Sunday 24 September 2017

Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith to reflect on lives for BBC Two film

It is part of a slate of new programmes about the arts.

Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith (Ian West/PA)
Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith (Ian West/PA)

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Dames Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright will reflect on their lives and careers in a new programme for BBC Two.

The old friends will spend a weekend together at the retreat once shared by Dame Joan and Laurence Olivier, reflecting on their time living through some of the most  dramatic landmarks of the 20th and 21st centuries for a one-off programme directed by Notting Hill filmmaker Roger Mitchell.

The film has the working title Nothing Like A Dame.

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The programme is one of a raft of arts programmes announced by the BBC.

The broadcaster will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first Harry Potter book with Harry Potter: A History Of Magic, which will follow the run up to the opening to an exhibition about the books at the British Library.

The one-off BBC Two programme will unveil rare books, manuscripts, and magical objects from the collection, which includes original drafts and drawings lent by JK Rowling and Harry Potter illustrator Jim Kay from their personal archives and are going on display for the first time.

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JK Rowling

It will include an interview with JK Rowling talking about some of the personal items she has donated to the exhibition – whilst readings from famous fans playfully recreate some of the best loved spells, potions and magical moments from the series, while exploring the origins of the world of Hogwarts.

Also coming up on BBC Two is Joe Orton Laid Bare, which utilises the playwright’s own words from his outrageous personal memoirs, stage and TV plays to examine his life and work, and to celebrate his unique and ambitious voice 50 years on from his death.

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It will feature contributions from Kenneth Cranham, Sir Michael Codron, Christopher Hampton, Dame Patricia Routledge and Joe Orton’s sister Leonie.

BBC Four will tell the story of  mountaineer, explorer and linguist Gertrude Bell in Letters From Baghdad – with unique access to more than 1,600 letters.

The programme will follow her extraordinary journey into both the uncharted Arabian desert and the inner sanctum of British male colonial power at the turn of the 19th century – while exploring the complex history of Iraq, with recorded reminiscence of those who knew her and with her own words voiced by Tilda Swinton.

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Doctor Strange UK Launch Event – London

On the same channel, Mexican artist Alinka Echeverria will present a new three-part series about the mystery and history of Mexican art, The Art That Made Mexico: Paradise, Power, Prayers – alongside three short films looking in-depth at the creative process behind three traditional Mexican art forms, called Handmade In Mexico.

BBC One has confirmed Strictly Come Dancing star Reverend Richard Coles and Mariella Frostrup will return to host The Big Painting Challenge when it comes back in 2018 to see 10 new amateur artists compete in six weeks of challenges.

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The channel will also bring back Fake Or Fortune? for a seventh series, presented by art dealer Philip Mould and journalist Fiona Bruce, as they search for lost masterpieces.

Mark Bell, head of commissioning for BBC Arts, said “We hope our arts programming will cast a spell over audiences with an in-depth look at the real-life inspirations for JK Rowling’s magical world.

“We can also offer BBC Two viewers the privilege of spending time with four great Dames as they reflect on their incredible lives and careers on stage and screen, and alongside a fantastic season of programmes exploring Mexican art and life we will also examine the lives of British icons including Gertrude Bell and Joe Orton using their own writings.

“And The Big Painting Challenge will hopefully again inspire people to pick up a paintbrush and have a go.”

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