What TV’s on at the BFI in April? Including the BFI and Radio Times TV festival

BFI Radio Times Festival 2019

Every month, TMINE lets you know what TV the BFI will be presenting at the South Bank in London

Not totally surprising news this, but April’s BFI TV schedule is entirely focused on this year’s BFI and Radio Times TV festival. Lots to see and do already, including a preview of Summer of Rockets and chats with Joanna Lumley, Jed Mercurio and Charlie Brooker, but it’s worth remembering that the events featured here are already on sale, but more events will be added and go on sale from tomorrow for members, from March 12 for the public. There will also be a ticket buyback day on April 2.

On top of that, there’s also a two-part “Music Believed Wiped” that shows some previously lost musical material, including episodes of Cilla Black’s 1974 TV show, Cilla.


Friday 12 April

13:00 Blue Room
Jamie Oliver
TRT 90min

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Naked Chef first landing on the BBC, Jamie Oliver whips up one of his classic meals in a live demonstration. Join us to hear from the man who changed the way Britain cooked, as he discusses his life and career on screen.

14:00 NFT3
Clique + Q&A with cast members Synnove Karlsen, Sophia Brown and Izuka Hoyle, and executive producer Bryan Elsley
TRT 60min

Jess Brittain’s seductive, university-set psychological thriller returned for an explosive second series last year, continuing to explore the power of friendship between intensely smart, complicated and ambitious young people on the cusp of an ever-enticing but dangerous adult world. Join executive producer Bryan Elsley and the actors behind Holly, Louise and Dani as they take you behind the scenes of this intriguing BBC Three drama.

15:30 I Feel So Seen: the Messy Characters Tearing Up TV, with Bryan Elsley (Skins, Clique), Kirsty Swain (Pure) and Ambreen Razia (Hounslow Diaries)
TRT 60min

With young people under pressure from social media and friends to present a perfect image of themselves, how important is it that young characters on our screens are messy, confusing, or badly behaved – in a word, imperfect? Join Bryan Elsley, Kirsty Swain and Ambreen Razia to discuss how they develop young characters to bring them – warts and all – to the screen.

17:00 TV in the Digital Age: An Alternative Careers Talk
TRT 60min

What do careers in TV really look like today? As the industry adapts to changing technology and trends, creative possibilities grow. With Instagram and Vice expanding into TV content, and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch shaking up what the medium can do, our host Laura Adams (Directors UK) will be quizzing those at the forefront of the industry, including Catherine Bray (Channel 4’s Random Acts), about the future of TV careers.

18:00 NFT1
Radio Times Hall of Fame: Joanna Lumley
TRT 60min

For five decades Joanna Lumley has illuminated British TV, successfully turning her hand to everything from acting to writing, directing and presenting. As Lumley marks 50 years in the industry and is inducted into the Radio Times Hall of Fame, she also returns to the BFI stage to talk about her varied career, from The New Avengers and Sapphire and Steel through to her BAFTA-winning portrayal of Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous, and her recent role as the intrepid presenter of travelogues from far-flung places.

18:30 NFT3
Ackley Bridge + Q&A with director Penny Woolcock, actor Amy Leigh-Hickman and creator Ayub Khan-Din
TRT 60min

Yorkshire’s fictional Ackley Bridge school is the home for Channel 4’s edgy, character-led drama about teachers and students from the local British and Pakistani communities. With the third series set to hit the screen later in the year, we meet members of the cast and creative team, including director Penny Woolcock, actor Amy Leigh-Hickman and creator Ayub Khan-Din, to discuss how the show’s compelling storylines and youth appeal have led to its continued success.

19:30 NFT1
Bodyguard with Jed Mercurio
TRT 60min

Quite simply, Bodyguard was the biggest – and to many, the best – show on British TV in 2018. Winning a Golden Globe for lead actor Richard Madden and nominated for best drama series, Jed Mercurio’s masterful thriller had more than 10 million of us on the edge of our seats every Sunday night, before it went on to conquer the States and much of the rest of the world. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear how Mercurio and the team behind the show made a modern British classic.

21:00 NFT1
Preview: Summer of Rockets + Q&A with writer-director Stephen Poliakoff and actor Keeley Hawes
Little Island Productions-BBC 2019. Dir Stephen Poliakoff. With Toby Stephens, Keeley Hawes, Linus Roache, Timothy Spall. Ep1 60min (TRT 90min)

Join Keeley Hawes and the stars of Stephen Poliakoff’s arresting new drama for a preview of one of the most eagerly anticipated TV highlights of 2019. The multi-award-winning writer-director has turned his attention to Cold War Britain, where Toby Stephens plays Samuel, a Russian Jewish émigré tasked by MI5 with uncovering the secret lives of his charming new friends Kathleen Shaw (Hawes), her MP husband Richard Shaw (Roache) and the imperious Lord Arthur Wallington (Spall). As Samuel’s life becomes more and more intertwined with his mission, how far is he willing to let things unravel for his cause? And who can he trust?

Saturday 13 April

13:00 NFT1
Vera + Q&A with actor Brenda Blethyn and creator Ann Cleeves
TRT 60min

The star and the creator of the hit detective series reveal the secrets of taking a much-loved character from page to screen. Brenda Blethyn’s portrayal of DCI Vera Stanhope has caught the imagination of viewers and critics alike. But how different is her portrayal of the much-loved sleuth from the character that crime-writer Ann Cleeves created in her hugely successful novels? And what happens when a work of fiction becomes a TV drama? Join us for a fascinating discussion between the writer and the star.

13:00 NFT3
From the BFI Archive: Britain’s Earliest TV Ads
TRT 60min

When commercial television arrived in Britain in 1955 it resulted in the birth of an exciting new industry. In this collection of the earliest TV ads held by the BFI, you can see the fledgling offerings from a nascent industry – an esoteric array of sometimes amusing, sometimes awkward, but often informative mini-masterpieces. Viewed through modern eyes, these ads can be unintentionally hilarious, and many are accompanied by insistent jingles that are still powerful earworms.

14:30 NFT1
From the BFI Archive: David Bowie
TRT 60min

This enthralling forgotten footage of David Bowie on British television includes revealing interviews, unexpected acting appearances and dazzling musical performances from a true giant of modern British culture.

14:30 NFT3
Unforgotten with Sanjeev Bhaskar, Nicola Walker (work permitting) and writer-creator Chris Lang
TRT 60min

Join Nicola Walker (subject to filming commitments), Sanjeev Bhaskar, writer and creator Chris Lang and executive producers Sally Haynes and Laura Mackie as they reflect on the success of the cold-case crime drama that has enthralled viewers for three series on ITV. With a new series in the pipeline, the stars and creators talk about the enduring appeal of crime drama – with a twist.

15:00 Blue Room
Nadiya Hussain
TRT 75min

Join the nation’s favourite home baker, who shot to fame after winning The Great British Bake Off, for an afternoon of cakes and chat. Enjoy a delicious taste of Nadiya’s own recipes made from Nadiya’s own recipes, while the baker-turned-TV presenter talks about her life, work, and the enduring love of cooking that permeates both.

16:00 BFI IMAX
Line of Duty
TRT 60min

Join creator, writer and director Jed Mercurio to hear the inside story of TV’s runaway hit. As AC-12 continues its mission to expose police corruption, the shadowy figure of ‘H’ remains a mystery, while new characters join the action. The highly anticipated fifth series looks to be the most explosive yet; go behind the scenes with those who made it.
Check bfi.org.uk for further announcements

16:00 NFT3
The Big Narstie Show with Mo Gilligan and Big Narstie
TRT 60min

Grime MC sensation Big Narstie burst onto British TV screens in 2018, bringing his brand of mayhem and anarchy to the chat show medium, alongside multitalented comedian Mo Gilligan. The Big Narstie Show has since proved an award-winning success. Expect the unexpected as Big Narstie and Mo recall the small-screen debut that changed their lives – and hear how they redefined the TV chat show for a new generation.

18:00 NFT1
Preview: Ghosts + Q&A with actors Mathew Baynton, Jim Howick, Ben Willbond, Martha Howe-Douglas and Laurence Rickard
BBC 2019. Dir Tom Kingsley. With Mathew Baynton, Jim Howick, Martha Howe-Douglas, Simon Farnaby, Ben Willbond, Laurence Rickard. TRT 60min

From the writer and performers behind Yonderland, Bill and Horrible Histories, Ghosts is BBC1’s new post-watershed comedy. The estate of Button Hall is haunted by ghosts from different historical eras, but all are united by their plan to scare away the young couple who now own the property and want to turn it into a hotel. Watch an exclusive preview and meet the cast.
The nature of some of the material makes it suitable for ages 12+ only

19:00 BFI IMAX
Preview: Years and Years + Q&A with writer Russell T Davies and cast BBC-RED Productions
2019. Dir Simon Cellan Jones. With Emma Thompson, Rory Kinnear, Jessica Hynes, Ruth Madeley. Ep1 60min (TRT 90min)

An exclusive preview of episode one of Russell T Davies’ eagerly awaited and ambitious new drama series for BBC One, starring Emma Thompson, Rory Kinnear, Jessica Hynes, Ruth Madeley, T’Nia Miller, Anne Reid and Russell Tovey. Years and Years tells the story of the Lyons family in a fast-changing Britain. When their lives converge on one crucial night in 2019 the story accelerates into the future. As we follow the twists and turns of everyday life over the next 15 years, we find out if this ordinary family could ever change the world.

21:00 NFT1
Inside No. 9: Going Live + Q&A with Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton, director Barbara Wiltshire and exec producer Adam Tandy
TRT 60min

When Inside No. 9, the genre-defying anthology series, showed the groundbreaking live episode Dead Line at Halloween, they created one of the great TV moments of 2018. In this session we revisit the episode and talk to the show’s creators Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, along with director Barbara Wiltshire and long-standing producer Adam Tandy.

Sunday 14 April

13:30 NFT1
Dad’s Army
TRT 60min

Three episodes of Dad’s ArmyThe Loneliness of the Long-Distance Walker, A Stripe for Frazer and Under Fire – were all seemingly destroyed after they were first shown in 1969, but are now being remade. Get an exclusive first look at this eagerly anticipated remake, and meet the new cast bringing a comedy classic back to life. Both Kevin McNally (Captain Mainwaring) and Robert Bathurst (Sergeant Wilson) will be attending this exclusive first look at one of the most eagerly awaited remakes of a comedy classic in recent years.

14:30 NFT3
Frank Gardner in Conversation
TRT 60min

We’re pleased to welcome the BBC’s Frank Gardner to the BFI to talk about his life both on and off screen. Since he was shot by terrorists in Saudi Arabia in 2004, the BBC’s security correspondent has had to use a wheelchair. But that hasn’t stopped him from doing the day job, or pursuing his other life as a thriller writer, an intrepid wildlife filmmaker (in 2017 he set out to track down Papua New Guinea’s Birds of Paradise in the remotest of jungles), and as a voice for wheelchair users’ rights.

15:00 NFT1
Midsomer Murders
TRT 60min

Murder has stalked the idyllic rural county of Midsomer for more than 20 years. Now, the stars of the show reveal what it’s like to be a part of this wildly popular detective series, which still keeps global audiences on the edge of their seats. Join us for a panel discussion and an exclusive sneak preview of clips celebrating the 20th series.
Please check bfi.org.uk for further announcements

16:00 NFT3
Taskmaster with Greg Davies and Alex Horne
TRT 60min

This word-of-mouth hit, created by comedian Alex Horne, is the cult comedy game show that sets out to test the wiles, wit and wisdom of five hyper-competitive comics with a series of ingenious challenges. Join the Taskmaster himself, Greg Davies, and his assistant Little Alex Horne for an exclusive look at the new series – and witness the action as they play the game for real.

16:30 NFT1
Call the Midwife: The Most Radical Show on Television
TRT 60min

It may be one of the nation’s favourite Sunday-evening delights, but Call the Midwife doesn’t hold back from hard-hitting, sensitive and relevant storylines. Backstreet abortion, disability, cot death, racial tension, alcoholism and the thalidomide scandal have all featured in a drama that isn’t afraid to explore some of the great social divides of the 50s and 60s – while still finding a message of hope for our times. Join writer and creator Heidi Thomas and cast from the series for a fascinating discussion.

17:30 NFT3
My Life, On & Off Screen: Zawe Ashton
TRT 60min

Zawe Ashton continues to delight and amaze us with the variety and complexity of the roles she plays across theatre, film and television. In her debut book, a memoir called Character Breakdown, she discusses the nature of performance, not just in an actor’s life, but in all our lives. We talk to her about her life and career, from her earliest days as a child actor to her current life as writer, director and multi-talented performer.

18:00 NFT1
Preview: Kirsty + Q&A with actor Samantha Morton and director Dominic
Savage Me+You Productions-Channel 4 2019. Dir Dominic Savage. With Samantha Morton, Paul Kaye. 47min (TRT 90min)

Kirsty is part of a dramatic anthology series created by BAFTA-winning filmmaker Dominic Savage (The Escape) for Channel 4. Each film was developed closely with the leading actress. Kirsty, played by Oscar-nominee Samantha Morton (In America), is a woman fighting to keep her family stable in a precarious world, and we follow the sacrifices she must make to survive. Join us for a preview of this powerful, emotionally charged film.

18:00 BFI IMAX
The future of TV with the creators of Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones
TRT 60min

Following the huge success of the ground-breaking Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones are back with their fifth series of Black Mirror. The unnervingly insightful and often disturbing anthology, exploring the impact of technology on the way we live, has won two BAFTAs and seven Emmys. Join Brooker and Jones as they discuss the ideas behind the new series, how they realised them on screen, their relationship with technology – and the future of television.

Saturday 20 April

15:15 NFT1
Music Believed Wiped: Session 1: Reel-Time!
TRT c.100min

Once again we hand the reins of a session over to our colleagues at Kaleidoscope to unveil recently rediscovered magical pop music moments, including clips of The Beatles, Elton John, T-Rex,
The Hollies, Manfred Mann, Louis Armstrong, The Tremeloes, Sweet, Nina Simone and Pan’s People on shows as diverse as Top of the Pops, Lift Off and Swap Shop. Hosted by David Hamilton.

18:00 NFT3
Music Believed Wiped Session 2: Cilla
BBC 1974. Dir Brian Whitehouse. With Bill Owen, Kenneth McKellar, Milo O’Shea, Joe Brown. 2x 45min

Two complete editions from Cilla’s 1974 series were returned last year to the BFI from the Cilla Black estate. These shows were made at the time Black was consolidating her transformation from pop star to all-round entertainer.

Booking times

Patrons and champions’ priority booking: Monday 4 March from 11.30am
Members’ priority booking opens: Tuesday 5 March from 11.30am
Public booking opens: Tuesday 12 March from 11.30am


Members: £10.50
Member concs: £8.20
Non-members: £12.50
Non-member concs: £10.20
Under 16s: £6

Reduced prices for weekday matinees. Concessionary prices are available to senior citizens, students, unwaged and disability visitors. Proof of eligibility may be required.

As always, visit the BFI web site for more details.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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