Britain's Best Buildings (working title)
BBC TWO - November
extraordinary array of fantastic buildings cover Britain, from every
historical age, and of every architectural style.
Britain's Best Buildings, a new four part series for BBC TWO, Dan
Cruickshank explores four buildings, well-known and much
loved - Tower Bridge, Blenheim Palace, Durham Cathedral
and Windsor Castle.
series gives an unexpurgated insight into the bricks and mortar
icons of British history, celebrating each building's outstanding
architecture and rich heritage; but also exposing the secrets and
scandals that shake their foundations.
Cruickshank uncovers the secret history behind the construction
of each building and sheds new light on the reasons for their popularity.
Best Buildings offers a unique opportunity to learn more about the
country's favourite properties.
One - Tower Bridge
Bridge is a London icon, one of the city's most popular and recognised
its traditional gothic exterior, the bridge appears seeped in heritage,
of an age with the Tower of London it stands beside, it's great
gargantuan structure carved out of stone.
fact, Tower Bridge is neither old nor made of stone. Tower Bridge
is one of the world's biggest fakes - a modern steel frame construction
in medieval cladding.
Cruickshank looks to the bridge's first conservation battle, which
raged for two decades, pitting traditionalist architects against
technological innovators, to understand the anomalies of the bridge's
he discovers why the dispute over Tower Bridge set the mould for
a century of environmental wrangles.
magnificent Blenheim Palace sits serenely in the picturesque landscape
of rural Oxfordshire.
Blenheim is a lavish monument to human pride and militarism, built
to reward John Churchill after British success at the Battle of
the aggression of the battle was not lost in the palace's construction,
it's early years blighted by bitter disputes over design and cost.
Cruickshank explores the very visible architectural effects of two
decades of rows between four of the most irascible characters in
history - a fat and bullying Queen (Anne), a daring and courageous
soldier (John Churchill), an ambitious and scheming wife (Sarah
Churchill) and a pushy and inexperienced playwright attempting to
pass himself off as an architect (Sir John Vanbrugh).
Cathedral is one of the most majestic cathedrals in Britain and
a unique combination of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
even this magnificent building has its imperfections - a deviant
column in the South Transept, decorated with an odd mix of spiral
and chevron, has often been portrayed as an error, a pleasant mistake.
But is it?
Cruickshank discovers the ideas behind sacred geometry and the art
of decoding medieval buildings to explain the reasons for the cathedral's
explorations reveal why the unique decorations on the column, far
from being a mistake, in fact expose much about the divine inspirations
and beliefs of the cathedral's architects.
Windsor, Dan Cruickshank explores the much loved home of the Royal
family and the largest inhabited castle in the world.
integral symbol of the monarchy, Windsor Castle has been both fortress
and shrine, royal burial place and hideaway.
Best Buildings examines Windsor's architectural history to reveal
how three kings created a castle to reshape the monarchy itself
- the recreation of Camelot under Edward III; the re-assertion of
absolute power by Charles II after the Cromwellian republic; and
the re-affirmation of his imperial aspirations by George IV.
Dan Cruickshank investigates St George's Chapel, home of the romantic
and ancient Order of the Garter.
Best Buildings is a BBC Production for BBC TWO. The Executive Producer
is Basil Comely.
Log on to the BBCi
History site at www.bbc.co.uk/history
to find out more from Dan Cruickshank about Britain's Best Buildings
and the history of British architecture.
to accompany the series is published by BBC Books (£25).
by Dan Cruickshank it features the four buildings in the BBC TV
series plus Holyroodhouse, Cardiff Castle, the Midland Grand Hotel
and Highpoint One.
Cruickshank is one of the country's leading architectural and historic
building experts and a regular presenter on BBC TWO's architectural
heritage programme House Detectives.
television credits include Invasion, One Foot in the Past and Travels
May 2002, Dan travelled
to Afghanistan for Omnibus, to discover what cultural treasures
remain after years of civil war and bloodshed.
Cruickshank is an active member of the Georgian Group and the Architectural
Panel of the National Trust.
is also the author several books including Life In The Georgian
City and London: The Art of Georgian Buildings.