August 25 2015
As a season of programmes gets under way, we look at what’s coming up…
INDIA as a country is under the BBC spotlight as a series of programmes about it hits our screens and radios in the UK this month and next.
Not everyone is thrilled with the subjects on offer or the personalities fronting the programmes – veteran columnist Amit Roy expressed his disappointment in Eastern Eye. You can read it here.
Last night the season got under way with “The World’s Busiest Railway” on BBC Two. A series of four, it continues this evening at 9pm.
The programme aims to get behind one of the world’s largest transport systems ever created and look at its different aspects – tonight BBC presenter Anita Rani (and newly announced “Strictly Come Dancing” contestant) embarks on a long distance trip, while co-presenter Dan Snow takes a look at what’s it like to clean some 25,000 sheets a day, while other narrator Robert Llewellyn gets to see how trains are ready to be used again just six hours after finishing one journey and beginning the next – no mean feat as some trains are half a kilometre long in length!
Following on from it at 10pm this evening is a special a one-off episode of the seminal comedy sketch show, “Goodness Gracious Me”. It sees the original four – Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Syal and Nina Wadia, reunited and having their comedy take on more recent cultural phenomena such as the smash hit song and controversial video, “Blurred Lines” (2013), featuring Robin Thicke, Pharrell and T.I. There is also a spoof of the hit ITV drama, “Downton Abbey”. Art Malik makes an appearance as a special guest.
Sue Perkins, a star of the BBC’s “Great British Bake-offf”, gets to explore Kolkata, described by the beeb as one of India’s “most beguiling and exuberant cities”. It’s a 60-minute one-off special and broadcasts on BBC One on Wednesday (September 2) next week at 9pm.
In “Treasures of the Indus”, Dr Sonna Datta explores the rich history of the sub-continent, and examines the huge melting pot that has shaped modern India, as religions, cultures and landscapes give voice to artistic creations of all kinds. A curator at the British Musuem, Dr Datta begins her exploration in Pakistan, with “Pakistan Unveiled”. It is one programme in a series of three 60-minute specials that will broadcast on BBC Four. It starts next Monday (August 31) and screens on BBC Four at 9pm.
Indian wildlife and its natural wonders feature as scientist Liz Bonnin (who is Indo-Portuguese in origins), mountaineer Jon Gupta, and actor Freida Pinto get to grips with wild creatures and arresting landscapes in “India: Nature’s Wonderland” on BBC Two. Gupta’s grandfather was born in Shimla, in the foothills of the Himalayas but despite scaling Everest (in neighbouring Nepal), he’s never been to India. It will be a two episode 60-minute programme produced by the BBC’s award-winning Natural History Unit. It screens next Tuesday (September 1) at 9pm on BBC Two.
Next Thursday on September 3 on BBC Four, writer, social historian and Delhi resident, William Dalrymple presents a programme based on one of his best known books, “The White Mughals”. The 60-minute programme charts the controversial (for the time) relationship between a British diplomat and a young Muslim princess. Dalrymple explores those Brits who went ‘native’, marrying Indian women, adopting local customs, sometimes even converting religions and generally becoming an embarrassment to the British Empire. The practice was heavily discouraged as the colonial project deepened in the latter half of the 19th century and many of the children of these unions were sent back to England to be educated and reabsorbed into Victorian Society.
Bhaskar will also front a 90-minute retrospective on the Indian film industry, in “Bollywood and Beyond: A Century of Indian Cinema”. Bhaskar gets to interview prominent industry figures, including top stars, Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor. Scriptwriter and lyricist Javed Akhtar also pops up. It will go out on BBC Four in September (date not confirmed).
Experienced musical documentary-makers Century Films (“Feltham sings”, “Songbirds” and “Drinking for England”) have made a programme featuring one of the world’s biggest slums, Dharavi in Mumbai. It’s a documentary told through music with the citizens of Dharavi singing about their hopes and fears. Called “Bombay High”, it will also be broadcast on BBC Four and is likely to be screened next month (date not confirmed).
On BBC Radio 2, Shilpa Shetty presents a four part guide to the music and mystery of Indian cinema, titled, “Hooray for Bollywood”. It begins next Wednesday (September 2) at 10pm and is one-hour long. The station itself will be looking at many things Indian, with presenters Chris Evans interviewing major cultural personalities, Simon Mayo delving into the intricacies of curries; Jeremy Vine talking to British Asians in Leicester and Jo Whiley looking at music from the subcontinent. The Radio 2 “Arts Show” presented by Claudia Winkleman will do an ‘India Special’.
Over on Radio 3, writer Amitav Ghosh talks about his private passions with Michael Berkeley on Sunday, September 13 at 12pm.
Dalrymple chronicles the history of India through five images of Indian art and sculpture in “The Essay: Indian Through its Art, in a series of shows, beginning on Monday, September 14.
Historian and presenter Rana Mitter explores new perspectives on Indian History in “Free Thinking” on Thursday, September 17.
The next day, Radio 3 and ‘World on 3’ is the place to hear music and chit-chat about Darbar, Britain’s biggest classical music festival, hosted at the South Bank, London.
Examining Asian comedy-stand up, Hindi hip-hop culture, bedroom vloggers and the music festival circuit in India will be the BBC Asian Network.
There will also be a series of programmes on BBC World Service with some devoted to the country’s economic and business development. From Tuesday next week between 1am-2am (BST), the programmes will start – with the first on Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s journey from tea boy to the country’s top leader; a programme devoted to the Indian working woman; a look at how minorities fare in India with Rahul Tandon helming. He also examines how India is changing from a largely rural agrarian society to one with much more of an urban stamp in the last of the programmes.
This Wednesday (August 27) there will be a pan BBC News day of content put out by the broadcaster’s business and economic reporters in India. There also will be contributions from among others, Amartya Sen.
Top picture (l-r): Sue Perkins in Kolkata; Pakistan (‘Treasures of the Indus’); Freida Pinto (‘India: Nature’s Wonderland)
Selected, confirmed Listings at glance
- ‘World’s Busiest Railway” episodes 2-4 continue today (August 25)-Thursday (August 27) 9pm-10pm, BBC Two
- ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ tonight (August 25) 10pm-10.30pm, BBC Two
- ‘Treasures of the Indus’ – ‘Pakistan Unveiled’ – Monday, August 31, 9pm, BBC Four
- ‘India: Nature’s Wonderland’ – Tuesday, September 1, 9pm-10pm, BBC Two
- ‘Kolkata with Sue Perkins’ – Wednesday, September 2, 9pm-10pm, BBC One
- ‘Hooray for Bollywood’ – 1/4 starts Wednesday, September 2 – 10pm-11pm, Radio 2
For full schedule and listings, please check respective channels on television and radio