BBC2 orders docs on radical thinkers, MR James

The British pubcaster has commissioned a two-part doc on British radical thinkers featuring author Melvyn Bragg (pictured) and a documentary about the life of horror writer MR James, directed by Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss.
June 13, 2013

Documentaries on radical thinkers, the life of horror writer MR James and the British Renaissance are among a raft of BBC2 arts commissions.

In Melvyn Bragg’s Radical Lives, the author and TV presenter (pictured) will explore the lives of John Ball and Thomas Paine, two British intellectuals at the heart of respective political rebellions. The two-part documentary is being produced for BBC2 by A Directors Cut Production.

“Melvyn Bragg is one of the great writers of our time. He has a particular knack for digging out influential figures we should all have heard of, but often haven’t, then bringing them to life with his inimitable insight,” said  BBC2′s arts commissioning editor Mark Bell in a statement. “The BBC’s arts programs celebrate authorship across an eclectic range of subjects; it is what makes us tick.”

Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss will present The Ghost Writer, a documentary about the life and work of enigmatic horror writer MR James. He will also direct an accompanying dramatic adaptation of one his novels – MR James: The Tractate Middoth. The programs, which will air during this year’s Christmas schedule, are being executive produced by Michael Poole.

BBC2 has also greenlit A Very British Renaissance, a three-part documentary presented by art historian Dr. James Fox (British Masters, A History of Art in Three Colours) that explores an era in which Britain transitioned from medieval times to cultural renaissance; and a four-part series about science fiction called My God, It’s Full Of Stars: A Journey To The Edge Of Science Fiction, a coproduction with BBC America.

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.