BBC4 bets on unscripted comedy

BBC4 is launching a year of comedy, which will include a raft of non-fiction commissions including Michael Grade and the World's Oldest Joke.
November 22, 2012

BBC4 is launching a year of comedy, with a raft of non-fiction commissions about humor to complement its acquisition of NBC scripted comedy series Parks and Recreation.

Michael Grade And The World’s Oldest Joke will see the presenter tracing the history of toilet humor and sex jokes from the time of the Romans to the Victorian age. In the one-hour special, historians, academics, and comedy experts weigh in on whether jokes come and go or if some humor is timeless.

BBC4 will also revisit the theme of its Old Jews Telling Jokes series with More Old Jews Telling Jokes. In addition, the channel will add Some Vicars Telling Jokes, as part of a 5 x 30 minute series that will also include “some scousers” and “some boffins” also sharing their favorite funny stories.

Documentary strand ‘Storyville’ will feature what’s being billed as the definitive biography of stand-up comedian Richard Pryor. The documentary, which will have its U.S. premiere on Showtime as Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic, was authorized by his family and is directed by Marina Zenovich (Roman Polanski: Wanted & Desired).

In addition to its comedy offerings, BBC4 is also launching a doc on the art and history of the Louvre. Treasures of the Louvre sees Paris-based writer Andrew Hussey exploring not only the masterpieces within the museum and the newly opened Islamic gallery, but also the architecture and design of the Louvre itself.

The channel will also debut a two-part series with actor Richard E Grant exploring the relationship between artists and the French Rivieria in The Riviera: A History In Pictures, while Carved With Love continues BBC4′s Handmade in Britain – this time looking at woodwork in the three-part series.

In the three-part series Pain, Pus And Poison, Dr. Michael Mosley details how scientists developed certain chemicals to conquer common afflictions.

“BBC4 is in really great shape at the moment, with share continuing to increase,” said BBC4 controller Richard Klein. “We’ve had a great critical and audience response to recent programs, from Food Glorious Food to the Big Science season.”

“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,” he added.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.