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Friday, 18 January, 2002, 13:08 GMT
BBC Four promises 'culture feast'
Adrian Lester
Adrian Lester stars in a specially made version of Hamlet
Celebrated theatre director Peter Brook's new production of Hamlet will be an early highlight of BBC Four, the corporation's new arts and culture channel.

The play, which has been specially commissioned for BBC Four, will be screened four days after the digital channel's launch on 2 March.

British actor Adrian Lester, who featured in Maybe Baby and Born Romantic, will star as Shakespeare's tormented Danish prince.

Brook's Hamlet is one of a range of drama and arts TV premières for the channel, including major TV adaptations of hit stage plays with big name stars.

BBC Four will run from 1900 to 0100 nightly and be one of the corporation's three new non-subscription digital TV channels. It replaces BBC Knowledge.

The other two are channels for children - CBBBC for children aged six to 13, and CBeebies for those aged under six years.

Björk's recent show in London will be a musical highlight

Along with arts programmes, the channel will show documentaries and programmes covering science, history, news, debates and music.

Controller Roly Keating said: "Imagine you lived close to a new world class cultural centre - so close that you could go there wherever you liked.

"Each evening you might drop in to enjoy the best in contemporary documentary, music, theatre or international cinema.

"It would bring you performances that you've read about and wanted to see, and create compelling productions of its own."


Also scheduled for March is Matthew Broughton's dramatisation of the trial of Dali by Andre Breton and other surrealists.

It will star Ewen Bremner as the artist alongside Stephen Fry, Katrin Cartlidge and Vic Reeves.

Simon Callow
Simon Callow was a big stage hit in 2000 as Dickens

BBC Four will also finally broadcast Ian Curteis's controversial production The Falklands Play.

It was commissioned by the corporation 15 years ago but was never transmitted because it was deemed to be too biased towards the then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

The TV version will be shown in conjunction with Radio 4, which will broadcast its own on 6 April.

Simon Callow's hit stage performance in Peter Ackroyd's Charles Dickens has also been filmed for the channel.


A spokeswoman for BBC Four said its full range of programming would be unveiled in February.

She added viewers could expect a wide range of "outward looking" programming with an emphasis on global culture.

Danish movie Together
Danish movie Together makes its TV première

This will include film TV premières, such as the scheduled screening of Together - a recent cinema hit from Denmark.

There will also be a weekly classical music performance as well as jazz, world music and opera.

A series on Brit Art will start in March and there will be a nightly news programme fronted by George Alagiah. Channel 4 News presenter Kirsty Lang will also be seen on the bulletin.

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