BBC Factual controller Alison Kirkham has announced over 35 hours of new commissions across history, science, religion, documentaries and factual entertainment.
The new slate is headlined by 90-min documentary Diana, about the week that followed the death of the Princess of Wales in 1997, which features interviews with Princes William and Harry.
There’s also a new style format, the Makeover Format, presented by Claudia Winkleman, for BBC1, plus a series of documentaries to mark the 70th anniversary of the partition of India, as well as Earth from Space, made by the BBC’s Natural History Unit.
Indies such as Electric Ray, Wild Pictures, Twofour, Raw TV, Lambent and Wingspan are producing shows for the new slate.
Speaking at an event last night for producers and the press, Kirkham struck a confident tone as she unveiled the new slate:
“Just a few years ago, many within the industry were predicting the demise of Factual in a multi-channel, multi-choice world. In fact the opposite has proven to be true. Today audiences are rewarding the best Factual TV as emphatically as ever.”
Kirkham added: ““We are living in a period of seismic change when it feels harder than ever to get to grips with what is happening around us. In an era of false facts and fake news, it is the role of a proudly independent BBC to respond by offering a trusted lens through which to view and understand the world.”
The slate is as follows:
Earth From Space
Earth from Space invites viewers to look at our natural world from a brand new perspective, capturing the extraordinary beauty and diversity of the planet in astonishing detail. From animal gatherings and migrations, to tracking huge weather systems that span the globe, to a lone elephant marching across the African plain, space cameras reveal the story of our natural world like you’ve never seen it before.
Earth From Space, a 4×60 was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director of Content, and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. Craig Hunter is the BBC Commissioning Editor, Science, and it is being made by BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit, where the Executive Producer is Jo Shinner and the Series Producer is Chloe Sarosh.
This 90-minute BBC One documentary tells the inside story of the tumultuous week that followed the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, exploring how she came to have such an extraordinary effect on the nation and people around the world. The film features in-depth interviews with her sons, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, speaking in detail about that week’s events from the moment they heard the news of their mother’s death to the day of the funeral itself, as well as reflecting more broadly on her life and what she meant to them both then and now.
Diana (title TBC) was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director of Content, and Alison Kirkham, Controller, Factual Commissioning. It is being made by Sandpaper Films; the director is Henry Singer (Baby P: The Untold Story; 9/11: The Falling Man); the producer is Jenny Saunders and the co-producer is Jessica Ludgrove. It is being executive produced at the BBC by Alison Kirkham and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries.
The Makeover Show
Presented by Claudia Winkleman, The Makeover Show is a smart and contemporary new style format for BBC One. The series will see a range of people from all over the UK receive the ultimate makeover from some of the country’s best stylists, hairdressers and makeup artists.
The series will be filmed in a special makeover house in the heart of London using a combination of crews and rigged cameras. As well as delivering radical transformations, it will also reveal to the audience how simple choices about hair, makeup and clothes can have a huge impact on confidence and body image.
The Makeover Show (3×60) was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content, and Tom McDonald, BBC Head of Commissioning, Natural History & Specialist Factual. The series will be produced by Electric Ray. The Executive Producers are Meredith Chambers and Karl Warner and the Series Editor is Suzanne McGairl.
Miriam’s Great American Adventure
Miriam Margolyes embarks on an epic trip through the heart of Middle America in this new three-part series for BBC One. Miriam is no stranger to America, having lived in LA for 16 years, and she saw it as a liberal, welcoming and classless country that she came to love. But then 2016 happened, leaving Miriam wondering if she really knew it at all.
From the towering metropolis of Chicago to rural Ohio and the vibrant but deeply divided South, Miriam employs her warm and inimitable questioning style to get under the skin of the real America and challenge her – and our own – preconceptions of America.
Miriam’s Great American Adventure (3×60) was commissioned by Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries and is being made by Wild Pictures where the Executive Producers are Paul Hamann and Alicia Kerr.
The Real Marigold Hotel
Travel documentary The Real Marigold Hotel will be returning to BBC One for a new four-part series in 2018. A brand new line up of famous senior citizens will head off on an adventure of a lifetime to India, road-testing retirement in Udaipur, in the western Indian state of Rajasthan.
The Real Marigold Hotel (4×60) was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director BBC Content, and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries. It is a Twofour production where the Executive Producers are David Clews and Andrew MacKenzie. Ben Archard is the Series Producer and Claire Walls is the Series Editor.
My Family, Partition And Me: India 1947
Anita Rani explores the human impact of the Partition of India through the intimate stories of four British families, including her own, in a new two-part landmark BBC One series. Using compelling first-hand testimony from British Partition survivors, their children and grandchildren retrace the dramatic journeys they were forced to make during Partition.
Representing the different communities caught up in the violence – Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and British colonial – they travel for the first time to the homes in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh that their families fled in terror.
My Family, Partition And Me: India 1947 (2×60) was commissioned by Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. The Commissioning Editor is Fatima Salaria and it is being produced by Wall To Wall (a Warner Bros Television Production UK company) in association with Pickle Pictures. Colette Flight is the Executive Producer, Leo Burley is the Series Producer and Director, and Paula Nightingale is the Producer.
Britain’s Greatest Invention
Sir Trevor McDonald, Angela Rippon, Giles Coren, Len Goodman, David Harewood (pictured), Angela Scanlon and Nick Knowles to battle it out to reveal Britain’s Greatest Invention live on BBC Two. This special 90’ programme kicks off the BBC’s year-long season of science and technology programming, Tomorrow’s World. Presented by Dr Hannah Fry and automotive engineer Ant Anstead live on 15 June from the Science Museum Group’s vast stores, each of the well-known faces will champion one object, from the mobile phone to the television, in a bid to persuade the BBC Two audience to vote for their invention and win the title of Britain’s Greatest Invention.
Nigella: At My Table
Nigella: At My Table is a celebration of home cooking, the food that makes people feel happy and welcome as they sit around your table.
In her latest series, Nigella shares the food she cooks for family and friends, from fresh takes on classics she has evolved over time to colourful dishes with vibrant flavours coming out of mixing ingredients from many different cultures to bring something new to everyday eating.
The 6×30 series was commissioned by David Brindley, Head of Commissioning, Popular Factual and Factual Entertainment, and is being made by BBC Studios’ Unscripted Productions where the executive producer is Robi Dutta, the series director is Dominic Cyriax and the series producer is Hannah Griffiths. The series will be distributed by FremantleMedia International.
Abortion: What Britain Really Thinks
This topical special presented by Anne Robinson marks the 50th anniversary of the partial legalisation of abortion – and investigates what the nation thinks now about abortion. To answer these and other questions, the programme is underpinned by one of the most comprehensive polls ever conducted into British attitudes towards abortion. A group of people with an array of opposing views and experiences will then be brought together to discuss the findings.
Over three days, the group will hear testimony from experts and answer the question: if we were to rewrite the law to reflect their opinions and beliefs, how exactly would we like it to change?
Abortion: What Britain Really Thinks (1×60) was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Tom McDonald. Fatima Salaria is the Commissioning Editor, Religion and it is being made by Raw TV where the executive producer is Dominique Walker.
Chris Packham: Me And My Asperger’s
Having recently decided to open up about having autism, Chris Packham invites us to take a step inside his mind as he attempts to better understand the condition and explain what it feels like to be him.
Chris will also meet some of the world’s leading researchers and scientists at the cutting edge of autism research, ranging from those who want to train children to ‘tame’ their autism to people who consider being autistic to be a huge positive and are focussed on changing the way wider society sees the condition.
Chris Packham: Me and My Asperger’s was commissioned by Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. The Commissioning Editor is Abigail Priddle and the programme is being made by Raw, where the director is Charlie Russell.
A Vicar’s Life
In a new six-part religion series, BBC Two goes behind the scenes of the lives of country vicars at the heart of the rural community in the stunning Herefordshire countryside. This observational series follows several rural vicars over a six-month period, from Whitsun to Christmas, shedding light on the lives of their parishioners and exploring how the vicar’s message of Christianity fits into an ever-changing 21st century.
A Vicar’s Life (6×30) was commissioned by Fatima Salaria, Commissioning Editor, Religion. It is made by BBC Studios’ Pacific Quay Productions for BBC Two and the Executive Producer is Jo Roe.
Addicted Parents: Last Chance To Keep My Children
This two-part documentary series has unique access to the only rehab in the UK to allow children to live with their mums and dads, as their parents are given one last chance to overcome their addiction to drugs or alcohol.Filmed over a year, this series follows mothers and fathers and their children through detox and recovery. The first programme follows four mothers battling years of addiction to drugs and fighting to protect their future as a family. In the second programme, a young couple face an uphill battle to turn their backs on heroin so they can leave rehab with their two year-old son. Do any of them make it out together?
Addicted Parents: Last Chance To Keep My Children (2×60) was commissioned by Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual; the Commissioning Editor is Elliot Reed. It is being made by Lambent Productions. The Executive Producers are Emma Wakefield and Simon Ford, and the Director is Ben Rumney.
Who Should We Let In? Ian Hislop On The First Great Immigration Row
How should we respond to the vast numbers of newcomers arriving on our shores: are they a force for good to be welcomed in the tradition of tolerance, or a cause for anxiety about jobs, public services and the changing face of Britain’s towns and cities? In this provocative new programme, Ian Hislop sets out to explore the rich history that lies at the heart of our conflicted attitudes to immigration today.
Exploring attitudes to immigration in Victorian and Edwardian Britain, Ian casts a searing light on one of the most important and divisive issues of our times. This was the era when British views on immigrants crystallised and the first peacetime controls on immigration were imposed, leaving a legacy we’re still grappling with today.
Who Should We Let In? Ian Hislop On The First Great Immigration Row (1×60) was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Tom McDonald and the Commissioning Editor is Abigail Priddle. It is being made by Wingspan Productions where the Executive Producers are Archie Baron and Deborah Lee.
India’s Partition: The Forgotten Story
British film-maker Gurinder Chadha, director of Bend It Like Beckham and The Viceroy’s House, travels from Southall to Delhi to find out about the Partition of India – one of the most seismic and violent events of the 20th century.
To find out why and how it happened Gurinder crosses India, meeting people whose lives were torn apart by Partition, as well as historians who explain the complex motives behind the split.
India’s Partition: The Forgotten Story (1 x 60) was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual. The Commissioning Editor is Fatima Salaria and it is being made by Bent It TV, where the Executive Producer is Ricardo Pollack and Producer/Director is Robin Dashwood.
World’s Most Dangerous Border
Journalists and new presenting talent Adnan Sarwar and Babita Sharma travel either side of the contentious Indo-Pakistan border. From Gujarat and Sindh to the volatile and fiercely-contested northern region of Kashmir, they cross landscapes of extraordinary variety and often staggering beauty.
World’s Most Dangerous Border (3x 60) was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual. The Commissioning Editor is Fatima Salaria and it is being made by October Films, where the Executive Producer is Jane Merkin.
One Week In Summer
Set over the dramatic seven days leading up to partition of India and Pakistan, this film will give ablow-by-blow account of that tumultuous week, as day by day, chaos consumed the Indian sub-continent during the last days of British Rule.
From the flashpoints of the Punjab and Ghandi’s base in Calcutta to the burning streets of Lahore and beyond, the film tells the story of some of the millions of people affected by this unique historical event. Told from the perspective of ordinary villagers and townspeople caught up in events, the film reveals how the joys of Independence Day in India and Pakistan were overshadowed by misery in the summer of 1947 and explores just why the violence was so intense.
The programme features a novel blend of original first-hand testimony voiced by actors, powerful archive footage and a cast of insightful experts who will guide us through those dramatic and confusing days.
One Week in Summer (1×60) was commissioned by Patrick Holland and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual. The Commissioning Editor is Fatima Salaria and it is being made by Voltage TV, where the Executive Producers are Sanjay Singhal and Jon Alwen and the Director is Paul Berczeller.
Murdered For Being Different
The Bafta and RTS award-winning team behind BBC Three’s Murdered By My Boyfriend, Don’t Take My Baby and Murdered By My Father return with a new film about a brutal hate crime that shocked the country in 2007.
In a small town in Lancashire, 20 year-old Sophie Lancaster was kicked to death in a park by a gang of kids she didn’t know. Her boyfriend Robert Maltby was severely beaten into a coma. The two of them were randomly attacked because they were dressed as Goths, but Rob survived and now, for the first time, he tells his story to BBC Three.
Made in close collaboration with Rob, his family, Sophie’s family and the police investigating team, this factual drama is the true story of a young relationship and of the violence and chaos that destroyed their lives, for simply being different.
It will be the centrepiece programme in a BBC Three season exploring identity.
Murdered For Being Different (1×60) was commissioned by Damian Kavanagh, Controller, BBC Three and Clare Sillery and is being made by BBC Studios’ Documentary Unit where the Executive Producer is Aysha Rafaele.
Fizz Bang Wallop – A Tudor Firework Spectacular
Historian Lucy Worsley and materials scientist Zoe Laughlin explore the science and history of fireworks using an original pyrotechnics instruction manual from 1635 to recreate one of the most spectacular fireworks displays from the Tudor era.
In a 90-minute special, broadcast in the run-up to Guy Fawkes Night, BBC Four will assemble a team of top class pyrotechnicians to replicate a mind-blowing fireworks display especially designed for Queen Elizabeth I – one of the first documented firework displays in England.
The film will also use cutting-edge camera techniques to showcase fireworks like never before.
Fizz Bang Wallop – A Tudor Firework Spectacular (1×90) was commissioned by Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor, BBC Four and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. The Commissioning Editor is Diene Petterle and it is being made by STV Productions where the Executive Producer is Peter Collins and the Producer/Director is Sid Bennett.
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