The BBC have released full transmission details for Comics Britannia (or, How we grew up with comics and how comics grew up with us…), a series of four documentaries on comics which will screen on BBC4, to be broadcast as three hour-long episodes in September.
Many of the people involved in downthetubes helped out with the shows, providing contacts and info0rmation and the production team have sent a generous thank you note for their efforts.
Here’s the promotional information from the BBC for the series:
From the Beano to Bunty, Commando to Viz, the Eagle to 2000AD, British comics have captivated generations from the thirties to the present day.
Narrated by comedy writer Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It) Comics Britannia will feature comics legends who wrote and drew the original strips, comics experts and a range of celebrity fans who re-live their favourite comic strip moments and characters.
Bash Street Kids, Dennis the Menace, Roy of The Rovers, Fat Slags, Watchmen, V for Vendetta and many more are brought to life using a special graphics style that allows the audience literally to step inside the comics.
Comics Britannia forms the centrepiece of BBC Four’s comics season which also includes a one-off film, In Search of Steve Ditko, which sees Jonathan Ross go in search of his hero – comic book legend, Steve Ditko. Other programmes within the season include Adam West’s Batman series and a screening of the feature film Modesty Blaise.
The series features those who wrote and drew the original strips, comics experts and a range of fans whose lives have been shaped by reading ‘classic strips’, offering a rich mix of interviews, strips and archive illuminated by a unique graphics style which literally allows you to step into the comics world.
George Entwistle, Acting Controller, BBC FOUR, says: “Whether you grew up on the Beano or Jackie – or wished you’d been allowed to – this season offers a trip down memory lane, peppered with the customary wit and intelligence of BBC Four”.
PROGRAMME ONE: The Fun Factory (10th September)
COMICS BRITANNIA explores the world of the children’s humour comic and the revolution which began with the first publication of the Dandy in 1937.
The series explains why colourful, cheap publications like the Dandy, and then the Beano enchanted a generation living through the effects of the Depression, WW2 and post-war Austerity.
Comics Britannia revisits the golden age of comics in the Fifties and early Sixties and looks at the work of great comics artists Dudley Watkins, Davey Law, Leo Baxendale and Ken Reid, revealing how a new subversive and anarchic humour emerged from the pages of the Beano and the Dandy.
Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen, writer Jacqueline Wilson, Oscar winning animator Nick Park and Cartoonist Steve Bell discuss their passion for comics, with some surprising revelations!
PROGRAMME TWO: Boys & Girls (17th September)
Following the Second World War boys and girls adventure comics emerged to capture the imaginations of the growing baby boomer generation.
Comics Britannia tells the extraordinary story of the bohemian vicar who founded the most ground-breaking comic to emerge in the immediate post- war era – The Eagle, complete with its very own super hero, Dan Dare.
The programme looks at attempts to create the equivalent for girls —comics featuring ballet and boarding schools, such as School Friend, Girl and Bunty.
Meanwhile, the boys grew up with their comic book heroes achieving impossible feats of courage and endeavour on the fields of sport and battle, with the larger than life exploits of Captain Hurricane and Roy of the Rovers.
But comics would soon have to reinvent themselves and follow their readers as they grew older. Titles such as Mirabelle and Romeo were introduced to appeal to older girls who had once loved Bunty & Girl.
Into the Sixties and Seventies the industry responded to a changing Britain with a new generation of comics such as Jackie, Tammy and Battle aimed at meeting the new demands of teenage readers.
Fans of comics in this episode include comedian Frank Skinner, ex footballer and pundit Mark Lawrenson, cartoonists Posy Simmonds and Gerald Scarfe, and writer Jacqueline Wilson, who all reveal their childhood favourites.
PROGRAMME THREE: X-Rated : Anarchy in the UK (24 September)
Comics Britannia X-Rated reveals how during the Seventies and Eighties a generation grew up reading a new kind of comic. Directed at older, adult readers, these comics had strips with darker, more satirical and sexual material. There was a new sophistication in the writing and artwork which began to see comic books evolve into a new phenomenon – the graphic novel.
From the bedroom of brothers Chris and Simon Donald in Newcastle came the outrageous Viz which was selling a million copies nationwide in the 1980s and was responsible for inventing the Fat Slags, Roger Mellie, Johnny Fartpants and Sid the Sexist.
A few years earlier, 2000AD was launched, sending Punks into Space and creating the iconic anti-hero Judge Dredd.
Out of this comics ‘new wave’ emerged a major talent, writer Alan Moore. Working with leading artists, he created ground-breaking work such as V for Vendetta, Watchmen and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
The programme interviews Moore and the group of other writers and artists who spearheaded the adult-oriented revolution in British comics: Simon and Chris Donald, Dave Gibbons, Carlos Ezquerra, Kevin O’Neill, Alan Grant and David Lloyd.
Super comics fans Frank Skinner, Stewart Lee, Andrew Collins and Charles Shaar Murray are also on hand to offer their take.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.