BBC First

Epic novel War and Peace has been transformed into its most watchable adaptation to date – and you can be among the first to see it on BBC First coming soon 2016.

Leo Tolstoy’s beast of a book – one of the longest novels ever written – has been given the star-studded BBC treatment, offering a fresh twist with the help of some of the world’s best up-and-coming actors (and giving you another excuse not to read it quite yet).

Adapted by Andrew Davies, the man who reimagined Pride and Prejudice and Bleak House, it stars Downton Abbey’s Lily James as heroine Natasha Rostova, Paul Dano (There Will be Blood, 12 Years a Slave) as Pierre Bezukhov, and James Norton (Happy Valley, Death Comes to Pemberley) as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story (got a pristine copy on a shelf somewhere that you’re planning to read when you’ve got a spare month or two?), you’re not alone.

That’s why we’ve put together a quick cheatsheet about the book.

What’s it about in one sentence?

Five Russian aristocratic families mixing in the finest circles of the early 1800s become embroiled in personal entanglements that threaten to disrupt their privileged world.

So why is it so long?

It manages to squeeze in not just the highs and lows of the five families, but also key historical events and figures of the era. Even Napoleon puts in an appearance.

How many people have really read it?

With more than 36 million copies sold worldwide, you’d wager many millions more have ticked it off their must-read bucket list.

Er, really?

Okay, so it turns out War and Peace is one of the most lied-about books in the world.

It ranks second behind 1984 in the top 10 novels people pretend to have read when they haven’t.

Whether you really have read it, you’re new to the story, or you’re one of the fibbers who’s claimed to have made it to the end, the new TV adaptation will give you a concentrated dose of Tolstoy’s finest dram, without having to dedicate days to reading it.

War and Peace premieres on Foxtel on BBC First in 2016.

BBC First has released a first-look trailer for espionage thriller The Night Manager. Starring BAFTA-winning Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers), multiple Emmy® nominee Hugh Laurie (House), Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby, The Kettering Incident) and Olivia Colman (Broadchurch) the six-part drama is a contemporary interpretation of John le Carré’s best-selling novel and will air on the channel on Sundays at 8.30pm from March 20.

The Night Manager brings together love, loss and revenge in a complex story of modern criminality. The series follows former British soldier Jonathan Pine (Hiddleston) who is recruited by intelligence operative Angela Burr (Colman) to infiltrate the inner circle of international businessman Richard Onslow Roper (Laurie) and detonate the unholy alliance he has ministered between the intelligence community and the secret arms trade.

To get to the heart of Roper’s vast empire, Pine must withstand the suspicious interrogations of his venal chief of staff Major Corkoran (Tom Hollander) and the allure of his beautiful girlfriend Jed (Debicki). In his quest to do the right thing, he must first become a criminal himself.

The first adaptation of a Le Carré novel in over 20 years the characters, the locations and the storyline have all been given a modern update for the lavish series which was filmed on location in London, Switzerland, Morocco and Mallorca. The series is directed by Academy Award winner Susanne Bier and is a co-production between BBC One, The Ink Factory and AMC. The Night Manager is adapted by David Farr (Hanna, Spooks).

Tim Christlieb, Director of Channels BBC Worldwide ANZ, said: “We are incredibly excited to be bringing this big-budget, super slick spy thriller to BBC First viewers. It’s real edge-of-the-seat stuff with some gripping performances from an all-star cast.”

###Top of the Lake - Season 2

Top of the Lake Season Two: China Girl will premiere in Australia on BBC First on Foxtel in 2017

BBC First and Foxtel have announced they are co-producing a second series of the award-winning Top of the Lake with BBC Two, See-Saw Films and SundanceTV. Elisabeth Moss (Truth, Mad Men) is reprising her Golden Globe® winning role in the second season of the Emmy® and Golden Globe® nominated mini-series and will be joined by Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones, Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

Filming has begun this week in Sydney with cameras rolling at various locations around the city announced See-Saw Films’ COO, Television Hakan Kousetta and Head of Television, Jamie Laurenson.

"I’m so excited to be back in Australia working with Jane on exploring this wonderful character. I can’t wait for audiences to see where we take Robin’s journey!” said Elisabeth Moss.

Gwendoline Christie, who will have a major role in the mini-series, added, “I am so delighted to be working on Top of the Lake Season Two. Jane Campion has been a major creative influence throughout my life and I could not feel more privileged to be working on the next installment of her unique and enthralling drama, alongside the brilliant Elisabeth Moss.”

Also joining the cast for season two are David Dencik (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell) and Ewen Leslie (The Daughter).

The critically acclaimed mini-series will once again be directed by Oscar® winner Jane Campion (Bright Star, The Piano), along with new co-director Ariel Kleiman (Partisan). Campion and Gerard Lee also return as co-writers of the second season. Top of the Lake is being produced by Philippa Campbell (Rain, Top of the Lake season one) and Libby Sharpe (Jewboy). Executive producers are Campion with See-Saw’s Emile Sherman, Iain Canning (The King’s Speech, Shame) and Jamie Laurenson, alongside Lucy Richer for the BBC.

The six part season is produced by See-Saw Films for BBC Two in co-production with BBC First and Foxtel in Australia, BBC UKTV in New Zealand and SundanceTV in the U.S. and in association with Hulu in the U.S,. ARTE in France and BBC Worldwide.

Top of the Lake Season Two: China Girl is a crime mystery story that begins four years on from the explosive ending of Season One. When the unidentified body of an Asian girl washes up on to Sydney’s Bondi Beach, the case seems hopeless, until detective Robin Griffin discovers that China Girl didn’t die alone.

"Jane and Gerard are great modern storytelling-adventurers. The daring way they crack open vivid layers of humanity in Season Two has attracted both new and seasoned collaborators to join this extraordinary team on and off screen. It’s an honour to be producing this unique and ground-breaking show that brings to life the mysteries at the heart of a new wilderness,” said producers Philippa Campbell and Libby Sharpe.

Tim Christlieb, Director of Channels, BBC Worldwide Australia and New Zealand, said: “BBC First is delighted to be bringing Australian audiences Top of the Lake: China Girl as Elisabeth Moss reprises her role as Robin Griffin in this complex and enthralling story. Gwendoline Christie is an exciting addition to the line-up and the calibre of the cast is testament to the outstanding success of Top of the Lake and the talents of Jane and Gerard and the team at See-Saw Films who delivered one of the stand-out moments of television in 2013 with the first series. Top of the Lake Season Two: China Girl epitomises everything that we are passionate about in TV drama here at BBC First - rich and surprising shows featuring the very best talent on both sides of the camera.”

Foxtel Executive Director of Television Brian Walsh said: "Top of the Lake was a breakthrough drama series for Foxtel and has been widely recognised both internationally and locally for its craftsmanship and storytelling. It is an important franchise for Foxtel and we are delighted to collaborate with our colleagues at See-Saw Films, Jane Campion and the BBC to bring the landmark second series to our subscribers. Top of the Lake Season Two: China Girl reflects our commitment to premium Australian drama production and joins our rich slate of locally produced series made for Foxtel subscribers.

“Jane’s vision and passion for this story is compelling, daring and honest. We believe Season Two will continue to thrill and enthral audiences worldwide. The fact that we have been able to bring back broadcast partners from different corners of the world is a testament to the quality of the show and Jane’s extraordinary talent. We are delighted that our previous partners on Series One did not hesitate to board the second series to help bring to the world this stand-out drama.” said Jamie Laurenson and Hakan Kousetta from See-Saw Films.

Lucy Richer, BBC Executive Producer said, “Jane Campion is one of the world’s finest directors and we are incredibly proud to bring her unique voice and vision to BBC Two for the stand-alone second series of Top of the Lake. The astounding cast she has brought together will star in a dark and beguiling story that takes Detective Robin Griffin deep into the underworld of Sydney, and to the limits of her own heart.”

[quote=“TV.Cynic, post:3, topic:158”]
Top of the Lake Season Two: China Girl will premiere in Australia on BBC First on Foxtel in 2017[/quote]
It’s taken a while to get a second season but good to see that it’s going ahead.

Nicole Kidman reportedly in the second season of Top of the Lake

Top of the Lake: China Girl will have its Australian premiere at the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday August 1, after premiering at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May. It will be followed by a Q&A with director Jane Campion. Tickets costs from $39.90 and can be booked at the Opera House website

Starts 8:30pm Sunday August 20 on BBC First.


From Sunday 19 November at 8.30pm AEDT

The wait is over, cult hit Peaky Blinders is back. BBC First has announced it will air the new series within a week of its UK screening. The show will premiere on the channel on Sundays at 8.30pm from November 19.

Game of Thrones star Aidan Gillen and Academy Award winner Adrien Brody (The Grand Budapest Hotel) join the star-studded cast alongside Cillian Murphy (The Dark Knight Rises) Helen McCrory (Skyfall) and Paul Anderson (The Revenant) and Tom Hardy (Taboo).

Steven Knight’s critically- acclaimed and multi award-winning series which counts Snoop Dog, Steven Spielberg, Brad Pitt and Ed Sheeran amongst its famous fans, reaches new levels of intensity in its action-packed fourth series. After the dramatic end of series three which saw the entire Shelby clan – apart from Tommy - being taken away by the police, there are a lot of questions to answer.

It’s now December 1925. Tommy Shelby OBE (Cillian Murphy) has acquired unprecedented legitimacy. The former gangster is also a man alone, estranged from his family and focused only on business. But when he receives a mysterious letter on Christmas Eve, Tommy realises that the Shelbys are in danger of annihilation.

As the enemy closes in, Tommy flees his country house and returns to the only safe place he knows: Small Heath, Birmingham, the slum where he grew up. Facing a more determined and sophisticated threat than ever before, the Shelby family must find a way to put differences aside, work together, take up arms and fight for survival…


Premium drama channel BBC First has announced Smeg as its new channel sponsor; alongside the acquisition of two major dramas A Very English Scandal starring Hugh Grant, and Vanity Fair with Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One).

Smeg will become the channel sponsor for BBC First from July 1. The deal comes as BBC First continues to grow its audiences across the key ad sales demo of People 25-54, with live audiences up 25% over the last twelve months across the day*. The sponsorship will see a string of highly-anticipated dramas featuring big names hitting the screen in the coming months.

The critically acclaimed A Very English Scandal is the shocking true story of the first British politician to stand trial for conspiracy to murder. In the late 1960s, homosexuality has only just been decriminalized, and Jeremy Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal party and the youngest leader of any British political party in a hundred years, has a secret he’s desperate to hide. As long as Norman Scott, his vociferous ex-lover is around, Thorpe’s brilliant career is at risk, and eventually Thorpe can see only one way to silence Scott for good. The trial of Jeremy Thorpe changed politics forever as the British public discover the darkest secrets of the Establishment and the lengths they’d go to conceal them.

For period drama lovers, Gwyneth Hughes’s (Victoria) adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair brings the novel to life in way that will really connect with a modern audience. Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, the series follows Becky Sharp (Olivia Cooke) as she attempts to claw her way out of poverty and scale the heights of English Society. Her story of “villainy, crime, merriment, lovemaking, jilting, laughing, cheating, fighting and dancing”, takes her all the way to the court of King George IV, via the Battle of Waterloo, breaking hearts and losing fortunes as she goes. The series also features Michael Palin and Suranne Jones (Doctor Foster).

These two new acquisitions join Patrick Melrose, premiering on BBC First from July 23. Starring Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Benedict Cumberbatch and featuring Hugo Weaving and Jennifer Jason Leigh, the series is based on the novels of Edward St Aubyn and adapted by acclaimed author and screenwriter David Nicholls (One Day) and won praise from audiences and critics alike with its recent screenings in the UK and US.

Apparently BBC First has Australian premiere of the upcoming season 3 of The Durrells (Seven broadcast the first two seasons).


From Tuesday 6 November at 8.30pm

BBC First will show Mike Bartlett’s (Doctor Foster) drama series Press from Tuesday November 6 at 8.30pm. Set in the fast-paced and challenging environment of the British newspaper industry, Press explores the personal lives and constant professional dilemmas facing the journalists who work at two rival newspapers.

Starring Charlotte Riley (Peaky Blinders) as the talented and hardworking Deputy News Editor of The Herald, a left-leaning broadsheet; Ben Chaplin (Apple Tree Yard) as the charming and manipulative Editor of The Post; David Suchet (Poirot) as the CEO of the multimedia conglomerate that owns The Post; and Australian Brendan Cowell (Love My Way) as the News Editor of The Herald.

A sharp, pacy series that rips aside the front pages of rival newspapers to reveal the lives, loves and lies of a dynamic group of characters. Under relentless pressure from the 24-hour news cycle, these passionate professionals go to extraordinary lengths to uncover stories and get them into print.

They hold the powerful to account and turn ordinary people’s lives into headlines, but can they face up to the truth about themselves? With its outstanding cast and timely storylines, Press gets to the core of an industry that has never been more in the global spotlight.

One week after buying the rights to spy thriller The Little Drummer Girl at MIPCOM, BBC First today revealed the drama would premiere in Australia on Wednesday, November 14 at 8.30pm.


Premium drama channel BBC First has announced Cunard as its new channel sponsor with premiere dates revealed for returning series Tin Star Series 2 starring Tim Roth ( Pulp Fiction ), Christina Hendricks ( Mad Men ) and Genevieve O’Reilly ( Glitch ) and Victoria Series 3 starring Jenna Coleman ( Doctor Who ).

Cunard will become the channel sponsor for BBC First from Sunday, February 3. The sponsorship comes as BBC First continues to grow its audiences across the key ad sales demo of People 25-54, with live audiences up 46% across the day and 27% across primetime over the month of December *. The deal includes sponsorship of a string of highly anticipated returning dramas: Tin Star Series 2 , Victoria Series 3 , Death in Paradise Series 8 and Shetland Series 4 .

Tin Star Series 2 begins Tuesday, February 19 at 8.30pm. This new series picks up where we left our unlikely hero, cut off in the remote Rockies wilderness with his grieving and shell-shocked family struggling to come to terms with their ordeal. Seeking refuge from her parents, Anna is taken in by the God-fearing Nickel family, members of the Ammonites - a strict religious community. However, the peaceful prairie family are harbouring secrets of their own and it’s not long before Anna is forced to seek her father’s help, as an altogether more hellish threat emerges.

Beginning Thursday, March 14 at 8.30pm the third series of the lavish drama Victoria starts in 1848 and depicts a turbulent and uncertain time for both Europe and the monarchy. With revolutions on the continent and the Chartist movement reaching its peak in London, Victoria is under pressure from the government to leave London for her own safety.

The eighth series of the much loved Death in Paradise continues to air on Fridays at 8.30pm and stars Ardal O’Hanlon as Detective Jack Mooney who is back to solve some fiendishly clever murders on the tropical island of Saint Marie.

Acclaimed murder-mystery Shetland returns soon for a new thrilling fourth series with DI Jimmy Perez (Douglas Henshall) and his team back to investigate crimes within the close-knit island community of Shetland.

The four-month package, developed by Multi Channel Network, will see BBC Studios’ produce a suite of assets that will give Cunard the ability to align their brand seamlessly into premium environments across BBC First’s TV, and Social platforms. These include integrated billboards, partnership spots and behind-the scenes footage giving viewers extra insight into these much-loved returning dramas.

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My hope is that BBC First continues their policy of no ad breaks during programs. There is also no on-screen clutter to remind you it is ad free.

New mini-series Les Miserables premieres Sunday March 10 at 8.30pm AEDT.

BBC First has picked up three BBC series for Australia: thriller MotherFatherSon starring Richard Gere, WWII drama World on Fire, and the second season of Taboo.

BBC First will show World on Fire in Australia first, followed by SBS.

Yalumba Wines new channel sponsor plus:

World on Fire

From Sunday 13 October at 8.30pm AEST

Yalumba Wines is the new channel sponsor for premium drama channel BBC First. The sponsorship will begin on Sunday, September 22nd and will encompass epic World War II drama World on Fire which will premiere on Sunday, October 13 at 8.30pm.

From multi-award winning Peter Bowker, World On Fire is a heart-stopping, multi-stranded drama telling the story of World War Two through the lives of ordinary people from all sides of this global conflict.

Featuring a stellar ensemble cast including Academy Award winner Helen Hunt, Emmy and BAFTA-winner Sean Bean, and Academy Award nominated and Olivier Award winner Lesley Manville, the first series draws viewers gradually into the creeping horror of the outbreak of the war during its first year. It traces the intertwining fates of relatable, vividly drawn characters from Britain, Poland, France, Germany and the United States as they grapple with the effect of the war on their everyday lives.

Delivering a never-before-seen perspective on the early days of war, this emotionally gripping drama explores the human stories hidden within one of the most pivotal and seismic moments in twentieth-century history.

Yalumba will be on air in two three-month blocks either side of Christmas. BBC Studios will produce a range of assets across BBC First’s TV and social platforms including integrated billboards, partnership spots and behind-the scenes footage from the premium dramas.

Kirsty Muir, Head of Brand Partnership & Channels Advertising, BBC Studios, Australia and New Zealand said: “We’re delighted that Yalumba Wines has chosen to partner with BBC First and take advantage of the opportunity to have a range of bespoke assets created which will integrate them seamlessly into our premium brand environment.”

The partnership was created in collaboration with Yalumba’s media agency, Kaimera, with CEO Nick Behr calling it a ‘natural pairing’.

I watched first episode of World on Fire last night. Very good, intense storytelling. I like the dialogue in their original language (e.g. between Polish characters). Although Sean Bean and Helen Hunt lead the cast, the standouts are Julia Brown, Jonah Hauer-King and Zofia Wichłacz.
Season 1 has seven episodes. The plan is for each series to cover one year of WWII, so we may eventually get seven series in total finishing in 2025.
The series was launched at British Film Institute in London on September 3, the exact day Germany invaded Poland 80 years ago.

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