BBC Two unveils high-brow schedule to lure viewers

LONDON – BBC Two hopes to revive its schedule with provocative documentaries on issues such as the murder of Pc Keith Blakelock, as well as dramas on Dunkirk, the early life of Stephen Hawking and the Gunpowder Plot.

The channel has been subject of media attention this week as it emerged that the success of Freeview among middle England's TV viewers meant they were tuning into digital channels and not watching BBC Two, whch has lost 8.4% of its ABC1 peak audience, according to Barb figures.

It is aiming to draw them back with hard-hitting programming, exploring many of the moral questions that arise from events throughout history.

Jane Root, controller of BBC Two, said: "The world has changed beyond recognition since the events of 9/11 and we now know that audiences crave intelligent and revealing documentaries and current affairs programming that explain the issues."

The channel's documentaries are kicked of by 'Who killed Keith Blakelock', which investigates both sides of the Broadwater Farm riots in 1985, the murder of Pc Blakelock and subsequent conviction of Winston Silcott, which was later overturned.

Silcott, who was released from prison in October, is interviewed for the programme. Root said: "It promises to be a gripping and relevant watch."

Current affairs and international issues will be covered in 'Third World War', a look at terrorism, and global conflicts in 'This World', while 'If' will investigate future social and economic predictions.

Jeremy Vine will host 'What the World Thinks about God', which will involve a poll of 10,000 people in 10 countries in an attempt to gauge attitudes to religion.

The 'Miner's Strike' is a documentary following the lives of five flying pickets involved in the action in 1984.

Robert Carlyle and Kenneth Cranham are among the stars of the channel's drama content, which look at historical events. Carlyle plays King James in 'Gunpowder Treason and Plot', a period drama about one of the earliest acts of terrorism -- the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Cranham stars alongside Claire Skinner, who has appeared in 'Bridget Jones's Diary' and 'Sleepy Hollow', in 'The Genius of Mozart'.

Stephen Hawking's life and how he coped with being diagnosed to be suffering from motor neurone disease is told in 'Hawking', a drama made with his co-operation; and 'Dunkirk' is a docu-drama that retells the events of May 1940 at the end of World War II when soldiers fought to save the Allied army trapped in France.

Politician Clare Short is the star of 'My Week in the Real World', in which she samples life as a geography teacher; and Alan Duncan MP, Tory libertarian, takes a group of children from one of the UK's largest council estates on an outward bounds course.

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