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Saturday 2 March 2024

World Indoor Athletics Championships: Glasgow Welcomes the Best in Track and Field

As the world's track and field stars gather in Glasgow for the World Indoor Athletics Championships, anticipation is running high for three days of intense competition. BBC Sport is set to provide comprehensive live coverage, ensuring fans don't miss a moment of the action.

Leading the charge is renowned sports presenter Gabby Logan, joined by a stellar lineup of athletics legends including 2012 Olympic heptathlon champion Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, 2000 Olympic gold medallist Dame Denise Lewis, hurdling sensation Colin Jackson, and marathon marvel Paula Radcliffe. With such a wealth of expertise, viewers can expect insightful commentary and analysis throughout the event.

The championship boasts an impressive lineup of talent, with 26 titles up for grabs. Viewers can witness the world's best athletes in action, including the likes of Noah Lyles, Femke Bol, and Armand Duplantis, all eager to showcase their skills on the international stage.

For British fans, there's plenty to cheer for as well. 1500m world champion Josh Kerr leads the charge, aiming for glory in the 3000m event. Scotland's own Laura Muir will also be a force to be reckoned with on the track. Meanwhile, Molly Caudrey eyes a podium finish in the Women's Pole Vault, while Jemma Reekie sets her sights on success in the Women's 800m.

With such a stellar lineup of athletes and expert commentary, the World Indoor Athletics Championships promises to be a thrilling showcase of talent and determination. Tune in to BBC Two and iPlayer from March 1st to catch all the drama unfold live from Glasgow.

Friday 1 March

BBC Two - 9.30am – 2.15pm and 6.45pm-10pm

Red Button - 9.55pm – 10.30pm

Saturday 2 March

BBC Two - 9.30am – 1.15pm and 6.40pm – 10.15pm

Red Button - 10.10pm-10.30pm

Sunday 3 March

BBC Two - 9.30am-12.15pm and 6.30pm to 10.15pm

Red Button, 12.10pm – 1.45pm

Friday 1 March 2024

BBC Explores Neurodiversity in New Series "Inside Our Minds"

Following the resounding success of "Inside Our Autistic Minds," the BBC has greenlit a second series delving into the lived experiences of neurodivergent individuals, this time focusing on dyslexia and ADHD. Presented by Chris Packham, who himself was diagnosed with autism in his 40s, the two-part series aims to shed light on the inner workings of dyslexic and ADHD minds.

In each episode, Packham will meet with four contributors who will share their personal journeys and offer viewers a glimpse into their worlds through visually inventive short films. By collaborating with filmmakers, animators, and photographers, the series seeks to provide an intimate portrayal of how dyslexia and ADHD impact various aspects of individuals' lives, including education, work, and relationships.

With an estimated 1 in 7 British people being neurodivergent, there's a growing need for understanding and acceptance of diverse neurological experiences. Packham emphasizes the importance of dispelling misconceptions and stigma surrounding neurodiversity while celebrating the unique strengths and challenges that come with conditions like dyslexia and ADHD.

Jack Bootle, BBC's Head of Commissioning for Specialist Factual, highlights the success of the previous series and notes the increasing interest in understanding conditions beyond autism. "Inside Our Minds" aims to amplify the voices of neurodivergent individuals, allowing them to lead the conversation and shape perceptions of their experiences.

The first series, "Inside Our Autistic Minds," garnered critical acclaim and numerous awards, including Best Science Documentary at the Griersons and Best Specialist Factual Series at the Broadcast Awards. With its compelling representation of autism, the series resonated with audiences and sparked important discussions about neurodiversity.

"Inside Our Minds" 2x60 has been commissioned by BBC Two and iPlayer and is produced by BBC Studios Specialist Factual Productions. As the series continues to push boundaries and promote empathy and understanding, it promises to be a thought-provoking exploration of the diverse tapestry of human cognition and experience.

Rebecca Hall Stars in BBC's New Drama "The Listeners"

The BBC has unveiled a glimpse into its upcoming drama series, "The Listeners," featuring acclaimed actress Rebecca Hall in the lead role. Adapted from Jordan Tannahill's novel of the same name, the series is set to premiere on BBC One and BBC iPlayer later this year.

Produced by Element Pictures, known for hits like "Normal People" and "The Favourite," and directed by Janicza Bravo, "The Listeners" delves into the enigmatic world of Claire (played by Rebecca Hall), an English teacher whose life is disrupted by an incessant humming sound that only she and a student, Kyle (portrayed by Ollie West), can hear.

As Claire's life becomes increasingly fraught with tension, she forms an unlikely bond with Kyle, leading them to a group of neighbors who also claim to hear the mysterious sound. The series explores themes of community, connection, and the allure of the unknown in an era marked by polarization and conspiracy culture.

Joining Hall and West in the cast are Prasanna Puwanarajah, Amr Waked, Gayle Rankin, Mia Tharia, Franc Ashman, Samuel Edward Cook, Karen Henthorn, Lucy Sheen, and Ian Mercer. Filmed in Greater Manchester, "The Listeners" promises to captivate audiences with its compelling narrative and stellar performances.

Executive produced by Tannahill, Bravo, Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Chelsea Morgan Hoffmann, and Rachel Dargavel for Element Pictures, along with Rebecca Ferguson for the BBC and Alice Birch, the series is poised to offer a thought-provoking exploration of human curiosity and the search for meaning.

"The Listeners" marks another exciting addition to the BBC's lineup of gripping dramas, showcasing the network's commitment to delivering compelling storytelling to audiences worldwide. Global distribution will be handled by Fremantle, ensuring that the series reaches audiences far and wide.

ITV Greenlights Fifth Series of Detective Drama "Grace"

ITV has given the green light for a fifth series of the hit detective drama "Grace," featuring John Simm as Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. The Brighton-based series, adapted from the best-selling novels by Peter James, will consist of four feature-length films airing on ITV1, ITVX, STV, and STV Player.

Returning for series five alongside Simm are Richie Campbell, Zoƫ Tapper, Laura Elphinstone, Brad Morrison, and Sam Hoare, reprising their roles as integral members of the investigative team.

The new series will feature adaptations of James' novels "Dead If You Don't," "Dead At First Sight," "Need You Dead," and "Find Them Dead," promising audiences a blend of surprises and intrigue synonymous with the franchise.

Commissioned by ITV's Head of Drama, Polly Hill, and Drama Commissioner, Huw Kennair Jones, the series will continue to be produced by Tall Story Pictures, a division of ITV Studios, and Vaudeville Productions.

Huw Kennair Jones expressed excitement for the return to Brighton, stating, "Series five promises to deliver four more episodes full of surprises and intrigue that the ITV and ITVX audiences have come to love."

Phil Hunter, Executive Producer for Tall Story Pictures, expressed enthusiasm for his first series with the show, highlighting the talented cast and crew's dedication to bringing James' stories to life.

Peter James, the acclaimed author behind the novels, reflected on the series' success, praising the cast, crew, and fans for their contributions to "Grace's" journey from page to screen.

The scripts for the new series will be penned by Jess Williams, Guy Burt, Caroline Carver, and Ed Whitmore, with Kiaran Murray-Smith returning as Series Producer. Production is set to commence in Brighton this Spring.

With over 21 million copies of Peter James' Grace novels sold worldwide and translations into 38 languages, the series continues to captivate audiences globally. International distribution is handled by ITV Studios, and "Grace" remains a BritBox Original, exclusively available on the streaming platform in North America and Australia.

Channel 4's Hollyoaks Adapts to Evolving Viewing Habits with New Episode Strategy

Watch classic Hollyoaks at https://amzn.to/49TQV3b

In a bold move to align with changing audience preferences, Channel 4 has announced significant changes to the scheduling of its groundbreaking soap opera, Hollyoaks. The adjustments come as part of the network's recently unveiled Fast Forward strategy, aimed at adapting to evolving viewing habits in today's digital landscape.

Hollyoaks, which made history as the first UK soap to embrace a genuinely digital-first model last year, will undergo a shift in its episode release pattern starting September 2024. The new strategy, driven by extensive data analysis, will see the soap reduce its weekly output from five episodes to three across streaming platforms such as E4 and YouTube. Additionally, viewers can anticipate a weekly hour-long omnibus episode on Channel 4 and available for streaming.

Research conducted by Channel 4 indicates that the most dedicated Hollyoaks fans typically watch an average of three episodes per week, prompting the network to tailor its release schedule accordingly. The goal is to deliver fewer, but higher-impact episodes that resonate more deeply with audiences, thereby maintaining viewer engagement and attracting new viewers in a crowded content market.

Leading the charge in this new era of Hollyoaks is Hannah Cheers, appointed as Executive Producer to spearhead the show's evolution. Cheers, who has been serving as interim showrunner since September 2023, has garnered acclaim for her stewardship of the series, overseeing compelling storylines and memorable character returns.

The decision to revamp Hollyoaks' episode structure reflects Channel 4's commitment to staying ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing television landscape. By focusing on character-driven narratives and immersive storytelling, the show aims to remain relevant and competitive while catering to the preferences of its youthful demographic.

Recent special episodes of Hollyoaks have demonstrated the effectiveness of concentrated, well-crafted storytelling, with streaming views soaring to new heights. The success of these episodes underscores the appetite for gripping, emotionally resonant content among viewers.

However, the transition to a revised episode format will inevitably impact the production process. Channel 4 and Lime Pictures, the production company behind Hollyoaks, are working collaboratively to minimize any disruptions to the show's production team.

In a statement, Ian Katz, Chief Content Officer of Channel 4, expressed confidence in the future of Hollyoaks under Cheers' leadership, emphasizing the show's continued relevance and cultural significance. Katz also acknowledged the challenges posed by the production changes and pledged support for the affected cast and crew members.

MDs of Lime Pictures, Kate Little and Claire Poyser, echoed Katz's sentiments, highlighting Hollyoaks' role in Channel 4's digital-first strategy and its ability to engage younger audiences with authentic storytelling.

Looking ahead, Cheers emphasized Hollyoaks' enduring appeal and its capacity to spark important conversations through its portrayal of real-life issues. As the show approaches its 30th anniversary, Cheers is committed to driving its vision forward and ensuring its continued success on Channel 4.

Ben Wadey, Channel 4 Commissioning Executive for Hollyoaks, emphasized the show's history of innovation and adaptability, noting that the latest changes are essential to maintaining its connection with viewers. Wadey affirmed Hollyoaks' willingness to embrace change as a cornerstone of its longevity and future sustainability.

Watch classic Hollyoaks at https://amzn.to/49TQV3b

Mary & George - Coming to Sky on March 5th

Step back into the captivating world of historical intrigue with "Mary & George," a new TV series inspired by the outrageous true story of Mary Villiers and her son George. Set against the backdrop of a tumultuous English court, this audacious historical psychodrama promises to enthrall audiences with its tale of ambition, seduction, and betrayal.

At the heart of the series is Mary Villiers, portrayed by the incomparable Julianne Moore. A woman of humble beginnings with an insatiable thirst for power, Mary stops at nothing to elevate her family's status. With her sights set on the throne, Mary grooms her son George, played by Nicholas Galitzine, to seduce King James VI of Scotland and I of England, portrayed by Tony Curran. Together, mother and son embark on a journey filled with manipulation, intrigue, and danger as they navigate the treacherous waters of court politics.

As Mary and George rise to prominence, they become the most influential players in England, wielding power and influence like never before. But as George grows in stature, tensions between mother and son reach a breaking point, threatening to unravel all they've worked so hard to achieve.

With its stellar cast and gripping storyline, "Mary & George" promises to be a riveting exploration of ambition, loyalty, and the price of power. Don't miss the premiere of this epic series, coming to Sky TV on March 5th. Prepare to be captivated by the scandalous tale of a treacherous mother and son who stop at nothing to conquer the court of England and the heart of its king.

Released on March 5th - All episodes available as a boxset, and dropped weekly on Sky Atlantic.

You can also watch on NOW TV at https://amzn.to/3wIuGyG

Thursday 29 February 2024

Producer Regrets Impact of "Benefits Street" Documentary on Birmingham Community

Image: (BBC)

By Jon Donnis

Kieran Smith, an executive producer for Love Productions, has expressed regret over the unintended consequences of the controversial TV show "Benefits Street," which depicted life on Birmingham's James Turner Street. The Channel 4 documentary, aired in January 2014, garnered widespread attention, sparking debates about the welfare system and eliciting a wave of complaints.

Smith acknowledged the unintended fallout, stating that while the initial intent was not to tarnish the street's reputation, he sympathizes with residents who feel their community has been negatively portrayed. He admitted that in hindsight, withholding the street's name could have mitigated the impact.

"When we set out to make the program, we didn't forecast that it was going to be the thing it became," Smith remarked, acknowledging the unforeseen magnitude of the show's impact. "Our expectation was this would be a series that would fly under the radar. It turned into something much larger."

Residents of James Turner Street voiced their discontent, with some feeling they were misled about the show's focus on community spirit. Dee, who later appeared in Celebrity Big Brother, lamented how the documentary disrupted the close-knit dynamic of the neighborhood, expressing anger at being misled by the production company.

"It changed my life forever and it destroyed the James Turner Street I knew before the show," Dee revealed, highlighting the upheaval caused by the sudden intrusion of cameras into their lives. "We trusted them... We let the crew into our homes over 18 months and they became our friends."

Despite efforts by Love Productions to refute claims of manufacturing scenes and lack of support for participants post-airing, the aftermath of "Benefits Street" continues to haunt the community. One elderly resident described the deterioration of living conditions in the area, lamenting the lack of assistance to improve the neighborhood.

Amidst the controversy, Smith hinted at the possibility of filming a similar project in the future, albeit under a different title to avoid the negative connotations associated with "Benefits Street." He suggested that exploring the lives of individuals sharing a commonality within a community setting remains a viable concept.

While the debate surrounding "Benefits Street" persists, it serves as a cautionary tale about the complexities of portraying communities on screen and the ethical responsibilities of documentary filmmakers.