The BBC plans to air a “poignant and humorous” documentary about author Sir Terry Pratchett as well as an Imagine programme on Maya Angelou.
A 50-minute documentary entitled "Terry Pratchett: Back in Black" will run in early to mid February (yet to be confirmed), telling the bestselling author’s story from his troubled school days to becoming a successful author, with the help of Neil Gaiman, Val McDermid and his assistant and business manager Rob Wilkins.
A spokesperson for the corporation said: “When the writer Sir Terry Pratchett died in 2015 he was working on one last story - his own – but his Alzheimer’s meant he never got to finish it. This poignant and humorous documentary finally tells the remarkable tale of this hugely popular author, creator of the Discworld series of fantasy novels.”
Actor Paul Kaye will feature as the author, but the film is told in Pratchett’s own words and reveals his road to success was not always easy, from being dismissed by literary critics, to selling 85 million copies worldwide, to his battle with Alzheimer's.
Also set to air before March is a 90-minute Imagine programme "Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise" - the first documentary portrait of the trail blazing activist, poet and writer.
The author was captured on film just before she died in 2014 and the documentary celebrates her life and work, weaving her words with “rare and intimate” archival photographs and videos, the BBC said.
“It reveals hidden episodes of her exuberant life during some of America’s defining moments - from her upbringing in the Depression-era South, to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana, to her inaugural speech for President Bill Clinton - the film takes us on an incredible journey through the life of a true American icon,” a spokesperson for the BBC said.
Contributors include Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, Hillary Clinton and Maya Angelou’s son, Guy Johnson.
Also set to air on the BBC this season is a Storyville on literary hoax “The JT LeRoy Story”.
In October 2005, New York magazine unmasked “it boy” JT LeRoy, who turned out to have been dreamed up by 40 year-old San Francisco punk rocker and phone sex operator, Laura Albert. LeRoy’s tough prose about his sordid childhood had captivated readers internationally before he was unmasked.
“The J T LeRoy Story takes us down the infinitely fascinating rabbit hole of how Laura Albert—like a Cyrano de Bergerac on steroids—breathed not only words, but life, into her avatar for a decade, “ the BBC said. “…As she recounts this astonishing odyssey, Albert also reveals the intricate web spun by irrepressible creative forces within her. Her extended and layered JT LeRoy hoax still infuriates many; but Albert argues that channelling her fiction through another identity was the only possible path to self-expression.”
At a programming preview for journalists, Jonty Claypole, BBC director of arts, said that the corporation had launched a new culture schedule on Saturday nights on BBC2 last autumn and planned to “keep building this as a strategy over the coming months”.
He added that the BBC Shakespeare Festival and its Love to Read campaign last year saw audience engagement in literature and books "way beyond the national avergaed for other organisations".
“… We know that around 40% of the UK population watched or listened to Shakespeare with the BBC,” he said. “Once again we also last year we had a big focus on books and reading which peaked with the Love To Read season campaign in the Autumn... 70% of libraries put on events and we know that around 30% of the population engaged with the programming we were doing and around 10% of the population did something – picked up a book – as a result. Those are levels of cultural participation which are way beyond the national averages for other organisations as well and I think it is one of the things the BBC is particularly well-placed to deliver on.”