Media Centre Round-Up #8 (week ending 1 March 2013)

Editor, BBC Media Centre

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Last week was an important one for arts at the BBC. On Tuesday 26 February, BBC Four Controller, Richard Klein, set out his vision for arts coverage on the channel for the forthcoming year. There looks to be some fascinating programming coming up – personal highlights include What Do Artists Do All Day, which goes behind closed doors to find out about the working lives of some of the UK’s leading artists, including popular Scottish painter Jack Vettriano; and Great Artists In Their Own Words, which explores the 20th century revolution in the visual arts through some of its chief practitioners: Picasso, Dali, Rene Magritte, Man Ray and Max Ernst.

BBC Four Controller Richard Klein announces a range of new arts programmes

Photography played an integral part in the modernist movement and has undergone many revolutions itself over the course of its relatively short lifetime as an art-form, and last week BBC North and BBC Two’s The Culture Show announced a collaboration with the Walker Gallery in Liverpool to stage the challenging new project by world-renowned photographer, Rankin, called Alive: In the Face of Death, the details of which can be found here.

Finally on the arts front, last week also saw the BBC Performing Arts Fund announce the winners of its Music Fellowship scheme. The Fund, which was set up in 2003, uses some of the revenue received from the voting lines on BBC One entertainment shows to support aspiring individuals and community groups to achieve success in the performing arts.

On Wednesday 27 February I went to the press launch and screening of the first episode of the new BBC Three drama In The Flesh. As well as all the interviews I did with the director, cast and writer that can still be found here, there is also a new animated promo available that to brings to mind the old ‘Protect and Survive’ government information films of the late 1970s and early 1980s, which struck fear into me as a child.

In other drama news, BBC One announced a new contemporary take on Alexandre Dumas’ classic The Three Musketeers, which features the evergreen Peter Capaldi as Cadinal Richelieu; whilst on Friday the return of Matt Smith as Doctor Who in a new adventure called The Bells of St John was confirmed for Easter Saturday, 30 March.  

And in radio drama, transmission details of a new adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s fantasy tale Neverwhere were confirmed. With an impressive cast that includes James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Romola Garai, Natalie Dormer and Johnny Vegas, it tells the story of a subterranean world set beneath the streets of London. Jon Jacob was at an airing of the first episode and blogged about it for About The BBC. It will be broadcast on Radio 4 on Saturday 16 March and the remaining five episodes on Radio 4 Extra from Monday 18 to Friday 22 March.

Benedict Cumberbatch, James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, Sophie Okonedo, David Harewood

It was a good week for some of our online platforms as well. January 2013 saw a record 272 million requests for TV and radio programmes on BBC iPlayer, with a significant rise in the numbers coming via mobiles and tablets; whilst the recently launched BBC Sport app for iPhone and Android devices reached one million UK downloads.

Finally, CBeebies and BBC Learning announced a brand new show called Magic Hands which will feature poetry translated into British Sign Language. From Robert Louis Stephenson to Roger Stevens and Michaela Morgan, the programmes will be fun, five-minute packages that mix sign language, the spoken word, music and vibrant animation to bring the poems to life and capture the imaginations of both deaf and hearing children. We recently went along to speak to the presenting team and so will have some filmed interviews on the site soon.


Ben Murray is Editor of the BBC Media Centre.

Follow @BBCPress on Twitter.

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