The BBC has acquired John Singleton’s “Snowfall” for BBC Two and commissioned five new productions for the channel, including the return of cult comedy “The League of Gentlemen,” it was announced Wednesday by the controller of BBC Two, Patrick Holland. Holland said BBC Two had “a mission to question and innovate” and was evolving to become “ever more timely, challenging and mischievous.”
“These new commissions demonstrate my ambition for BBC Two – to bring the increasingly complex and changing world to the audience through challenging perspectives, human engagement and great storytelling,” said Holland, speaking at the Edinburgh Intl. Television Festival.
“Snowfall” (pictured) marks Singleton’s first TV drama and is set to air on BBC Two in the fall. The 10-part drama, set in Los Angeles in 1983, follows an ensemble cast of characters set on an intense collision course, exploring the infancy of the crack cocaine epidemic and the major impact it had on American society and culture. Damson Idris, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Emily Rios and Carter Hudson star.
The show was created by the Oscar-nominated “Boyz n the Hood” director alongside Eric Amadio and Dave Andron, who serves as showrunner. Thomas Schlamme, Michael London and Trevor Engelson serve as executive producers alongside Singleton, Amadio and Andron. It is distributed by 20th Century Fox Television Distribution and will air on BBC Two this fall.
Holland also confirmed that the cast of cult favorite “The League of Gentlemen” would reunite after 15 years for three special episodes to air later this year. The show launched the careers of creators and stars Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and Jeremy Dyson, who have since gone on to create numerous BBC hits, both separately and together, including “Psychoville,” “Inside No. 9” and “Sherlock.”
The reunion will mark the 20th anniversary of the quartet’s debut as the grotesque characters on BBC Radio. “The League of Gentlemen” moved to television in 1999 and ran for three seasons, winning a BAFTA in 2000 for best comedy series. Original series director Steve Bendelack will also return.
The new shows, produced by BBC Studios, were commissioned by Holland and Shane Allen, controller of BBC comedy. Adam Tandy will produce with Jon Plowman serving as executive producer.
“Icons: The Story of the 20th Century” will be an 8-part global history series telling the definitive story of the 20th Century through the people who made it. Each episode will focus on a particular field including leaders, scientists, activists, artists, revolutionaries, inventors and entertainers. The show will engage viewers by presenting three icons in each field and asking the public to vote on a winner with a live series finale crowning an “ultimate icon of the 20th Century.”
The series, which is produced by 72 Films in partnership with the Open University, was commissioned by Holland and Tom McDonald, head of commissioning, natural history and specialist factual. David Glover and Mark Raphael will serve as executive producers.
The channel has also announced a new feature-length documentary about legendary artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, “Basquiat: Rage to Riches,” which will feature exclusive interviews with his sisters Lisane and Jeanine alongside new interviews with art dealers, intimate friends, lovers and fellow artists. David Shulman will produce and direct the 90-minute film for BBC Studios with Janet lee serving as executive producer. It was commissioned by Holland and Mark Bell, BBC head of commissioning, arts.
Two new three-part documentary series have also been commissioned. BBC Studios production “Inside the Foreign Office” will see the BBC granted access to the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the first time in 20 years. Wild Pictures’ “Army: Behind the New Frontlines” gains unique access to the British Army during a 12-month period tracking threats at home and overseas. Both series were commissioned by Holland and Clare Silley, head of commissioning, documentaries.