BBC4 explores architecture, albums and insects

The British pubcaster's latest commissions include programs about legendary British architects, seminal albums in modern music history, the overlooked art of the Dark Ages, and several specials about insects.
August 27, 2012

British pubcaster BBC4′s upcoming slate includes programs about five legendary British architects; seminal albums in modern music history; and the overlooked art of the Dark Ages; as well as several science programs, and series of films about insects.

The network has teamed up with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Oxford TV to produce a film about seminal British architects Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Nicholas Grimshaw, Michael Hopkins and Terry Farrell, called Britain’s Modern Architecture (1 x 60 minutes). The documentary will feature interviews with the five men and their collaborators, and will coincide with free RIBA-organized talks and exhibitions across the UK.

Produced by ZCZ Films, Treasures Of The Dark Ages is a four-part series in which art critic Waldemar Januszczak travels across Europe, Africa and Asia to show how, contrary to popular belief, the Dark Ages was time of great artistic achievement.

The special Beautiful Things (1 x 60 minutes) follows Ros Savill (former director and curator of the Wallace Collection) as he explores private collections to show the French company Sevres porcelain played a part in social and political revolution. It is produced by What Larks! Productions.

IWC Productions’ documentary Golden Age of the Album (1 x 60 minutes) charts the period between the late 1960s and early 1980s during which several acts released seminal albums, including Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, the Beatles, Marvin Gaye and Pink Floyd. Through a series of interviews, several musicians, producers and personalities recall the rise and decline of the vinyl LP format.

Chas & Dave – Last Orders (working title) profiles the English pop rock duo that toured with the Beatles and opened for Led Zeppelin as they embark on their final tour. The film is being directed by Julian Hendy for North One Production.

In the history realm, BBC4 will air The Hundred Years War (3 x 60 minutes). Produced by BBC Productions, the series looks back on the war between England and France – the longest war of medieval times – with cultural historian Janina Ramirez as the guide.

Elsewhere, the network has commissioned five programs under its ‘Big Science’ banner: Furnace Television’s Order and Disorder (2 x 60 minutes), in which presenter Kim Al-Khalili tells the story of how humanity mastered energy and information; Wingspan Productions’ The Joy Of Chance (1 x 60 minutes), about the surprising ways in which chance works; Voyager (1 x 60 minutes), a look at NASA’s Voyager space shuttle program; BBC Productions’ Seven Ages Of Starlight (1 x 90 minutes), a journey through the lives of stars; and BBC Productions’ Horizon Guide To The Universe (1 x 60 minutes), which takes an in-depth look at science’s quest to understand the mysteries of the universe.

Insects are the focus of BBC4′s ‘Alien Nation’ strand. The BBC Scotland/Science Channel coproduction Planet Ant (1 x 90 minutes) will take viewers into Europe’s largest manufactured ant colony; BBC Scotland’s Insect Dissection (1 x 60 minutes) uses imaging technology to carry out a series of delicate dissections; and the BBC’s Can Eating Insects Save the World? (1 x 60 minutes) explores insect cuisine.

In addition, Primitive Entertainment, Films à Trois and The National Film Board of Canada’s The Incredible Story Of The Monarch Butterfly: Flour Wings and a Prayer is about the life and migration of the titular butterfly; BBC Scotland’s Metamorphosis (1 x 60 minutes) examines evolutionary transformations; and the BBC’s Edwardian Insects (1 x 60 minutes) looks at natural historian Percy Smith.

Finally, six programs will air as part of the ‘Food Glorious Food’ strand: Clarissa Dickson Wright stars in Optomen’s culinary journey Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (3 x 60 minutes); What Larks! Productions’ The First Master Chef: Michael Roux on Escoffier (1 x 60 minutes) looks at the influence of Britain’s first celebrity chef Georges Auguste Escoffier; and Dog House Media’s Nigel Slater – Life is Sweets (1 x 60 minutes) looks at the history of sweets and chocolates.

In addition, Available Light Productions’ Lucy Worsley on Dorothy Hartley (1 x 60 minutes) retraces the life of a forgotten writer; Crocodile Media’s Calf’s Head & Coffee: The Golden Age of English Food (1 x 60 minutes) looks at the foundation of contemporary English cuisine; and Storyville Film’s A Matter Of Taste (1 x 60 minutes) follows British chef Paul Liebrandt as he takes on New York’s fine dining restaurant scene.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.