Edinburgh TV Festival: BBC2 controller Patrick Holland announced a range new titles across factual, arts, comedy and drama at the Edinburgh TV Festival today.

The commissions include a history series that explores the story of the 20th Century through the people who made it, as well as new documentary series that go behind the scenes at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and within the British Army. Holland also confirmed the return of The League of Gentlemen for three epiosides later this year.

Holland said: "These new commissions demonstrate my ambition for BBC Two – to bring the increasingly complex and changing world to the audience through challenging perspectives, human engagement and great storytelling.”

Icons: The Story Of The 20th Century
This eight part series is billed as a global history telling the definitive story of the 20th Century through the people who made it.

Each individual episode, presented by a well-known public figure will focus on a particular field – leaders, scientists, activists, artists, revolutionaries, inventors and entertainers – with the presenter identifying three particular icons of the 20th century. The historical figures will be chosen by a panel of experts according to their achievements and legacy. The presenters will tell the story of their icons, demonstrating how the world changed and how the lives and achievements of these people have a direct impact on our lives today.

At the end of each programme, the public will be asked to vote for their winner in that category. The series will finish with a live final where the presenters will champion the winner in their category and the overall winner, the ultimate icon of the 20th Century – will be chosen in a final vote.

Icons: The Story Of The 20th Century (8×60) was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual.

It is being made by 72 Films in partnership with the Open University and the Executive Producers are David Glover and Mark Raphael.

Inside The Foreign Office
BBC Two has been granted access to The Foreign and Commonwealth Office for this series, which films over 12 months. The series will examine how the FCO promotes Britain’s interests overseas and works to keep UK citizens and businesses safe. It will explore what diplomats really do for us in the 21st century and interrogate the pleasures and pressures their unique role brings.

The three-part series from BBC Studios will feature staff on the front line dealing with the thousands of Britons abroad seeking help, right up to the senior figures tasked with redefining Britain’s role on the world stage.

Inside The Foreign Office (3×60) was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning Documentaries. The Commissioning Editor is Danny Horan. It is being made by BBC Studios where the Executive Producers are Aysha Rafaele, Creative Director, The Documentary Unit, and Shona Thompson.

Army: Behind The New Frontlines
This new three-part observational documentary series has access to the British Army. Filmed over 12 months, the series follows British soldiers as they operate across the globe, and witnesses the British Army tackling terrorism in Iraq during the battle to liberate Mosul, a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan and Russian aggression in the Baltic States.

With access to all ranks from the Head of the British Army to new recruits, these three films will explore the multiple roles the British Army fulfil in some of the most troubled parts of the world.

Army: Behind The New Frontlines (3×60) was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, BBC Documentaries. It is being made by Wild Pictures where the Executive Producers are Paul Hamann and Tom Anstiss, and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Jamie Balment. The Series Producer is Matt Haan and Richard Wyllie is the Producer/Director.

Set in Los Angeles, 1983, drama acquisition Snowfall explores the infancy of the crack cocaine epidemic and the major impact it had on American society and culture.

Franklin Saint (Damson Idris) is a young street entrepreneur on a quest for success, whilst Gustavo Zapata (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) is a Mexican wrestler caught up in a power struggle in a Mexican crime family. Lucia Villanueva (Emily Rios) is the self-possessed daughter of a Mexican crime lord, and Teddy McDonald (Carter Hudson) is a CIA operative running from a dark past who begins an off-book operation to fund the Nicaraguan Contras.

Snowfall (10×60) was created by Boyz n the Hood director John Singleton, alongside Eric Amadio and Dave Andron, who also serves as showrunner. Its Executive Producers are Singleton, Andron, Amadio, plus Thomas Schlamme, Michael London and Trevor Engelson.

The series has been acquired by Patrick Holland and Sue Deeks, Head of Programme Acquisition, for BBC Two. It is distributed by 20th Century Fox Television Distribution and will air on BBC Two this autumn.

Basquiat: Rage To Riches
Nearly 30 years after his death from a drug overdose in 1988, this single doc focuses on legendary artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The film features exclusive interviews with Basquiat’s two sisters – Lisane and Jeanine Basquiat – who have never before talked about their brother and his art for a TV documentary. Contributing alongside them are art dealers such as Bruno Bischofberger, Larry Gagosian and Mary Boone.

Basquiat: Rage To Riches (1×90) was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Mark Bell, BBC Head of Commissioning, Arts, and the Executive Producer is Janet Lee. The Producer/Director is David Shulman for BBC Studios.

The League Of Gentlemen

The League Of Gentlemen will be back on screen later this year for three special episodes, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary since their debut on BBC Radio. Their career launched with the BBC in the same year they won the Perrier Award for Comedy at the 1997 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and Jeremy Dyson will be reuniting for a return to Royston Vasey. The League Of Gentlemen ran for three series on BBC Two and won the Rose D’Or and the BAFTA for Best Comedy Series in 2000.

The specials are commissioned by Patrick Holland and Shane Allen, Controller BBC Comedy, and they will be produced by BBC Studios. Executive producer is Jon Plowman, the producer is Adam Tandy, and the director is Steve Bendelack.

Staff Reporter

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