• Click to contribute to WMHT
  • Click to make/update a sustaining contribution to WMHT
  • Click to join the WMHT e-news mailing list

Coming the Fall: New Drama, Arts, Performance, History & Election Coverage

Last Updated by WMHT Web Editor on
Phillipa Soo and Lin-Manuel Miranda
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

PBS’ fall 2016 primetime schedule is rich in politics, arts, drama and political history, covering a span from the American Revolution to the upcoming Presidential election. FRONTLINE’s acclaimed series “The Choice 2016” returns on September 27 with an in-depth look at this year’s presidential candidates, while THE CONTENDERS - 16 FOR ’16, debuting September 13, looks back at previous elections through the stories of former candidates. History and politics carry over into the arts with “Hamilton’s America” from GREAT PERFORMANCES, an intimate look at the making of the wildly successful Broadway production of Hamilton, winner of 11 Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, which kicks off the sixth season of the PBS ARTS FALL FESTIVAL on October 21. Fall 2016 also brings the highly–anticipated return of “Poldark” on MASTERPIECE (date TBA), whose Season 2 continues the story of Captain Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) in a love story set in windswept Cornwall of the late 1700s. On September 6, PBS presents 9/11 INSIDE THE PENTAGON, a documentary that goes behind the scenes at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, and airs in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the attack. On September 20, Ken Burns’s DEFYING THE NAZIS: THE SHARPS’ WAR tells the moving story of an American couple who rescued hundreds trying to escape the Nazis. 

As part of PBS’ commitment to education, the fall season will kick off with “SPOTLIGHT EDUCATION”, a week of primetime programming focused on the challenges facing America’s education system. Starting Monday, Sept.12, PBS will lead a national dialogue on-air, online and across communities, exploring ideas and solutions to improve outcomes for all of America’s youth. National broadcast programs include POVAll the Difference,” TED TALKSEducation Revolution,” FRONTLINEThe Diploma Mill,” (w.t.), NOVASchool of the Future,” CRAFT IN AMERICATeachers” and TIME FOR SCHOOL. Funding for these programs is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), in partnership with PBS, as part of the public media initiative, “American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen.”

On October 25, “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You” on AMERICAN MASTERS celebrates the life of the acclaimed, and often controversial, TV writer and producer. In BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK: AND STILL I RISE, which debuts in two-parts on November 15 and November 22, acclaimed scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the last 50 years of African-American history, looking at culture, politics and an ever-changing racial landscape to explore the remarkable progress, daunting setbacks and deep contradictions of black America. ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, a new feature film starring Martin Sheen and based on the iconic book by L.M. Montgomery, will air on Thanksgiving night, November 24. 

As part of PBS’ partnership with NPR to cover the 2016 elections, the 2016 Campaign Connection site offers a round-up of election coverage from across public media, including FRONTLINE’s “The Choice 2016” and THE CONTENDERS - 16 FOR ’16. PBS ELECTION 2016 coverage brings together venerable news and public affairs shows with new programs and specials to offer viewers information and insights about the 2016 elections, the candidates and key issues for voters. PBS NEWSHOUR, WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL and PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND will provide distinctive coverage of the ongoing national, state and local campaigns, as well as presidential and vice presidential debates. On election night, PBS NEWSHOUR will offer live coverage of national and local results. 

“PBS’ fall programming truly stands out for its amazing variety, quality and diversity,” said Beth Hoppe, PBS’ Chief Programming Executive and General Manager. “Like the artists who populate our Friday primetime cultural programs this fall, PBS brings new perspectives to stories both well-known and untold. PBS viewers will discover everything from joyous musical creations to thoughtful approaches to presidential elections, learn from biographies of acclaimed Americans and find inspiration even in history’s darkest hours.”

MASTERPIECE enhances PBS’ Sunday night drama block with the September 11 debut of CHURCHILL’S SECRET, with Emmy® Award-winner Michael Gambon as Winston Churchill in an all-star production based on a little-known incident in Churchill's illustrious life. Following CHURCHILL’S SECRET on September 11 is INDIAN SUMMERS, set during the tumultuous period of British Colonialism in the 1930s.  Rachel Griffiths and Art Malik join Julie Walters, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, and Nikesh Patel for Season 2 of the picturesque series. POLDARK, starring Aidan Turner in a love story set in windswept Cornwall in the late 1700s, returns for a second highly-anticipated season (date TBA).

The PBS Arts Fall Festival kicks off on October 21, and continues with a number of new programs on Friday nights throughout the fall. Joining “Hamilton’s America” from GREAT PERFORMANCES are Imelda Staunton as the iconic Momma Rose in a British revival of the classic American musical “Gypsy” and “Shakespeare Live! From the Royal Shakespeare Company.” LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER returns to the festival this year with “Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater” and pianist “Lang Lang’s New York Rhapsody.” Full broadcast dates and several other programs that are part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival will be announced later. SOUNDBREAKING: STORIES FROM THE CUTTING EDGE OF RECORDED MUSIC, an eight-episode series that explores how cutting edge technology combines with human artistry to create modern recorded music, premieres on November 14. 

PBS will unveil many of these new shows at the Television Critics Association Press Tour July 28 and 29 with a range of stars from the worlds of arts and politics.

Stay tuned for more about these exciting programs!