Stanley Tucci lends voice to major new Radio 4 series on Californian history


BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 will air a major new series, fronted by Stanley Tucci, which explores the story of modern California by profiling some of its most influential citizens from the last 100 years.

The Californian Century, which begins on Monday 24 February, will see actor-director Tucci assuming the role of a cynical, hard-nosed screenwriter to narrate the captivating stories of ten people who helped build the Golden State.

The lives of Francis Boggs, who was the first person to direct a full movie in California; Gone with the Wind star Hattie McDaniel, the first black actor to win an Oscar; and Jerry Brown, California’s longest-serving governor, are among the lives being explored to assess the impact of Californian culture and society.

Stanley Tucci says: “Having spent a lot of time working in California, I was very interested in narrating this series about the people who made the biggest impact on the state during its most fruitful century. I’m thrilled to be joining BBC Radio 4 to explore The Californian Century.”

The 10-part series - created, written and produced by BBC journalist Laurence Grissell - explores how, over the course of a century, California became synonymous with showbusiness, technology and the allure of success and prosperity. However, as some of the stories featured in the series prove, much of California’s boundless promise is something of a fallacy - with the fickle state being as famous for disastrous downfalls as it is for glittering success.

Richard Knight, BBC Radio 4’s Factual Commissioning Editor, says: “California’s political, social and cultural significance is huge - touching lives all around the world - and this new series provides a fascinating insight into some of the people who shaped the state.

“By combining new interviews, a compelling script and a great performance from one of Hollywood’s most-loved stars, The Californian Century deconstructs the Californian dream to determine what’s real and what’s an illusion. It’s an ambitious blend of drama, humour and journalism - a real treat for Radio 4 listeners.”

The first episode of The Californian Century airs on Radio 4 at 1.45pm on Monday 24 February, with the series then continuing every weekday until Friday 6 March. All episodes will also be available on BBC Sounds.

The notable Californians being profiled in the series are:

Francis Boggs, director - first person to direct a full movie in California

William Mulholland, civil engineer - provided southern California, then a virtual desert, with a water supply

Aimee Semple McPherson, revivalist preacher - known for a reported kidnapping that caused a media frenzy in 1926

Hattie McDaniel, actor - first black actor to win an Oscar (for her role as Mammy in Gone With The Wind)

Leon Lewis, attorney - founder of the Los Angeles Jewish Community Committee and a major anti-Nazi spy ring

William Shockley, inventor - first person to bring silicon to the region now known as Silicon Valley
Kathleen Cleaver, activist - leading figure within the Black Panther Party

Dianne Feinstein, politician - first female mayor of San Francisco and first female senator of California

Ice-T, rapper - known for his controversial hit Cop Killer which epitomised the violence of 1990s LA
Jerry Brown, politician - longest-serving governor of California

Source BBC Radio 4

February 18, 2020 4:00am ET by BBC Radio 4  

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