BBC America is doubling down on its wildlife programming by extending its micro-net Wonderstruck across a second day of its schedule.
The AMC Networks Entertainment Group-backed broadcaster is also launching a new short-form digital companion site.
The network is launching Wonderstruck on Thursdays, beginning April 2, in addition to its regular timeslot of Saturday. This comes after it launched the strand in November. It will feature series such as Planet Earth and Seven Worlds, One Planet. Next month, it will kick off its Thursday run with shows celebrating U.S. wildlife including Wild West, Wild Alaska, Seasonal Wonderlands featuring New England, Seven Worlds, One Planet featuring North America and Yellowstone.
Later in the month, Wonderstruck be feature expanded coverage of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day with a marathon featuring the likes of Planet Earth, Planet Earth II, and Blue Planet II as well as She Walks with Apes, the Sandra Oh-narrated film telling the story of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Biruté Galdikas — on April 22.
Separately, it has launched WonderstruckTV.com, a free library of short-form nature content. It will feature topics covering togetherness, anxiety, curiosity and ASMR with links to full episodes of nature programming on BBC America.
Last year, BBC America renewed its deal with the BBC for natural history programming and will co-produce the next installments of Planet Earth and Frozen Planet. It also recently commissioned Eden w/t, its first original series from BBC Studios' Natural History Unit. AMC Networks Entertainment President Sarah Barnett told Deadline in June that it will also commission originals that will air on the strand.
“We have seen first-hand the incredible benefits of nature programming in reducing stress, promoting awe and inspiration, and facilitating feelings of interconnectedness, especially during times of anxiety and uncertainty. We can't imagine a moment where these benefits are more needed than now,” said to Courtney Thomasma, executive director of BBC America. “We at BBC America are doing what we can to expand access to this incredible and transportive programming, allowing viewers to explore the world and experience the benefits of nature, even from the safety of their own homes.”
Though “The Plot Against America” took its time to get going, it’s full steam ahead for David Simon’s Philip Roth adaptation by Episode 4 — but to what end? With just two episodes to go, the drama has certainly flared up: The Levin familial bonds are being pushed to the brink as Sandy falls increasingly under Lindbergh’s spell, with the help of Aunt Evelyn and her new boyfriend Rabbi Bengelsdorf. The lines have been drawn, and it’s not looking good for either side. While this was by far the most exciting episode so far, it still feels as though Simon is obligingly following Roth’s outline rather than forging his own path.
In both the novel and the series “The Plot Against America,” there’s an unmentioned but implicit rhetorical question reaching out from beyond the page and screen. To borrow from the musical “Cabaret,” one of the only pieces of pop culture to artfully grapple with this unthinkable dilemma: What would you do? If a fascist were elected president of your country, if your sister started dating one of his shills, if your son was secretly sketching his visage by flashlight — how would you behave? Would you flee to Canada, organize the resistance, or stick your head in the sand and hope for the best?
The fourth episode hones in on these questions with laser-like precision, enjoying the fruits of the preceding three episodes that felt, both in retrospect and in real time, mostly like set-up. Having returned from his “Just Folks” adventure in Kentucky, a Hitler Youth-esque recruiting tool of Rabbi Bengelsdorf’s John Turturro design, Sandy has quite literally become the poster child for assimilationist Jews. Evelyn Winona Ryder proudly features him in a brochure for the program, against Bess’ Zoe Kazan wishes.
Sandy’s transformation has been building since the pilot episode, which ended with him surreptitiously sketching Charles Lindbergh from of a newspaper clipping. Having planted the seeds deliberately, the show earns its most uncomfortable moment so far when Sandy spits at his parents, calling them “ghetto Jews — narrow-minded ghetto Jews.” His transformation is complete. When Bess slaps him across the face, it’s hard not to let out a silent cheer. Your Jewish firstborn becoming a Nazi sympathizer may be the rare instance when a kid deserves a good wallop.
“The Plot Against America”
Less effective is a Shabbas dinner argument between Herman Morgan Spector and Bengelsdorf, where Herman puts aside any last shred of civility to tell the Rabbi what he really thinks of his man Lindbergh. Maybe it’s the fact that only the men are talking while the women make sidelong glances of...
The BBC has announced plans to host a coronavirus telethon on April 23, bringing together its two charity partners, Comic Relief and Children In Need, for the first time.
Produced by BBC Studios, The Big Night In will go live for three hours on BBC One and aims to cheer up the nation by spotlighting stories of kindness, humor and hope during the catastrophic coronavirus pandemic.
Along the way, the show will invite donations which will go towards vulnerable people who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Comic Relief and Children In Need will funnel the cash to local charities on the frontline.
The BBC said the show would be star-studded, but is yet to name any famous names taking part. The broadcaster’s last telethon, Sport Relief, was hosted by the likes of Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness and featured contributions from the Stranger Things cast.
The BBC added that The Big Night In will be broadcast live while respecting “all current social isolating government protocols.” Peter Davey and Colin Hopkins will executive produce. It was commissioned by BBC director of content Charlotte Moore, entertainment chief Kate Phillips and Katie Taylor.
Moore said: “BBC One will bring the nation together for this special one-off live charity event. I would like to thank both BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief for joining forces in these unprecedented times to provide their support to local charities, projects and programmes across the whole UK; and to all of the stars taking part in this unmissable night of entertainment when the country needs it most.”
The BBC’s Big Night In follows similar plans in the U.S., where Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert will front One World: Together At Home across NBC, ABC and CBS on April 18. The event, which is curated by Lady Gaga, has been put together by social action platform Global Citizen and the World Health Organization.