Archive for the 'BBC Two' Category

Top Gear gets ready for its 11th season.

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The genre defying antics of the Top Gear team return to BBC Two in just a few weeks on June 22nd. And while I’ve gushed over the series extensively, calling it everything from television nirvana to the most unique and engaging hour on television I couldn’t let this promo for the shows 11th season pass without a mention.

Also, the shows executive producer Andy Wilman recently posted on the Top Gear blog about the upcoming season (including the promise of another race), as well as discussing the various international versions of the show in development.

The cult of Louis Theroux.

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At the intersection of comedy and tragedy lives documentary film maker Louis Theroux. His engaging, funny, heartbreaking and intelligent documentaries have only recently been introduced to me, but I haven’t been able to stop watching.

For the uninitiated (like myself until recently) Louis Theroux is a British broadcaster who started his television career on Michael Moore’s TV Nation before moving onto his own shows with Weird Weekends and When Louis Met.., and more recently a new series of one hour documentaries.

His programs generally involve investigating a curious subculture such as the life of swingers, rappers, televangelists, Thai brides, or white separatists. But what makes the programs so involving is Louis himself, who leads you into these sometimes abhorrent environments and allows you to see through his eyes, sharing the shock, laughter or heartbreak with him.

Although his style has been criticised as “faux-naïf” I find his disarming, often comedic, and sometimes baffled demeanor to be his greatest quality, he is almost Jim Halpert-esque at times, especially useful when entering as intense environments as San Quentin prison or the home of a Neo Nazi.

And while other film makers may chose to only observe, Louis often forms what appear to be quite genuine connections to the people he is investigating, whether it be his fondness for a particular prostitute in his program about a Nevada brothel, his impassioned attempt to bring clarity to a member of the Westboro Baptist Church or the truly incredible and bizarre turn of events that occurred during the filming of When Louis met the Hamiltons.

The comedic elements of his films are at times on par with the best of modern sitcoms, from the subtle to slapstick, the humour flows from the most unusual of situations, and is further intensified by Theroux’s own thoroughly likable self.

I haven’t been this taken by a personality or program since I first watched Top Gear or discovered The Office. His work transcends the gap between traditional documentary and scripted sitcom or drama, creating a narrative where at times I have completely forgotten I was watching real people.

Whereas many modern sitcoms are fake documentaries, at times Louis Theroux has managed to create the exact opposite, a real sitcom, or a real drama, an incredible achievement and a genre melding exercise that has left me giddy, enthralled and unable to think of anything else for days.

What do you reckon? I know I don’t care.

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Mitchell and Webb poke fun at the maddening world of television news “interactivity”, because really..

What possible reason could there be for you not to email us, certainly ignorance shouldn’t be a bar.

News parody has filled many posts on this site, including Jeremy Clarkson’s commentary on the state of news, Melanie Bellamy with the standing news, Dead Ringers high brow jab at Newsnight, and of course all that Chaser stuff.

Cutting up Christmas on BBC Two.

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bbc2a - Twango

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The whole BBC is getting into the Christmas mood, and BBC Two have taken the latest incarnation of their idents into a surreal pop-up book world filled with scissor wielding Grinch like creatures and cardboard skies.

Check out the rest of the regular BBC Two idents here, or explore below the fold for a Christmas themed promo, and one of those whats-on-nexts for the whole BBC…

Continue reading “Cutting up Christmas on BBC Two.” »

Top Gear takes a spin around the BBC.

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When Top Gear isn’t busy being the most beautifully shot show on television, or keeping us on the edge of our seats, its making us laugh, and this clip from last nights episode falls into that category. In the video, Jeremy takes the worlds smallest production car, the Peel P50 for a test drive through the corridors of the BBC Television Centre in London.

- Thanks for the video Craig.

Masterpiece Theatre: The return of Top Gear.

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At the end of season nine of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson questioned the direction of the show, and with 8.6 million people watching the final episode earlier this year, its understandable that a show about cars, with as much drama and direction as Lost, might start wondering what kind of show its meant to be.

Top Gear’s Executive Producer Andy Wilman takes an honest look at series nine of the show, and reflects about the upcoming season in a blog post here. He considers the chase for higher ratings “a false dawn, a night with a hooker when you’re drunk”, and he’s right, ratings are bollocks.

The video is from the first episode of the new season, and shows a preview of some of the stuff you’ll see over the next ten weeks. Among others Wilman proudly touts;

The Botswana road movie, a one hour special, is as spectacular as anything we’ve ever done, Amphibious: The Sequel is better than I could have ever dreamed of, the 24 Hour Race is a proper soap opera.

There is nothing on television that comes close to Top Gear, it is the most unique and engaging hour on television, it transcends whatever genre its considered to exist in, and presents cinematography that rivals that of any movie, along with storylines vastly more compelling then most traditionally scripted stuff on television, its simply brilliant.

From Clarkson’s and Wilman’s comments you can see a self awareness about the future of the show, a future that is clearly being coursed by some incredibly talented hands.

Update: As noted in the comments (thanks Marc) the song used in the video is “No Cars Go” by Arcade Fire, the song in its entirety is simply amazing. Take a listen:

The Heroes of BBC Two.

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BBC Two are certainly making a big deal about Heroes, and at £500,000 per episode who wouldn’t. The first episode premiered last week to over 4 million viewers, beating BBC One by its biggest share since 1994.

The videos above are a special BBC Two ident and teaser. I still don’t quite understand why Heroes premiered on subscription television in the UK and is only just getting a terrestrial broadcast now, but the oddities of British television are what make this blog so fun.

- Thanks for the videos Graham.

Top Gear goes to the pole.

Update: Read what the producer has to say about this episode here.

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Top Gear is back! A special race episode from Canada to the North Pole goes to air in the UK on Wednesday night. And while its probably going to take a lot to top the insanity of the American road trip episode I can’t wait to see what they get up to racing each other to the top of the world.

In other Top Gear news, another American version has been scrapped for now.

- Thanks for the video Graham.

Opening Sequence Sunday: Glastonbury 2007

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While the Big Weekend is certainly big, its the Glastonbury music festival that you hear about around the world. And at £145 a ticket you’d probably expect no less than a line up that includes: The Killers, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys, Lily Allen, Kaiser Chiefs, The Who, Björk, Maximo Park, Editors and heaps more.

As with the Big Weekend, the BBC’s coverage is hard to escape, with the Red button brining you four extra channels, along with sets on BBC Two, BBC Three, and BBC Four. On the wireless Radio 1, 6 Music, Radio 3, Radio 4 and Asian Network are all broadcasting from the event along with on-demand video streams online. Even Radio 4′s half century old Today Programme is broadcasting from there.

The national broadcasters commitment to relaying these festivals to the rest of the country is pretty incredible, it would be like the ABC televising the Big Day Out, which I don’t see happening anytime soon. Its also an excellent example of the power of digital television… and a well funded public broadcaster.

TV on the television: The BBC2 sunroof.

Download all the new BBC2 idents in one swoop here (36.3mb *.zip).

sunroof - Twango

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Another addition to the new look BBC Two collection, check out the rest of them in the original post here. Anymore out there I’m missing?