The Making of Dad's ArmyBookmark and Share

Friday, 28 August 2015 - Reported by Harry Ward
Dad's Army (Credit: BBC) BBC Two's controller, Kim Shillinglaw, has announced that a new comedy about the making of Dad’s Army is to be made by the channel. The one-off 60 minute special will star Paul Ritter, Shane Ritchie, John Sessions, Sally Phillips and Kevin Bishop.
The Making of Dad's Army (w/t)

The dramatised story of how Jimmy Perry and David Croft overcame BBC management scepticism, focus groups and cast constipation to get the much loved legend onto air.

Running from Perry's initial idea in 1967 until the transmission of the first episode in 1968, this affectionate and witty film shows the beginnings of Perry and Croft's writing partnership and the casting woes, personal clashes and production difficulties that put the show's very existence in jeopardy. It reveals to fans and newcomers alike what went on behind the scenes in the making of Dad's Army and is a true love letter to British creativity.

Cast confirmed so far includes: Paul Ritter to play Jimmy Perry (Friday Night Dinner, The World's End, Quantum of Solace), Richard Dormer as David Croft (Fortitude, Good Vibrations, Game of Thrones), John Sessions to play Arthur Lowe (Filth, Gangs Of New York), Julian Sands as John Le Mesurier (The Killing Fields, The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo, A Room With a View), Mark Heap as Clive Dunn (Friday Night Dinner, Green Wing & Spaced), Shane Richie to play Bill Pertwee (EastEnders), Kevin Bishop as James Beck (The Kevin Bishop Show, Whites), Keith Allen to play Paul Fox (Bodies, Robin Hood, The Comic Strip Presents…), Michael Cochrane as Arnold Ridley (The Archers), Ralph Riach (Braveheart, Hamish Macbeth) to play John Laurie and Sally Phillips as Ann Croft (Smack The Pony, Bridget Jones' Diary, Miranda). Further cast details will be announced at a later date.

The Making of Dad's Army (w/t) is a 1 x 60' episode. It is being produced by DSP, part of Endemol Shine Group. It was commissioned by Shane Allen, Controller BBC Comedy Commissioning and Gregor Sharp, Commissioning Editor BBC Comedy. It was written by Stephen Russell (Hattie, Shameless, Coronation Street, Garrow's Law) and will be directed by Steve Bendelack (Spitting Image, the Royle Family, The League of Gentlemen). The Executive Producers are Charlotte Surtees and Emily Dalton and the Producer is Brett Wilson at DSP. The drama will be filmed in Northern Ireland and has been part funded by Northern Ireland Screen.




Exhibition to celebrate 90 years of BBC children's programmesBookmark and Share

Thursday, 13 March 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
An exhibition examining the changing world of the BBC's programmes for children is to take place later this year.

Here's One We Made Earlier - which echoes the famous catchphrase from Blue Peter - is to be held at The Lowry in Salford between Saturday 19th July and Sunday 12th October and will look at the past, present and future of children's broadcasting on the BBC.

The interactive exhibition will pull together iconic items, footage, puppets and props from the BBC's archives as well as from private and public collections across the country, as it explores the complete story of the BBC's programming for children from the first days of broadcasting in 1922 with the launch of Children's Hour right up to the present multi-media moment.

It will be co-curated with local children, and as well as revisiting favourite broadcast moments from across the generations, visitors will also be able to look behind the scenes, have a go at being a presenter, and try a range of hands-on activities.

In addition, the exhibition will examine how children's broadcasting has both changed and remained the same over almost a century - from when toddlers were asked to "sit comfortably" to today's children who take centre-stage on air and online.

Joe Godwin, the director of BBC Children's, said:
It's great to be launching an exhibition of this kind in partnership with our close neighbours at The Lowry. From Muffin The Mule and Andy Pandy to Crackerjack, Newsround and Blue Peter, most British childhoods have been defined by the programmes and characters we love when we're young, many of them provided by the BBC.

It's really exciting to be able to showcase current programmes, as well as look back at some favourites from the past 92 years of BBC children's programmes. Families will be able to come along and enjoy the exhibition together, which is incredibly important to us, and we're looking forward to hearing what visitors think.
Michael Simpson, director of visual arts and engagement at The Lowry, said:
This exhibition is as much about today as it is about yesterday. There will be plenty of blasts from the past, but it will also be looking at how relevant and important children's broadcasting remains, and how children's viewing and listening habits are changing.




BBC Radio to celebrate Hitchhiker's Guide To The GalaxyBookmark and Share

Friday, 7 March 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
BBC Radio 4 Extra is bringing listeners the brand-new 30th anniversary edition of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Game online and broadcasting the first two series from tomorrow - 36 years to the day since the first radio broadcast of Hitchhiker's and 30 years since the invention of the award-winning game.

Hitchhiker's started life as a BBC Radio 4 series in March 1978. The original scripts by the late Douglas Adams spawned novels, a feature film, at least three stage shows, a TV series and a collection of comic books - as well as various towels.

The game was devised in 1984 by Adams and Steve Meretzky from Infocom. Notoriously difficult and full of oddities, it was one of the best-selling games of its era.

The 20th-anniversary edition of the game launched on Radio 4's website in 2004, and more than three million moves were made in the game in its first three days of launch and more than 50 million moves had been played within six months. It went on to win a BAFTA for Best Online Entertainment.

The 30th-anniversary specially-updated version of the game will allow users to share their achievements with friends over social media via the official Twitter feed @h2g2game.

The game will now be in high definition, thanks to refreshed illustrations and graphics. It is web-based and will be accessible via Radio 4 Extra's website. Players will also be able to take the game on the move, as it will be compatible with tablets and other internet enabled devices.

Radio 4 Extra will also be broadcasting series one and two of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. It has been more than 10 years since these programmes were last heard on BBC Radio and they perfectly accompany the game. Actions within the game follow the plot of the radio series and some puzzles are only solvable by players with knowledge of the programmes and story.

The single-player game starts with lead character Arthur Dent working his way through a series of different challenges and zones. Players use a specially-designed keyboard to enter their commands and there are achievements to be won throughout the game by completing a series of tasks. This interactive work of fiction sees players visiting other planets, meeting aliens and robots, and creating (or losing) the plot, based on their decisions and choices as they progress through the game. It is renowned for its difficulty and it never misses a chance to kill players off in hilarious and infuriating ways.

Caroline Raphael, commissioning editor for Radio 4 Extra, said:
Douglas was a true visionary and in his own glorious way foresaw all the technology we now take for granted. Radio 4 Extra is delighted to host this game alongside the first two series. Hitchhiker's fans will be rewarded for their loyalty over the years and newer fans have a real, but fiendish, treat in store. March 8th is a special day for the galaxy, so help us celebrate it in the unique way that only BBC Radio 4 Extra can.
The first episode of the first series will be broadcast at 6pm, with further episodes following weekly in the same slot on Saturdays.

And later this month, the original Hitchhiker's cast will continue to shake up the Radio 4 schedule when they reunite for a special performance, broadcast live from the BBC Radio Theatre in Broadcasting House. Led by Simon Jones as Arthur Dent, they will be bringing to life the characters created for them by Adams in highlights from the entire Hitchhiker's saga. The actors will be joined on stage by a Special Guest Voice Of The Book - Adams's long-time collaborator and sometime flatmate John Lloyd, who co-wrote the fifth and sixth episodes of the first series and was associate producer of the TV version.

It takes place on Saturday 29th March at 10am as part of the Character Invasion event that will see some of the nation's best-loved characters invade Radio 4 and take over the airwaves. Tickets for the show can be applied for via this link. Please note that they will be allocated via a random draw. People can register for up to four tickets per household at any time until Thursday 13th March at 4pm. Other broadcasts that same day can also be applied for, but should you be successful in the draw you will only receive tickets for one session. It should also be noted that allocation of the free tickets does not guarantee entry.




Wizards vs Aliens gets third seriesBookmark and Share

Monday, 3 March 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
The CBBC sci-fi adventure series Wizards vs Aliens has been recommissioned for a third series, it was announced today.

The drama - created by Russell T Davies and Phil Ford - follows the young wizard Tom Clarke, played by Scott Haran, and his scientific friend Benny Sherwood, portrayed by Percelle Ascott, as they try to stop the Nekross, who are threatening to destroy all of wizardkind - and the Earth - in their pursuit of magic.

It will start production next month to air in 2014/15, said the BBC, which added:
In this brand-new series, the pace steps up as Tom and Benny come face to face with a new alien race and a whole variety of magical creatures. Meanwhile, Varg has a new wife by his side, but the mysterious Lady Lyzera has a secret of her own . . .
CBBC controller Cheryl Taylor said:
CBBC is the home of thrilling and inspiring drama for children and Wizards vs Aliens is a perfect example of that.

The series is vivid and brave and our audience loves the portrayal of loyal friendship alongside exciting alien battles and stunning wizardry.

Children want to talk about Tom, Benny and the Nekross and we know they'll be delighted to hear a third series is being conjured up by the talented team in Wales.
The first series comprised 12 episodes, with series 2 comprising 14. It is currently unknown how many episodes will make up the third series.

Produced by BBC Cymru Wales, it is filmed at the BBC's Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff and on location around the area. Series three will be executive-produced by Ford and Nikki Wilson for BBC Wales and Sue Nott for CBBC.

UPDATE - 5th MARCH: The BBC told News In Time And Space today that the third series would comprise 10 episodes. This will make it the shortest series so far.




BFI to mark BBC2's 50th anniversary and hold Missing Believed Wiped specialBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
The BFI is to mark the 50th anniversary of BBC2 with two special screenings.

Set up to offer alternative programming to the two other mainstream channels then on offer (namely, BBC1, which was renamed from BBC tv, and ITV), BBC2 was originally meant to open on Monday 20th April 1964, but a fire at Battersea Power Station caused a major power failure in the area that meant the schedule had to be postponed to the next day. Since then, says the BFI:
The channel has carved out a special place in the cultural TV landscape – from in-depth science and documentary to groundbreaking comedy and drama. Across these two screenings we take a look at the first fascinating week of BBC2 via surviving archive programmes that show an astonishing range of subjects and ambition, and which laid the foundations for the channel we all know and love today.
Both screenings take place on Wednesday 23rd April, and they start at 6.10pm with The Opening Week + Sir David Attenborough In Conversation With Alan Yentob.
This selection of archive clips aims to capture the flavour of the opening week (including the first night's power cut, and the hilarious newsreader forced to stay on air with nothing to cut to!). Clips include light entertainment shows such as Jazz 625: Duke Ellington in Concert, comedy from The Alberts' Channel Too and Arkady Raikin (the Soviet Union's leading comedian), and drama with Julius Caesar (the National Youth Theatre production with original jazz score).
BBC executive Alan Yentob will be discussing BBC2 past, present and future with Sir David Attenborough, who was the channel's controller from 1965 to 1969.

This will be followed at 8.45pm by the production of Kiss Me Kate - featuring Howard Keel, Patricia Morison, Millicent Martin and Eric Barker - that formed part of the opening schedule.
This lavish production of the famous Cole Porter Broadway musical was commissioned to kick the channel off with a bang, and to showcase the better picture offered by BBC2's brand-new 625-line system (until then, all UK television had only been 405 lines). Add to this a superb cast (Howard Keel and Millicent Martin), some spirited dance routines and numbers - including, appropriately enough to open a new national TV channel, "Another Op'nin', Another Show" – and we guarantee you a toe-tapping televisual extravaganza!
A fanfare for the channel based on the Morse code translation of "BBC2" was composed by Freddie Phillips. He later composed the theme music for the "Trumptonshire trilogy" of children's TV programmes comprising Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley, for whose characters he also wrote songs.

And earlier in the month, the BFI will be holding a Missing Believed Wiped special entitled Maximum Access: The Complete and Utter History of Britain, with Michael Palin as a special guest.

This event takes place on Wednesday 2nd April at 8.50pm.
The BFI's Missing Believed Wiped initiative exists not only to highlight recovered TV material but to provide a showcase for the public. These screenings serve multiple purposes: to allow enthusiasts to see the titles; to inform cataloguers and archivists of the survival status of the material; and - perhaps most importantly - to alert schedulers, programme-makers and commercial distributors to the finds, leading to greater exposure.

To that end, this Missing Believed Wiped special will focus on the zany, pre-Python comedy series The Complete and Utter History of Britain - Michael Palin and Terry Jones' 1960s precursor to the much-loved TV show Horrible Histories. Here, we find sketches such as Richard the Lionheart relating his exploits in the Crusades in the manner of a laddish holidaymaker, and William the Conquerer engaging in post-match analysis.

Fans will be delighted that all the surviving material from this seminal series, along with new complementary material from Palin and Jones, will now be made available on DVD (thanks to Network Releasing).
Palin is to introduce the event.

Tickets to all the above will go on sale in due course.




BBC to mark 30th anniversary of Spitting ImageBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 7 January 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
The 30th anniversary of ITV's satirical puppet show Spitting Image is to be marked with a special documentary on BBC Four.

In Whatever Happened To Spitting Image? the arts strand Arena will reunite the founding creative team and tell the vexed and frequently hilarious story of the genesis of the satirical puppet show, with exclusive contributions from caricaturists Peter Fluck, Roger Law, and TV producer John Lloyd.

Spanning 131 episodes over 18 series from February 1984 to February 1996, the show was made for Central Independent Television and broadcast across the ITV network.

The puppets became almost as famous as the politicians they lampooned, and in 2000 were auctioned off at Sotheby's. In the course of the documentary, the team sets out to discover where they now reside and who is taking care of them in their old age.

Revealing the extraordinary technical achievement of the series, Arena meets the caricaturists, puppet-mould-makers, designers, puppeteers, impressionists, writers, and directors who worked tirelessly to ensure the show landed its weekly jibes and punches at the politicians, royals, and celebrities of the day. And, tracing its journey to our TV screens, through 12 years of huge audience figures and weekly controversy to its eventual demise, Arena will ask what Spitting Image got right, where it went wrong, and whether its absence for the past 17 years has left a hole in the schedules that has yet to be filled by modern broadcasting.

The documentary has been directed by Arena series editor Anthony Wall, who said:
I made a film about Fluck and Law in 1980, some years before Spitting Image was made, so it's great to be able to revisit their distinctive contribution to Britain's television history.
Cassian Harrison, the channel editor for BBC Four, commented:
It's a testament to Arena's success and eclectic tastes that they've secured access to the Spitting Image team. This is a timely opportunity for Arena to look back at one of television's most extraordinary satirical successes.
A date for broadcasting the one-hour programme is yet to be confirmed, with the BBC currently saying that it will air in the spring, but it will have a preview screening at the BFI Southbank on Thursday 27th February at 6.10pm.
Thirty years ago, Roger Law and Peter Fluck were happily ensconced in a converted Temperance Hall in Cambridge making cruelly funny Plasticine caricatures. These models were photographed and presented to the world in print under the anonymous byline "Luck & Flaw". Unlike a drawing, the caricatures looked like they might move and, Geppetto-style, they did. Law and Fluck, with co-conspirator TV comedy supremo John Lloyd, unleashed one of the most shocking and hilarious TV series ever. Arena tells the story of Spitting Image.
After the screening, there will be a question-and-answer session with Fluck, Law, Lloyd, and Wall.

The big-screen showing and Q&A will be followed at 8.45pm with a special two-hour celebration and Q&A featuring clips and guests including impressionist Steve Nallon plus "victims" Lord Roy Hattersley and Lord David Steel.
We're delighted to host a panel of well-known writers and performers who gave the show its satirical edge and who became household names in the process, alongside some of their victims - politicians and celebrities - who will discuss the effect their puppet personas had on their careers. Using illustrative clips, we examine the show's controversial impact at the time and its lasting legacy, and reveal behind-the-scenes secrets of the performers, puppeteers, writers, and directors. So, in the words of one famous crew member: "Puppets up, loves - wave those dollies in the air!"
Tickets to both events go on public sale at 11.30am on Tuesday 11th February - click here for the preview screening/Q&A and here for the celebration/Q&A - with a joint event ticket also being made available.







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