BBC Factual has ordered three new history and science titles from Wall to Wall and BBC Studios Science Unit.
The Wall to Wall team behind AIDS: The Unheard Tapes is to make D-Day: The Unheard Tapes featuring audio testimony from survivors of the Normandy landings, lip synced by actors to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.
Wall to Wall is also making a Horizon special, Artemis, with behind-the-scenes access to NASA’s mission to send astronauts back to the Moon for the first time in over 50 years
BBC Studios Science Unit is making Human, a 5×60 series explaining how humanity went from being one of several hominin species to the “dominant form of life on earth.”
Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual, says: “The BBC is committed to bringing the very best science and history stories to British viewers. Human is a stunning new take on the deep history of humanity, driven by new DNA evidence; Artemis: A Horizon Special provides privileged access to NASA’s new lunar mission; and D-Day: The Unheard Tapes gives new insight into the Normandy landings by bringing to life the voices of witnesses who died many years ago. These are ambitious programmes which will take viewers on strange and eye-opening journeys – into the depths of the past and beyond the edge of the world.”
Three parter, D-Day: The Unheard Tapes, draws on original recorded interviews from British, American and German soldiers, and French witnesses, to tell the story of D-Day as it was lived on the ground. The spoken testimonies have been sourced from museums, university archives and private collections and include discoveries of material never previously digitised or heard publicly.
The first-person audio interviews will be given new life by a cast of young actors lip-syncing in documentary settings, combined with archival footage and immersive documentary-style recreation to tell the story of D-Day “as it’s never been told before.”
Simon Young, Head of History, BBC Factual Commissioning, says: “This is a genuinely fresh and innovative way in to one of the most iconic periods in modern history. D-Day didn’t happen in black and white, nor was it a one-sided tale of Allied genius. By bringing the events of that day to life with real words recast as interview testimony, this series brings us closer to those men and women who lived through it. The series will be part of a wider raft of BBC programming to commemorate the final months of World War Two, allowing modern viewers a new opportunity to connect with our past.”
Morgana Pugh, Executive Producer, Wall to Wall, says: “Many months of dedicated research have enabled us to discover a series of powerful interviews recorded with those who fought on D-Day, sourced from around the world. In previously unheard and deeply personal stories, the real voices of those who took part in the Normandy landings will lead us through their own unique experiences; from mission reveal to the landings and beyond. Actors lip syncing veterans’ real voices will bring us closer to our contributors, as they tell the story of their D-Day in their own words, in all its raw and revealing detail.”
David Fenton, Assistant Director, Imperial War Museums, says “Imperial War Museums are thrilled to be working with Wall to Wall on this exciting project. We are the custodians of a vast collection of recorded interviews and testimony so it is fantastic to be able to bring some of these fascinating stories to life in such a personal and innovative way.”
Dr Frances Houghton, Lecturer in History at The Open University and Academic Consultant on the series, says: “D-Day: The Unheard Tapes brings the experiences, feelings, and memories of ordinary people who were involved in, or impacted by, the Allied invasion to life in new and evocative ways. It draws extensively on oral testimonies that were recorded with military veterans and local civilians, granting the viewer an unusually intimate insight into what D-Day meant to those who survived. Overall, this series poignantly highlights the historical value of capturing veterans’ voices so that future generations might better understand what war is like ‘at the sharp end’. In so doing, it invites us all to reflect on how we remember and tell stories of conflict.”
D-Day: The Unheard Tapes (w/t) will air in 2024 alongside a broader programme of content and live event coverage to commemorate the anniversary of D-Day and the final months of World War Two.
D-Day: The Unheard Tapes (w/t) a 3×60 for BBC Two and iPlayer was commissioned by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual, and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Simon Young, Head of History. It is a co-production between the BBC and The HISTORY Channel. Executive Producers for The HISTORY Channel are Eli Lehrer and Jennifer Wagman.
The series is being made in partnership with the Open University and Imperial War Museums.
It is produced by Wall to Wall where the Executive Producer is Morgana Pugh, the Series Producer is Zoe Jewell, and the Series Director is Mark Radice.
Human is a major new 5×60 science series for BBC Two and iPlayer. Produced by BBC Studios Science Unit and co-produced with PBS, it tells the story of how humanity went from being just one of many hominin species to the dominant form of life on earth.
Presented by paleoanthropologist Ella Al-Shamahi, this series uses a combination of archaeology, travelogue and reconstruction to tell the story of how we became ‘us’: modern humans. Ella will follow in the footsteps of our ancient ancestors – visiting internationally important archaeological sites to meet experts who can help her unlock the secrets of our deep historical past.
Presenter Ella Al-Shamahi says: “In the last few years there has been an ancient DNA revolution and multiple new species of human have been discovered. So this really is the perfect time to be making this series. I’m particularly excited to put the human back into human evolution. This is our story and it’s a remarkable one.”
Tom Coveney, BBC Head of Science, says: “Amazing new discoveries from dig sites and labs around the world are finally making it possible to tell the astonishing story of Homo sapiens. This series will reveal the dramatic twists and turns our species’ story, the secrets behind our success, and ultimately what makes us human.”
Andrew Cohen, Head of BBC Studios Science Unit, says: ‘Human will build on the dramatic story telling techniques of Universe and Planets to reveal the extraordinary journey we have taken over the last 300,000 years. From being just one of a number of human species on Earth, to a species that has grown to dominate the planet like no other, the series will reveal the very latest research into our distant ancestors and we hope provide a new perspective on what it means to be Human.’
Human was commissioned for BBC Two and iPlayer by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual. It is being made by BBC Studios Science Unit where the Executive Producers are Andrew Cohen and Paul Overton and is being co-produced with PBS. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Tom Coveney, BBC Head of Science.
Artemis: A Horizon Special has behind-the-scenes access as NASA sends astronauts back to the Moon for the first time in over 50 years – among them, the first woman and person of colour to walk on the lunar surface. Artemis – the successor of Apollo – is NASA’s grand plan to establish a permanent lunar base before heading eventually for Mars. The next step is the Artemis II mission, which will fly four astronauts to the far side of the Moon and back, as a proof-of-concept before attempting a lunar landing.
An observational documentary shot over 18 months, the film will follow the astronauts, engineers, and back-room crews in the build-up and execution of a historic mission.
Artemis: A Horizon Special a 1×60 for BBC Two and iPlayer was commissioned by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual. It is being produced by Wall to Wall where the executive producer is Jeremy Dear and Tim Lambert is the co-executive producer and director. It is a co-commission with NOVA and is produced in partnership with the Open University. The BBC commissioning editor is Tom Coveney, BBC Head of Science. NOVA Executive Producers are Julia Cort and Chris Schmidt. NOVA is a production of GBH.
The film will air on NOVA on PBS in the US
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