Entertainment & Arts

London 2012: BBC launches Olympic programmes

Some of the line-up from the BBC's 2012 season
Image caption Clockwise from top left: BBC Shakespeare season, Tinie Tempah performs for Radio 1, QI does Shakespeare and short film What If

Shakespeare, live music and the history of London will form the backbone of the BBC's programmes to mark the Olympics.

BBC London 2012 director Roger Mosey said the cultural line-up should have "something for everyone".

The Shakespeare season features several documentaries and a special edition of Antiques Roadshow, alongside new versions of the bard's history plays.

Meanwhile, the Proms will be part of the 2012 Festival and Tinie Tempah will play Radio 1's Hackney weekend.

The music festival, which was announced in June, is being described as the largest live music event ever staged by the BBC.

It will also see performances from Florence and the Machine and Hackney-born artists Leona Lewis and Plan B.

Official music for the BBC's Olympic coverage will be provided by Elbow, who have composed a song for use throughout the games.

New Shakespeare interpretations will feature actors including Patrick Stewart, Ben Whishaw and Niamh Cusack, while Thea Sharrock and Sam Mendes are among producers and directors.

Mr Mosey told the BBC News website that arts and music had always been a part of the Olympic movement .

"The 1948 Olympics in London was the last time you could win gold medals for music composition and poetry, so the idea of a Cultural Olympiad alongside the Olympics goes back to its origins.

"For us, what we really want to do is make sure there's something for everyone in 2012.

"Clearly 17 days of the Olympic Games are the pinnacle but if you want to provide something for everyone there should be great music and performance as well."

Asked if the Shakespeare season came at the expense of celebrating contemporary artists or playwrights, he said: "The thing about Shakespeare, when you look at the global impact, is that Shakespeare is so globally known that, actually, it fits very well with the idea of the whole world becoming as one for the Olympics."

He said a relatively high proportion of people learning English around the world had learned some Shakespeare.

"I think the point is that Shakespeare has got contemporary relevance - and it's brilliant new modern artists who are performing Shakespeare and it's great people like Simon Schama and Neil MacGregor interpreting it."

Mr Mosey said the summer would culminate in "the BBC's most ambitious set of outside broadcasts in a lifetime".

In addition to coverage of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the corporation will send crews to cover the 70-day Olympic torch relay, followed by the Games themselves and the two-month-long London 2012 Festival, which encompasses cultural events around the UK.

Image caption The story of the Sex Pistols will form part of the Punk Britannia series

Punk programmes

On the opening night of the games, 27 July, The Proms will feature conductor Daniel Barenboim leading the West Eastern Divan Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's Ninth, the culmination of his complete Beethoven symphony cycle.

The rest of the Proms programme will be announced in April.

The BBC has also commissioned a raft of documentaries looking at London's history and heritage, which will air throughout 2012.

The Market looks at the bustling activity of the Spitalfields, Smithfield and Billingsgate markets, where more than £5m changes hands every day, while Dan Cruikshank delves into the history of the plague and the great fire of London in A Tale Of Two Cities.

Film-maker Julien Temple, who chronicled the punk era in The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, has created what is described as "a love-letter to his home town" in This Is London.

Image caption The Culture Show will document the creation of Anish Kapoor's Olympic sculpture

Delving into the capital's musical history, BBC Four will screen a Punk Britannia series, while Jools Holland and Paloma Faith each present programmes on London's venues, songs and carnivals.

BBC coverage will also move outside London, including concerts in Glasgow, Cornwall, Belfast, Cardiff and the Shetland Isles, as part of the Music Nation weekend on 3 and 4 March.

The weekend of performances is billed as the first nationwide countdown to the London 2012 Festival.

New works of art will also be highlighted in the BBC's offering.

Radio 3 will broadcast 20 new musical works, each lasting 12 minutes on the Hear and Now programme, while four short films have been created in conjunction with Film Four.

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Media captionElbow's Guy Garvey: 'We're dead proud to be doing it'

These include What If, a retelling of Rudyard Kipling's famous poem starring Noel Clarke and highlighting the UK's talent in street dance and free running.

Meanwhile, The Culture Show will produce a one-off documentary on the construction of Anish Kapoor's ArcelorMittal Orbit, a gigantic red steel sculpture that will dominate the skyline in the Olympic village.

Many other programmes and series have already been announced, including the return of Olympic comedy series Twenty Twelve, and Bert and Dickie - a dramatisation of how Bert Bushnell and Dickie Burnell beat the odds to become gold medallists in the 1948 London Olympics.

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