Docs

BBC digs into “Pompeii,” “War Book”

UK pubcaster BBC has announced a one-off special unearthing the mysteries surrounding the Roman city of Pompeii for BBC1, as well as plans for programming commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Atomic bomb at BBC4. (Pictured: Pompeii: Life Before Death)
July 24, 2015

UK pubcaster BBC has announced a one-off special unearthing the mysteries surrounding the Roman city of Pompeii for BBC1, as well as plans for programming commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Atomic bomb at BBC4.

Produced by Lion Television in association with At Land Productions, the one-hour Pompeii: Life Before Death (pictured) will piece together a computer-generated picture of the daily life in the 2,000-year-old city before Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., blanketing the population in molten rock.

Hosted by professor and TV historian Mary Beard, the documentary team was granted unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the Great Pompeii Project – an initiative to investigate and restore Pompeii – and will spotlight the use of such modern technologies as CT scanners to reveal valuable information about the skeletons entombed within the archaeological site. A team of scientists will also conduct a DNA analysis of the bodies for the first time.

The special will also document the recovery of damaged frescoes and mosaics, the excavation and rebuilding of key buildings and the cataloging of the thousands of artifacts from storerooms.

Executive produced by Richard Bradley and Caterina Turroni, the special was commissioned by BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore and Martin Davidson, head of commissioning for specialist factual.

Meanwhile, BBC4 will launch ‘BBC4 Goes Nuclear,’ a season that includes four specials depicting the benefits and detriments brought forth by the nuclear age.

The 70-minute documentary Storyville: Atomic – Living in Dread and Promise will launch August 9 at 9 p.m. and reveal the two sides of the nuclear coin: life and death during the atomic age. Through archival footage, the doc will stress the highlights and terrors of nuclear power; from x-rays and MRI scans, to protest marches, Cold War threats, and the meltdowns of Chernobyl and Fukishima.

Meanwhile, nuclear physicist Jim Al-Khalili will examine the controversial British nuclear facility Sellafield in the hour-long doc Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield. From the rush to develop nuclear power to the radioactive accidents of the Windscale fire, the film will also explore the ways in which Britain’s nuclear waste and spend fuel rods have since been stored, while outlining the latest attempts to clean some of it up. The special bows on August 10 at 9 p.m.

Remaining specials include the 95-minute War Book (August 10, 10 p.m.), exposing political war games in the face of a nuclear attack and the fragility of everyday life, and the hour-long The Race of the World’s First Atomic Bomb: A Thousand Days of Fear (air date to be confirmed), which looks in-depth at the workers involved with the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

All BBC4 air dates are yet to be confirmed.

“‘BBC4 Goes Nuclear’ will give our audiences a chance to contemplate the history and the extraordinary potential of our nuclear age,” said Cassian Harrison, channel editor for BBC4, in a statement.

About The Author
Meagan Kashty is an associate editor of realscreen, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Meagan is an award-winning business journalist. Prior to joining the realscreen team, Meagan was online editor of Canadian Grocer, named Magazine of the Year at the 2015 Canadian Business Media Awards. She can be reached at mkashty@brunico.com, and you can follow her on Twitter @MegKashty

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