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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
Rolf leads BBC One autumn output
Rolf Harris
Rolf on Art is among BBC One's most popular shows
Presenter Rolf Harris will host what is being hailed as TV's biggest arts event at the centre of BBC One's 221m autumn programme schedule unveiled on Tuesday.

Artists taking part in a live Rolf on Art will try to recreate one of the UK's best-loved paintings, Constable's The Haywain, in a race against time.

Other shows in an interactive-themed season include a British Isles natural history tour with Alan Titchmarsh.

Fat Nation looks at obesity, and drama Dirty War explores a UK terror attack.

Critics of the BBC in the media and government will be watching closely to assess whether the schedule marks an improvement on recent programming.

Michael Palin
Michael Palin returns with travel tales from Himalaya
BBC governors ordered an inquiry into BBC One's peak time schedules after the public raised concerns about programme quality.

But on Tuesday, BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey defended the channel's balance between current affairs and entertainment.

She also defended the channel's record on Saturday night, particularly Passport to Paradise featuring Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen, which has shed over a million viewers since its launch.

She said: "We invest in talent and back talent and give shows the time to grow. We were not expecting an overnight success."

The makers of Walking with Dinosaurs have come up with Space Odyssey - Voyage to the Planets, taking viewers on a space flight seen through the eyes of five astronauts.

Michael Palin is back with Himalaya, an account of his travels through the mountains of Pakistan, India, Nepal, China and Bangladesh.

Spelling contest

Hard Spell is a contest to locate Britain's spelling champion, as youngsters compete in regional heats culminating in a nail-biting finale.

Documentary maker Peter Taylor presents The Brighton Bomb, an investigation into the 1984 IRA attack, while One Night in Bhopal looks at the chemical factory disaster.

Meanwhile, the next season of Rolf on Art, which focuses on the grand masters, is launched with a live one-hour show in which leading UK artists gather outside The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square to recreate a massive version of The Haywain.

Space Odyssey - Voyage to the Planets
Space Odyssey - Voyage to the Planets is being shown this autumn
Alan Titchmarsh explores the history and geography of the UK in British Isles: A Natural History, celebrating the birth and evolution of the islands.

Each programme features regional opt-out segments, supported by online trekking suggestions, museum and wildlife events.

Bomb attack

Fat Nation hones in on a street in Birmingham where 200 residents will endeavour to lose weight during a course of diet and fitness that can be copied by viewers, again with online support.

Dirty War presents a hypothetical scenario of a radiological "dirty" bomb attack on London, followed by a live studio debate.

The autumn schedule also features a string of new dramas and comedies.

North and South stars Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage in an adaptation of Elizabeth's Gaskell's passionate love story set in the Victorian industrial north.

David Morrissey, Sarah Parish and John Thomson feature in Peter Bowker's darkly comic musical thriller, Blackpool.

Leading role

Paul Nicholls makes his debut in a leading role in A Thing Called Love, a tale of one man's search for happiness set in Nottingham.

Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are back for their first series in six years, and Neil Morrissey appears as a part-time cabbie in comedy Carrie and Barry.

The critically-acclaimed My Dad's The Prime Minister, written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, is back for a second series.



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