side, Michelle discovers that her Gibraltarian great grandmother Leonor was forced to leave home during the Second World War, when all the women, children and elderly were evacuated from Gibraltar to the apparent safety of London where, less than a month later, the Blitz began.
Further back, Michelle discovers her great-great grandmother Elizabeth Kirwan living in poverty in Manchester at the start of the 20th century. Michelle unearths a special connection to suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, and extraordinary evidence of her great-great grandmother’s support for the fight for votes for women, that enabled Elizabeth to vote for the very first time in 1918.
Germaine Greer (w/t)
What is it like being Germaine Greer? This brand new observational documentary spends time with her and finds out.
Fearless, original and utterly charismatic, the 31-year-old Germaine Greer burst onto national consciousness in 1970 with her game-changing blockbuster, The Female Eunuch. What did it feel like to be at the eye of the storm? What did the events at the time mean to the people caught up in them? Germaine takes us back to those giddy days and reflects with honesty, candour and caustic wit about what it was about then and how it all feels now. A rich seam of archive, including previously unseen archive footage, and an explosive soundtrack will immerse us in those revolutionary times.
Is The Female Eunuch still relevant? Are women and girls today any less slavish when it comes to male approval? And what does Germaine think of Me Too?
Germaine Greer: funny, clever, contrary, sensitive and caustic – there is simply no one like her. This film will get to know her.
Germaine Greer (w/t) is directed by Clare Beavan. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Emma Cahusac.
In a bid to dismantle taboos and rail against the expectation that women keep the details of their body private, BBC Three have commissioned Body Language, a four-part series of intimate visual essays that focus on some of the most isolating female reproductive health experiences.
The series will bring to the fore candid accounts of the health battles of four British women that re-examine the normalisation of pain, hormonal shifts and physical trauma. Over four episodes, the series will discuss conditions including painful sex, early menopause, endometriosis and maternal mental health.
The visually striking films will utilise stop motion, collage and conceptual imagery to allow the serious, intimate first-person monologues the space to be told in a bright, appealing way with moments of unexpected humour.
It will be made by Sindha Agha, Sundance Ignite and Sundance New Voices Fellow, and the filmmaker behind Birth Control Your Own Adventure that was the New York Times’ most popular op-doc and officially selected for the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.
Body Language is 4x5' for BBC Three’s YouTube and Facebook channels and will be produced by Paulette Caletti and Executive Produced by Juliette Larthe at PRETTYBIRD.co. The series has been commissioned by Damian Kavanagh, Controller BBC Three. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Navi Lamba.
Women’s Monologues (w/t)
BBC Four has invited Vicky Featherstone to curate a series of ambitious and challenging women’s monologues to mark the 100th anniversary of the first women in Britain getting the vote.
Vicky is working with some of Britain’s most celebrated women playwrights, including BAFTA award-winning playwright, Abi Morgan and also some fresh new writing voices. Inspired by women across the 100 years since 1918 who have spoken out, challenged the status quo or made a stand - often at great personal cost - each writer is capturing a moment which will inform and intrigue a 2018 audience.
These are strong unmediated women’s voices capturing moments ranging from the pressure of the casting couch to rape in marriage, from the passion of Reclaim the Night marches to a 100th birthday party.
The monologues are scheduled to transmit in the UK this summer as a central part of BBC’s Hear Her series, which will mark the anniversary of women’s suffrage.
Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor, BBC Four, says: “Like the Suffragettes that inspired them, the eight monologues for BBC Four promise to be angry, dangerous and unlike anything seen before. I’m incredibly proud to welcome Vicky Featherstone and her incredibly talented team of all-female collaborators to BBC Four on this most important of anniversaries”.
Vicky Featherstone is Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre, in London. The Executive Producer is Debbie Christie and is a BBC Studios Pacifc Quay production. It was commissioned by Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor BBC Four and Emma Cahusac, Commissioning Editor for Arts.
The Many Primes of Muriel Spark
Kirsty Wark celebrates the life and work of Dame Muriel Spark, author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and one of the 20th century’s most enigmatic cultural figures.
Kirsty Wark takes us on a journey through the life and work of Scottish writer, Dame Muriel Spark. Born in Edinburgh, Muriel’s extraordinary life took her to colonial Africa, wartime London, literary New York and vibrant 1960s Rome. Her most famous novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie immortalised the city of her childhood but with an added darkness and acerbic wit that became her trademark style. Kirsty retraces Muriel’s footsteps from the cobbled streets of Edinburgh to the sublime beauty of Victoria Falls. Contributions from writers AL Kennedy, Janice Galloway, Ali Smith, William Boyd and Val McDermid tell of Muriel Spark’s unique literary style and a life full of reinvention. Kirsty meets with the journalist Alan Taylor who has recently published his memoir of Muriel Spark and she travels to Italy for the first television interview with Penelope Jardine, Muriel’s close friend of forty years.
This programme first aired on BBC Scotland earlier this year.
Producer/Director: Morag Tinto
Executive Producer: Tanya Hudson
Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy
The BBC will share the Donmar Warehouse’s all-female Shakespeare Trilogy from June, beginning with the broadcast of Julius Caesar on BBC4 and BBC iPlayer. The full Trilogy, including Henry IV and The Tempest, will then be available on BBC iPlayer for six months.
Described by Susannah Clapp (Observer) as "one of the most important theatrical events of the past 20 years", the Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy began in 2012 with an all-female production of Julius Caesar led by Dame Harriet Walter. Set in a women’s prison, the production asked the question, 'Who owns Shakespeare?'. Two further productions followed: Henry IV in 2014 and The Tempest in 2016, all featuring a diverse company of women. The Trilogy enthralled audiences in London and New York and was shared with women and girls in prisons and schools across the UK. The film versions were shot live in a specially built temporary theatre in King’s Cross in 2016, and now offer screen audiences a unique access to these ground-breaking productions.
The Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy is a Donmar Warehouse and Illuminations production, supported by The Space. The director is Phyllida Lloyd, and the producers are Kate Pakenham and John Wyver. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Emma Cahusac.
BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 1Xtra
BBC Radio 1Xtra will be discussing Female Empowerment as part of a special 1Xtra Talks on Sunday 10 June (9-10pm).
Sex and Consent Life Hack Special
On Sunday 3 June, Radio 1 and 1Xtra will be covering the theme of sex and consent during Radio 1’s Life Hacks (4-7pm) and 1Xtra Talks (9-10pm).
BBC Radio 3
Throughout the Hear Her season, BBC Radio 3 will continue to champion female artists and composers across the station.
Each weekday evening throughout the season the station will broadcast a track by unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar female classical composers which were submitted as part of a BBC Introducing call-out in March this year. The station will also continue to broadcast music by female composers every day of the week on their morning Breakfast and Essential Classics programmes, and Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert will present a series of performances from Hay Festival, all featuring compositions by women.
Radio 3 will also celebrate female composers in dedicated editions of programmes across the station; an edition of Record Review will review new releases exclusively by female composers and Words And Music will present an edition entitled Heroines, highlighting poems, prose and music exclusively by female writers and composers. Hear And Now, Radio 3’s contemporary music programme, will broadcast the world premiere of To See The Invisible, a new opera by British composer Emily Howard from Aldeburgh Festival.
In addition to championing female composers, the station will also feature a host of female artists and prominent cultural figures. Radio 3’s popular morning programme Essential Classics will feature a series of women as weekly guests including opera stars Joyce Di Donato and Dame Felicity Lott, Scottish poet laureate Jackie Kay and American conductor Marin Alsop. Radio 3’s world and roots music programme Music Planet will broadcast a performance by with female group Les Amazones d’Afrique from Hay Festival as well as a performance from Grammy-award winning Beninese singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo from the Radio 3 stage at The Biggest Weekend.
BBC Radio 4
Home Front has been charting life in Britain during World War One. As part of the Hear Her season, key moments from the drama and storylines on female empowerment which illustrate the huge changes to women’s lives 100 years ago have been collated online and will be published on 25 May. This will include an in-depth look at the historic moments and developments featured in Home Front as well as behind the scenes films with actors from the drama.
The Listening Project
On 5 May, BBC Radio 4’s The Listening Project, a partnership with the British Library, comes from the Tara Theatre as Fi Glover hosts an evening which celebrates women's suffrage with some who feature in the theatre's season of work by women artists.
Woman’s Hour Throughout the year, BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour has been celebrating the achievements of the suffragists and suffragettes and how the Representation of the People Act 1918 has changed women’s lives over the past 100 years.
Still to come:
A Suffragette In My Family - a series featuring Woman’s Hour listeners continues as they speak about the role played by their relations who were part of the suffrage movement
Woman’s Hour will continue to feature their 18 In 2018 cohort - a group of young women eligible to vote for the first time this year
Woman’s Hour broadcasts at 10am Monday-Friday on BBC Radio 4 and is available as a podcast.
100 Women will reflect on the life of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, using never-before-seen personal letters to give a new perspective of her political and social campaigns. 100 Women, now in its fifth year, is an award-winning annual initiative from the BBC’s international news services which publishes a list of 100 inspirational women from around the globe alongside special programming, news, features, investigations and interviews.