BBC2 bows new film schedule

Web will be the TV home of BBC Films' output

BBC Films, the pubcaster’s feature filmmaking arm, is making high-brow entertainment channel BBC2 the new home for its output.

It is launching the iniative with a special weekend of programming, starting on July 17, when the channel will host the U.K. TV premieres of helmer Tom Hooper’s Michael Sheen starrer “The Damned United,” about iconic soocer manager Brian Clough; David Cronenberg’s “Eastern Promises,” starring Viggo Mortensen in a violent tale about Russian gangsters in London’s East End; and John Crowley’s “Is Anybody There?” starring Michael Caine as an elderly magician in an old folks’ home who helps a young boy come out of his shell.

In the fall, BBC2 plans to air a series of films and shows around the theme of education. This will include BBC Films’ “Notes on a Scandal,” helmed by Richard Eyre and starring Cate Blanchett as a teacher who has an affair with a pupil, and director Nicholas Hytner’s “The History Boys,” based on a play and script by Alan Bennett.

The decision to base the shingle’s output at BBC2, which was made as part of the BBC’s Strategic Review earlier this year, is part of a drive to bring more high-end drama to the channel.

The review proposed a £25 million ($37 million) investment in BBC2 from 2012 “to boost the channel’s distinctiveness,” the pubcaster said Wednesday.

Janice Hadlow, controller, BBC2, said, “BBC2 is committed to showing more quality fiction on the channel, and we’re delighted that BBC Films will be part of this. It’s wonderful that license fee payers will be able to see these films for free following their theatrical releases.”

Christine Langan, creative director, BBC Films, said, “Establishing a permanent home for BBC Films on BBC2 will enable us to create exciting film moments for our audiences throughout the year, reinforcing our commitment to bring original and distinctive British films to the British public.”

BBC Films produces around eight films a year, most of which are low to medium-budget co-productions with leading international producers and distributors, such as StudioCanal and Kudos.

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