BBC unveils exciting season to include Trailblazers with Emily Atack, Ruby Wax and Mel B

The BBC has unveiled an exciting new line up of factual arts and classical music content coming up this autumn and winter across BBC television and BBC iPlayer

PHOTO: Trailblazers Emily Atack, Ruby Wax and Mel B


BBC iPlayer

• Louis Theroux interviews Stormzy, Dame Judi Dench, Rita Ora, Bear Grylls, Yungblud and Katherine Ryan in revealing new series.

• Race Across The World heads to Canada as the much anticipated hit series returns.

• Simon Schama presents a new cultural history of post-1945 society.

• Hannah Fry reveals The Secret Genius Of Everything in major new six part science series.

• Lucy Worsley investigates the most successful author of all time in, Agatha Christie: Mystery Woman.

• A new documentary tells the extraordinary story of Una Marson, the first Black producer and broadcaster at the BBC.

• Liz Bonnin discovers a mass dinosaur grave in Mission Jurassic.

• BBC Three celebrates the influential career of fashion designer, Virgil Abloh.

• A new adaptation of Coppélia combines enchanting animation and live action dance in a modern take on the much-loved ballet.

• Stacey Solomon shares tips on having a magical festive season that won’t break the bank in Craft Your Own Christmas.

• Forensics: The Real CSI returns for two new series with investigations in new territories from major fire to gun crime.

Speaking at a special event to showcase the new content, Kate Phillips, BBC Director, Unscripted, says: “I’ve been in my new role for four months and I’ve been blown away by the sheer range, scale and quality of programming coming out of the Factual, Arts and Classical Music departments.

"From stand-out documentaries like the Real Mo Farah and Freddie’s Field Of Dreams, to the BBC Proms and the launch of Frozen Planet II, the team here are at the very top of their game, bringing audiences high impact, uniquely public service content at its very best.

"We’ve got plenty more to look forward to in the months ahead and I’m excited to unveil such an impressive array of diverse new content featuring big and upcoming talent, and bringing us new perspectives, incredible access and big moments for everyone.”

New Announcements

Factual Entertainment and Events

Catherine Catton, Head of Commissioning Factual Entertainment and Events, says: “We want our programmes to bring viewers together with bold, original programming that feels unashamedly entertaining. From exciting new formats such as Unbreakable and Go Hard Or Go Home to revealing new series featuring big name talent, such as The Italian Job With Alan Carr And Amanda Holden and Trailblazers, we have a brilliant slate of new commissions coming up which demonstrate this ambition.

"And what could be a bigger moment to bring our audience together than the return of Race Across The World, which I’m delighted is back soon with a new cast of intrepid travellers setting off on the adventure of a lifetime.”

Race Across The World

The BBC hit global competition series, Race Across The World returns with an eight-part series, this time to a new home on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

The third instalment of the Bafta-winning series is the most extreme to date. Five pairs of intrepid travellers will race across an entire continent. Ocean to ocean. Starting out at the very edge of the Pacific in Vancouver - the teams will travel over 16,000 kilometres across six time zones all at ground level to the finish line perched on the rugged Atlantic coast, North America’s most easterly city - St John’s Newfoundland.

Without the use of air travel or any of the trappings of modern-day life, the pairs must navigate their way through the very edges of civilisation, taking in vast prairies, untouched wilderness and great lakes, with only the cash equivalent of the airfare to their final destination.

Taking place against the stunning backdrop of Canada but with no mobile phone, internet access or credit cards to assist them, the competing travellers will discover that to reach the finish line quickest and win the £20 000 cash prize, they need to rely on the kindness of strangers and use every ounce of their travel skills and ingenuity.

In addition, the much anticipated Celebrity Race Across The World will go into production later this year, with the pairs set to be announced in the coming months.

Race Across The World, an 8x60’ for BBC One and BBC iPlayer, is made by Studio Lambert. It was commissioned by Catherine Catton, Head of Commissioning, Factual Entertainment and Events. The Executive Producers are Mark Saben, Stephen Day and Tim Harcourt and the Commissioning Editor is Michael Jochnowitz.


Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, says: “Documentaries at the BBC continue to be in fantastic shape with The Real Mo Farah, Our Falklands War, House Of Maxwell and Freddie Flintoff’s Field Of Dreams all demonstrating our commitment to bringing viewers incredible access, authentic stories and fresh perspectives on life in Britain.

Coming up, Louis Theroux’s new interview series has uniquely intimate access to some of the biggest stars of the British entertainment industry, from Stormzy to Dame Judi Dench, while The Elon Musk Show gets to the heart of who the man really is by speaking to the people who know him best, from family members to his business associates.

And the brilliant Stacey Solomon is back, not only with a third series of Sort Your Life Out but also a Christmas crafting special where she shares her tips on how to have a magical home-made Christmas that won’t break the bank.”

Louis Theroux Interviews

Louis Theroux Interviews features Bafta Award-winning filmmaker Louis Theroux going behind the scenes and in conversation with stars of the British entertainment industrym, including Stormzy, Dame Judi Dench, Rita Ora, Bear Grylls, Yungblud and Katherine Ryan.

Through exclusive access, the first episode sees Louis on tour with multiple Brit award winner, Stormzy. Louis brings viewers up close and personal to one of the UK’s biggest stars from the comfort of Stormzy’s living room, as well as the recording studio, during his biggest tour to date and at his local worship group.

In further episodes announced today, Louis explores each star’s life and career in personal and intimate settings, and often in the company of family members. Louis meets icon of stage and screen Dame Judi Dench in her countryside home and is invited on stage in the West End.

TV adventurer Bear Grylls takes Louis by boat to his remote island off the coast of North Wales and gives Louis an access-all-areas pass to his adventure family festival. Chart-topping singer-songwriter Rita Ora sits down with Louis at her father’s London pub and joins her as she perfoms live in Albania. Dominic Harrison, better known as musician Yungblud, takes Louis to meet his in family in Doncaster and his fans whilst on tour in the LA. Louis also accompanies comedian, actor and writer, Katherine Ryan on her latest stand-up comedy tour.

Louis Theroux Interviews, a 6x45’ for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer, is made by Mindhouse Productions. It was commissioned by Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries. The Executive Producer is Arron Fellows, and Commissioning Editor is Max Gogarty.
Forensics: The Real CSI

The hugely popular Forensics: The Real CSI returns to BBC Two for a third series, once again following West Midlands Police, as they use forensic science to bring criminals to justice. In addition to the homicide and CID teams featured previously, this series will take viewers into new and surprising territories: from gun crime and ballistic testing to major fire investigations.

The series will also explore how the forensic teams are meeting the ever increasing threat of organised gangs and forensically aware criminals with new, cutting-edge science.

Forensics: The Real CSI, a 4x60' and a 6x60' for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer, is made by Blast Films. It was commissioned by Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, and the Executive Producers are Poonam Odedra and Graeme McAulay. The Commissioning Editor is Beejal-Maya Patel.

Craft Your Own Christmas with Stacey Solomon (w/t)

Stacey Solomon, with a little help from her family and friends, is showing us how to have the most magical Christmas ever without breaking the bank, sharing tips on how to make hand-made gifts and decorations that cost next to nothing - but mean so much more than anything you can buy from the shops.

Stacey says: “Christmas is one of the most magical times of the year! There's no better feeling than giving someone the perfect gift, especially when it's one I've made at home with my little helpers. DIY gifts mean so much more and save a bit of money too, as do hand-crafted decorations which we love making for our tree.

"I can't wait to share my Christmas gifting and decorating tips and tricks with everyone at home, helping make this Christmas extra special without breaking the bank.”

There will be tips and hacks galore for a homemade holiday, as Stacey transforms a barn next to Pickle Cottage into a Christmas grotto to host a festive party for her local community heroes.

Craft Your Own Christmas with Stacey Solomon (w/t), a 1x60’ for BBC One and iPlayer, is made by Optomen. It was commissioned by Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, and Beejal-Maya Patel is the BBC Commissioning Editor. Charlotte Brookes is the Executive Producer and Ryan Daly is the Series Director.

Suzy Klein, Head of Commissioning, Arts & Classical Music TV, says: “We’ve got a really exciting season of arts programming coming up, with a series of definitive documentaries offering fresh insights into key figures of our times.

"Simon Schama brings his forensic eye and sense of historical sweep to his most personal series yet, charting the collapse of postwar idealism through the people and ideas that have shaped our world, post-1945. Lucy Worsley investigates the most-read author of our times and her personal hero, Agatha Christie. In addition, there are new films on a pioneer of broadcasting - Una Marson, the first Black producer and presenter at the BBC - as well as a closer look at the life and art of Frida Kahlo.

In our first documentary commission for BBC Three, we celebrate the extraordinary creative energy and imagination of Virgil Abloh, the first Black man to head up a couture house. Whatever your passions, we’ll take you on a deep dive with some of the most inspiring and provocative figures of our times.”

Virgil Abloh: How To Be Both (working title)

This is the story of how Virgil Abloh became the poster boy for change: new clothes, new art, new design, new music, a new attitude. Black and white, men and women, anti-fashion and high fashion: he knew that nothing was binary and everything was open for exploration.

Off-White, Abloh's first fashion label, turned streetwear into high fashion offering a take on race that could only come from a Black man tearing down the walls of the whitest of worlds - haute couture. He went on to become Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton menswear, one of the first Black men to head up a couture house.

Abloh began his career as Kanye West's right-hand man - his Creative Director. By West's side he watched him struggle to break into high fashion. As a young Black man without conventional fashion training or credentials Abloh saw in West's experience the realities of racism and snobbery that he himself would have to steer his way through to make a name for himself in fashion. Abloh's mission was to change everything - to show what Black people could do, what difference Black people could make and what would happen when Black people were finally listened to. As well as having his own label and heading up Louis Vuitton menswear he was simultaneously a DJ, a shoe designer collaborating with Nike on the infamous 10, furniture designer for IKEA and car designer for Mercedes-Benz. He died in November 2021 at the age of 41 after privately enduring two years of treatment for an aggressive and rare cancer.

Contributors include: DJ Benji B, Model and DJ Honey Dijon, Rapper Headie One, Singer songwriter Louis III, Model and Poet Kai-Isaiah Jamal, Menswear Designer Katie Eary.

Virgil Abloh: How To Be Both is a WhyNow production for BBC Three and BBC iPlayer. The director is Cassie Quarless, the producer is Maegan Tillock and the executive producer is Janet Lee. The commissioning editor for BBC Arts is Mark Bell.

Simon Schama's History Of Now (working title)

In his most personal project to date, historian Simon Schama looks back at the dramatic history that has played out in the decades of his lifetime.

Simon is best known for writing history, but he has lived it too. Born in 1945 on the night of the bombing of Dresden, he grew up as part of a generation determined to rebuild the world from the ashes of war. Across three films he reveals the vital role of artists, writers, and musicians - many of whom Simon has witnessed first-hand - in fighting for the values that it was hoped would define the post-war world: democracy, equality, and the dream of plenty.

From George Orwell and Vaclav Havel to Nina Simone and David Hockney, Charlie Chaplin, Ayn Rand and Rachel Carson, Simon will explore how artists have issued warnings about assaults on democracy, acted as powerful shamers of intolerance, and opened our eyes to the perilous trade-off between capitalism and the fate of the planet.

Accompanied by a stellar cast of contemporary artists whose work also engages with the vital issues of the present - Margaret Atwood, Ai Weiwei, Nadya Tolonnikova, Armando Iannucci and Edward Burtynsky - the series reveals the extraordinary power of art to shape the world, and the immense personal cost of creating work that dares to speak truth to power. In our own turbulent times, when so many of the values we have taken for granted are once again hanging in the balance, the series is a hopeful reminder of what great art is for.

Simon Schama’s History of Now (w/t) 3x60’, is an Oxford Films production for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. The series director is Hugo Macgregor, the series producer is Charlotte Sacher and the executive producer is Nick Kent. The commissioning editor for BBC Arts is Mark Bell.

Agatha Christie: Mystery Queen (working title)

Agatha Christie is the most successful novelist of all time, outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible. Across 75 novels, plays and countless short stories, she defined the detective genre for over a century. But the real woman behind the literary persona has long remained an enigma. Now, over the course of three episodes, Lucy Worsley is turning her historian’s powers of investigation onto Agatha herself.

This is the story of one of the most famous - and most complex - woman of the 20th century. Looked at through Lucy’s expert eyes, Christie’s life becomes a dynamic history of the 20th century. Over its course, Agatha Christie witnessed untold upheaval: not just two World Wars, but revolutions in scientific understanding and extraordinary social change. Attitudes to everything from class and gender to race and Empire, science and technology were questioned and challenged. And touched by these changes in very personal ways, she ploughed all of it into her books.

For the first time Agatha Christie and her art will be forensically examined, providing a unique portrait of a society in flux. Her books hold a mirror to 20th century Britain and provide a remarkable window into a remarkable mind.

Agatha Christie: Mystery Queen (w/t), a 3x60’ is a BBC Studios production for BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and PBS. The producers are Grace Chapman, Rachel Jardine and Edmund Moriarty, and the executive producer is Alexander Leith. The commissioning editor for BBC Arts is Mark Bell.

Una Marson: Our Lost Caribbean Voice

This is the extraordinary story of Una Marson - trailblazing poet, playwright and campaigner, and the first Black producer and broadcaster at the BBC.

A Caribbean woman born in the early 1900s, Una Marson defied the limits society placed on her.

Joining the BBC’s Empire Service during World War II, she was the first broadcaster to give voice to Caribbean writers and intellectuals, bringing their stories and culture to a global audience accustomed to hearing only English accents.

During her time in London Una wrote and produced a play for London’s West End, the first Black writer to do so. She was also an activist, championing women’s rights, the rights of Black people, literacy programmes, the education of children, and working with the deposed Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie.

For this drama-documentary Una is brought to life by Seroca Davis. Using Una’s writing, letters and her BBC personnel file, we gain a unique insight into her extraordinary life and work. We also hear from leading academics and her friends, who consider Una’s life as a black woman in a professional role in Britain at a time when that was highly unusual - and the personal costs attached.

Many of the works and writings of Una Marson have been lost and, following her untimely death, she has largely been forgotten. This celebration of her incredible life and work brings her out of the shadows and back into the light.

Una Marson: Our Lost Caribbean Voice, a 1x60’ for BBC Two and iPlayer, is a Douglas Road Production for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. The directors are Avril E. Russell and Topher Campbell, the producer is Carol Harding. The executive producers are Angela Ferreira and Mike Connolly. The commissioning editor for BBC Arts is Mark Bell.


A new adaptation of Coppélia this winter combines enchanting animation and live action dance in a modern take on the much-loved ballet.

With a world-class cast including Michaela DePrince, Daniel Camargo, Vito Mazzeo, Dame Darcey Bussell and Irek Mukhamedov, this new adaptation sees Dr. Coppelius (Mazzeo) as a cosmetic surgeon, whose lure of superficial beauty poisons the town. Swan (DePrince) must uncover the truth about the popular newcomer who puts her community and the life of her beloved Franz (Daniel Camargo) in danger. Choreographed by Ted Brandsen and featuring an original score composed by Maurizio Malagnini, performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Coppélia, a 1x80’, is a film by Jeff Tudor, Steven De Beul & Ben Tesseur. It is produced by Bruno Felix, Femke Wolting and Janneke van de Kerkhof for Submarine and Adrienne Liron for 3 Minutes West. The commissioning editor for BBC Arts is Emma Cahusac.
Specialist Factual

Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual, says; “As the country gears up for a challenging winter, we’re determined to keep bringing viewers the most exciting Specialist Factual stories in the world. We invite you to come with us on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the dinosaur death pits of Wyoming in Mission Jurassic, to join the search for extra-terrestrial life in Alien: First Contact, to investigate the death of an environmental activist in Rainbow Warrior: Murder In The Pacific, and to accompany Cara Delevingne on an eye-opening international journey in Planet Sex.

“And for the first time in years, Sir David Attenborough is turning his attention to the incredible wildlife on his own doorstep in Wild Isles (w/t), a five-part series which celebrates the flora and fauna of Britain and Ireland in spectacular style.”

Mission Jurassic (working title)

The weather-beaten ravines of the ‘Badlands’ of Wyoming, USA conceal an ancient secret. In a closely guarded location lies a mass dinosaur graveyard that could become one of the biggest collections of bones ever discovered. Could this site provide new insights into the Jurassic, often considered the golden age of the dinosaurs? Biologist Liz Bonnin is on a mission to find out.

With three years of access to this unique dig site, this special joins an international team of leading palaeontologists on a mission to uncover the giants of the Jurassic - some of the largest beasts ever to walk the earth, from giant herbivores like Diplodocus to the fearsome Allosaurus, forerunner of T-Rex.

What makes this dinosaur treasure trove so exciting is that these huge creatures were buried with a wealth of other evidence, from the footprints they left, to the plants they ate - and evidence of ferocious carnivorous behaviour.

But digging conditions are harsh. Sandstorms and thunderstorms threaten to destroy the fragile bones before they are even out of the ground. So Liz has joined the team for a crucial fortnight, as they race to uncover as many precious fossils as possible before the site must be shut for winter.

Liz Bonnin says: “Helping to uncover the fossils of giants from 150 million years ago, along with the extraordinary amount of other evidence all around them, was an opportunity I simply couldn’t turn down. Thanks to the tireless work and passion of the palaeontologists I teamed up with, the Jurassic came to life in ways I could never have imagined - a once-in-a-lifetime adventure I’ll never forget!”

Using the very latest science and technology, the team begin to piece together the life stories of each dinosaur, finally solving the mystery of what drew them to this spot, to reveal not only how these dinosaurs lived - but how they died.

Mission Jurassic, a 2x60’, was commissioned by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual. It is a United Kingdom/Canada Co-production. It is being made as a BBC Studios Science Unit and Ideacom International co-production, in association with Science Channel, CBC, Radio-Canada for BBC. Executive Producer is Helen Thomas. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Tom Coveney.

The Secret Genius Of Everything

In this brand new six-part series for BBC Two, Professor Hannah Fry delves into the wonders of modern technology, and uncovers some of the mind-blowing stories behind it, opening our eyes to The Secret Genius of Everything that we can take for granted.

We don’t often stop to think about it, but we’re all living in a golden age of technology. From contactless payments, to smart devices with the power of supercomputers: our homes and our pockets are filled with gadgets and inventions that, 20 years ago, would have been the stuff of science fiction. They’ve become such an integral part of our lives, we’ve forgotten to notice how clever they are.

In a new six-part BBC Factual series for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer coming in late 2022, Professor Hannah Fry wants to open our eyes to The Secret Genius of Everything that we too often take for granted.

Every episode will see Hannah take one modern tech wonder apart bit by bit, to find out how it works and to uncover the amazing, unbelievable, and sometimes hilarious stories behind its invention, such as:

• The food delivery apps built upon technology developed for nuclear missiles

• The Tesla empire’s debt to 90s camcorders

• How online payments were revolutionised by a boom in X-rated websites

We’ll also meet the extraordinary pioneers in each item’s creation story, with exclusive access to top secret innovation hubs such as Visa’s European data centre, and Deliveroo’s design lab which can predict what you’re going to order before you’re even hungry.

A Professor of Mathematics, Hannah has spent years working with engineers, physicists and computer scientists to understand how technology shapes lives.

Hannah says: “The technology that surrounds us undeniably shapes our lives, but how much do we really know about where it comes from, or how it works, and where it's all going? Things like delivery apps, bank cards, trainers, took real innovation and ingenuity to create, and in this series, I'll get to unlock the secrets and meet the amazing brains behind some of this incredible tech, and the things we'll come to depend on in the future."

• The Secret Genius Of Everything, a 6x60’ series for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer, is made by BBC Studios Science Unit in partnership with The Open University. It was commissioned by Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual. The Executive Producer is Paul Overton and the Commissioning Editor is Tom Coveney.

Source BBC iPlayer

September 30, 2022 7:00am ET by Pressparty  


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