Mary Berry: There’s more to her than cakes
The queen of The Great British Bake Off goes it alone in a new BBC2 series this spring, Mary Berry Cooks. “I’m very excited about it,” she says, “because everybody thinks I just bake cakes, but in fact I love family cooking and this is all about entertaining at home.” So over six weeks Mary will be doing what she does best: simple home cooking that aims to bring the family back round the dinner table. And that’s just for starters. Plate-spinning Mary will, of course, still make time for Bake Off. We’ll see her and Paul Hollywood judging celebrity bakers for a Sport Relief special that starts on BBC2 on Monday 13 January, while the series proper gets its Premier League promotion to BBC1 this summer.
Winter Olympics/ Commonwealth Games: The BBC’s glorious year of sport
The legacy of London 2012 lives on. With our love of athletics re-ignited, all eyes turn to Glasgow from 23 July for the Commonwealth Games. Before then, however, attention turns to the Winter Olympics, which take place 7–23 February.
The Russian city of Sochi is a Black Sea resort more famous for its beaches than its ski runs. But with a reported $50bn invested in the region in preparation for the Winter Olympics, rest assured some serious snow-making machines will be on standby if required. Athletes to watch include formidable American skier Lindsey Vonn and South Korean figure skater Yuna Kim, who is set to retire after the Games.
As for British hopes, our best-ever Winter Olympic medal tally to date is four. Having already captained Scotland’s curling team to World Championship gold, 23-year-old Eve Muirhead looks set to become Britain’s poster girl for Sochi 2014. In the skeleton, Britain has won a medal at every Games. Amy Williams landed a surprise gold in 2010, while this year Shelley Rudman, 32, will be striving to improve on her silver medal in 2006.
The Great Fire: London’s burning on ITV
Fact will fuse with fiction in ITV News political editor Tom Bradby’s four-part drama about the 17th-century catastrophe, coming later this year. Thomas Farriner (the owner of the baker’s shop where the Fire began), diarist Samuel Pepys and Charles II all make appearances. But their lives are interwoven with fictional characters as friendships are tested, loves are destroyed and lives are changed for ever.
It spans the four days of the conflagration in September 1666, as sparks fly and the flames leap around the streets of London, burning indiscriminately and changing the landscape of the capital city, ready for the rise of the modern city.
Growing Pains: BBC1’s nature blockbuster
A tiger cub faces a battle for survival after the loss of a parent, a humpback whale mother rescues its calf from the jaws of a shark… the journey from birth to adulthood is very often a perilous one for members of the animal kingdom. The techniques they’ve evolved to complete that journey are examined in the major new series for 2014 from the BBC’s world-famous Natural History Unit in Bristol later this year.
The six-part series follows the stories of individual animals each looking to survive long enough to become a parent themselves.
W1A: With friends like these…
Twenty Twelve stars Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes return to BBC2 later this year as Ian Fletcher and Siobhan Sharpe. Having triumphed against all odds and despite themselves, the bumbling Head of Deliverance of the Olympic Deliverance Commission and his over-enthusiastic Head of Brand seem to have landed themselves a new challenge. Their unique talents have been sought out by the BBC in the run-up to the Corporation’s charter renewal in 2016. The Olympic mockumentary was so perfectly observed that it became a case of fiction becoming fact – does the BBC know what it’s letting itself in for?
The World Cup: The boys in Brazil
Even for non-football fans, a World Cup in Brazil is still an occasion to look forward to. The circus begins on 12 June and the hosts are favourites to win their sixth trophy, but current champions Spain are capable of
becoming the first European team to win on American soil. Meanwhile England will be left to sweat it out in, if not a group of death, certainly a group of lingering malady. Drawn with four-time winners Italy, Uruguay (semi-finalists last time out) and dangerous underdogs Costa Rica, they’ll also have to play their opening match against Italy in the Amazonian city of Manaus – in 30°C heat and 80 per cent humidity. No wonder FA chairman Greg Dyke made a throat-slitting gesture when the draw was made.
Grantchester: Trollope meets Morse
Based on James Runcie’s novel Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, this six-part ITV series for later this year follows an intrepid vicar and his police officer sidekick as they set out to solve a murder mystery. Runcie, of course, knows a thing or two about vicars – his father, Robert, was Archbishop of Canterbury.
Sidney Chambers is the heart and soul of Grantchester, a close-knit Cambridgeshire hamlet, encouraging his congregation to put the wrongs of the past behind them and embrace the freedom of the 1950s. But the peace is shattered when a parishioner dies in suspicious circumstances, prompting Chambers to launch his own murder investigation. He teams up with frazzled police officer Geordie Keating, who has a very different approach to his work.
14 for 2014: the best TV shows coming up this year – part one