BBC4 channel editor Cassian Harrison has unveiled a raft of commissions, including two new ‘slow TV’ series.

The new Slow TV series include a mindfulness special that immerses viewers into the daily world of Benedictine monks and a new series of Slow natural history programmes from the BBC Natural History Unit which present the natural world as it is lived.

BBC4 has had success with previous Slow TV shows, including Canal Trip and All Aboard! The Country Bus.

The BBC4 commissions also include two in-depth history series take a detailed look at the lives of Lady Jane Grey and Ruth Ellis.

Also announced were new seasons on Opera and the Reformation, and new arts programmes that bring  video-artist Phil Collins and Hip-Hop poet Akala to the channel.

The Monastery
The Monastery is a three-part series which immerses viewers into the world of Benedictine monks, taking a look at their idiosyncratic but peaceful existence. BBC4 says the series “will enable us to slow down to their speed and provide a welcome retreat from the hectic pace of our own daily lives.”

The series will visit three different monasteries in Britain and follow individual monks that live there. “The structure of their day will define the pace and emphasis of the film – we’ll rise at dawn when they do, we’ll eat with them in silence, we’ll eavesdrop on the ancient rituals they conduct. We’ll follow them as they perform their daily duties to keep the monastery up and running – cooking supper, cleaning the cloisters, doing the laundry, growing fruit and vegetables in the abbey gardens. And we’ll observe the traditional crafts which occupy them – weaving, beekeeping and collecting honey, baking bread, calligraphy, icon painting and carpentry.”

The Monastery was commissioned by Fatima Salaria and Clare Paterson for the BBC. The Executive Producer is Nikki Parrot for Tigerlily Productions. The Monastery is a collaboration between BBC Documentaries and BBC Religion. The Producer/Director is Luke Korzun Martin.
Slow Natural History (3×30)
This autumn, BBC One is showing two new natural history series from The Natural History Unit, BBC Studios, Blue Planet II and Animals with Cameras. To complement these programmesSlowing down the pace, BBC Four’s programmes will enable viewers to experience the natural world in real time through the eyes of three of the animals featured in the BBC One series.
Using onboard wearable technology, each of the three episodes will be led by one animal showing us the world from their perspective –  a cheetah on the African savannah, a green turtle cruising the reefs of Indonesia and a white tailed sea eagle as it flies around the Western coast of Scotland.
Slow Natural History was commissioned by Cassian Harrison and Tom McDonald and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Craig Hunter. It is being made by The Natural History Unit, BBS Studios, where the Executive Producer is Doug Hope.
Lady Jane Grey: To Kill A Queen
Lady Jane Grey: To Kill A Queen, presented by Helen Castor, features some of the best known Tudor historians, including Leanda DeLisle, John Guy, Stephen J Edwards and Anna Whitelock.  The film features The Tower of London, Greenwich, Hampton Court, Framlingham Castle and many of the primary sources currently held in leading museums and libraries.  It also uses new graphic-drama sequences throughout.
The series was commissioned by Cassian Harrison, channel editor BBC Four and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. The Commissioning Editor is Abigail Priddle. The series is being made by Darlow Smithson Productions.
Ruth Ellis
This investigative three-part series brings a true crime ethos to history and re-examines the case of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain.  

The series was commissioned by Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor BBC Four and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning Specialist Factual. The Commissioning Editor is Diene Petterle. The series will be executive produced by Cate Hall and series produced and directed by Gillian Pachter for Wall to Wall.
Eric, Ernie and Me
This new one off drama tells the story of comedy scriptwriter Eddie Braben. For over a decade, the writer Eddie Braben penned Morecambe and Wise’s material, and reshaped the double act into the Eric and Ernie that the nation took to its heart. But it wasn’t all sunshine.
Written by Neil Forsyth (Bob Servant, Waiting for Andre), Eric, Ernie & Me celebrates the man behind Morecambe and Wise’s greatest successes, culminating in their iconic 1977 Christmas Show, whilst showing the pressure and pain he went through to help create Britain’s most beloved double act.
The 1×60 drama was commissioned by Gregor Sharp, Commissioning Editor, BBC Comedy and will be produced by Objective Fiction, part of Objective Media Group. Ben Farrell executive producer and Alison Sterling line producing.
Reformation: The Story of Martin Luther
Marking 500 years since the Reformation, this is the story of Martin Luther, the visionary reformer and one of the most important religious figures in history. 
This German drama is directed by Uwe Janson and stars Maximilian Brückner as Martin Luther. It was written by Stefan Dähnert and Marianne Wendt, directed by Uwe Janson and its Creative Producer is Martin Bromber.
Reformation: The Story of Martin Luther has been acquired by Cassian Harrison and Sue Deeks, Head of Programme Acquisition, for BBC Four. The series is distributed internationally by FremantleMedia International and will be broadcast later this year on BBC Four.
Evensong: The Story of England’s Greatest Musical Legacy
For the BBC’s Reformation Season in autumn 2017 Lucy Worsley will investigate the story of the most remarkable creation from that tumultuous and violent era: Choral Evensong.

Evensong: The Story of England’s Greatest Musical Legacy was commissioned by Cassian Harrison and Jan Younghusband, Head of BBC Music Television Commissioning. The Executive Producer is Ross Wilson for Matchlight Productions.
Books of the Reformation with Janina Ramirez (1×60)
To mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Nina Ramirez tells the story of three books that defined this radical religious revolution in England.
Tyndale’s New Testament, The Book of Common Prayer and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs are no longer commonly recognised titles.  Yet, for over four hundred years, these works formed the backbone of British life.  

The BBC Commissioner was Mark Bell. Mike Smith is the Exec Producer for BBC Studios, and it was Produced/Directed by Anna Cox.
Ovid: The Poet and the Emperor with Michael Wood (1×60)
This film looks at the life and work of one of the world’s greatest writers, who died 2000 years ago this autumn. Using his own words, performed by one of Britain’s leading actors, Simon Russell Beale, it uncovers the story of a poet’s clash with power. 

The BBC Commissioner is Mark Bell. The Producer/Director is Rebecca Dobbs for Maya Vision International, and the Writer/Presenter is Michael Wood.
Ovid: The World’s Greatest Storyteller (w/t) (2×30)
Delivered in a series of dramatic monologues and interspersed with behind the scenes preparations for the RSC’s Ovid series this October, these two half hour programmes will feature some of the finest actors from RSC productions past and present, all directed by Artistic Director Gregory Doran.  

The series is made by The Documentary Unit, BBC Studios. The Executive Producer is Janet Lee and it is produced and directed by John O’Rourke. Emma Cahusac is the BBC Commissioner.
Akala’s Odyssey (w/t) (1×60)
Urban poet Akala explores the world of Homer and The Odyssey, to discover how an epic poem became the cornerstone of Western literature. A

kala’s Odyssey (w/t) was commissioned by Emma Cahusac, BBC Commissioning Editor for Arts. The Executive Producers for GreenAcre Films/Immovable are Amanda Jenks, Nadine Marsh-Edwards and Chanelle Newman.
Directed by Phil Collins, with a soundtrack by Mica Levi (Jackie, Under the Skin) and Demdike Stare, and a new anthem composed by Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), this film will mark one hundred years since the ideas in The Communist Manifesto, written by Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.

Ceremony was commissioned by Emma Cahusac, Commissioning Editor, Arts and Music and being produced by Tigerlily Productions. It is backed by Manchester International Festival, HOME and 14-18 NOW.

Staff Reporter

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