BBC World News and launch Singapore Direct season as Singapore approaches 50 years of independence

Much has been said and written about Singapore, from the chewing gum ban to full employment, but this season of programmes will explore what it is really like to live and work there."Mary Wilkinson, Head of Commissioning, BBC World News and
Date: 23.09.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.03
Category: BBC World News
Singapore’s cultural diversity, economy and people are in focus starting 21 October, as BBC World News and turn their attention to the tiny island nation in a Singapore Direct season of programming, the latest instalment of the Country Direct seasons.

The Singapore Direct season will explore how the island nation is using its considerable wealth across its economy, society and cultural life. Is this a model that other countries could learn from or is Singapore’s mix of political conservatism, tight social controls and economic prosperity a curious one-off?

The Country Direct seasons give BBC audiences around the world the opportunity to get behind the headlines to see everyday life in one country. Through BBC World News programmes like Fast:track, One Square Mile, Talking Movies and Working Lives, the BBC's unrivalled network of journalists explore the issues faced by a country and its people – from the economic opportunities and challenges to living life at every level of society; from its traditions and history to future plans and innovations.

Recent Country Direct seasons have focused on Vietnam, Croatia, Mozambique, Canada, Georgia, Ecuador and Qatar.

Mary Wilkinson, Head of Commissioning for BBC World News and, says: “Much has been said and written about Singapore, from the chewing gum ban to full employment, but this season of programmes will explore what it is really like to live and work there.”

BBC World News and have increased editorial focus on Asia in the past year. In addition to special programming, such as the Singapore and Vietnam Directs, on 4 October, BBC World News will launch Talking Business With Linda Yueh, the channel’s new business programme presented by Singapore-based Chief Business Correspondent Linda Yueh.

Also, in mid-October, is unveiling a refreshed Asia news homepage, which will feature more Asia and regionally relevant content. The Asia-focused page will allow readers to access articles, features and analysis that appeal to them more readily, while also ensuring they have access to the top global news stories of the day. The Q1 2013 Ipsos PAX survey ranked’s desktop and mobile sites as Asia’s top international news sources among Asia Pacific’s high-net-worth consumers.

Programming highlights from Singapore Direct include:

Working Lives

26 October 17.10 SG

27 October 05.10, 10.10, 21.10 SG

In Working Lives Singapore, the BBC’s Chief Business Correspondent, Linda Yueh, finds out what it’s like to live and work in this city state of just over five million people.

Once a colonial outpost of Britain, in almost 50 years Singapore has transformed itself from what was called the 'Third World' into not just the 'First World' but a country with the third-highest income per capita in the world.

With Singapore's glittering skyscrapers and one of the busiest ports on the planet, Singaporeans enjoy one of the highest standards of living - and an enviable unemployment rate of less than 2 per cent. And, it's a place where the government has actively guided the economy.

A very large expatriate community and many immigrant workers contribute to the thriving country. But, their presence has ignited social tensions. Has the Switzerland of Asia begun to show other cracks after the global financial crisis?

Working Lives will meet the characters who define one of the most intriguing places in the world.


26 October 11.30, 21.30 SG

27 October 02.30 14.30 SG

In Fast:track from Singapore, Rajan Datar explores how this tiny city state has worked hard to shed its so-called ‘boring’ image – reinventing itself over the last five years to become one of the most popular and aspirational destinations in Asia. We touch on the glitz and glamour on offer for visitors – from five-star integrated resorts, world-class theme parks to high-end nightclubs and floating Louis Vuitton stores. But just how much more can the government build and plough into these large-scale projects to keep attracting foreign tourists?

Fast:track delves into the growing, grass-roots tourism market - visiting some local neighbourhoods, sampling the culinary delights and visiting an island off the coast where time has stood still.


26 October 14.30 SG

27 October 03.30 11.30, 21.30 SG

In Singapore, Click presenter Spencer Kelly explores how this small city works as an ideal testing ground when it comes to trying out mobile technology. In a place where nine out of 10 people have a smartphone, the team looks at how this ultra-connected community interacts with technology in everyday life.

From new experimental ways to enhance network communication and a peek behind the scenes at a factory making credit cards with new technology that could transform the way we shop, to new uses for television tech – how to turn your TV into a touch-screen for about $50 - Click discovers some of the cutting-edge gadgets and technologies which are just over the horizon.

The Click team also finds out about how to predict traffic jams in a massively congested city, and the toilet that turns human waste into everything from fertiliser to bio-fuel.

Talking Movies

26 October 20.30 SG

27 October 08.30, 15.30 SG

28 October 03:30 SG

Talking Movies reports from Singapore, looking at the latest developments in cinema at a time when new directors are coming on the scene and efforts are underway to expand the film production infrastructure. The programme hears from director Anthony Chen, who made history this year by becoming the first Singaporean filmmaker to win a prize at the Cannes Film Festival with his picture Ilo Ilo soon to be seen in cinemas around the world. Chen is at the forefront of a new generation of energetic young directors telling authentic stories of Singaporean life with themes that include family, migration and coming-of-age, all within the context of the island state.

The show also visits director Jack Neo on location, who has made several of Singapore's highest-grossing films. There is an interview with top comedic actress Michelle Chong, who's become one of the most prominent new female directors in Singapore. Censorship is still a controversial issue and Talking Movies investigates the impact it has on filmmakers and the stories they can tell. The programme will also report from two state-of-the-art visual effects facilities, which are part of an emerging Hollywood back-room operation in Singapore.


Notes to editors

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