03 Feb 2015

BBC/OU Series takes cameras behind the scenes at the House of Commons in run up to landmark General Election

Inside the Commons, copyright BBC/Atlantic Productions

Inside the Commons, copyright BBC/Atlantic Productions

An observational documentary series, co-produced by BBC and The Open University (OU) and produced by Atlantic Productions, takes the cameras into the heart of the Commons for the first time ahead of one of the most unpredictable General Elections in years.

New BBC/OU co-production, produced by Atlantic Productions, Inside The Commons captures a year in the life of the House of Commons, with TV cameras given unparalleled access behind the scenes for the first time.

Inside The Commons, which starts on BBC2 tonight at 9pm (Tuesday February 3) goes behind the scenes at key events including Prime Minister’s Questions, the Queen’s Speech and Budget Day. The four-part series follows the business of MPs and Ministers but also looks at life in the Commons from the perspective of people like the craftsmen who maintain the building and the clerks to the keepers of Big Ben.

In the first episode, reporter Michael Cockerell meets two relatively new female MPs – Charlotte Leslie and Sarah Champion – as they get to grips with the ways of the House. We hear from those at the top of the political tree, including Prime Minister David Cameron and Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband who reveal what happens at Prime Minister’s Questions. In addition, viewers are introduced to the Gospel-singing tea lady who works in the Member’s tea room and the Clerk of the House, Sir Robert Rogers, the Commons’ most powerful official.

Academic consultant on the programme, Dr Richard Heffernan, Reader in Government at the OU said:

“The House of Commons is a unique environment, and this fascinating series will give viewers a unique insight into how MPs have either to supply and support or else check and balance the government. It will also show how Members try to make law, influence policy and participate in the national political conversation.”

Overall the series takes an unprecedented look at the heart of British democracy in the run up to the most unpredictable General Election ever, and asks asks if our Parliament is fit for purpose in the 21st century.

Episodes 2, 3 & 4 follow on Tuesday 10th, 17th & 24th at 9pm on BBC2

Inside The Commons (4x60) was commissioned by Darren Kemp for the BBC. The Executive Producer is Anthony Geffen of Atlantic Productions. The Series was commissioned for The Open University by Dr Caroline Ogilvie, Head of Broadcast. The University’s Academic Consultant was Dr Richard Heffernan, Reader in Government at the OU, in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Media Fellow, Social Sciences, Geoff Andrews, Broadcast Project Manager, Caroline Green. Online Project Producer, Tracy Buchanan

The OU’s free learning site, OpenLearn, has a wealth of information and resources in connection with the series, including two fascinating videos, one about PMQs with two leading parliamentary sketch writers from The Times and the Daily Mail, and the other on Spaces of Politics, with a third looking at the making of the series. To watch these and to find out more please go to: (Please note: this URL may not be live until the day of transmission, and may only contain minimum content and resources if viewed prior to broadcast.)

This four-part series was commissioned by the Open Media Unit , and is supported by the Faculty of Social Sciences, with particular relevance to BA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy and Economics (Q45). New from October 2015 is the Level 2 Module: Understanding Politics: ideas and institutions in the modern world (DD211).
Join in the chat with the OU’s OpenLearn comparing the significance of this year’s General Election with the landmark election of 1979.
Rewind ’79 – OpenLearn

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