BBC Arts has announced a year-long celebration of literature, with new programming across BBC TV, radio and online, as well as a festival in partnership with libraries and reading groups around the UK.
Mark Gatiss will executive produce and co-write a doc on Dracula for BBC One. Gatiss travels from Orava Castle in Slovakia, as used in the classic vampire film Nosferatu to the London Library, on the trail of Bram Stoker’s newly discovered research literature, to Philadelphia where he studies Stoker’s hand written notes and meets with actors, film experts and historians as he explores the Count’s transition from page to screen.
In Search Of Dracula (w/t) is a Hartswood Films Production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC One by Mark Bell. Rachel Stone and Sue Vertue are the Executive Producers.
BBC Two’s The Novels That Shaped Our World (3×60’) looks at how, across 300 years, the novel has been at the heart of debate about society, and has often spearheaded social change.
Episode one will examine the response to race and empire, from Robinson Crusoe and Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Things Fall Apart and Wide Sargasso Sea, as well as lesser known but ground-breaking work such as Aphra Benn’s Orinooko to Sam Selvon’s Lonely Londoners. The programme comes up to date with titles such as Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses and Paul Beatty’s The Sell Out.
Episode two discusses the story of women and the novel – both as characters and authors. With Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale capturing global audiences, the programme will show how the plight of women is a theme that reaches right back to the earliest novels. From Richardson’s Pamela to Austen, the Brontës through to Mary Shelley and Virginia Woolf, and to the post-war publishing boom where a new generation of global writers such as Zadie Smith, Toni Morrison and Arundhati Roy have continued to speak out for women to a new generation of readers.
In the final episode, how the novel has embraced the class struggle is explored. From Dickens, Gaskell, and Hardy to Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, to the group of working class writers that began to write their own stories in post war Britain. Looking abroad, class struggles in India and the US are also discussed, and the programme will also look at the growth of the crime novel in the 20th Century was a way of playing on the gulf between haves and have-nots.
Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story is a documentary about the turbulent life of best-selling author Jackie Collins. It is a Passion Pictures film, co-produced by AGC Studios, CNN Films and BBC Arts. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Two by Mark Bell.
A Bear Called Paddington & A Man Called Michael (w/t) is the story of the unassuming man whose greatest creation, Paddington Bear, became one of the nation’s best loved characters. Featuring interviews with Michael Bond’s family, friends and celebrity admirers, the film will also look at the other classic characters Michael Bond created, among them The Herbs, Olga da Polga and Monsieur Pamplemousse.
A Bear Called Paddington & A Man Called Michael is a BBC Studios production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Two by Mark Bell. Richard Bright is the Executive Producer.
Hilary Mantel is an intimate portrait of the writer in her own real world and led by the curiosity that has driven her from the beginning. Hilary Mantel is an Oxford Films production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Two by Mark Bell. Sue Jones is the Executive Producer.
Being Bridget celebrates Bridget Jones and the legacy of Helen Fielding’s character. In the age of Fleabag and #MeToo, the film explores how Bridget’s story reflects changing attitudes to women – and the way their stories are told. Being Bridget will feature interviews with Helen Fielding and the friends who inspired the original characters along with rarely seen archive and celebrity fans playing tribute.
Being Bridget is a BBC Studios Production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Two by Mark Bell. Richard Bright is the Executive Producer.
In Kes: A Boys Life, comedian, actor and former English teacher Greg Davies celebrates Barry Hines’ classic novel that transformed how working class lives were portrayed in fiction. He travels to Barnsley to find out what today’s schoolkids make of the world depicted in the book, meets Barry Hines’ brother Richard, who himself trained kestrels as a boy and pays his own tribute to the book’s memorable football match. He’ll explore how A Kestrel for a Knave helped inspire a generation of working class writers – and discover why a simple story about a young boy befriending a bird, continues to captivate readers over fifty years since it was written.
Kes: A Boys Life is a BBC Studios Production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Mark Bell. Richard Bright is the Executive Producer.
The African Novel With David Olusoga tells the story of how African novel became a global phenomenon. It begins with the generation of African writers – many of them educated in Britain – who came of age around the time of independence.
The African Novel With David Olusoga is an Uplands Television Production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Mark Bell. Mike Smith is the Executive Producer.
Richard E Grant Write Around the World is billed as “visually stunning” series in which book and travel lover Richard E Grant makes three journeys to France, Italy and Spain, visiting places that have inspired writers across the centuries.
Richard E Grant Write Around the World is a Storyvault Films production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Emma Cahusac. Stuart Prebble is the Executive Producer.
In Arena: Everything Is Connected – George Eliot’s Life (1×60’), contemporary artist Gillian Wearing celebrates George Eliot’s legacy in this unique new Arena documentary with an original score by Adrian Utley from Portishead. Just as George Eliot’s Middlemarch explored the lives of ordinary men and women, Gillian Wearing’s experimental film is made up of a diverse cast of people from different backgrounds, and features Jason Isaacs and Sheila Atim as the narrators.
Arena: Everything Is Connected – George Eliot’s Life is a BBC Studios Production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Mark Bell. Artist Gillian Wearing is the Director. Martina Hall is the Producer. Janet Lee is the Executive Producer for BBC Studios.
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