BBC Four Returns To Single Drama With ‘Eric, Ernie & Me’; Acquires German Drama ‘Reformation’ & More

After abandoning them several years ago, BBC Four is making a return to single drama with a green-light for Eric, Ernie & Me, which tells the story of comedy scriptwriter Eddie Braben. The announcement was made by BBC Four Channel Editor Cassian Harrison as the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

Harrison also unveiled a wealth of other new programmes for the channel. BBC Four has acquired German drama Reformation from FremantleMedia International, ordered a number of new ‘slow TV’ titles, announced a season of programmes about the reformation and a pair of documentaries on Ovid.

“BBC Four continues to go from strength to strength, offering a highly distinctive, award-winning and much loved range of programming to our audiences”, he said. “Today I’m delighted to be announcing ambitious new content that demonstrates how we continue to innovate, pushing boundaries of form and content and welcoming new and diverse talent, while maintaining our commitment to an uncompromising spread of programming that delves into the worlds of Arts, Music, History and Culture with a depth of expertise that is unmatched in UK television.”

Full Details Of BBC Four’s New Programmes Follows Below:

Eric, Ernie & Me

This one-off tells the story of comedy scriptwriter Eddie Braben. For over a decade he penned Morecambe and Wise’s material, and reshaped the double act into the Eric and Ernie that the nation took to its heart. But it wasn’t all sunshine. The film  celebrates the man behind Morecambe and Wise’s greatest successes, culminating in their iconic 1977 Christmas Show, whilst showing the pressure and pain he went through to help create Britain’s most beloved double act.

Eric Ernie & Me marks BBC Four’s first single drama commission since Burton & Taylor in 2013. It was penned by Bob Servant scribe Neil Fosyth and was commissioned by Gregor Sharp, Commissioning Editor, BBC Comedy. Objective Fiction, part of Objective Media Group are producing, with Ben Farrell serving as the executive producer and Alison Sterling line producing.

Reformation: The Story Of Martin Luther

Reformation tells the story of Martin Luther. 500 years ago the revolutionary priest changed the face of Christendom and the path of European civilization forever. Risking his life, academic reputation, facing damnation and purgatory in 1517, he pinned his inflammatory 95 Theses to the church door in the Catholic Church and the Western World would never be the same again. His name was Martin Luther.

The two-part drama, originally commissioned by German broadcaster ZDF, hails from UFA Fiction and stars Maximilian Brückner as Martin Luther. The series was written by Stefan Dähnert and Marianne Wendt, directed by Uwe Janson and its Creative Producer is Martin Bromber. Executive producers on the series are Benjamin Benedict and Joachim Kosack. The deal between the BBC and FremantleMedia International was brokered by Cassian Harrison and the BBC’s Head Of Programme Acquisition Sue Deeks.

Slow TV

It was a couple of years ago that BBC Four brought so-called ‘slow TV’, which was pioneered in Norway, to British screen with BBC Four Goes Slow. They are now adding to their slate of such shows with two new commissions: The Monastery, a three part series that immerses viewers fully into the world of Benedictine monks, taking a look at this idiosyncratic but incredibly peaceful existence and allowing us to share the unique experience of living in a monastery; and Slow Natural History. Designed as a companion piece to BBC One’s Blue Planet II and Animals With Cameras this three-parter takes viewers into the very eyes of the animals featured in the BBC One shows, showing viewers the world from their unique perspective.

Box Set History

Following on from the success of OJ: Made In America, BBC Four is taking a long-form, box set approach to key stories from British history. Lady Jane Grey: To Kill A Queen will tell the story of Lady Jane Grey whom King Edward VI, son of Henry VIII, chose to succeed him on the throne, instead of his elder sister Mary; while the Ruth Ellis will explore the story of the last woman to be hanged in Britain for murder after she was convicted of killing her lover David Blakely. Both series were commissioned by Cassian Harrison and Tom McDonald, Head of commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. Lady Jane Grey is being produced by Darlow Smithson Productions, while Ruth Ellis is set up at Wall To Wall.

Reformation Season

BBC Four is doing a whole season of programming on the reformation to mark the 500th year anniversary. Leading the season will be the aforementioned drama acquisition Reformation: The Story Of Martin Luther. The channel has also commissioned a number of shows for the season, including: Evensong: The Story Of England’s Greatest Musical Legacy, which will see Lucy Worsley investigate the story of the most remarkable creation from that tumultuous and violent era: Choral Evensong; and Books Of The Reformation With Janina Ramire, in which Nina Ramirez tells the story of three books that defined this radical religious revolution in England.

Ovid

To mark 2000 years since the death of the great writer Ovid, BBC Four has ordered two new arts documentaries celebrating his life and work. Ovid: The Poet And The Emperor With Michael Wood looks at the life and work of one of the world’s greatest writers. Using his own words, performed by one of Britain’s leading actors, Simon Russell Beale, it uncovers the extraordinary story of a poet’s clash with power.Ovid: The World’s Greatest Storytelles sees BBC Four partner with the Royal Shakespeare Company to introduce highlights from Metamorphoses to a new audience, with the aim of demystifying some of the bard’s most enigmatic references.

Artists First

In this strand, BBC Four opens their doors to new talent with artist-first original programming from celebrated creatives including Phil Collins, Akala, and the RSC. In Akala’s Odyssey Akala explores the world of Homer and The Odyssey, to discover how an epic poem became the cornerstone of Western literature and how his own experiences as a poet have been impacted by a 3,000-year-old classic. Ceremony follows Phil Collins as he returns Friedrich Engels to the city where he made his name – in the form of a Soviet-era statue, driven across Europe and permanently installed in the centre of Manchester as the closing event of this year’s Manchester International Festival.