Imagine returns to BBC One for 2013 run

Date: 04.06.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.12
Category: BBC One; Factual
BBC One’s flagship arts series presented by Alan Yentob returns for an exciting new line-up on Tuesday 25 June - fresh from winning a prestigious Rose d’Or award for 2012’s Imagine… Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender.

From Rod Stewart to Woody Allen, this new six-part series puts the lives of photographers, musicians, architects and directors under the Imagine spotlight, illuminating their lives and their work.

Launching the new series is Vivian Maier: Who Took Nanny’s Pictures?, the fascinating story of the woman described as ‘Mary Poppins with a camera’. Vivian was a Chicago nanny who had an extraordinary hidden talent. She took over 150,000 stunning photographs so exceptional it was almost impossible to believe that anyone other than a professional photographer had taken them. Before she died in 2009, the photographs were discovered in storage lockers and sold, without her knowledge, when she was old, ill and behind on the rent. A tough street photographer, before the term was really invented, Vivian was a secret poet of suburbia. Her arresting, astringent and deeply personal images are a window into America in the 1950s and 60s, with a haunting magical beauty and a wicked sense of humour. Most of her photographs were never developed, seen just once in the viewfinder of her camera as she took them. In her lifetime, Vivian never exhibited or shared her work with others. She was always private, almost a recluse - a mystery woman. Now the Vivian Maier phenomenon has gone viral, with her work selling for thousands of dollars. Her collection was a treasure trove for those who found it, and a classic parable of art: working for oneself, for no reward, and being recognised and celebrated only after death.

In contrast, Imagine presents McCullin, a powerful documentary portrait of legendary British war photographer and photojournalist Don McCullin, made by Jacqui and David Morris. The film is told through a series of searingly honest and often graphic interviews, through which McCullin recounts a life lived in the theatre of war - from his first assignment with the violent teenage gangs on his home turf of Finsbury Park, to capturing international conflicts throughout the turbulent 1960s to the 1980s. Working for The Sunday Times newspaper, McCullin’s photography brought home the horrors of modern warfare from Cyprus to the Congo and Biafra and, most famously, Vietnam. The documentary lays bare McCullin’s disgust for the destruction of human life juxtaposed with the adrenalin rush of a life spent under enemy fire.

In Rod Stewart: Can't Stop Me Now, Alan Yentob visits legendary rocker Rod Stewart at his LA home as he releases his first album of new material in almost 20 years- an album which instantly shot to the top of the charts. In a series of conversations, 'Rod the Mod' looks back to the 1960s, where he started out with groundbreaking acts like Steampacket and Jeff Beck, going on to front Faces from 1969. In an unmissable sequence, Imagine captures Rod with his soulmate and mischievous partner in crime Ronnie Wood. The band’s offstage antics and wildly energetic shows became legendary, as did Rod’s love affairs with a string of models, actresses and Bond girls. In tandem, his solo career - songs like Maggie May, You Wear It Well, and Sailing - propelled him to global superstardom. Whether pouting and gorgeous in silk harem pants and eyeliner, or kicking a football around on Top Of The Pops, Rod quickly became British rock music’s most popular Jack the Lad. The 1980s were a critical disaster, but his constant reinvention has given him a career lasting half a century. From Beatnik to Mod, from Folkie to Disco Artist, from Glam Rocker to, most recently, Crooner of American standards, it has been a remarkable musical journey and one that deserves reappraisal. Featuring rare archive footage and interviews with friends, family and musicians, Imagine presents a hugely entertaining romp through the most exciting decades in pop music history.

In Zaha Hadid: Who Dares Wins, Imagine profiles a woman described as a lioness among lions. Born in Baghdad, based in London, she is the most successful female architect there has ever been. She is now one of a handful of global superstar designers, who have changed the way people think about the world through buildings. But Zaha once had a reputation as unbuildable, a ‘paper architect’ whose projects began as vivid paintings of gravity-defying shapes exploding into the void.

Her design for an opera house in Cardiff was famously never built, despite winning the competition – twice. But she kept going, teaching, researching, winning competitions and finally recognition came. In the last few years, she has won the prestigious Pritzker Prize and the Stirling Prize, been made a Dame of the British Empire for her Aquatic Centre at the 2012 London Olympics and, this spring, was voted the Veuve Cliquot Business Woman of the Year for running a large and highly sought-after architectural practice. Imagine visits her buildings across the globe, from Austria to Azerbaijan, as Alan Yentob explores what makes Zaha Hadid tick. How did this extraordinary woman - by turns charming, stubborn, visionary yet exacting - come to build the impossible?

And finally, a treat for all film fans, as Imagine presents the definitive biography of the inimitable Woody Allen. Made over a two-year period by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Robert B Weide, Woody Allen: A Documentary is an intimate two-part study of the multi-Oscar-winning New York auteur, in which Allen lets us into his life and work. Woody Allen talks candidly about his childhood in Brooklyn, his early fame as a stand-up in New York City, and his first forays into screen writing and filmmaking. He doesn't shy away from discussing his sometimes controversial relationships with the leading ladies in his life, or discussing the hits and misses of an unparalleled body of work spanning five decades of filmmaking. Screen legends including Diane Keaton, Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson, Larry David and John Cusack join Allen’s family of filmmakers for a unique insight into one of the most obsessive and enduring directors of all time.

Notes to editors

All final programme titles to be confirmed.