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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

BBC Announces a raft of new drama commissions

Tonight at a special event, BBC Director-General Tony Hall and BBC Drama Controller Ben Stephenson announced the commissioning of a raft of new dramas.

Speaking at the event Tony Hall said, "drama is something that is in the lifeblood of this country and in the DNA of the BBC too. We are making some fantastic dramas at the moment and I am looking forward to some more stand-out successes next year.”

Ben Stephenson added, "only the BBC supports the range of writers and ideas that these new announcements demonstrate. This massive investment signals the future direction of BBC drama. Once regarded as only the home of traditional period drama, I now believe we are the home of the best writers and the most ambitious modern drama. The point of the BBC is to deliver range and risk above and beyond other UK broadcasters, and I believe the success of our drama offering this year and the announcements we are making today pave the way for an exciting future.”

One of Us is a four-part drama written by The Missing's Harry and Jack Williams; a thriller set in the Highlands of Scotland and Edinburgh.

A horrific double murder rocks the lives of two families living side by side in rural Scotland. But instead of focussing on the investigation, One Of Us explores the fallout for the grieving relatives, and the dark consequences that threaten to shatter their lives. One Of Us is an intense morality tale which will keep the audience guessing until its devastating climax.

Of the drama, Harry and Jack say, "we're excited to be telling a modern-day parable that explores big themes and ideas through the lens of a very personal, character-driven story”.

SS-GB is a five-part thriller set in 1940's London, with the premise that the Germans won the Battle Of Britain and London is under Nazi occupation. Archer is a Scotland Yard detective working under the SS facing the dilemma of whether to effectively collaborate or join the resistance. An explosive thriller that will ask: what would you do, faced with stakes as high as this?

Based on the novels by Len Deighton, SS-GB has been adapted by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade who have served as co-writers on the last five James Bond films. Purvis and Wade said of the drama, "Len Deighton’s SS-GB is a brilliant tale of espionage that dares to think the unthinkable, and we are very excited to be adapting it for television.”

Cuffs is the first new drama to be broadcast at 8pm in eight years and is a fast-paced and adrenaline-fuelled eight-part cop show written by Prisoner Wives' Julie Gearey.

Packed full of humour and humanity, it’s an authentic and visceral drama portraying the everyday rollercoaster of being a police officer in the UK. Overstretched and under-resourced, the characters have to deal with everything the job throws at them - including the constant threat of physical violence and verbal abuse.

The series focuses on the relationships between the officers and detectives and the impact that this job has on their personal lives. A character-led drama as well as a police procedural, set in a vibrant Brighton.

Julie Gearey says: “As a massive fan of cop shows, I’m thrilled to create a new ensemble police series for BBC One. Intimate and realistic, we’ll be right on the shoulders of our cops as we follow them into every corner of lives in which work pressures don't end at the station door.”

The Secret Agent is a three-part adaptation of Joseph Conrad's novel by the BAFTA winning Tony Marchant.

London, 1886. Unbeknown to his loyal wife Winnie, Soho shopkeeper Verloc works as a secret agent for the Russian government. Angry that Britain harbours violent anarchists, the Russians coerce Verloc into planting a bomb that will provoke the authorities into cracking down on these extremists. Caught between the Russians and the British police, Verloc reluctantly draws his own family into a tragic terror plot.

Tony Marchant says: "Conrad's depiction of 19th century terrorists committed to the destruction of the West, with a suicide bomber in their midst, was not only prophetic but is undeniably contemporary and compelling. Equally it is a heartbreaking story of a family caught up in the political machinations of a world in ferment."

Undercover (w/t) is the new six-part series from Silk creator Peter Moffatt and is a gripping political thriller with a lead character who is about to become the first black Director Of Public Prosecutions.

Just as her life comes under intense public scrutiny she discovers that her husband and the father of her children has been lying to her for years. Is he concealing an affair, or is it something altogether more sinister? If she digs up his real past will she be safe, and what price do you pay for uncovering lies? And who wants her in this job and why?

Peter Moffat says: “After immersing myself in WW1 and the 1920s in The Village I am relishing the prospect of returning to the contemporary British political landscape to look at where we stand and how we got here. Undercover is a thriller about identity, trust and the struggle to lead a morally principled personal and professional life, while working up close with the police, press, politicians and criminals who have so corrupted and damaged public life over the last 20 years.”

The A-Word is a new six part drama from Peter Bowker and is based on the Keshet International and July August Productions’ series, which was written and created by Keren Margalit.

The A Word is the story of the Scott family who work and love and fight like every other family. Then their youngest son is diagnosed with autism and they don’t feel like every other family anymore. They realise that if their son is ever going to communicate, they are going to have to learn how to communicate themselves. It’s a funny and thought-provoking series about parenthood and childhood and what it’s like to have a child who doesn't fit the mould.

Peter Bowker says: "I loved the original series and wanted to honour its spirit while writing something new. We have the opportunity here to make something funny, tough, realistic and inventive about contemporary family life and autism. In a society where imperfection increasingly comes with blame attached, it seems timely to look at how autism is regarded both within a family and the wider community - and to give some insight into how that experience might be for the child on the autistic spectrum. It's a drama full of ideas - about parenthood, about disability, about communication, about community - and will emphatically engage an audience whatever their experience of the subject”

In addition to the live-action drama two animation series were announced including a two-part adaptation of Roald Dahl's Rhyme Stew as well as a screen version of Julia Donaldson's Stick Man. 

With all the above dramas airing on BBC One; the sole new commission for BBC Two was a new adaptation of Ronald Harwood's The Dresser which will see Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen working together for the first time.



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