Whitney Houston doc heads to BBC, Moore outlines vision

The BBC's controller of TV channels and iPlayer, Charlotte Moore, has revealed her vision for the pubcaster and a slate of new programming, including a doc on late singer Whitney Houston helmed by Nick Broomfield (pictured).
March 8, 2016

The BBC’s new slate of programs for the year sees a number of new documentaries headed to the pubcaster, including a film from Nick Broomfield (pictured) on late singer Whitney Houston.

The British director will go in search of “the forces that made and then destroyed” the iconic American singer, who died in 2012, for BBC2. Broomfield’s recent films include Tales of the Grim SleeperSex: My British Job and Sarah Palin: You Betcha!.

The program was among a raft of programs announced by the BBC’s newly instated controller for TV channels and iPlayer, Charlotte Moore, who revealed she is looking to put factual at the heart of BBC2.

Speaking at an event with BBC director-general Tony Hall, Moore said that BBC1 was the channel that “tackles big universal subjects, and stories that people care about,” but added that she wanted to make BBC2 “confident again,” and hopes to inject the channel with a more defined sense of identity, beginning with a stronger factual push.

“I want to embrace all the specialisms from science, history and religion to current affairs, natural history, documentaries, music and the arts,” she said. “Because, by contrast to BBC1, audiences come to BBC2 to be informed – but we can entertain them too.”

Moore added that she wants BBC2 to be a flagship channel for contemporary arts and music. BBC4, meanwhile, will continue to tackle culture and ideas, playing an integral role in the Beeb’s “music and arts story.” Elsewhere, Moore said the iPlayer will have an “increasingly important” role, and hopes to grow the platform with more premieres.

Alongside Whitney, other docs headed to BBC2 include Fergus O’Brien’s The Secret Lovers, on the work of Michael Schofield, whose research on homosexuality helped to form the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which decriminalized gay relations in the UK. Also coming to BBC2 is Sue Bourne’s hour-long doc Living to Die, which explores how people deal with death when they’re told how much longer they have left to live.

Finally, the Keo Films-produced Exodus: Breaking Into Europe (3 x 60 minutes) will document the journeys of migrants trying to enter the UK and other countries in Europe. The film will feature the journeys of 70 people, filmed in 26 countries.

History programming on BBC2 includes the BBC History Production-made 1066 (3 x 60 minutes), in which presenter Dan Snow looks at the Battle of Hastings, and the consequent events of 1066. Science commissions include Secrets of the Human Body (3 x 60 minutes), made in partnership with PBS, which tracks new advances in human biology. Meanwhile, arts programs are to focus on Marlon Brando and Alan Bennett, as well as Sue Townsend and Vincent Van Gogh. BBC2 will also go behind the scenes at the Royal Ballet and Tate, and arts events such as the Man Booker Prize and Frieze Art Week.

Over at BBC1, forthcoming docs include the Blast Films-made Last Seen on CCTV (3 x 60 minutes), which follows live missing person investigations as they unfold, from the perspective of police officers and friends and family of the missing; and the Dragonfly-produced DOWNS (working title; 60 minutes), about the impact of a new screening test said to be able to detect Down’s Syndrome in 99% of pregnancies.

Elsewhere, BBC4 is to premiere an architecture season, with titles include Dan Cruickshank: At Home with the British (3 x 60 minutes); Going Going Gone: Nick Broomfield’s Disappearing Britain (2 x 60 mins); Jonathan Meades: BenbuildingDeaf UnitedGenius Of The Modern World (3 x 60 minutes); Danielle de Niese: The Birth Of An Opera; and People’s History of Pop.

Finally, cross-channel events include a season on Black Britons (w/t), featuring the Iconoclast- and Plum Pictures-produced doc series Black is the New Black (4 x 30 minutes) for BBC2; Sugar Films’ White Boys And Black Heroes – How Black Footballers Transformed Modern Britain (60 minutes) for BBC2; Wall to Wall’s Back In Time For Brixton (2 x 60 mins) for BBC2; and Roots Reggae, Rasta & Rebellion (60 minutes) for BBC4.

Lastly, EU Referendum programming consists of Paxman in Brussels (60 minutes) for BBC1; Europe: Them or Us (2 x 60 minutes) for BBC2; and Truth about EU Migration (60 minutes) for BBC2.

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.