BBC Drama Chief Ben Stephenson set out his vision for BBC Drama, at an event for writers, actors, industry and press.
Amongst the new titles are Atlantis, a Saturday night series from the team behind Merlin, Burton and Taylor, a telemovie starring Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter, a three-hour adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley set six years after Pride & Prejudice, and second and third parts of a Page Eight trilogy.
Stephenson said: “Drama and the BBC are inseparable – it is written through the BBC like a stick of rock. No other broadcaster in the world has drama so firmly in its DNA.”
He signalled the dawning of a new era of ambition with the arrival of a new Director General , adding: “Lord Hall and I have had early talks about the BBC as a cultural organisation with an international reputation, one to make us proud and that strengthens our creative muscles. I want to make BBC drama a cultural institution – a touchstone for quality and modernity with all the excitement and glamour of a curtain going up.
“My aim is to build a BBC drama department that has an enormous international reputation. That means making us more British than ever – it is about applying the Danny Boyle vision to our work – a bold, adventurous, authorial approach that exports because of its Britishness not despite it. A BBC that feels inspiringly creative – where there is a buzz and creativity and anything goes optimism.
“Ultimately I can boil this down to one thing – I want to make the BBC the hall mark of quality drama and the automatic home for the best talent in the world.”
New Commission Announcements detailed below:
All commissioned by Ben Stephenson and Danny Cohen, Controller BBC One.
13 x 45 series, created and written by Howard Overman (Misfits, Dirk Gently, Vexed, Merlin) for Saturday nights this Autumn on BBC One
The city of Atlantis is a mysterious, ancient place; a world of bull leaping, of snake haired goddesses and of palaces so vast it was said they were built by giants.
It’s into this strange, compelling realm that the young Jason arrives and an amazing adventure begins, bringing to life the vast store of Greek myths and legends re-imagined for a new generation in an action packed 13-part series.
Executive produced by Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy (Merlin, Hex, As If, Sugar Rush) and Howard Overman for their new production company. It will begin shooting in Wales and Morocco in April.
The series will launch on Saturday nights this Autumn and is executive produced for BBC Cymru Wales by Bethan Jones.
Death Comes To Pemberley
3 x 60 serial, written by Juliette Towhidi (Calendar Girls) and made by Origin Pictures for BBC One.
Adapted from P.D James’ international bestselling novel in this 200th anniversary year of the first publication of ‘Pride & Prejudice’, P.D James’ remarkably inventive homage to Austen brings the much-loved world to life in a dazzling and original way. Set six years after ‘Pride & Prejudice’ ends and centering on Austen’s best-known characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, the three-parter combines classic period drama with a highly suspenseful and brilliantly crafted murder mystery plot.
The executive producers for Origin Pictures are David Thompson and Ed Rubin. The executive producer for the BBC is Polly Hill.
8 x 60 series, written by Jack Williams and Harry Williams, made by New Pictures and Company Pictures in association with Two Brothers Pictures for BBC One.
When his son is snatched on holiday in France, Tony’s exhaustive search fractures his marriage and destroys his life. Exploring the emotional cost of hope and finding when to let go, this relationship thriller shows the impact of a child’s abduction.
The executive producers are Charlie Pattinson for New Pictures, Willow Grylls and John Yorke for Company Pictures, Harry and Jack Williams for Two Brothers Pictures and Polly Hill for the BBC.
8 x 60 series, written by Tony Saint (Margaret Thatcher: Long Walk To Finchley; Strike Back) and made by BBC Drama Productions for BBC One.
A new gripping and high-octane eight-part series about a top secret, state of the art law enforcement team whose unswerving mission is to hunt down some of Britain’s most dangerous and ruthless criminals. The executive producer is Sarah Brown (Oliver Twist, Lark Rise To Candleford).
3 x 60 serial, written by Emma Frost (The White Queen, Shameless, Consuming Passion) and made by Origin Pictures for BBC One.
A bold new adaptation of the classic Daphne du Maurier novel, set in 1820 against the foreboding backdrop of windswept Cornish moors, this highly charged, gothic romance follows young Mary Yellan as she becomes entangled in a dangerous criminal world ridden with smuggling and murder, testing her resolve and morality to the very core.
The executive producers for Origin Pictures are David Thompson, Ed Rubin and Hilary Heath. The BBC executive producers are Sarah Stack and Stephen Wright.
3 x 60 serial, written by Gwyneth Hughes (Five Days, The Girl, The Mystery Of Edwin Drood), made by Mammoth Screen for BBC One.
A haunting three-part mystery, on the day a frail old Yorkshireman leaves his own home to move into residential care, he becomes the sole witness to a violent death. His teenage care assistant tries to unravel the riddle of his strange and secretive life, and is drawn into an eerie and dangerous world of lost love and betrayal.
The executive producers are Gwyneth Hughes, and Rebecca Keane and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen and Polly Hill for the BBC.
Commissioned by Ben Stephenson and Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC Two
David Hare returns to BBC Two with the second and third parts of the trilogy Turks And Caicos and Salting The Battlefield
Made in 2011, directed and written by David Hare, Page Eight was the first film in an intended trilogy about the British domestic security service, M15.
After the death of the Head of the organization, Johnny Worricker, an intelligence officer, is aware of a plot to hand control of the organization directly over to the Prime Minister, Alec Beasley. The Emmy-winning film was seen on BBC Two and PBS, and starred Bill Nighy, Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, Judy Davis and Michael Gambon.
Both written and directed by Oscar Nominee David Hare, it will be produced by Carnival Films with Heyday Films, Runaway Fridge Films for the BBC.
Part 2 of the trilogy: Turks And Caicos
Johnny Worricker has walked out of his job at M15, going to the airport apparently to choose his destination at random. But his presence on the obscure islands of Turks and Caicos brings him a new problem: he is being forced by the CIA to deal with a group of ambiguous Americans who are on the islands for high-level conference on the world financial crisis. At the same time, an old girl-friend, Alison Tyrrell, is being asked to betray her boss in London in order to establish an illicit connection between the prime minister and dark goings-on in the war on terror.
Part 3 of the trilogy: Salting The Battlefield
Johnny Worricker and Alison Tyrrell are on the run across Europe, with M15 hard on their heels. But life in exile is proving much harder than either of them expected. Worricker knows that his only chance of resolving both his personal and his professional lives is if he returns home to confront the powerful prime minister, Alec Beasley. In a duel of wits between the two men, there will be only one winner.
The executive producers are Gareth Neame (Downton Abbey, Any Human Heart) for Carnival Films, David Heyman for Heyday Films (Harry Potter series), David Barron for Runaway Fridge Films (Harry Potter series) and Christine Langan for BBC.
Commissioned by Ben Stephenson and Richard Klein, Controller BBC Four
Burton And Taylor
1 x 90 minute single drama, written by William Ivory (Women In Love, Bert & Dickie), made by BBC Drama Productions for BBC Four.
Dominic West (The Hour, The Wire) and Helena Bonham Carter (Toast, Great Expectations), play the volatile ex-lovers in the story of their ill-fated appearance in a 1983 revival of Noel Coward’s stage play, Private Lives.
Burton & Taylor is a drama about one of the most fascinating, glamorous and tempestuous relationships of the 20th century, that of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, the two most famous movie stars of their day who played out every high and low of their love affair, their marriages and divorces right in the public eye.
The executive producer for the BBC is Jessica Pope. The director is Richard Laxton (Effie, Him And Her, Hancock) and the producer is Lachlan McKinnon (Silent Witness).
Exclusive Doctor Who 50th news
As part of the BBC’s blockbuster celebrations to mark the Doctor turning 50, fans will be able to see the Time Lord and his adventures like never before – in 3D! To be broadcast using some of the BBC’s HD capacity, Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer, said: “It’s about time. Technology has finally caught up with Doctor Who and your television is now bigger on the inside. A whole new dimension of adventure for the Doctor to explore.”
Call The Midwife – series 3 & Christmas Special
BBC One’s record-breaking hit drama series will return for a Christmas special in 2013 and a new series in 2014. Call The Midwife was the biggest new drama series on BBC One in over a decade, and the second series currently on air is averaging a consolidated series average so far of 10.6 million/32.3%
8 x 60 Series, written by Heidi Thomas and made by Neal Street Productions for BBC One.
It’s 1959 and the eve of the swinging Sixties. The winds of change are sweeping through the country and the residents of Nonnatus House face some momentous changes of their own.
Death In Paradise – series 3
8 x 60 Series, written by Robert Thorogood & others, made by Red Planet Pictures for BBC One.
The warm, witty and intriguing hit crime drama series, which is averaging almost 8 million consolidated viewers per episode in its second run is set to be filmed on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe and will return to BBC One for a third series next year.
The executive producers for Red Planet Pictures are Tony Jordan and Belinda Campbell and Polly Hill for the BBC.
A lengthy interview with Stephenson can also be found at The Hollywood Reporter.