Spring 2009 sees the launch of a UK landmark commitment to literature with a pan-BBC season dedicated to poetry.
Some of the nation's best loved poets and celebrities will take part in a season of content across television, radio and online exploring the far reaching and compelling world of poetry.
Griff Rhys Jones launches the Poetry Season on BBC Two with a passionate plea about Why Poetry Matters – how verse has the power to move and why everybody needs it.
Also on BBC Two, Lifelines explores the rich terrain of British poetry from Milton to Shakespeare through the eyes of Malorie Blackman, Shelia Hancock, Cerys Mathews and Robert Webb; and Off By Heart follows primary school children across the country as they take part in a nationwide recitation competition, culminating in a grand final, compered by Jeremy Paxman.
BBC Four will feature a groundbreaking series A Poet's Guide To Britain presented by Owen Sheers, on the importance of poetry to British culture; and Ian Hislop welcomes the new Poet Laureate with an entertaining history of one of the oldest and, he argues, oddest offices in the British establishment.
Radio 3 and Radio 4 will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Alfred Lord Tennyson, while The Essay – A Laureate's Life, also on Radio 3, offers five personal takes on the role of Poet Laureate from around the world and Radio 4 will showcase its second Poetry Slam competition following on from its hit 2007 contest.
Online activity will include a competition to elect the Nation's Favourite Poet which will be announced on National Poetry Day in early October; plus the Poetry Season's dedicated website will feature a poetry search engine to find poems for any occasion or mood.
George Entwistle, Controller Knowledge Commissioning, BBC Vision, says:
"The Poetry Season offers viewers an accessible and fascinating insight into verse; there really is something for everyone. The UK has a fine poetic tradition. We hope this season, the BBC's fantastic accompanying online offering, and the other initiatives with the likes of the Poetry Society will inspire and motivate people to reacquaint themselves with the poetry greats. In addition it may also inspire them to discover their own poetic voice."The BBC is working closely with external partners on the season including the Poetry Society, the Poetry Archive and National Poetry Day.
The BBC Poetry Season will transmit from spring 2009. Further commissions to be announced at a later date and all titles may be subject to change. Highlights below and full programme information available nearer to transmission.