BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

27 November 2014
Press Office
Search the BBC and Web
Search BBC Press Office

BBC Homepage

Contact Us

Press Releases & Press Packs



Leonardo - the BBC's first major biography of Leonardo da Vinci

The extraordinary story, amazing vision and unfulfilled dreams of Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci are brought to life in a revealing, new three-part series for BBC ONE.

Press pack available

Leonardo explores how the man behind some of the most famous paintings in the world was also an engineering genius, anatomical scientist and inventor of wonderful machines hundreds of years
ahead of their time.

Presented by Alan Yentob, Leonardo is the BBC's first major biography of Leonardo da Vinci and marks the 500th anniversary of the painting of the Mona Lisa, which Leonardo began in 1503.

Mark Rylance as Leonardo with the Mona Lisa

The films bring together his public face and the private thoughts, illustrations and ideas explored in his notebooks, to paint a revealing portrait of the artist's passion for knowledge, which both inspired and obsessed him throughout his career.

The notebooks reveal a man with an incredible eye and hunger to understand the workings of the natural world, which he was also desperate to mimic in machinery.

Filmed across Italy and featuring actor Mark Rylance in the role of Leonardo, the series uses Leonardo's own writings to re-enact the story of his life and work.

Leonardo's inventions - a parachute, hang-glider, tank, underwater diving suit and robot - are built and put to the test for the first time, 500 years after he designed them.

Artist Leo Stevenson demonstrates some of Leonardo's many novel painting techniques, and experts in Renaissance art
offer their views on his creative genius.

But the brilliance of this ultimate Renaissance man was flawed: scandals dogged his private life; his devotion to his often bizarre experiments meant commissions were left unfinished; and a rivalry with fellow artist Michelangelo undermined his work.

An interactive website, giving viewers a chance to build their own Leonardo machines, will be available through BBCi at

Leonardo, a BBC co-production with Discovery for BBC ONE, is produced by Sarah Aspinall,Tim Dunn and Nick Rossiter, and the executive producer is Michael Mosley.

Notes to Editors

The Leonardo press pack below is in pdf format, viewable with Adobe Acrobat, which can be obtained free here.

Leonardo press pack (606KB)

All the BBC's digital services are now available on Freeview, the new free-to-view digital terrestrial television service, as well as on satellite and cable.

Freeview offers the BBC's eight television channels, interactive services from BBCi, as well as 11 BBC radio networks.



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy