Autumn test-bed on BBC TWO for fresh ideas and talent
Innovative new drama from Tony Garnett, experimental new comedy from the hand of Steve Coogan and authoritative studies on British history and theatre from leading intellectuals are the four foundations of a £85m season on BBC TWO this autumn.
Leading a season dedicated to talent development and testing ideas is Tony Garnett’s Attachments. Exploring the growing phenomenon of work place relationships this bold new drama goes into the modern day office and under the skin of the thirtysomethings who are increasingly blurring the boundaries between life, sex and career.
Set in an internet start up company, Attachments is less about the world wide web than the tangled web of sex, politics, ambition, power play, harassment and e-courtship that typifies the daily interaction of the site staff.
Characteristically using a cast of exciting new actors, writers and producers, Tony Garnett brings to Attachments the same kind of talent development and edgy freshness that gave fame to This Life and The Cops – also back for a third gritty outing this season.
“If you want to see where BBC TWO is going just now, look at Attachments.” says Controller Jane Root. ” As well as being a stunning piece of modern new drama really pushing at the boundaries of innovation and experience, it is also an undiluted expression of our trust in Tony’s track record as a creative who delivers the fresh ideas and talent that define BBC TWO time and again.”
The autumn test-bed theme is continued into comedy. With a career spanning countless shows and characters on BBC radio and TV channels, Steve Coogan is back in a new guise with the first production for the BBC – Consenting Adults – from his new company, Baby Cow. Written by and starring Julia Davis and Rob Brydon, the pair take on the characters of six different couples as they unwittingly expose the dark dynamics of dysfunctional relationships.
And Rob Brydon can be seen as a different character again in Marion and Geoff. He plays Keith Barrett, a mini cab driver, who makes a new and valued friend in Geoff – the man his wife left him for! A deceptively simple, but killer comedy Marion and Geoff also has the Coogan connection – this time as guest associate producer on this BBC Entertainment production.
In a constant drive to build the next generation of creatives, BBC TWO showcases 21-year-old new writer Susan Nickson with her first series for TV, Two Pints of Lager (and a Packet of Crisps). Starring Ralf Little (Royle Family) and Beverley Callard (Coronation Street) the comedy centres on five kids from the Playstation generation and their twentysomething traumas of romance, peer pressure and confidence crisis – all played out in the pub!
Says Jane Root: “A channel dedicated to innovation and reinvention cannot rest on its laurels in terms of talent. As people like Steve mature into new and bigger projects, we constantly look for the next new voice to start the journey from scratch. Sometimes that will work and sometime it won’t, but the point is that we never stop trying, never stop testing.”
Proving that innovation is not just the preserve of entertainment and drama on BBC TWO, the Autumn season also boasts a slate of challenging factual programmes. Fronted by leading thinkers and figures they cover wide ranging subjects, each testing ideas and challenging received wisdom.
In Changing Stages respected theatre practitioner Sir Richard Eyre offers a personal vision and history of the modern British theatre, taking in all the pieces and people – include one of the last interviews with Sir John Gielgud – that have made the UK a leading force in the medium. Leading art historian Robert Hughes describes how he cheated death during the filming of Beyond The Fatal Shore before going on to create a personal, insightful essay about his native Australia – a country of great cultural complexity, says Hughes. A History Of Britain sees a return of the signature polemic as historian Simon Schama offers his own epic version of Britain’s past and, in so doing, controversially challenges much received wisdom found in schools and text books.
Other documentary highlights include Secret Agent which tells the story of the men and women who went behind enemy lines in World War Two as part of Churchill’s secret army, the Special Operations Executive. There is also Andes to Amazon which offers a breathtaking, intimate portrait of South America, so vivid in the colour and texture gained through low-flying filming that it seems close enough to touch.
Leisure programming also sees some bold new ideas and new vehicles to develop faces first featured on the channel. Friends For Dinner brings top name chefs Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein and Gary Rhodes to the homes of ordinary people to help them as they prepare a meal for a special occasion É fine whilst Jamie and co are there, less fine when the guests are due and Jamie has long since gone!
And cook Clarissa Dickson Wright is also back – this time pursuing a different passion, as she sets about covering country matters in Clarissa and The Countryman. Teamed with new screen partner and friend of 40 years, Johnny Scott, they travel the length and breadth of the UK to take a very personal look at all things rural – from lambing and conservation to farming.
Other factual highlights include:
Storyville: One Day in September – the Oscar-winning film about one of the world’s most shocking acts of terrorism at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Conquistadors – historian Michael Wood returns to TV to follow the trail of the Spanish Conquistadors as they set about their conquest of the New World, from the shores of the Yucatan to the tropical forests of Tabasco.
Frost Night – for 40 years Sir David Frost has been a major influence in TV. Now BBC TWO turns the tables and interviews him about his life and TV times – supplemented by archive and new programming including a debate on happiness Chaired by Frost himself.
Reputations Special: Richard Nixon – a new, groundbreaking investigation into the disgraced former President of the United States offering fresh insights into his complex personality.
Days In The Life – three seminal days in the 60s – set against the backdrops of the Albert Hall Poetry Festival, the anti Vietnam US Embasssy demo and Isle of Wight Festival – are explored in a fascinating piece of modern cultural analysis.
British Museum – BBC TWO goes behind the scenes at the long-awaited opening of Sir Norman Foster’s Great Court at the British Museum.
What The Romans Did For Us – Adam Hart Davies looks at the Romans’ legacy from cosmetics to concrete, exploring with experts, the techniques and technologies that the Romans used to realise their ingenious inventions.
Hillary Rodham Clinton – the life, milestones and motivations of America’s First Lady explored from her school days as right wing Republican to her current campaigning for election as senator of New York.
And other highlights in comedy, entertainment and leisure include:
The BBC TWO Awards – BBC TWO hosts its own awards to celebrate and reward – with three significant commissions – the cream of cool new talent.
Bleeding Thumbs – a new programme about computer games, recognising the ‘up all night’ or ‘just one more level’ instinct lurking deep within everyone.
Robot Wars – back again, the killer robots who are becoming household names and regenerating interest in science and technology in schools and colleges across the country.
Ainsley’s Gourmet Express – Ainsley is back on BBC TWO with more recipes from around the world – all of them made in minutes.
Home Front – design duo Laurence Llwelyn Bowen and Diarmuid Gavin are back bickering over new house make-overs.
As part of the BBC’s exclusive coverage of the Olympic Games BBC TWO will be covering key events from Sydney. Plus later in the year on BBC TWO, Rugby League World Cup, Rugby Union, motor sport, horse racing , golf and snooker.