The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is back and blooming on BBC TWO this spring. The world’s most famous gardening event comes together with compelling drama from award-winning writer Stephen Poliakoff, and a revelatory science series casting new light on the destruction of ancient civilizations, to form the highlights of an £88 million spring and summer season of big, bold programming on BBC TWO.
Jane Root, Controller BBC TWO says: "BBC TWO is currently on a four-year high, proving that our ambition - to produce big ideas and tell big stories, but with a different twist - is working. This spring and summer we’re giving audiences more of what they want and what we’re best at - good quality programmes that don’t talk down to viewers, but are rewarding, pleasurable and fun."
Everything in the BBC TWO garden is set to be rosy in May with the prime event of the gardening year - the RHS Chelsea Flower Show - returning to its rightful home on the BBC. Presented by the BBC’s family of gardening experts, Alan Titchmarsh, Diarmuid Gavin, Charlie Dimmock and Chris Beardshaw, BBC TWO’s new-look Chelsea programmes will head up extensive coverage on BBC Television, BBC Radio, BBC Online and BBC Regional television and radio.
Leading the way in drama is Stephen Poliakoff’s Perfect Strangers. Clever and compulsive, it starts with a seemingly routine family reunion which fast becomes a catalyst for a web of intrigue as past and present combine. Extending the theme that those closest to you are often the ones you know least, Tony Basgallop’s tart and satirical subversion of the soap opera format, Residents, shows what happens when the thin thread of tolerance between neighbours finally snaps.
Meanwhile, two pieces from the combined creative powerhouse of Jim Cartwright and Danny Boyle, brought together as Destiny Films, see BBC TWO bringing bold new works and fresh approaches to the screen. Strumpet tells the tale of three of life’s most unlikely companions, who find each other and a shared gift of music as they head for London and Top Of The Pops. Vacuuming Completely Nude In Paradise is no less inventive. Timothy Spall plays Tommy, a vacuum cleaner super-salesman in line for the Golden Vac award - were it not for his meekly mannered trainee.
In factual, the stories are just as good. Ancient Apocalypse applies modern science and innovative computer graphics to show how ancient civilisations from the Maya to the Minoans were cut down by cataclysmic forces of nature, from fireballs and volcanic eruptions to tidal waves. In Art That Shook The World experts including Germaine Greer, Tom Paulin and Andrew Graham-Dixon explore those truly great works of art which changed everything that came after them: Joyce’s novel Ulysses, The Psalms, Eisenstein’s film Battleship Potemkin, Mozart’s opera The Marriage Of Figaro and Monet’s painting Impression: Sunrise.
Also in the factual portfolio is Endgame In Ireland, the definitive history of the peace process, from the award-winning makers of The Death Of Yugoslavia and The 50 Years War: Israel And The Arabs - Norma Percy and Mark Anderson. And BBC TWO’s Islam Season takes a trip to the heart of modern Muslims in the UK, with a slate of revealing programmes including films on The Hajj, The Mosque and Islamophobia. Catching The Killers tells the history of murder detection, showing how advances in science and psychology have allowed murder victims to ‘speak’ from the grave, and Fashion Victim explores the life and death of that icon of the fashion world, Gianni Versace.
And if the return of Chelsea isn’t enough to confirm BBC TWO’s status as the creator and home of intelligent leisure programming, this summer brings more titles to strengthen the mix. In Planet Patio Diarmuid Gavin looks at how to turn outside space into another room, and MasterChef comes to BBC TWO complete with a new look and a new face - celebrity chef Gary Rhodes.
Finally, the comedy highlight of the spring/summer season is the cream of US entertainment, the Emmy award-winning series Malcolm In The Middle. The story of an average American family - four squabbling kids and two long suffering parents who are just trying to hold on "until the last one turns 18" - the action is seen through the eyes of Malcolm, a normal boy who is content skateboarding, fighting with his brothers and avoiding the school bully.
BBC Two unveils Spring schedule
Published Wednesday, Mar 28 2001, 16:26 BST | By Neil Wilkes