BBC4 unveils winter and spring lineup

Jessie Wallace and Kelvin MacKenzie both feature in BBC4's winter and spring 2007 lineup. By Chris Tryhorn.

Former EastEnders actress Jessie Wallace and Kelvin MacKenzie may seem unlikely bedfellows for BBC4, but both will be featuring in the highbrow digital channel's winter and spring 2007 lineup.

Wallace, who played Kat Slater in the London-set soap, is to play a cockney legend of yesteryear, taking the lead in Marie Lloyd - Queen of the Music Hall, part of BBC4's Edwardian season.

In the same BBC4 season, MacKenzie's programme - predictably titled Gotcha! - delves into the birth of the tabloid newspaper, which dates back to the foundation of the Daily Mail in 1896 and the subsequent arrival of the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express.

Queen of the Music Hall features Wallace as Hoxton-born Lloyd, who with her innuendo-laden performances personified the carefree, bawdy world of the Edwardian music hall.

Lloyd's string of love affairs provided fodder for the tabloid papers of the day, although her life was also marked by sadness, ending with her death at 52 in 1922.

The drama, written by Martyn Hesford, features some of Lloyd's most famous songs, such as My Old Man Said Follow The Van and her theme song A Little Of What You Fancy Does You Good.

Filming for Marie Lloyd - which is being made by Hat Trick Productions - starts in February on location in London's East End and Bayswater.

"It's a real coup to have Jessie Wallace as lead in this exciting new drama - a major component of our Edwardian season," the BBC4 controller, Janice Hadlow, said. "She will bring something very special to the role as the greatest music hall star of all time."

The Edwardian season - subtitled People Like Us? - also draws on the talents of the Private Eye editor, Ian Hislop.

Hislop presents Scouting for Boys, a look at the beginnings of the scouting movement that was founded by military hero Robert Baden-Powell.

Veteran screenwriter Andrew Davies has adapted The Diary of a Nobody - strictly speaking a Victorian literary classic.

Other features of the season include humorists Giles Coren and Sue Perkins being challenged to exist on a gargantuan Edwardian diet in Edwardian Supersize Me.

BBC4 is also launching a mini-season of documentaries about contemporary life that attempts to locate "Middle England", The Way We Live Now.

Another highlight of the channel's factual output in the early months of 2007 will be a series about the history of photography, The Genius of Photography.

Another nine-part series, Archive Of The World, unveils thousands of colour photographs from the early 20th century.

Journalist Rageh Omaar - the Iraq war's "Scud Stud" in 2003 - travels to Tehran for Rageh Inside Iran, in which he attempts to present a "more intimate side" of Iranian society.

BBC4 is also showing documentaries about science and postwar British classical music.

The channel's comedy offering is Tight Spot, a series of four new comedies in which the central characters find themselves stuck in very different situations, such as a lift.

There are is also a programme to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, A Short History Of Racism, as well as a Storyville account of the trial of former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.

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Chris Tryhorn

The GuardianTramp

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