Neil Brand explores how a new generation of composers transformed musical theatre by embracing more gritty, challenging subjects, from the mean streets of 1950s New York in West Side Story, to the Dickensian London of British blockbuster Oliver!. Neil learns the stories behind Broadway hits Fiddler on the Roof and A Chorus Line, and celebrates the groundbreaking work of Stephen Sondheim. And Neil takes us step by step through the secrets of some classic numbers with the help of star performers Robert Lindsay and Frances Ruffelle.
In this second lecture, Professor Sophie Scott explores the world of silent communication in the animal kingdom and the human world - showing how much we can actually say without ever opening our mouths or making a noise.
Professor Scott's investigation of silent messages begins with the smells that animals and even plants produce to communicate with each other or to send information. She illustrates how a plant can use pheromones to attract predators that will attack the insects eating it and how a snake's forked tongue helps it decipher smell messages in its surroundings. Professor Scott delves into just what dogs learn about each other from smell when they first meet and why their olfactory abilities are far more powerful than ours.
Professor Scott reveals how some species have harnessed bacteria to generate light and how light messages are used by insects and deep-sea fish for a range of reasons including attracting prey.
Exploring how body language communicates huge amounts about us and other species, Professor Scott shows why a dog's wagging tail does not always mean it is happy and how humans can tell a lot about someone's state of mind from their posture alone. She reveals why yawns and smiles are contagious and how this can play a key role in social bonding and cohesion.
With the help of the lecture theatre audience, Professor Scott also unpicks how we use our hugely expressive faces and eyes to communicate. She opens up the concept of microexpressions - brief, uncontrollable facial expressions that may reveal our true state of mind. Could these be a new way to tell if someone isn't really telling the truth?
In a glimpse of how we might send messages silently in the future, Sophie also explores the possibility of direct brain-to-brain communication. Could the science fiction idea of telepathy ever become reality?
Riding onboard with a cheetah, a green turtle and a white-tailed sea eagle as they show us around their respective homes. With natural sounds and elegant embedded graphics delivering information, this is an immersive journey into their world like no other.
Each section rides onboard with one of the animals as it shows us around its world. Revealing how they go through their daily routines, journey across different parts of their homes and introduce us to the other animals they share them with, in this extraordinary immersive show. A trio of cheetahs hunting on the Namibian bushveld, a green turtle cruising the reefs of Indonesia and a white-tailed sea eagle as it soars above the west coast of Scotland.
All the animals are part of ongoing scientific studies or research projects, they are habituated or trained to carry small, lightweight cameras capable of capturing images in high definition. With often bespoke technology developed and pioneered by research scientists and the teams from Blue Planet II and forthcoming series Animals With Cameras. This is the core of this immersive BBC Four series that reveals the natural world through the perspective of its subjects, and has afforded the scientific community an even deeper understanding of their subjects.
The life of the most glamorous plane ever built, told by the people whose lives she touched. We uncover rare footage telling the forgotten row between the French and British governments over the name of Concorde that threatened to derail the whole project. On the eve of the opening of Bristol's multi-million-pound aerospace museum, a cast of engineers, flight technicians and frequent fliers tell the supersonic story aided by Lord Heseltine and Dame Joan Collins - and we meet the passenger who shared an intimate moment with The Rolling Stones.
2016 saw the 50th anniversary of the Severn Bridge, which completed the motorway link between England and Wales. Timeshift tells the inside story of the design and construction of 'the most perfect suspension bridge in the world', and how its unique slimline structure arose by accident.
Engineer turned comedian Tom Wrigglesworth and rising star of mechanical engineering Rob Bell climb on board the Pride of Bruges, a massive 25,000-tonne North Sea ferry as it is brought into dry dock in Newcastle.
It has been ploughing the route from Hull to Zeebrugge for over a quarter of a century and is now in need of the biggest overhaul of its life in an attempt to prolong its seaworthiness for another decade. Tom and Rob also travel to Europe's largest ship-breaking yard in Belgium, to discover what happens to ships at the end of their lives. As they watch massive hulls being torn apart, they gain more insights into how a ship works and how their massive carcasses are recycled.
THURSDAY 28 DECEMBER 2017
THU 19:00 Sound of Musicals with Neil Brand (b08bqfd2)
Seasons of Love
Series in which composer Neil Brand explores how musical theatre evolved over the last 100 years to become today's global phenomenon. Neil hears the inside story from leading composers and talent past and present, and recreates classic songs, looking in detail at how these work musically and lyrically to captivate the audience.
In the concluding episode, he explores why musical theatre is thriving in the 21st century. He charts the rise of the 'megamusical' phenomenon, with shows like Cats and Les Miserables, learns the behind-the-scenes story of how Disney transformed The Lion King from a cartoon into a record-breaking stage success, and sees how musicals have captured contemporary life in shows like Rent and Avenue Q. Neil recreates classic numbers to reveal the secrets of their songwriting, including The Rocky Horror Show's Sweet Transvestite, Don't Cry for Me Argentina from Evita, and Les Miserables' Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. Neil meets a host of top musical theatre talent, including master lyricist Tim Rice, Lion King director Julie Taymor, and leading composers Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast) and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q and Frozen).
THU 20:00 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (b09l5lhk)
2017: The Language of Life
One skill in particular seems to give humans an advantage over all other animals - our superior talent for language. We have the power to express exactly what's on our minds through speech and writing. This final lecture asks where our incredible linguistic ability comes from and whether any other animals use language in any form at all.
Professor Sophie Scott first explores what language really is, and how close other animals come to having it. Dogs can be very good at following our commands, but do they actually understand any of the words we use? Birds are the only other species that can say human words and Professor Scott reveals how humans and birds share some common brain functions that make this possible. She also shows what happens when this section of our brain cannot function properly. But are birds simply mimicking us or can they comprehend anything of the human words they can be trained to utter?
Professor Scott considers the world of primates and the theory that some apes may communicate through sign language. Does this contain any form of grammar and how complex are the messages that they can communicate with these gestures?
With large-scale experiments, Professor Scott tests out fresh ideas of how humans have been able to develop such complex language skills - revealing how, even in the womb, we start to practise making the mouth movements needed for speech. She also illustrates how the brain develops to favour the sounds of one's mother tongue and why, at a relatively young age, it becomes impossible to become truly bilingual in a new language.
But language isn't just a power to combine words. Professor Scott explores how we convey a huge amount of information through the tone of voice, our accents and the pace and pitch of our speech. But in a world when we regularly talk to computers, she also shows why scientists need to develop machines that can understand the subtleties of our speech to be able to fully comprehend human language.
Finally, Professor Scott looks at language in the digital age and explores the role that emojis play. Can they put the subtleties of spoken speech into written form by adding an extra level of understanding? With the help of the audience she investigates their true potential and reveals additional emojis that may say far more than words.
THU 21:00 Francis Bacon: A Brush with Violence (b08cwq3v)
Francis Bacon was the loudest, rudest, drunkest, most sought-after British artist of the 20th century. Twenty-five years after his death, his canvases regularly exceed £40 million at auction. Bacon's appeal is rooted in his notoriety - a candid image he presented of himself as Roaring Boy, Lord of Misrule and Conveyor of Artistic Violence. This was true enough, but only part of the truth. He carefully cultivated the facade, protecting the complex and haunted man behind the myth. In this unique, compelling film, those who knew him speak freely, some for the first time, to reveal the many mysteries of Francis Bacon.
THU 22:20 Jonas Kaufmann: Tenor for the Ages (b099tpby)
The German tenor Jonas Kaufmann is one of the hottest properties in the opera world. He captivates audiences with the power, emotion and beauty of his singing, the intelligence of his acting, his matinee-idol delivery, and his extraordinary range - from the heroic stage roles in Wagner to the intimate songs of Schubert on the concert platform.
For this documentary for the BBC's Opera Season, the film-maker John Bridcut has been given unique and often surprising access to Kaufmann across the last two years, observing him in rehearsal, backstage during performances, and in his off-duty moments. It is by far the most intimate and extensive portrait yet made of Kaufmann, now at the peak of his career. He was filmed behind the scenes at the Last Night of the Proms, when he was the first German to sing Rule, Britannia. His schedule was later interrupted for five months because of a vocal injury, but recently he made a triumphant return, notably in the production of Verdi's late opera, Otello, at Covent Garden.
Kaufmann is filmed working with the Royal Opera's music director, Sir Antonio Pappano, and the stage director, Keith Warner - and is involved in every aspect of the preparations. He talks freely about his earlier cancellations, about what keeps him going during a run of performances, and about the problems of being a star.
John Bridcut has previously made documentary portraits of Herbert von Karajan, Rudolf Nureyev, Mstislav Rostropovich and Sir Colin Davis (which was named Best Arts Documentary at the Grierson Awards). His clutch of composer-portraits began with the award-winning Britten's Children and continued with films on Elgar, Delius, Parry and Vaughan Williams. Last year he made the BBC One documentary for the Queen's 90th birthday, Elizabeth at 90 - A Family Tribute.
THU 23:50 The World's Most Expensive Stolen Paintings (b03n2yzh)
Art critic Alastair Sooke delves into the murky world of art theft. Despite the high stakes - and often daring - involved, many cases are shrouded in mystery and go unnoticed by the media.
Around 47,000 works of art are reported missing each year, yet it is only the heists involving the world's most valuable paintings that hit the headlines. But high-profile or not - once gone, the works are rarely recovered.
THU 00:50 Sound of Musicals with Neil Brand (b08bqfd2)
[Repeat of broadcast at 19:00 today
THU 01:50 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (b09l5lhk)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
THU 02:50 Peaky Blinders (b09hc65q)
The Italians launch another attack on the Peaky Blinders. Tommy realises that the Shelbys need to evolve if they are to survive, but some of the family are reluctant to part with tradition.
As the strike takes hold at the Lanchester factory, Tommy pays a personal visit to Jessie Eden, but he is outmanoeuvred when she reveals something she knows about his past.
Changretta plots to continue the vendetta in the most devastating way possible. As well as identifying an enemy of the Shelby family who could help him, Luca makes direct contact with someone at the heart of the Peaky Blinders organisation.
FRIDAY 29 DECEMBER 2017
FRI 19:00 Lucy Worsley: Mozart's London Odyssey (b07hk1qx)
Lucy Worsley traces the forgotten and fascinating story of the young Mozart's adventures in Georgian London. Arriving in 1764 as an eight-year-old boy, London held the promise of unrivalled musical opportunity. But in telling the tale of Mozart's strange and unexpected encounters, Lucy reveals how life wasn't easy for the little boy in a big bustling city.
With the demands of a royal performance, the humiliation of playing keyboard tricks in a London pub, a near fatal illness and finding himself heckled on the streets, it was a lot for a child to take. But London would prove pivotal, for it was here that the young Mozart made his musical breakthrough, blossoming from a precocious performer into a powerful new composer.
Lucy reveals that it was on British soil that Mozart composed his first ever symphony and, with the help of a bespoke performance, she explores how Mozart's experiences in London inspired his colossal achievement. But what should have earned him rapturous applause and the highest acclaim ended in suspicion, intrigue and accusations of fraud.
FRI 20:00 Top of the Pops (b09hm54f)
Lenny Henry presents a review of all of the hits from 1984, first broadcast on 27 December 1984. Includes Spandau Ballet, Neil, Ultravox, Shakin' Stevens, Bronski Beat, Bananarama, Flying Pickets, Black Lace, Slade, Chaka Khan, Paul McCartney, Lionel Richie, Joe Fagin and Stevie Wonder.
FRI 21:00 Eric, Ernie and Me (b09ksz61)
For over a decade, the Liverpudlian ex-market stall trader Eddie Braben penned Morecambe and Wise's material, reshaping the double act into the Eric and Ernie that the nation took to its heart. But it wasn't all sunshine.
This comedy-drama follows the story of how The Golden Triangle was formed and celebrates the man behind Morecambe and Wise's greatest successes.
In 1969 Eddie Braben was persuaded by the BBC's then Head of Light Entertainment Bill Cotton to make the journey to London to meet Eric and Ernie and their producer John Ammonds. It wasn't a meeting of the minds. But there was a spark, something different and special that Braben saw in the music hall double act who had yet to crack their on-screen presence. He set out to uncover the essence of what would transform them into television's most beloved entertainers.
What followed was years of dedication, determination and hard graft - comedy comes at a price. With the help and support of his wife Deidree, Eddie dug deep, taking on a huge scripting workload that saw Eric and Ernie take over the living rooms and hearts of the UK population.
Year on year a new series, a new Christmas special, incredible celebrity guests and the never-ending commute from home in Liverpool to work in London saw Eddie work himself to the point of exhaustion. He was a man desperate for a break but driven by perfection and the need to make people laugh.
The film culminates in a journey to the iconic 1977 Christmas Show, celebrates a decade of enormous success for both Braben and Morecambe and Wise, whilst not shying away from the pressure and pain Eddie went through to help create the screen work of Britain's beloved double act.
FRI 22:00 Elvis: The Rebirth of the King (b09kkkbx)
The widely accepted Elvis narrative is that the Vegas period was the nadir of his career, but this film argues that Elvis reached his peak both as a singer and performer in the first few years of his Vegas period. He became, in those short years, the greatest performer on earth. The film tracks this five-year renaissance with some of his key musical and artistic collaborators of the period, including the creator of his most memorable jumpsuits, to celebrate the greatest pop reinvention of all time.
FRI 23:00 ...Sings Elvis (b00pqcg3)
2011 marked the 75th anniversary of Elvis Presley's birth and was celebrated by a host of performances by artists covering the King's classic songs culled from the BBC archives.
Some of Britain's biggest stars were introduced to rock n roll as teenagers via their idol Elvis, and Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones and John Cale all pay their tribute. The original songwriters of some of Elvis's greatest hits perform their own versions of classic tracks, including Carl Perkins singing Blue Suede Shoes and Mac Davis doing In the Ghetto.
Other artists paying homage from across five decades include The Deep River Boys, the Stylistics, Boy George, Alison Moyet, Pet Shop Boys and Robbie Williams. There will be jumpsuits, pelvic thrusts, brilliant tunes ... and Glen Campbell's Elvis impersonation.
FRI 00:00 Top of the Pops (b09hm54f)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:00 today
FRI 01:00 Top of the Pops (b08skpzg)
1984 - Big Hits
Celebrating the big hits from a big year in British pop. The big hitters in this compilation are performed by the likes of The Smiths, Duran Duran, Sade, The Weather Girls, Wham! and Bronski Beat, to name a few.
Further stellar appearances come from the TOTP debuts of iconic Americans Madonna, Miami Sound Machine and Cyndi Lauper, who runs riot in the studio.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood celebrate their 1984 chart dominance with one of their celebrated renditions of Two Tribes, while we couldn't let you forget a little ditty from Black Lace - you'll be singing this for days... you have been warned!
FRI 02:00 Top of the Pops (b08skpz5)
The Story of 1984
1984 sees Top of the Pops at the height of its 80s pomp - the year of big hair and big tunes. A BBC ban on Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Relax in January leads to an embarrassing Frankie-shaped hole on the show when it reaches No 1. One of the sounds of 1984 is Hi-NRG, that goes overground from the gay club scene into the mainstream charts. And 1984 is perhaps the gayest year in pop, with a trail blazed by Bronski Beat, who are out and proud and on Top of the Pops.
1984 sees the rise of the one-man acts such as Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones. And jazz pop's soaraway star is Sade, who brings a stripped-back soulful vibe to Top of the Pops. Yet 1984 isn't all about smooth sounds. German singer Nena hits the top spot with 99 Red Balloons - shocking Brits with her hairy armpits. And The Special AKA's Free Nelson Mandela combines a political message with an irresistible tune.
And the year ends on a landmark moment when many of the stars of the chart-topping Band Aid single appear in the studio as the climax to the Christmas show. It's a moment that reaffirms Top of the Pops's place at the heart of British pop culture.
Featuring original interviews with Trevor Horn, members of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Hazell Dean, Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw, Paul Young, Nigel Planer, Nena, Jerry Dammers and Midge Ure.
FRI 03:00 Elvis: The Rebirth of the King (b09kkkbx)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:00 today