BBC Four offers Fanny Hill and Madison Avenue ad drama

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LONDON - An Andrew Davies adaptation of the 18th century classic novel 'Fanny Hill' is to headline BBC Four's autumn and winter schedule, which also includes a drama set in New York's adland written by the man behind 'The Sopranos'.

'Fanny Hill', from the 1748 novel by John Cleland, stars Alison Steadman, Samantha Bond and Hugo Speer, alongside newcomer Rebecca Night in the lead role.

George Entwistle, acting BBC Four controller, said: "As the 18th century unfolds, it seems more and more clearly defined by an 'anything goes' atmosphere, perhaps best symbolised by one of the most controversial novels ever written, 'Fanny Hill'. Our new season looks at the forces which shaped this extraordinary time and asks how far the excess of the period explains the prudery and restraint of the Victorian era that followed."

The drama is accompanied by a documentary, 'The Curse of Success', which tells the story of Cleland, who went to prison and blamed the book for blighting his career and reputation.

As well as home-produced programming BBC Four has also bought in two new shows. The first is HBO comedy 'Flight of the Conchords', which is described as a quirky, offbeat comedy that follows the daily trials and tribulations of New Zealand's "fourth most successful folk act" as they try to break on to the world stage in New York.

Coming in 2008 is 'Mad Men', the new series from Matthew Weiner, the Emmy award-winning writer and executive producer of 'The Sopranos'.

Set on and around Madison Avenue, the "Mad" of the title, 'Mad Men' tells the morally ambiguous story of the lives, loves and ambitions of the men and women working at an ad agency called Sterling Cooper.

BBC Four is also reworking its offer for Saturday nights with the promise of classic BBC television drama. Among those will be international documentary strand 'Storyville', which celebrates its 10th anniversary this November with a special selection of Storyville documentaries.

Other highlights are: theoretical physicist Dr Michio Kaku laying out his 'Visions of the Future' in a three-part series that examines the science fact behind many of the ideas that have driven science fiction in recent decades; 'In Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives', in which Mark Everett, the lead singer from Eels, goes in search of the father he never really knew; and quantum physicist Hugh Everett III, whose great theory on parallel worlds has its 50th anniversary this year.

There is more comedy in 'The History of the World Backwards' with comedian and author Rob Newman sharing his perspective on history in an innovative comedy series that features comedy, archive and music. The programmes are a time warp in which the world runs in reverse, but time still flows forwards.

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