BBC Studios has announced the return of the documentary series imagine…

The line-up includes comedy double act French & Saunders, prolific screenwriter, Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies, legendary pop duo Pet Shop Boys, and the opening of Manchester’s Aviva Studios.

imagine… is a BBC Studios Specialist Factual Production for BBC One and BBC iPlayer. Alan Yentob is the Series Editor, the Executive Producer is Tanya Hudson, while the Producer/Directors of the series are Catherine Abbott, Alex Harding, Laura Blount and Louise Lockwood. It was commissioned for BBC Arts by Mark Bell.

Manchester New Factory Aviva Studios – Free Your Mind (Image: Tristram Kenton)

Transmission dates are currently unavailable, but opening the series will be a special episode with the working title (w/t) of: imagine… Manchester’s New Factory, which tells the story of the city’s colossal new cultural venue – Aviva Studios – the home of Factory International and the Manchester International Festival. The possibilities offered by this vast and ambitious building have been explored to the full by its opening production, Free Your Mind – an epic, immersive dance retelling of the 1999 film The Matrix.

imagine… will take viewers behind the scenes of this striking production with choreographer Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy, composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante and director Danny Boyle and will also explore the creative processes of designer Es Devlin and writer Sabrina Mahfouz as they prepare to present their show, and this new building, to the world.

imagine…Russell T Davies: The Doctor and Me (w/t) follows one of Britain’s most celebrated TV writers as he prepares to once again return as showrunner of Doctor Who. In 2005 Davies was responsible for relaunching the action-adventure series after many years away from TV screens, and now, in the programme’s 60th anniversary year, he’s back – with two Doctors and bigger ambitions.
imagine… goes behind the scenes at Cardiff’s Bad Wolf Studios to see the adventures of the time-travelling hero being filmed, touring the enormous sound stages and meeting Ncuti Gatwa, the Fifteenth Doctor, ahead of his eagerly anticipated tenure as the Time Lord, after the unexpected regeneration of David Tennant. The film will also feature interviews with David Tennant, Helena Bonham Carter, Olly Alexander, Sally Wainwright and Caitlin Moran.

imagine… French & Saunders: Pointed, Bitchy, Bitter explores the UK’s most successful double act of the last 40 years, French & Saunders.
Behind the scenes at a recording of their successful podcast, Titting About, imagine…charts their journey from the game-changing Comic Strip team, which helped launch the new Channel 4 in 1982, to their domination of BBC schedules over the decades and their recent ventures on the stage, the page and in film. A cast of collaborators feature, including Dame Joanna Lumley, Ruby Wax, Richard Curtis and Alexei Sayle.

Alan Yentob, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (Image: BBC Studios)

To be broadcast in spring 2024, imagine… Pet Shop Boys: Then and Now ( w/t)  follows Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe as they release a new album produced by Arctic Monkeys/Blur producer James Ford, 40 years after the original release of their classic song West End Girls. imagine… is given a sneak preview of the album and talks to Tennant and Lowe about its creation and their evolution over the past four decades. It accompanies them on their global Dreamworld tour, filming rehearsals in London and backstage in Helsinki. Contributors include fellow musicians, music journalists and creative collaborators.

Michael Burns

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