The Culture Show unveils eclectic mix of topical films for this summer on BBC Two

The Culture Show continues to provide intelligent insights into culture today, and I’m delighted that we are bringing such a broad range of subjects to BBC Two through these new commissions."Mark Bell, Commissioning Editor, Arts
Date: 21.05.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.02
Category: BBC Two; Factual
BBC Two’s flagship arts series, The Culture Show, has today revealed eight new 30-minute topical documentaries on contemporary British culture commissioned for BBC Two this coming summer.

The new films cover a broad range of subjects including Maxine Peake taking on the challenge of turning Shelley’s great poem ‘The Masque of Anarchy’ into a one women show; the opening of the new Birmingham Library – set to be one of the largest in the world; Sue Perkins as she follows the journey of several female comedians in a masculine world; and Alastair Sooke as he heads to Venice with classical art connoisseur Bendor Grosvenor to explore the flamboyant 2013 Biennale.

Mark Bell, Arts Commissioner, says: “The Culture Show continues to provide intelligent insights into culture today, and I’m delighted that we are bringing such a broad range of subjects to BBC Two through these new commissions.

“The longer films have proved to be very popular, with a Culture Show special programme on the reattribution of a Van Dyck portrait reaching well over a million viewers.”

The Culture Show is commissioned by Mark Bell, Arts Commissioner and Janice Hadlow for BBC Two. The series editor for the Culture Show is Janet Lee.

Anarchy Up North - A Manchester International Festival Special
Maxine Peake (Silk, Shameless, The Village) takes on the daunting challenge of turning Shelley’s great poem ‘The Masque of Anarchy’ into a one-woman show for this year’s Manchester International Festival. Broadcaster Miranda Sawyer will be following each step of the journey, from the rehearsal room to the final performance, staged a stone’s throw away from the site of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre that inspired Shelley to write arguably the greatest protest poem of all time.

African Art
This summer, Tate Modern opens its doors to Africa, through two of the most important African artists working today: 83-year-old visionary modernist Ibrahim El-Salahi and contemporary free-thinker Meschac Gaba. Throughout the 20th century, a vibrant African modern art scene flourished, which has largely been neglected and misunderstood by the West. Through the work of El-Salahi and Gaba, we’ll discover the complex relationship between African artists and modern art, which began as African nations began to emerge from the shadow of colonialism. Meeting contemporary African artists, commentators and cultural critics, this Culture Show is a radical retelling of the story of modern art.

Venice: A tale of two cities
Modern art expert Alastair Sooke heads to Venice with classical art connoisseur Bendor Grosvenor to explore the two sides of the city's unique and flamboyant visual culture as the 2013 Biennale bursts into life. They unpack the very best of the Venice they love, revealing the city to be a true cornucopia of treasures. On the one hand it is home to contemporary art's hottest global event - the Biennale, a beacon for art world movers and shakers, the wealthy and glamorous. But Venice is also shown to be one of Italy's most enchanting Renaissance achievements, a living work of art on water, crammed full of astonishing masterpieces that changed the course of art history.

Funny Women
In a light-hearted yet insightful look at the highs and lows of being a woman in an unashamedly macho world, Sue Perkins follows several female comedians from their warm-up shows to the Edinburgh festival. She shares the thrills of a good gig and the spills of a disparaging review, and as a long-standing performer herself, Sue finds out how these fellow female stand-ups got hooked on comedy and why they keep taking the knocks and coming back for more.

Peter Doig
Peter Doig is one of the most highly regarded and internationally renowned painters working today. The Culture Show follow preparations for the first major exhibition of his paintings to be shown in the country of his birth, at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh. Doig reveals his passions for the films, music, photographs and sport that have informed his work.

The Traverse At Fifty
This summer, as Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre reaches the venerable age of 50, the Culture Show takes a retrospective look at this forward-thinking institution, which has been game changing ever since its inception in the 1960s. The Culture Show speaks to the playwrights and actors that the Traverse has nurtured over the years, and goes behind the scenes as the theatre gears up for its anniversary festival season featuring four new productions by leading writers – including David Grieg, David Harrower and Tim Price.

A People’s Palace For Birmingham
In 2012 over 200 British libraries were closed as a result of cuts to council funding, but Birmingham is bucking this depressing trend. This September sees the opening of a new city library – which, at 31,000 square metres and 10 storeys high – will be one of the largest public libraries in the world. Architecture critic, Tom Dyckhoff goes behind the scenes as they move over 11,000 crates of books from the old Central Library and into their new home. Tom meets the people behind this radical new space, including Francine Houben, its Dutch architect, revealing what a 21st century library looks like, asking how it can keep pace with changes in modern life, and joining the people of Birmingham to celebrate the opening of this important new building.

Film On YouTube presented by Jacques Peretti
As the BBC approaches its 100th anniversary, The Culture Show film presented by Jacques Peretti asks whether the rise of YouTube, bought six years ago by Google for 1.65billion dollars, signals the decline of television broadcasting as we know it. Every month, 6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube, 72 hours are uploaded every minute, in 53 countries in 61 languages. Is YouTube democratising broadcasting and television or merely creating a world in which amateurs drown out experts and professionals? Jacques Peretti talks to those who have made careers for themselves through the platform, including one of the UK’s most successful YouTubers and those working in the company’s London and US offices, as well as those who warn that YouTube creates new problems for professional creatives.

Notes to Editors

Arts on the BBC

The BBC is the biggest producer of and investor in original arts and music programmes in the UK, with a wealth of content across TV radio and online. In 2011-2012, BBC arts and music television was watched by 37.4 million people. The BBC plays a unique role in the cultural life of the UK, creating content and building partnerships with the arts sector that go beyond broadcast, from sharing expertise to widening public engagement.

In 2012, The Public Catalogue Foundation and the BBC completed an ambitious project to make the UK’s entire collection of oil paintings available online – 211,861 paintings are now available. The BBC enriches the arts of the UK by nurturing and celebrating talent and creativity. This year, the BBC Performing Arts Fund will award £450,000 to theatre groups and individuals.