ALIVE: Rankin Faces Death - A Culture Show Special

Confirmed for BBC Two on 13 July at 10.10pm to 11.10pm

Ep 1/1

Saturday 13 July



We all know death is life’s only certainty, but as a rule we’d rather pretend it isn’t going to happen. In 2006, portrait photographer Rankin lost both his parents within a few weeks. It was while grieving that he began to view photography in a different way.

Consumed by the power of old photographs, he became acutely aware of how, for most people, photography is a way of accessing memories. It offers a shortcut to a subject's individual human qualities, and a reflection of what life meant to them.

In the toughest project of his career, Rankin has been exploring the link between photography and mortality for an exhibition at Liverpool’s Walker Gallery: Alive: In The Face Of Death. It marks a radical departure from the fashion and celebrity portraits he is known for. Here, Rankin has focussed his lens on people who have been told they have a short time left to live, or been forced to confront their mortality through personal or professional experience.

With unique behind-the-scenes access, The Culture Show has captured the stories behind his powerful images. ALIVE is a gripping journey through the creation of a major set of artworks, an introduction to a group of extraordinary characters rarely focussed upon by television cameras, and an exploration of the only rite of passage we are all yet to experience.