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BBC Four announces host of new programmes


BBC Four Controller Richard Klein today announced a raft of new commissions, from a year-long focus on comedy and two new series exploring the history and art of France to Dr Michael Mosley experiencing Pain, Pus And Poison, and an insight into the early life and career of the Young Montalbano.

Richard Klein says: “BBC Four is in really great shape at the moment, with share continuing to increase. We’ve had a great critical and audience response to recent programmes, from Food Glorious Food to the Big Science season; and of course, the much anticipated return of The Killing III which launched with over a million viewers.

"Looking ahead, there’s much to look forward to and I’m delighted that we have acquired Parks And Recreation, one of America’s smartest comedy series. To accompany this, the channel is taking a year-long look at comedy, with a drama from award-winning writer Nigel Williams about PG Wodehouse and films celebrating some of our oldest jokes, exploring what makes us laugh and showcasing some of our most popular comedians, from Richard Prior to Simon Amstel.”

Bob Servant, Independent

Parks And Recreation is an ensemble comedy that follows Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), a cheerful, hard-working, mid-level bureaucrat in the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana, and her eclectic mix of office mates. In her role as Deputy Director, Leslie works tirelessly to make her quintessentially American town just a little bit more fun and serves on several committees like the Clean Restroom Task Force, the Fun in the Sun Committee and the Task Force to Reduce the Number of Public Restrooms.

Since its premiere, this critically-acclaimed series has received numerous accolades, including an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, three Emmy nominations for Poehler’s performance, honoured by AFI as one of the top 10 Television Programmes of the Year, as well as winning Best Comedy Series at The Comedy Awards.

The intimate story of PG Wodehouse’s fall from grace and how the man who defined Englishness became an exile from his own country is told in a new drama for BBC Four. Starring Tim Pigott-Smith and Zoe Wannamaker, An Innocent Abroad tells the story of how, in the summer of 1941, PG Wodehouse, the master of fanciful plots became a major player in a tale of realpolitik. From an internment camp in Upper Silesia to broadcasting on German radio in Berlin and accusations of treachery, Wodehouse became a pawn in the biggest propaganda battle of the Second World War as the German Foreign Office tried to persuade the Americans to stay out of the war on the eve of Operation Barbarossa and the British to persuade America to join the Allies and save a beleaguered nation.

An Innocent Abroad is written by Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning writer, Nigel Williams (Elizabeth), directed by Tim Fywell (I Capture The Castle) and produced through BBC Northern Ireland Drama by Kate Triggs (Room At The Top). The Executive Producers are Robert Cooper for Great Meadow Productions and Stephen Wright for the BBC.

Fart gags, toilet humour, sex, nagging wives – no, not the set list for a Bernard Manning gig, but subjects that the Sumerians, Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Victorians all made jokes about. In Michael Grade And The World’s Oldest Joke, the presenter traces the history of the joke with a little help from a host of historians, academics, comedy experts and comedians including Ken Dodd, Tim Vine and Barry Cryer. Along the way he discovers what tickled the Tudors, ribbed the Romans and made Renaissance wits roar as he sets out to discover whether jokes come and go with the rise and fall of civilisations or whether we’re still laughing at the same things our ancestors did.

BBC Four celebrates the humour of people from many different walks of life as Some Vicars, Some Scousers And Some Boffins With Jokes share their favourite jokes.

Actor Brian Cox brings his Radio 4 character, Bob Servant, a pompous Dundonian businessman to the small screen in a hilarious new comedy series. The Scottish town of Broughty Ferry doesn’t know what’s hit it. The sudden death of the sitting MP has resulted in a by-election that could change the political map of the UK. Bob Servant has been waiting his whole life for this level of attention and he’s willing to do anything to keep it.

From Storyville comes the definitive biography of legendary performer and stand-up Richard Pryor, authorised by his family and directed by Marina Zenovich (director of the award-winning Roman Polanski: Wanted & Desired).

More Old Jews Telling Jokes returns to celebrate the fine tradition of American Jewish humour as a group of pensioners gather together to tell jokes – largely about Jewish Mothers, Sex, Food, Success, Sex, Rabbis, Husbands & Wives, Sex, Illness, Death and Sex - in this celebration of the oral history of a culture.

In Numb: Simon Amstell Live At The BBC, Simon performs a special version of his stand-up show Numb, which he has toured round the UK and taken to New York. Recorded at TV Centre, it’s a stripped-down, intimate performance, with no set and minimal lighting, a painfully funny exploration of Simon’s inability to connect with people, including family and lovers.

Treasures Of The Louvre

In Treasures Of The Louvre, Paris-based writer Andrew Hussey travels through the glorious art and surprising history of an extraordinary French institution to show that the story of the Louvre is the story of France.

As well as exploring the masterpieces of painters such as Veronese, Rubens, David, Chardin, Gericault and Delacroix, he also examines the changing face of the Louvre itself through its architecture and design. A medieval fortress, renaissance palace, luxurious home to kings, emperors and more recently civil servants, today it attracts eight million visitors a year. The documentary also reflects the very latest transformation of the Louvre - the Museum’s recently opened Islamic Gallery.

The Riviera: A History In Pictures is a two-part sun-filled series in which Richard E Grant follows in the footsteps of artists who have lived, loved and painted on France’s glorious Côte d’Azur. Richard explores the intertwined relationship between modern art and the development of the French Riviera as an international tourist haven. Travelling from L’Estaque in the West to the Italian town of Bordighera in the East - via St Tropez, Cannes, Antibes and Nice and taking in the careers of Cezanne, Monet, Picasso, Matisse and Picabia – Richard maps the progress of the region from cultural backwater to Bohemian hot spot.

Continuing BBC Four’s ’Handmade in Britain’ series in collaboration with the V&A, Carved With Love is a fascinating series on the British genius for woodwork. The three-part series tells the story of Thomas Chippendale, a poor Yorkshire carver who worked his way up from humble roots to become the greatest furniture designer in history; Grinling Gibbons, the master carver who worked for Charles II and William of Orange; and the Middle Ages, the golden age of British woodwork.

Dr Michael Mosley

In Pain, Pus And Poison, Dr Michael Mosley tells the extraordinary story of how scientists learnt to use the world around us to heal our bodies and conquer the common afflictions of pain, pus and poison. He explores how certain chemicals – once invisible and almost magical in their effects - were discovered, captured, understood and finally exploited.

In the three-part series, Michael discovers how a crisis in the French wine industry led to the discovery of what actually causes disease; how a German scientist obsessed with colour found the world’s first targeted drug and how, if it weren’t for a group of Oxford scientists and American industrialists, penicillin - the most powerful life-saving drug the world has ever seen - might have remained no more than a lab curiosity.

International drama

Hinterland is a gripping new detective series based in the coastal Welsh town of Aberystwyth - set against the backdrop of mountainous hinterland, isolated farms and close-knit villages. A natural crucible of colliding worlds, where history, myth and tradition come face to face with the modern and contemporary - its panoramic vistas and quaint facade hide a multitude of sins - this is a place that lives according to its own rules, a place where grudges fester, where the secrets of the past are buried deep.

DCI Tom Mathias (Richard Harrington, Lark Rise To Candleford) is a brilliant but troubled man on the run from his past. Having abandoned his life in London, he finds himself holed up in a trailer park on the outskirts of town – a place filled with secrets as dark and destructive as his own. Together with hometime girl DI Mared Rhys, he forms an engaging partnership in a thrilling new drama with pace, poetry and scale.

Hinterland is a Fiction Factory production; the Creative Director is Ed Thomas and the Producer is Gethin Scourfield.

The Inspector Montalbano drama series have been a popular fixture of the BBC Four schedule for the past year. Now, in Young Montalbano, viewers will get the opportunity to learn how both the private life and career of the Sicilian detective developed in this new series which gives an insight into his youth. Set in the early 1990s and starring Michele Riondino in the title role, this prequel series, also written by Andrea Camilleri was recently shown to critical acclaim in Italy.



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