BBC Two releases new spring/summer schedule

BBC Two releases new spring/summer schedule

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Thursday, 27th April 2017
Denise Gough in Paula, BBC Two’s new revenge thriller by playwright and filmmaker Conor McPherson (Credit: BBC)

BBC Two has announced a host of new titles across factual, current affairs, arts and music for spring and summer.

BBC Two's Channel Editor Patrick Holland expressed his vision for BBC Two, which will focus on themes of reasserting the role of authorship, engaging with and becoming more relevant to the audience, and embracing all the specialisms on the channel from science, history and arts to current affairs, history, documentaries.

The new titles include a series of new documentary titles including an exploration of families living on the poverty line, a behind the headlines look at the sequence of events that caused Brexit, and the story of the horrific murder of Jo Cox MP.

Two arts films will include a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles, and a major new profile of legendary writer John le Carré, which will air in September to coincide with his new novel A Legacy of Spies.

A new history series will reveal the creation of the first national secret service during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, as well as a science series that will lift the lid on the latest innovations in surgery, as revealed in the operating theatres of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

“I took the reins at BBC Two last September and it is a terrific privilege to be controller of the third biggest channel in the UK, a channel with a greater number of original titles than any other terrestrial broadcaster, that is a powerhouse of new ideas, new formats and talents, and which has such a vital role to play in the cultural and intellectual and life of the UK," said Patrick Holland.

“I believe BBC Two has a unique role in the broadcasting landscape: to bring the increasingly complex and changing world to the audience through expert perspective, human engagement and great storytelling, and the new programmes I’m announcing today signal my vision for the channel."

All titles are working titles. 

20 days - Battle For Supremacy

20 days - Battle For Supremacy tells the story of the Conservative Party’s 2016 leadership campaign, from the day David Cameron resigned to the day Theresa May became Prime Minister.

The drama documentary is based on extensive research, first-person testimonies and features key interviews with people who were involved in the campaigns of the main contenders.

The dramatised narrative goes beyond the headlines to reveal the politics, party positioning, betrayals and faults of this political upheaval.

Jo Cox: Death Of An MP

Jo Cox: Death Of An MP tells the story of the horrific murder of Jo Cox on 16 June 2016, and the events surrounding it through the testimony of those closest to it.

Jo Cox's family, eye witnesses and those who knew the murderer, Thomas Mair, will feature in the documentary, as well as access to the CCTV, archive footage and evidence that was gathered by the West Yorkshire Police's investigation.

The result is a forensic exploration of what the prosecutors at Mair’s trial called a 'terrorist' murder’. The programme asks, what led a man with no history of violence to brutally murder a female MP whom he had never met?

The film will look at who Jo Cox was, the issues she fought so passionately for and what she stood for, explored through archive footage and intimate interviews with family and friends.

The documentary offers a detailed account of that tragic day during the EU referendum and sheds a unique light on the mystery of why Thomas Mair abandoned his quiet life to commit an act of terrorism.

Brexit Means Brexit

Patrick Forbes follows up the candid, revelatory Brexit: A Very British Coup? with Brexit Means Brexit.

This new programme reflects on the turbulent months since the 23 June 2016 decision was made.

The programme will show all the leading figures in Westminster talking openly and honestly, as they grapple with the one of the most significant political decision the UK of recent times.


This new series aims to give those living in poverty in Britain a voice, and will show the reality of what it means to be living and working on or below the poverty line.

Despite Britain's status as the world’s fifth richest nation, at some schools one in five children arrive at school hungry every day; almost a third of families live on an income which is below the Minimum Income Standard; and low wages, zero hours contracts and the new 'gig economy' mean that an estimated 1.7 million families are living in poverty in the UK despite having full-time jobs.

Breadline will document the lives of people from all over the UK over the course of a year, in the ever-changing political and economic of Britain.

Hard-hitting decisions will be revealed, as people must choose between being warm or fed, to sleep at work because you can’t afford to travel home, and the need to water down the milk to make it last longer.

At a time when the government has pledged to shave £12 billion from the welfare bill, the four-part series will take an honest look at poverty in the UK.

Katrina: American Crime Story

Following the success of The People vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, the crime series based on real events returns with a focus on Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast of the United States in 2005 that left a catastrophic impact.

The series starring Annette Bening and Matthew Broderick will explore the events surrounding the devastating hurricane, the natural disaster and its aftermath.

“With The People Vs OJ Simpson, the brilliant Ryan Murphy and his team crafted a unique and utterly compelling television event which managed to get the nation talking once more about one of the biggest cases in history," said Sue Deeks, Head of BBC Programme Acquisition.

"It is with great anticipation that we welcome the second instalment of American Crime Story to BBC Two.”

Music - Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution

Credit: BBC

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles on 1 June 1967, the BBC is marking the anniversary with programmes across TV and radio.

Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution will include extracts from material never before accessible outside of Abbey Road, including a studio chat between the band, out-takes, isolated instrumental and vocal tracks as well as passages from alternative takes of these hugely successful songs.

The film will conjure up the multicoloured and magical world of Sgt. Pepper by using visually-striking sets, projections and props, and the film will be written and presented by British composer and admired music broadcaster Howard Goodall, who will be getting to grips with the album’s musical nuts and bolts.

The documentary will air in early June.

Science - Operation

This four-part science series focuses on the pioneering and life-saving work taking place in the operating theatres of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Operation will unveil the advanced science and new technology being used by the surgical teams in the 30 operating theatres at the hospital that are changing lives every day.

With ten million operations performed in the UK every year, the series will observe some of the innovative and cutting-edge procedures that take place in operating theatres; from robots assisting with keyhole surgery, to burns being healed with synthetic skin, and facial reconstruction with the help of a 3D printer.

The 360-degree access to hospital staff and patients and specialist cameras equipment reveals never before seen details, and show the science behind the extraordinary medical miracles that take place in NHS operating theatres every day.

History - Queen Elizabeth I’s Secret Agents

Credit: BBC

Queen Elizabeth I's Secret Agents tells the story of the creation of the first secret service during an era that saw the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, the end of the Tudors and rise of the Stuarts, the union of England and Scotland, and the Gunpowder Plot.

This three-part series for BBC Two reveals the extraordinary contribution of kingmakers William Cecil and his son Robert, who were key figures behind the execution of Mary Queen of Scots and the end of Elizabeth's reign and her succession.

In the late 16th century, England had no police force, nor even a standing army. William and his son Robert Cecil, who devised and ran a semi-private secret state, introduced Britain to the art of ‘spyery’, foiling countless plots against Elizabeth’s life and eliminated their rivals.


Arts - John le Carré

Credit: BBC/Nadav Kandar

This documentary explores the character of the legendary writer John le Carré to coincide with his new novel A Legacy Of Spies this September.

The new novel returns to le Carré’s character of Smiley for the first time in 25 years, and the secretive narrative that was inspired by his own experience working for British intelligence in the 1950s and 60s.

James Naughtie will conduct an exclusive interview with le Carré, and find out more about his fascinating life and literary career.

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BBC Two has announced a host of new titles across factual, current affairs, arts and music for spring and summer.