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BBC launches a year's worth of Olympic programmes

Ben Whishaw in Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer

Story by Jack Foley

THE BBC has launched a year of programmes centred around The Olympics.

Roger Mosey, director of BBC London 2012, unveiled plans for an ambitious Shakespeare season as well as a series of special documentaries that should offer “something for everyone”.

The Shakespeare season will feature several documentaries and a special edition of Antiques Roadshow, alongside new versions of the bard’s history plays featuring actors such as Patrick Stewart, Ben Whishaw (pictured) and Niamh Cusack.

It will also include input from producers such as Thea Sharrock and directors such as Sam Mendes (the man entrusted with the new 007 movie Skyfall).

The programme will also extend to several musical events, wth the Proms set to become part of the 2012 Festival and in addition to Radio 1’s Hackney weekend, which is being described as the largest live music event ever staged by the BBC.

Hackney Weekend will feature a diverse range of acts, including Florence + The Machine, Tinie Tempah and Hackney-born artists Leona Lewis and Plan B.

Insisting that arts should play an integral part of the Olympic movement, as they always have, Mr Mosey pointed to the fact that in 1948, the last time the Olympics were hosted in London, you could win gold medals for music composition and poetry.

“So, the idea of a Cultural Olympiad alongside the Olympics goes back to its origins,” he told the BBC News website.

And defending his decision to incorporate Shakespeare into the programming schedule, possibly at the expense of more contemporary artists, Mr Mosey added: “The thing about Shakespeare, when you look at the global impact, is that Shakespeare is so globally known that, actually, it fits very well with the idea of the whole world becoming as one for the Olympics.”

As part of its widespread Olympics coverage, the BBC will send crews to cover the 70-day Olympic torch relay, as well as the Games themselves and the two-month-long London 2012 Festival.

This would come in addition to its coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The BBC has also commissioned a raft of documentaries looking at London’s history and heritage, which will air throughout 2012, including The Market – covering the history of Spitalfields, Smithfield and Billingsgate – and A Tale Of Two Cities, in which Dan Cruikshank will delve into the history of the plague and the great fire of London.

Filmmaker Julien Temple, meanwhile, has created This Is London, a programme described as “a love-letter to his home town”, while BBC Four will screen a Punk Britannia series.

Jools Holland and Paloma Faith will each present programmes on London’s rich and diverse variety of venues, songs and carnivals.

On the opening night of the games, July 27, The Proms will feature conductor Daniel Barenboim leading the West Eastern Divan Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth, the culmination of his complete Beethoven symphony cycle.

The rest of the Proms programme will be announced in April.

And popular BBC Olympic comedy series Twenty Twelve, featuring Downton Abbey‘s Hugh Bonneville, will also return.

To find out more, visit the BBC website