BBC2 controller Patrick Holland mounted a stout defence of his channel at its new season launch last night saying he commissioned shows based on “passion” rather than algorithms like the  SVOD players.

At the launch he unveiled a raft of orders for new and returning shows for the new BBC2 season across history, science, documentaries, religion, current affairs, formats, drama, comedy and entertainment.

Speaking at the launch event, Holland said:  “The titles I have talked about today could never have been commissioned alone by a Silicon Valley algorithm.  You can’t write code that replaces human insight.” He said that the BBC commissions “based on passion, on gut feel, on public service purpose.  Our shows exist because they matter, not because they make the numbers work.  And our schedule exists as a living, breathing force that responds to the challenges and complexities of now and drives conversation and community.”

Below is the BBC’s list of the new programme announcements.


Africa on Wheels (w/t)
Africa on Wheels is a new four part series, where journalist and athlete Ade Adepitan travels across Africa, from West Africa and city of his birth – Lagos in Nigeria – through Central and Eastern Africa and on to the deep south of the continent – the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
Negotiating the worst Africa can throw at him in his wheelchair, Ade is on a journey to uncover how modern Africa is changing. He will visit a vast array of contrasting places on the continent, each providing unique and surprising experiences from the windswept beauty of Cape Verde to the streets of Mogadishu.
Africa on Wheels (w/t) 4 x 60’. Commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller BBC Two and Joanna Carr, Head of Current Affairs and the Executive Producer is Sam Bagnell.

The Assads
This series tells the story of the Assad dynasty, and right at the centre of it are a couple who met and fell in love in London, President Bashar and his wife Asma. Giving a new perspective on the modern history of Syria, this series delves inside their family.

The Assads (3×60) is a 72 Films production for the BBC. The Executive Producers are David Glover, Mark Raphael & Simon Finch. The Series Director is Nick Green and Series Producer is Kate Quine. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller BBC Two and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History  and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Simon Young.

30 years ago, at 23 years old, David Harewood suffered a mental breakdown and was sectioned and taken into hospital, where he was treated with antipsychotic medication.

Now David wants to piece together what happened to him, much of which he doesn’t remember, as well as try to understand why it happened. In this deeply personal and immersive film, David will retrace his steps to key locations from his breakdown, and meet the people who witnessed his spiralling decline and ultimate sectioning – his best friends, his family, his casting agent. Many of whom he hasn’t spoken to about his experiences since his recovery.
Alongside David’s exploration of his own story, he will also meet the people going through mental health crises today and the mental health professionals and emergency services on the frontline – from the psychiatric ward, to the police teams, to the community care teams – to explore what might happen if he experienced a mental breakdown today.

David Harewood: Psychosis and Me is a working title. The (1×60) film is a Films of Record production for BBC TWO. The Director is Wendie Ottewill and the Producer is Olivia Isaacs.  It was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries.  The commissioning editor for the BBC is Fozia Khan.  

Frankie Goes to Russia
The 2018 football World Cup is about to kick off against a backdrop of spy poisoning, alleged state-sponsored doping, threats of ultra-football hooliganism and perhaps the worst relations between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

In Frankie Goes to Russia, comedian Frankie  Boyle is heading to Russia before the tournament begins to go behind the stereotypes and half-truths of Russian football and culture with his trademark provocative humour.

Over two hour-long programmes, Frankie will visit several of the host cities to see what awaits the thousands of British fans expected to make the trip to the World Cup this summer. He’ll discover the Soviet drunk tanks  brought out of retirement for unruly fans and learn how to put on a full body chemical warfare suit and face-mask at a  World Cup volunteer induction.

Frankie heads to the sleepy seaside town preparing to host the England team, and visits a city twinned with Glasgow, that is renowned for its football violence.

Wanting to find out how much football really means to people in Russia, Frankie risks life and limb with a daredevil motorbike football team, records a world cup rap with a hip hop artist and learns how to inflict serious bodily harm with some sabre wielding Cossacks who will be policing the World Cup stadiums.
Frankie Goes to Russia (2×60) is made by ITN Productions.  The director and producer is Jenny Dames. The Executive Producer for ITN Productions is Bernie Kay. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Jamie Balment.


In ‘Kibbutz’, eight British Jews with a broad range of opinions, beliefs and practices, will go on a journey to examine some of the most pressing questions facing the Jewish community in 2018 as well as explore the nature of their faith and their culture and how it fits into modern society.
The group – from all over the UK – will travel together first to Manchester, to the heart of the North’s largest Jewish community. There, they’ll explore what many believe is a rise in anti-Semitism both here and abroad, meeting, amongst others, Jewish students, some of whom say they no longer feel safe talking about Israel on campus.
Then, they’ll travel together to Israel and live on a kibbutz, touring the country and the occupied West Bank to meet people from across the religious and political divide – Jewish settlers in Hebron, a Palestinian farmer whose land has been bulldozed by the Israeli security forces, and two fathers – a Palestinian and an Israeli – who have lost daughters to the conflict and are now working together for peace.
Kibbutz (w/t) is 2×60 Lion TV production for BBC Two. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Fatima Salaria.

MURDER (w/t)

It takes a team of detectives, specialists, scientists and lawyers to catch and ultimately convict a murderer.  
In this 8 part series, Murder, viewers will experience a murder investigation through the eyes of each of those professionals. Filming from these multiple viewpoints, intercut and in real time, the series will reveal how teams of ordinary people with extraordinary skills work together to solve a murder.
These stories will not only immerse an audience in the precise detail of an investigation, they will take us into the forgotten corners of Britain, shining a light on some of our most pressing social issues.
Murder is a bold, original and important BBC Two series, merging propulsive story-telling with the finest journalism.

Murder (w/t) is made by Expectation Factual. It will be Executive Produced by Colin Barr who was responsible for award-winning series such as Life and Death Row, The Detectives and Our War, and Dominique Foster (24 Hours in A & E, SAS: Who Dares Wins). It was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries.

PROJECT INTERIORS  (working title)

Project Interiors (w/t) is an ambitious new prime time series for BBC Two. This eight-part series will take ten fledgling stylists, and launch them into the competitive world of interior design.
With eight weeks and eight different challenges to tackle, in each episode the designers will be confronted with a new space to transform as they attempt to work their magic and show off their skills. These talented designers – crucially, working in teams but ultimately striving for a single prize – will be under pressure to revamp a wide range of different properties, from redesigning real businesses to reinventing family homes. They’ll have to manage fellow designers, a team of tradesmen and demanding clients, and at the same time work to exacting specifications and testing briefs.
As one designer gets eliminated each week, they’ll be fighting it out for a place in the final, where the prize on offer is a life changing design contract with a prestigious commercial client.
Project Interiors w/t (8×60) is a DSP production for BBC Two and Netflix.  It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller BBC Two and David Brindley, Head Popular Factual and Factual Entertainment. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Catherine Catton. The Series Producer is Nicky Hammond, the Executive Producers are Donna Clark and Claire Walls.

Back In Time for School
In a twist to the much loved format, this latest series of Back in Time will fast-forward 20 teenage school children and four teachers through 100 years of history to explore the ‘happiest years of our lives’ – schooldays.
Led by presenters Sara Cox and Polly Russell, the class and teachers will time travel through seven eras of education from the moment when ‘schooling for all’ was introduced in the late Victorian period, up to the end of the 20th century. They’ll go from lessons in laundry and musket practice to classes on contraception and computers; from the strict discipline of a 1950s Grammar to the radicalism of a Progressive Comprehensive. And in each era, there’ll be new school dinners to try, new school trips to take and new ideas about what school is actually for.

Back In Time for School is a Wall to Wall production for BBC Two. The Executive Producer is Emily Shields and the Series Producers are Christina Nutter and Morgana Pug. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland and David Brindley, and the BBC commissioning editor is Catherine Catton.


The critically acclaimed and award-winning documentary series Hospital will return to BBC Two for a fourth series. Hospital unveils the interlocking consequences of daily decisions with limited resources and an increasing number of patients at a time when the NHS has never been under more scrutiny. The series exposes the extraordinary juggling act that consultants, surgeons, bed managers and staff across the hospital must pull off every day. Filmed in London and then Nottingham the last 16 episodes have covered some of the most important decisions facing the NHS in recent times.  Edited and broadcast within weeks of filming, HOSPITAL has contributed to the news agenda, making the front pages of several major newspapers on more than one occasion. Heart wrenching human stories and extraordinary access to behind the scenes decisions has  seen the series develop a loyal viewing audience.
Hospital is a Label1 production for BBC Two. It is Executive Produced by Simon Dickson and Lorraine Charker-Phillips. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland  and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries.

In the second series of A House Through Time, David Olusoga travels to his home town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, to uncover the history contained within the walls of a single house. Using painstaking detective work – genealogical records, contemporary documents, and the help of expert witnesses – David investigates the lives of the myriad residents of an early 19th century home in the City’s West End, discovering stories of triumph, tragedy, war and scandal, as well as some surprising connections to his own family.
Over the course of four episodes A House Through Time paints a unique portrait of Britain, connecting one single house to the fortunes of the city, the nation, and the wider world.
A House Through Time (4×60) is produced by Twenty Twenty Productions for BBC Two. The series was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual and Simon Young, Commissioning Editor.  The Executive Producer for Twenty Twenty is Maxine Watson and the Series Producer Mary Crisp.

Dragonfly TV and Film Productions’ hit BBC TWO series Surgeons: At the Edge of Life will return with six new hour-long episodes in 2019. Going back behind the operating theatre doors for more astonishingly complex and risky procedures at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, the new series will follow surgeons as they tackle a remarkable range of operations at the forefront of what is medically possible.

From life-saving intricate micro-surgery to rapid response interventions and innovative procedures that can transform patients’ lives, Surgeons: At the Edge of Life will reveal the dazzling skill and edge-of-your-seat drama at the heart of medical science. Alongside two major operations in each episode, this time the series will also showcase brand new techniques and technology being pioneered around the UK. Richard Bond, Creative Director of Dragonfly says, “The BBC Two audience responded incredibly well to the expertise, courage and humanity of QEHB’s surgeons and their brave patients, so we’re delighted to be returning for a second series.”

Surgeons (6×60.) is a Dragonfly TV and Film Production for BBC Two. The Executive Producers are Richard Bond and Ruth Shurman. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. 

Black Earth Rising Casting Announcement

John Goodman and Michaela Coel announced to star in BAFTA-winner Hugo Blick’s thriller Black Earth Rising.  Black Earth Rising is a new BBC Two international eight part thriller about the prosecution of international war crimes and the West’s relationship with contemporary Africa written, directed and produced by BAFTA-winner Hugo Blick (The Honourable Woman, The Shadow Line). The fictional drama series stars Emmy and Golden Globe-winner John Goodman (The Big Lebowski, Roseanne) and BAFTA-winner Michaela Coel (Chewing Gum, London Spy). They will be joined by Olivier award-winners Noma Dumezweni (Harry Potter & the Cursed Child) and Harriet Walter (The Crown, Downton Abbey), alongside Tamara Tunie (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Devil’s Advocate), Lucian Msamati (Taboo, Kiri) and Abena Ayivor (A United Kingdom).

Death and Nightingales

Adapted by Allan Cubitt from Eugene McCabe’s modern Irish classic, Death and Nightingales is a riveting story of love, betrayal, deception and revenge, set in the beautiful, haunting countryside of Fermanagh in 1885. A place where neighbours observe each other and inform, a world of spies, confessions and double dealing; where a pervading sense of beauty is shot through with menace and impending doom. Set over a desperately tense 24 hour period, it’s Beth Winters’ 25th birthday – the day she has decided to join the charming Liam Ward and escape from her limited life and difficult and complex relationship with her Protestant landowner stepfather Billy. As decades of pain and betrayal finally build to a devastating climax, this powerful and gripping drama illuminates tensions that tear both families and nations apart.
Allan Cubitt said: “Death and Nightingales is a dark and powerful love story set across class and religious divides in nineteenth century County Fermanagh. Eugene McCabe’s moving, poetic story has a strong and determined young woman struggling to control her own destiny at its core and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity as writer/director to bring this modern classic of Irish Literature to the screen.”
Death and Nightingales is a 3X60’ drama series adapted and directed by Allan Cubitt (The Fall). It is an Imaginarium and Soho Moon production for BBC Two. The producer is Jonathan Cavendish and executive producers are James Mitchell for Soho Moon and Tommy Bulfin for BBC Two. Supported by Northern Ireland Screen. Commissioned by Patrick Holland and Piers Wenger, Controller BBC Drama.

Doing Money
Written by Gwyneth Hughes and directed by Lynsey Miller, Doing Money is a shocking true story about slavery in modern Britain.  This fact-based one-off drama follows the heart-breaking and compelling story of Ana, a young Romanian woman snatched in broad daylight from a London street, trafficked to Ireland  and used as a sex slave in a series of ‘pop up’ brothels. Ana’s story offers a tense and thought-provoking thriller, with fascinating insights into  the difficulties of policing a form of modern slavery that hides in plain sight.  It exposes just how big business "doing money" is.
Gwyneth Hughes says: "I’ve been deeply affected by listening to Ana’s unforgettable story.  I’ve learned a lot from her – a lot I wish I didn’t know – about the lives of women bought and sold into modern slavery. But I’ve also been moved by her courage, her humour, and her will to survive. She is a true heroine."
Doing Money is a 1X90’ produced by Renegade Pictures for BBC Two. It is written by Gwyneth Hughes (The Girl), directed by Lynsey Miller (The Boy With The Top Knot) and produced by Mike Dormer. Alex Cooke is Executive Producer for Renegade Pictures and Lucy Richer for BBC Two. Commissioned by Patrick Holland and Piers Wenger, Controller BBC Drama.
Englistan created by Riz Ahmed
An original 9 x 60’ drama produced by BBC Studios Drama London in association with Left Handed Films  .
Englistan is the story of three generations of a British Pakistani family, the Latifs; Jamal and Fatima, their children Ashraf, Razia and Asim, and their grandchildren Zahed, Naseem and Ayesha. We follow them as they pursue their dreams over four tumultuous decades, navigating shifting circumstances and evolving loyalties.
Englistan will re-frame recent British history, and shine a light on the forces that have made our society what it is today. We will follow them through political movements and economic boom and bust, through gang-land rivalries and assimilation into the heart of the establishment, through spiritual soul-searching and religious conflict.
Our characters will question what it means to be true to oneself, to belong, and whether ‘home’ is a country, a community, or something much more personal. Above all this is a story of family, of the enduring love a family provides, how it sustains us, restricts us, and defines us for better or worse.
Creator Riz Ahmed said: “I’m excited to be working with Esther Springer and all the team at BBC Studios. Englistan is an untold British story with universal themes and resonance. It’s the story I always wanted to tell,  and it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to do so.”

Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two, said: “Riz Ahmed is a phenomenal talent and Englistan promises to be a hugely ambitious, layered and resonant drama about family and identity. New writing, massive canvas, the biggest issues; it is a perfect drama for BBC Two.”
Englistan has been commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two, and Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama. Executive Producers are Riz Ahmed for Left Handed Films, Esther Springer and Hilary Salmon for BBC Studios Drama London and Lucy Richer for BBC Two.

Atlanta (10×30’)
Donald Glover’s critically acclaimed, Golden Globe and Emmy award winning series Atlanta comes to BBC Two. Glover stars as Earnest "Earn" Marks, a Princeton dropout who returns to his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia to discover his cousin Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry) has become Atlanta’s hottest new rap act.
Recognising that Alfred’s overnight YouTube popularity could change their lives forever, Earn becomes Alfred’s manager and attempts to reign in his cousin’s "act first, think later" attitude. The series follows the pair on their way up through the Atlanta rap scene, where their opposing views on art, business and race will make their mission for success anything but straightforward.
Donald Glover serves as creator and executive producer, alongside executive producers Paul Simms and Dianne McGunigle. Glover also writes and directs on several episodes. The series is produced by FX Productions and will begin soon on BBC Two.


Defending the Guilty

Katherine Parkinson and Will Sharpe to star in  new comedy from Big Talk Productions, written by Kieron Quirke (Cuckoo), based on the book ‘Defending the Guilty: Truth and Lies in the Criminal Courtroom’ by Alex McBride.
Will Sharpe (Flowers), plays Will Packham – an idealistic pupil barrister being shown the ropes by his cynical, worldly-wise pupilmaster Caroline, played by BAFTA Award winner Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd, Humans). Mistakenly believing that his role is to serve justice (“No Will, a Barrister’s job is to win”), Will must navigate his way through a criminal justice system seemingly designed to be as opaque and confusing as possible. While also dealing with his fellow pupils, each of them after the same single job at the end of their training and more than happy to stab each other in the back to get it. Can he succeed and hold on to his principles? Or will the system claim another victim? 

Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two, said: “We only went along for a read through and ended up ordering a whole series! Such incisive writing, cutting humour and a brilliantly rendered world. I am delighted we are bringing Defending the Guilty to the audience on Two.”
‘Defending the Guilty’ is a Big Talk production, Produced by Georgie Fallon (Mum), Directed by Jim Field Smith (The Wrong Mans), Created by Kieron Quirke and Alex McBride, Executive Producers are Kenton Allen, Saurabh Kakkar, Jim Field Smith and Kieron Quirke for Big Talk, and Kate Daughton for the BBC.  The 6 x 30’ series has been commissioned by Shane Allen, Controller, Comedy Commissioning and Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two.

Don’t Forget The Driver
Written and created by acclaimed BAFTA nominated actor Toby Jones (Detectorists, Marvellous, The Girl) and Obie award winning playwright Tim Crouch (An Oak Tree, Beginners, Adler & Gibb) Don’t Forget the Driver stars Toby Jones in a dark comedy set in sunny, seaside Bognor Regis. It explores what it means to live, work and parent at a point when the entire UK population is having to come to terms with the changing colour of their passports.
6×30’ episodes tell the story of coach driver and single dad Peter Green (Jones). His is a life of ordinary routine; clip on ties, limp packed lunches, vehicle checks, roundtrip coach journeys ferrying church groups to Donkey Sanctuaries and Japanese tourists to Canterbury Cathedral.  Don’t Forget The Driver follows a group of people struggling with their place in the world, their own sense of identity, and reveals how, in one single moment, even in the most ordinary of lives, an accidental encounter can change the course of everything.
Toby Jones said: “I’m excited to collaborate with the celebrated playwright Tim Crouch and the fabulous Sister Pictures on our first piece of writing for television. We hope that Don’t Forget the Driver will be an unusually funny drama about small town Britain and the joys of coach travel.”
Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two, said: “Don’t forget the Driver is a brilliantly woven story of humanity and unexpected consequences. Comedy can misfire when it takes on the big issues of the age but this series with the unrivalled Toby Jones is so human, so rooted, so warmly funny, that it illuminates, enriching our understanding.” 
Don’t Forget The Driver has been commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two, and Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy. The comedy is Executive Produced by Jane Featherstone (The Split, Broadchurch, Humans) and Naomi de Pear (Flowers, The Bisexual, River) for Sister Pictures, and BBC Comedy Commissioning Editor Kate Daughton.

The Other One
The Other One is a 6x 30 comedy series about what happens when you discover your dead Dad has a secret family and you now have a brand new sister.
Cathy’s dad just died. Colin was the most caring, generous and funny man you’d ever meet. He was a brilliant husband and father, and now he’s bloody died. Kicking the bucket was the most selfish thing he ever did.
But Colin had a massive secret. He had a mistress; which is weird because people with a subscription to ‘Which?’ magazine aren’t usually risk-takers. And not only that, Colin had another daughter with this woman – born exactly a week after Cathy. To cover his tracks Colin decided to call both daughters Catherine, so as to reduce confusion and getting caught (you know, like how married men buy their lover their wives’ perfume – but way worse). His other ‘family’ – Marilyn and Cat – live 13 miles away in a neighbouring town and knew him as an unreliable but sporadically wonderful sh*t of a dad.
Neither Cathy nor Cat were aware the other existed until Colin’s funeral. And this is where everything kicks off – the Cat is well and truly out of the bag.
The Other One stars Siobhan Finneran (Downton Abbey, Happy Valley), Rebecca Front (The Thick of It, War and Peace), Ellie White (Inside No 9, The Windsors), Lauren Socha (Misfits, Catastrophe) and Amit Shah (Stag, W1A)

Shane Allen, Controller of Comedy Commissioning, said: “The pilot landed fully formed with a powerhouse of female comedy talent established and new. Holly’s writing is incredibly impressive as she brings new layers, nuance and depth to the knockout original concept.”
Created by Holly Walsh (Motherland, Psychobitches, Dead Boss), written by Holly Walsh and Pippa Brown, Produced by Pippa Brown (Psychobitches, Bad Education, Bounty Hunters), the Executive Producers are Holly Walsh and Ben Cavey for Cave Bear Productions. Commissioned by Patrick Holland and Shane Allen, the Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Alex Moody.

People Just Do Nothing

BAFTA-winning People Just Do Nothing returns for the fifth and final series, premiering on BBC Two alongside being available on BBC Three. DJ Steves has been arrested and all the station equipment has been seized by the Police. Can the crew find a new home to transmit from and finally make Kurupt FM go global? Will Chabuddy be able to find time to help alongside his job and his insatiable new girlfriend?
The station isn’t the only thing under threat. After the excitement of the Wedding, Miche and Grindah have been rocked by news that the council have decided to knock down the Brentford blocks to make way for luxury flats. Where will this leave the family?
Shane Allen, Controller, BBC Comedy Commissioning, said: “This swansong series sees the gang end things on a high, although to be fair they’ve been fairly high since day one. The love for this show is immense and we want to see them off in style but aren’t expecting Kurupt FM to be any more respectable on Two.”
The 6 x 30’ series is created by Roughcut Television, produced by Jon Petrie and executive produced by Ash Atalla for Roughcut Television and Alex Moody for BBC Comedy Commissioning.


I’ll Get This

A brand new six part subversive comedy entertainment show.  With no host, no studio but one BIG loser, the show sees an eclectic mix of five celebrities go out for dinner together. When they arrive at the restaurant they must place their bank card in the centre of the table. As the food is served and the drinks flow, they play a series of fun and revealing games. If they win a game, they can retrieve their card. The person whose card
remains at the end of the evening must pick up the bill for the whole group. It’s going to be an expensive night for someone!
The Series Producer is Breid McLoone and the Executive Producers are Paul McGettigan, Zoë Tait and Matt Walton. A 12 Yard production for BBC Two. The Commissioning Editor is Jo Street.

Jon Creamer

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