Ariel gets the chance to speak out

Statue of Ariel on front of Broadcasting House Ariel has seen many famous faces pass by since his creation in 1932

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The statue of Ariel over the entrance to Broadcasting House is ready to spill the beans.

Eric Gill's sculpture of the character, from William Shakespeare's last play The Tempest, will be brought to life this summer as part of a new interactive arts project.

Gavin and Stacey actor Matt Horne will provide the voice of Ariel, delivering a monologue written by the BBC's head of history Robert Seatter.

Ariel and Prospero Ariel is sent into the world by his master, Prospero

The sprite will reveal how he came to be commissioned, why he was deemed an appropriate personification of radio broadcasting, and which famous faces he has seen enter the BBC studios in London's Portland Place since his creation in 1932.

As the spirit of the air in The Tempest, Ariel was chosen as a metaphor for the magic of broadcasting in the 1920s, and was adopted as the title of this publication since 1936.

His statue is one of 35 public sculptures in London and Manchester that will be telling their tales - real or imagined - for the project by Sing London, a non-profit arts organisation.

Jeremy Paxman will be defending free speech as John Wilkes in London's Fetter Lane, Just a Minute host Nicholas Parsons will be Samuel Johnson's cat, Hodge, in Gough Square, while Fawlty Towers star Prunella Scales will speak out as Queen Victoria in Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens.

Visitors are invited to swipe their smartphones on tabs next to each statue to get a call back from anyone from Sherlock Holmes to Isaac Newton.

'We walk past so many statues in our cities without knowing who they are or why they are there,' said Seatter. 'This great Talking Statues project will bring those mute statues to 21st century life. I'm delighted that our own Ariel will be a part of this, and will tell his unique BBC story as never before.'

Ariel is joined on the Broadcasting House facade by his lofty master, Prospero - another character from The Tempest, who will remain silent in this instance.

The Talking Statues initiative starts on August 19. More information about the Prospero and Ariel statue can be found here.

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