BBC to air drama on 'birth' of Coronation Street

The BBC is to air a drama telling the story of the "difficult birth" of Coronation Street - its commercial rival's popular soap opera.

BBC4's show is named Florizel Street - the original title of what was to become Britain's longest-running soap.

The ITV favourite, set in the fictional suburb of Weatherfield, celebrates its 50th birthday later this year.

The BBC drama is part of the channel's Great Northern Season, which will celebrate the culture, history, life and architecture of northern England.

This includes 1960: Year Of The North, which sees author Andrew Martin exploring how new voices in books, film, TV and music "woke Britain from its post-war slumber".

Florizel Street will chart writer Tony Warren's dream of bringing characters from his youth to TV with an ongoing drama series set in a northern back-street.

The drama is being billed as showing how Warren's vision made it to screens despite "fierce opposition" from his bosses.

The new spring/summer season on BBC4 also includes shows celebrating fatherhood and its history.

A Century Of Fatherhood will chart the "revolution" of fatherhood in Britain, while child psychologist Laverne Antrobus will look at families in The Biology Of Dads.

Martin will take a light-hearted look at the literary tradition of the subject in Disappearing Dad.

John Lennon's role as a father and the re-appearance of his own dad into his life will be examined in the drama Lennon Naked, starring Christopher Eccleston.

BBC4 controller Richard Klein said: "The recent review of BBC strategy underlined the ambition for BBC4 to reaffirm its commitment to arts, music, culture and knowledge programming.

"I believe this season reflects a channel that is already heading in this direction and we will continue to take our ambitions higher still."

The new season's arts and music offering on the channel sees BBC4 take part in a cross-BBC initiative with BBC2, Radio 3 and Radio 2 called The BBC - A Passion For Opera.

In Opera Italia, Royal Opera music director Antonio Pappano traces the music in the country's history and culture.

Stephen Fry will explore the composer Wagner's troubled legacy in Stephen Fry On Wagner.

Bawdy art and literature will be highlighted in the show Rude Britannia, and an accompanying programme fronted by Sir David Frost, Frost On Satire, will chart the genre in the US and the UK and its impact on politics.

Another 50th birthday will be celebrated in the show For The Love Of Mockingbirds, marking the half century of the classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird.

Writer Andrew Smith will visit Monroeville in Alabama, the setting of the book, to find out what changes there have been.

As the Glastonbury Festival celebrates its 40th birthday, the BBC is showing P Is For Pyramid: An A-Z Of 40 Years At Glastonbury, with some of the event's best live performances.

BBC4 will also be exploring the sea in a number of programmes, including the series Timothy Spall - Somewhere At Sea and The Story Of Britain And The Sea, showing how the sea has helped shape modern Britain.

The channel will also show HG Wells's The First Men In The Moon, adapted by and starring League Of Gentlemen and Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss as Edwardian scientist Professor Cavor.

In addition, the channel will explore southern Africa in advance of the World Cup.

Wonderful Africa will see photographer Rankin explaining why South Africa has always gripped his imagination.

A series called The Tutu Talks will show Archbishop Desmond Tutu tackle "the most challenging issues facing Africa today" and Swaziland native Richard E Grant will explore the History Of Safari.