BBC Two Orders New Romesh Ranganathan Series, ‘The Amazing Race’ Style Series ‘Race Across The World’ & More

It was BBC Two’s turn at bat at the Edinburgh TV Festival today, with Controller Patrick Holland taking the opportunity to announced a slew of new commissions for the channel.

Leading the new slate is a The Ranganation, a topical weekly show fronted by comedian Romesh Ranganathan. While other highlights include The Amazing Race style series Race Across The World; and two documentary series: one on the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and a three-part series about the rise of the Nazi’s in Germany in the 1930s. Rounding things off is a new Mary Beard series on nudity.

“I am delighted to announce such a compelling, exciting and challenging slate of shows”, Holland said. “Race Across the World is a major new format that promises adrenaline, adventure and extraordinary encounters, as we leave modern tech behind and travel without a safety net. Couple this with James Bluemel’s unique take in the Iraq War, 72 Film’s intense focus on the years that made Hitler unstoppable, Mary Beard’s singular exploration of the role of nakedness and Romesh’s hilarious new opinionated studio show, BBC Two really is the home to the most eclectic range of programmes, never shying away from complexity, engaging with the most refreshing perspectives and voices. With Michaela Coel’s new drama announced earlier this week, we have a heady mix in-store for our viewers.”

Hosted by Romesh, The Ranganation is a weekly that takes a funny look back over the week’s biggest talking points. To help Romesh fully understand what the nation really think he consults with his very own focus group, The Ranganation. This larger than life focus group of 25 lovable, diverse characters, represent a real cross-section of modern Britain – the group also includes Romesh’s mum. He’ll also be joined by comedy and expert guests to explore how current news events and themes are really affecting the Ranganation.

The series order for The Ranganation comes after the success of of The Misadventures Of Romesh Ranganathan. It was commissioned by BBC Two Controller Patrick Holland and the BBC’s Controller of Entertainment Commissioning Kate Phillips. Zeppotron are producing, with Ruth Phillips serving as the executive producer. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Ruby Kuraishe.

Race Across The World is an adventure series in a similar vein to CBS’ The Amazing Race which pits pairs of travellers against each other in a race to reach the Far East without taking a single flight, with no smartphone in sight. Each contestant will only have the cash equivalent of an air fare to their destination to pay for their overland travel. If they run out, they’ll need to earn more. Setting out on the adventure of a lifetime, the couples will hit the open road using whatever mode of transport they can – from trains to pickup trucks, from ferries to tuk-tuks – crossing continents and experiencing travel the way we once used to.

And the race is on to reach the finish line in the fastest time, making best use of their money – and strategy – to win a cash prize. Each couple has their own personal motivation for taking part in this once-in-a-lifetime experience, immersing themselves in different cultures, forming bonds and friendships across cultural divides and relying on the kindness of strangers in order to stand the best chance of winning the competition. The series, which has received an order for six episodes, is produced by Studio Lambert – marking their second commission from the BBC this week after their drama The Nest was greenlit for BBC One. The executive producers are Stephen Lambert, Tim Harcourt and Mark Saben.

The Iraq War is a documentary series that will explore the extraordinary gamble taken by America and Britain when they invaded Iraq. It is a gamble which didn’t pay off, the tumultuous ramifications of which are still being felt across the Middle East and Europe today. It will be told by those who were there, and will seek to challenge our view of what happened by throwing light on previously ignored perspectives and experiences. This series will ask what happens when an invading force overthrows a dictator, and explore the far reaching human consequences on all those who were involved.

James Bluemel, the multi-award winning director behind BBC Two’s Exodus series, is helming the five part series, which is being produced by KEO Films. It was commissioned by BBC Two Controller Patrick Holland and the BBC’s Head of Commissioning for Documentaries Clare Sillery. Jo Abel is the series producer. The executive producers are Will Anderson and Andrew Palmer.

The Rise Of The Nazis will explore how 20th Century Europe’s most liberal democracy fell into the hands of fascists. From Hitler’s political scheming that turned Germany’s parliament into a House of Cards, his War on Truth leading to book burning, and his scapegoating of minorities, this series explores in extraordinary detail the events leading up to the outbreak of World War II. The series will be made in the style of ‘Elizabeth I’s Secret Agents’ and leading historians will study the motivations of Hitler’s contemporaries – to get into the minds of the people most responsible for the machinations of the Nazi regime – as well as those who sacrificed their status, their jobs and in some cases their lives to try to stop the Nazis. Interweaving their different psychological perspectives will allow us to experience their different ambitions and agendas.

It will also show that history is not inevitable. As our historians take us through the biggest events of the period, from the Wall Street Crash to the backstairs dealings of the 1930 election, from the brutal Night of the Long Knives to Hitler becoming the all-powerful Führer of Germany – we highlight the incremental decisions and missed warning signs that could have prevented the rise of the Nazis. The three-parter is being produced for BBC Two by 72 Films and was commissioned by BBC Two Controller Patrick Holland and the BBC’s Head of Commissioning for Natural History and Specialist Factual Tom McDonald. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Simon Young.

The Nude Uncovered By Mary Beard follows the Professor as she turns her quizzical eye on the most enduring subject in all of art: the Nude human figure. It seems paradoxical but also inevitable that in a ‘clothed’ society like ours we should have made and collected so many images of naked bodies now and in the past. Mary sets out to explore why and, although it’s a simple question, the answers she’ll uncover are far more complex and intriguing than we might at first imagine. The two-part series was commissioned by the BBC’s Director of Arts Jonty Claypole and is being produced by Lion TV. The executive producer is Denys Blakeway.