The BBC has unveiled a line-up of Factual and Arts content coming up this autumn and winter across BBC television and iPlayer.

The Factual and Arts commissioning team announced a raft of new shows – many of them anchored by reliable celebrity faces – and a number of recommissions.

Here’s a brief outline, showing which production companies are behind the titles, plus more details, including commissioning editors and BBC billings, for each of the shows, further below.

Simon Schama presents a new cultural history of post-1945 society, in a production from Oxford Films, with series director Hugo MacGregor.

Hannah Fry reveals The Secret Genius of Everything in major new six part science series  from the BBC Studios Science Unit in partnership with the Open University.

Liz Bonnin discovers a mass dinosaur grave in Mission Jurassic, a two-parter. The limited series is is a United Kingdom/Canada co-production. The co-production is also made by the BBC Studios Science Unit, together with Ideacom International , in association with Science Channel, CBC, Radio-Canada for BBC.

Lucy Worsley investigates the most successful author of all time in, Agatha Christie: Mystery Woman, another BBC Studios production.

A new documentary tells the story of Una Marson, the first Black producer and broadcaster at the BBC. Produced by Douglas Road, the directors are Avril E. Russell and Topher Campbell.

BBC Three will celebrate the influential career of fashion designer, Virgil Abloh, in a WhyNow Production, directed by Cassie Quarless.

A new adaptation of Coppélia combines animation and live action dance in a modern take on the much-loved ballet. From film makers Jeff Tudor, Steven De Beul & Ben Tesseur, it is produced by Submarine and 3 Minutes West.

Stacey Solomon shares tips on having a magical festive season that won’t break the bank in Craft Your Own Christmas (w/t), a 60-minute special for BBC One and iPlayer, made by Optomen.

Returners include Blast Films’ Forensics: The Real CSI, coming back for two new series with investigations in new territories from major fire to gun crime

Louis Theroux returns with celebrity interviews Stormzy, Dame Judi Dench, Rita Ora, Bear Grylls, Yungblud and Katherine Ryan in a new series, from Theroux’s label Mindhouse.

Details were revealed about Race Across the World, season three which heads to Canada. The Studio Lambert format will see five pairs of travellers starting out at the very edge of the Pacific in Vancouver. The teams will travel over 16 thousand kilometres across six time zones. Celebrity Race Across the World will go in to production later this year.

At the season launch event, there were other titles showcased. Unbreakable, the six-parter, to be helmed by Rob Beckett, from 110% Content. Go Hard or Go Home upcoming 10-parter from Wall to Wall. New travel format Trailblazers from Studio Ramsay.  Alan and Amanda’s Italian Job, with Alan Carr and Amanda Holden renovate an Italian property in Voltage eight parter. Sort Your Life Out, with Stacey Solomon, six-parter from Optomen.

Also shown, limited series The Elon Musk Show from 72 Films. Four-part series Once Upon a Time in Belfast from Keo. Raw TV’ four-parter Parole. Frida (w/t) about the artist Frida Kahlo, three-parts from Rogan. Rainbow Warrior: Murder in the Pacific (w/t), three-parter from OSF. Six part series Planet Sex, with Cara Delvingue, from Naked and Cara & Co for BBC. And BBC Studios feature documentary First Contact, about extraterrestrial life, for BBC and PBS in the US.



Stacey Solomon, with a little help from her family and friends, is showing us how to have the most magical Christmas ever without breaking the bank; sharing tips on how to make hand-made gifts and decorations that cost next to nothing but mean so much more than anything you can buy from the shops.

Stacey says: “Christmas is one of the most magical times of the year! There’s no better feeling than giving someone the perfect gift, especially when it’s one I’ve made at home with my little helpers. DIY gifts mean so much more and save a bit of money too, as do hand-crafted decorations which we love making for our tree. I can’t wait to share my Christmas gifting and decorating tips and tricks with everyone at home, helping make this Christmas extra special without breaking the bank.”

There will be tips and hacks galore for a homemade holiday as Stacey transforms a barn next to Pickle Cottage into a Christmas grotto to host a festive party for her local community heroes.

Craft Your Own Christmas with Stacey Solomon (w/t), a 1×60’ for BBC One and iPlayer, is made by Optomen. It was commissioned by Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, and Beejal-Maya Patel is the BBC Commissioning Editor. Charlotte Brookes is the Executive Producer and Ryan Daly is the Series Director.

VIRGIL ABLOH: HOW TO BE BOTH (working title)

This is the story of how Virgil Abloh became the poster boy for change: new clothes, new art, new design, new music, a new attitude. Black and white, men and women, anti-fashion and high fashion: he knew that nothing was binary and everything was open for exploration.
Off-White, Abloh’s first fashion label, turned streetwear into high fashion offering a take on race that could only come from a Black man tearing down the walls of the whitest of worlds – haute couture. He went on to become Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton menswear, one of the first Black men to head up a couture house.
Abloh began his career as Kanye West’s right hand man – his Creative Director. By West’s side he watched him struggle to break into high fashion. As a young Black man without conventional fashion training or credentials Abloh saw in West’s experience the realities of racism and snobbery that he himself would have to steer his way through to make a name for himself in fashion. Abloh’s mission was to change everything – to show what Black people could do, what difference Black people could make and what would happen when Black people were finally listened to. As well as having his own label and heading up Louis Vuitton menswear he was simultaneously a DJ, a shoe designer collaborating with Nike on the infamous 10, furniture designer for IKEA and car designer for Mercedes-Benz. He died in November 2021 at the age of 41 after privately enduring two years of treatment for an aggressive and rare cancer.
This film tells the story of how and why Abloh was able to succeed where Kanye couldn’t and how in that process he liberated a whole generation.
Contributors include: DJ Benji B, Model and DJ Honey Dijon, Rapper Headie One, Singer songwriter Louis III, Model and Poet Kai-Isaiah Jamal, Menswear Designer Katie Eary.
Virgil Abloh: How To Be Both is a WhyNow production for BBC Three and BBC iPlayer. The director is Cassie Quarless, the producer is Maegan Tillock and the executive producer is Janet Lee. The commissioning editor for BBC Arts is Mark Bell.

In his most personal project to date, historian Simon Schama looks back at the dramatic history that has played out in the decades of his lifetime.
Simon is best known for writing history, but he has lived it too. Born in 1945, on the night of the bombing of Dresden, he grew up as part of a generation determined to rebuild the world from the ashes of war. Across three films he reveals the vital role of artists, writers, and musicians – many of whom Simon has witnessed first-hand – in fighting for the values that it was hoped would define the post war world – democracy, equality, and the dream of plenty.
From George Orwell and Vaclav Havel; Nina Simone and David Hockney; Charlie Chaplin, Ayn Rand and Rachel Carson, Simon will explore how artists have issued warnings about assaults on democracy, acted as powerful shamers of intolerance, and opened our eyes to the perilous trade-off between capitalism and the fate of the planet. Accompanied by a stellar cast of contemporary artists whose work also engages with the vital issues of the present – Margaret Atwood, Ai Weiwei, Nadya Tolonnikova, Armando Iannucci and Edward Burtynsky – the series reveals the extraordinary power of art to shape the world, and the immense personal cost of creating work that dares to speak truth to power. In our own turbulent times, when so many of the values we have taken for granted are once again hanging in the balance, the series is a hopeful reminder of what great art is for.
Simon Schama’s History of Now (w/t) 3×60’, is an Oxford Films production for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. The series director is Hugo Macgregor, the series producer is Charlotte Sacher and the executive producer is Nick Kent. The commissioning editor for BBC Arts is Mark Bell.

Agatha Christie is the most successful novelist of all time, outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible. Across 75 novels, plays and countless short stories, she defined the detective genre for over a century. But the real woman behind the literary persona has long remained an enigma. Now, over the course of three episodes, Lucy Worsley is turning her historian’s powers of investigation onto Agatha herself.
This is the story of one of the most famous – and most complex – woman of the twentieth century. Looked at through Lucy’s expert eyes, Christie’s life becomes a dynamic history of the 20th century. Over its course, Agatha Christie witnessed untold upheaval: not just two World Wars, but revolutions in scientific understanding and extraordinary social change. Attitudes to everything from class and gender to race and Empire, science and technology were questioned and challenged. And touched by these changes in very personal ways, she ploughed all of it into her books.
For the first time Agatha Christie and her art will be forensically examined, providing a unique portrait of a society in flux. Her books hold a mirror to 20th century Britain and provide a remarkable window into a remarkable mind.
Agatha Christie: Mystery Queen (w/t), a 3×60’ is a BBC Studios production for BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and PBS. The producers are Grace Chapman, Rachel Jardine and Edmund Moriarty, and the executive producer is Alexander Leith. The commissioning editor for BBC Arts is Mark Bell.

This is the extraordinary story of Una Marson – trailblazing poet, playwright and campaigner, and the first Black producer and broadcaster at the BBC.
A Caribbean woman born in the early 1900s, Una Marson defied the limits society placed on her.
Joining the BBC’s Empire Service during World War II, she was the first broadcaster to give voice to Caribbean writers and intellectuals, bringing their stories and culture to a global audience accustomed to hearing only English accents.
During her time in London Una wrote and produced a play for London’s West End, the first Black writer to do so. She was also an activist, championing women’s rights, the rights of Black people, literacy programmes, the education of children, and working with the deposed Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie.
For this drama-documentary Una is brought to life by Seroca Davis. Using Una’s writing, letters and her BBC personnel file, we gain a unique insight into her extraordinary life and work. We also hear from leading academics and her friends, who consider Una’s life as a black woman in a professional role in Britain at a time when that was highly unusual – and the personal costs attached.
Many of the works and writings of Una Marson have been lost and, following her untimely death, she has largely been forgotten. This celebration of her incredible life and work brings her out of the shadows and back into the light.
Una Marson: Our Lost Caribbean Voice, a 1×60’ for BBC Two and iPlayer, is a Douglas Road Production for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. The directors are Avril E. Russell and Topher Campbell, the producer is Carol Harding. The executive producers are Angela Ferreira and Mike Connolly. The commissioning editor for BBC Arts is Mark Bell.

A new adaptation of Coppélia this winter combines enchanting animation and live action dance in a modern take on the much-loved ballet.
With a world-class cast including Michaela DePrince, Daniel Camargo, Vito Mazzeo, Dame Darcey Bussell and Irek Mukhamedov, this new adaptation sees Dr. Coppelius (Mazzeo) as a cosmetic surgeon, whose lure of superficial beauty poisons the town. Swan (DePrince) must uncover the truth about the popular newcomer who puts her community and the life of her beloved Franz (Daniel Camargo) in danger. Choreographed by Ted Brandsen and featuring an original score composed by Maurizio Malagnini, performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra
Coppélia, a 1×80’, is a film by Jeff Tudor, Steven De Beul & Ben Tesseur. It is produced by Bruno Felix, Femke Wolting and Janneke van de Kerkhof for Submarine and Adrienne Liron for 3 Minutes West. The commissioning editor for BBC Arts is Emma Cahusac.

MISSION JURASSIC (working title)
The weather-beaten ravines of the ‘Badlands’ of Wyoming, USA conceal an ancient secret. In a closely guarded location lies a mass dinosaur graveyard that could become one of the biggest collections of bones ever discovered. Could this site provide new insights into the Jurassic – often considered the golden age of the dinosaurs? Biologist Liz Bonnin is on a mission to find out.
With three years of access to this unique dig site, this special joins an international team of leading palaeontologists on a mission to uncover the giants of the Jurassic – some of the largest beasts ever to walk the earth, from giant herbivores like Diplodocus to the fearsome Allosaurus, forerunner of T-Rex.
What makes this dinosaur treasure trove so exciting is that these huge creatures were buried with a wealth of other evidence, from the footprints they left, to the plants they ate – and evidence of ferocious carnivorous behaviour.
But digging conditions are harsh. Sandstorms and thunderstorms threaten to destroy the fragile bones before they are even out of the ground. So Liz has joined the team for a crucial fortnight, as they race to uncover as many precious fossils as possible before the site must be shut for winter.
Liz Bonnin says: “Helping to uncover the fossils of giants from 150 million years ago, along with the extraordinary amount of other evidence all around them, was an opportunity I simply couldn’t turn down. Thanks to the tireless work and passion of the palaeontologists I teamed up with, the Jurassic came to life in ways I could never have imagined – a once in a lifetime adventure I’ll never forget!”
Using the very latest science and technology, the team begin to piece together the life stories of each dinosaur, finally solving the mystery of what drew them to this spot, to reveal not only how these dinosaurs lived – but how they died.
Mission Jurassic, a 2×60’, was commissioned by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual. It is a United Kingdom/Canada Co-production. It is being made as a BBC Studios Science Unit and Ideacom International co-production, in association with Science Channel, CBC, Radio-Canada for BBC. Executive Producer is Helen Thomas. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Tom Coveney.

In this brand new six part series for BBC Two, Professor Hannah Fry delves into the wonders of modern technology, and uncovers some of the mind-blowing stories behind it, opening our eyes to The Secret Genius of Everything that we can take for granted.
We don’t often stop to think about it, but we’re all living in a golden age of technology.
From contactless payments, to smart devices with the power of supercomputers: our homes and our pockets are filled with gadgets and inventions that, twenty years ago, would have been the stuff of science fiction. They’ve become such an integral part of our lives, we’ve forgotten to notice how clever they are.
In a new six-part BBC Factual series for BBC Two and iPlayer coming in late 2022, Professor Hannah Fry wants to open our eyes to The Secret Genius of Everything that we too often take for granted.
Every episode will see Hannah take one modern tech wonder apart bit by bit, to find out how it works and to uncover the amazing, unbelievable, and sometimes hilarious stories behind its invention, such as:
• The food delivery apps built upon technology developed for nuclear missiles,
• The Tesla empire’s debt to 90’s camcorders
• How online payments were revolutionised by a boom in X-rated websites

We’ll also meet the extraordinary pioneers in each item’s creation story, with exclusive access to top secret innovation hubs such as Visa’s European data centre, and Deliveroo’s design lab which can predict what you’re going to order before you’re even hungry.
A Professor of Mathematics, Hannah has spent years working with engineers, physicists and computer scientists to understand how technology shapes lives.
Hannah says: “Things like food delivery apps and bank cards have undeniably shaped our lives, but it is incredible to learn how our lives have shaped those inventions too! We surround ourselves with objects which took an incredible amount of invention to bring to life, and yet we have forgotten to remember how clever they are. I can’t wait to reveal the incredible stories behind the inventions and meet the teams who are developing this technology for the future.”
The Secret Genius of Everything, a 6×60’ series for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer, is made by BBC Studios Science Unit in partnership with The Open University. It was commissioned by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual. The Executive Producer is Paul Overton and the Commissioning Editor is Tom Coveney.


Details were revealed about the third instalment of Race Across the World. Five pairs of intrepid travellers will race across an entire continent. Ocean to ocean.

Starting out at the very edge of the Pacific in Vancouver – the teams will travel over 16 thousand kilometres across six time zones all at ground level to the finish line perched on the rugged Atlantic coast, North America’s most easterly city – St John’s Newfoundland.

In addition, the much-anticipated Celebrity Race Across the World will go into production later this year, with the pairs set to be announced in the coming months.

Race Across the World, an 8×60’ for BBC One and iPlayer, is made by Studio Lambert. It was commissioned by Catherine Catton, Head of Commissioning, Factual Entertainment and Events. The Executive Producers are Mark Saben, Stephen Day and Tim Harcourt and the Commissioning Editor is Michael Jochnowitz.


Further episodes will include Louis with Dame Judi Dench in her countryside home. TV adventurer Bear Grylls takes Louis by boat to his remote island off the coast of North Wales and gives Louis an access all areas pass to his adventure family festival. Chart-topping singer-songwriter Rita Ora sits down with Louis at her father’s London pub and joins her as she perfoms live in Albania. Dominic Harrison, better known as musician Yungblud, takes Louis to meet his in family in Doncaster and his fans whilst on tour in the LA. Louis also accompanies comedian, actor and writer, Katherine Ryan on her latest stand-up comedy tour.

Louis Theroux Interviews, a 6×45’ for BBC Two and iPlayer, is made by Mindhouse Productions. It was commissioned by Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries. The Executive Producer is Arron Fellows, and Commissioning Editor is Max Gogarty.

Forensics: The Real CSI returns to BBC Two for a third series, once again following West Midlands Police as they use forensic science to bring criminals to justice. In addition to the homicide and CID teams featured previously, this series will take viewers into new and surprising territories: from gun crime and ballistic testing to major fire investigations.

The series will also explore how the forensic teams are meeting the ever-increasing threat of organised gangs and forensically aware criminals with new, cutting-edge science.

Forensics: The Real CSI, a 4×60′ and a 6×60′ for BBC Two and iPlayer, is made by Blast Films. It was commissioned by Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, and the Executive Producers are Poonam Odedra and Graeme McAulay. The Commissioning Editor is Beejal-Maya Patel.

Pippa Considine

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