Northern Ireland

BBC NI announces range of new television commissions

Valene Kane plays the role of a female barrister in hour-long drama Counsel Image copyright ChristopherBarr
Image caption Valene Kane plays the role of a female barrister in hour-long drama Counsel

BBC Northern Ireland has announced more new content in drama, comedy and documentaries to be broadcast on television over the next year.

The actresses Valene Kane and Susan Lynch will star in two separate dramas commissioned as part of BBC NI's pilot New Perspectives initiative.

The Horsey Set at Down Royal, and Showbands and Me, are among the factual programmes commissioned.

It follows an extra investment of £11m over three years into BBC NI content.

Peter Johnston, director of BBC NI, said investment in commissioning had enabled the corporation "to broaden the ambition and to deepen our public purpose to inform, educate and entertain our audiences".

"As well as factual content such as Top Table and True North, we've been able to invest in a new series of the timely comedy series Soft Border Patrol and to help develop new drama talent in front of and behind the camera through our pilot New Perspectives initiative," he said.

"We are committed to bringing audiences the best content and we do that by investing in independent production companies, programme makers and our creative partners within the industry."

In Counsel, Valene Kane plays the part of a female barrister who must balance representing a new young client with supporting her high-profile husband amid a job promotion and an impending scandal.

Susan Lynch features in another hour-long drama, Ups and Downs, which follows a young man with Down's syndrome who goes on an adventure to Belfast with his younger sister.

Both dramas are supported by Northern Ireland Screen.

Image copyright Georgie Brocklehurst
Image caption Susan Lynch stars in Ups and Downs which is also part of BBC NI's pilot New Perspectives

Elsewhere, comedian Colin Murphy will look back anxiously on a world he was once told to worry about in the new series Colin Murphy's Panic Room.

Other comedy content will see the Soft Border Patrol officers begin a new shift as the mockumentary returns for a second series with some unexpected cameos.

There will also be special editions of Give My Head Peace, while Tim McGarry, Colin Murphy, Jake O'Kane, Neil Delamere and guests return for a new series of The Blame Game.

BBC One Northern Ireland's factual series and documentaries will cover a range of topics from horse racing to historical monuments.

Dan Cruickshank's Monuments Of Remembrance sees the historian and broadcaster tell the story behind iconic World War One memorials.

Clare Balding narrates the series The Horsey Set At Down Royal as cameras go behind the scenes at Northern Ireland's renowned racecourse.

Image caption Ardal O'Hanlon will present a programme on the history of the Irish showbands

Actor Colin Morgan narrates the series The Chronicles Of Mourne, "bringing the magic of Northern Ireland's renowned mountains to life, season by season".

In the documentary Showbands And Me, the comedian and actor Ardal O'Hanlon examines the history and popularity of Irish showbands.

As Royal Portrush prepares to host The Open next summer, The Wild Man Of Golf focuses on Bangor-born personality, David Feherty, who swapped his golf clubs for a life on stage and in front of the cameras.

The Hospital - From The Inside goes behind the doors of the Royal Victoria Hospital and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, while The Search explores the impact on the life of families when a loved one goes missing.

BBC Northern Ireland will also mark the 25th anniversary of the Shankill bomb.

Returning series include Nolan Live, Spotlight, The View, The Top Table, Home Ground, Getaways, Parents' Evening and In My Family's Footsteps, while the True North strand will continue to tell diverse contemporary stories of life in Northern Ireland.

The additional BBC investment is facilitating new local digital content and services for younger audiences and new content to mark major historical anniversaries in Northern Ireland.

BBC Northern Ireland commissioning has asked programme makers for content to mark the centenary of the partition of Ireland and "for new innovative, multi-platform programme ideas".

Significant projects marking the 50th anniversary of the start of the Troubles will be announced in 2019.

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