Press Office

Sunday 13 Jul 2014

Press Releases

BBC announces new arts programming highlights

Mark Bell, Commissioning Editor, Arts, has announced a raft of forthcoming programme highlights across BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four and discussed the BBC's commitment to the arts.

"Arts programmes can change the way we see the world," says Mark. "They have been among the most influential programmes ever made, and they have always been at the centre of the BBC agenda.

"The BBC seeks to make the arts accessible to people in the following ways:

  • To reflect and comment on the arts and culture of this country and the world
  • To provide narrative and context to make sense of the artistic achievements of the past
  • To use programme seasons to draw attention to specific areas of artistic expression
  • To expose and illuminate the artistic process

"Knowledge programming, of which arts is a key component, is one of the BBC's five editorial priorities as outlined in the recent Strategy Review, bringing culture to new minds, eyes and ears and to enrich people's lives in doing so. Mark Thompson said last year that it is impossible to imagine the BBC without the arts, and impossible to imagine cultural life in the UK without the BBC.

"Last year, the BBC broadcast over 1,700 hours of arts programming. But the BBC is not only part of the cultural infrastructre thanks to its programming but through its partnerships with arts organisations, support of orchestras and its charitable commitments.

"We are using new digital photography techniques in Renaissance Remastered, in which Matt Collings shows viewers, in astonishing detail, some of the greatest Italian paintings, enabling them to see and understand them as never before.

"Waldemar Januszczak will offer a major reappraisal of Impressionism, showing the movement to be much more than a sunny Sunday by the Seine and how it employed great rigour to draw on radical new scientific discoveries about the nature of light. And Sheila Hancock travels across the continent in the footsteps of the amateur watercolourists of the 19th Century.

"Following on from the success of collections of programmes about poetry and opera, the BBC is devoting a season to a celebration of the novel, at the centre of which is Faulks On Fiction, on BBC Two, in which the novelist tells the story of the British novel through four character archetypes – the lover, the hero, the villain and the snob.

"And, on BBC Four, In Their Own Words uses the riches of the BBC archives to allow novelists from GK Chesterton and Virginia Woolf onwards to tell, literally, their own story.

"There is a renewed emphasis on architecture. In the autumn, the RIBA Stirling Prize will move from Channel 4 to join many other major cultural events under the banner of The Culture Show. And, next year, Charlie Luxton and Dan Cruickshank will follow the reconstruction of some rare and remarkable pieces of vernacular architecture – including a prefabricated chapel and an early 20th-century fish and chip shop."

The forthcoming programme highlights include:
Faulks On Fiction

In 2011, BBC Two celebrates the power of the British novel, with a major new series and some complementary programming.

In Faulks On Fiction, best-selling novelist Sebastian Faulks (The Girl At The Lion D'Or, Birdsong, A Week In December) looks at the history of the novel through its characters, each episode focusing on a different archetype – the hero, the lover, the snob and the villain – to look at how they and the novel have developed over the centuries.

Touring the country, with the occasional foray abroad, Sebastian uses his unique personal knowledge of characterisation to get under the skin of some familiar and not so familiar British literary characters. From Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe to Martin Amis's John Self, and from Jane Austen's Emma to Monica Ali's Chanu, Sebastian puts them on the psychiatrist's couch.
As part of the celebration of the British novel, a Culture Show Special, presented by Sue Perkins, will investigate the worlds of crime and new romance in a journey to discover the essential ingredients of a best-seller. 
BBC Productions
A Culture Show Special – The Books We Really Read

Continuing BBC Two's focus on novels, The Culture Show's Sue Perkins investigates crime and experiences new romance in her journey to discover the essential ingredients of a bestseller.
As a literature graduate and a judge on last year's Man Booker Prize, Sue's reading material has consisted mainly of literary classics. Now, she's on a mission to find out just what she's been missing and what makes best-sellers so readable.
Her journey takes her to the home of Agatha Christie to find clues as to why she's the best-selling crime author of all time. She visits the racetrack with Dick Francis's son Felix to find out what makes the perfect backdrop for a thriller, and meets author Lee Child to discover why men and women love his anti-hero Jack Reacher.
In a flashmob-style raid on an Edinburgh hairdressing salon, Sue also tests the popularity of the latest chick-lit novel by Sophie Kinsella.
Along the way, she meets best-selling authors Ian Rankin, Ruth Rendell, Colin Dexter, Anthony Horowitz and Joanne Harris to get their tips on what makes a best-selling book. She also meets some of the UK's biggest crime, thriller and romance fans to find out what they like best about their favourite authors.
BBC Productions and BBC Scotland
In Their Own Words – British Novelists
BBC Four

This is the story of the British novel in the 20th century told by those who know it best – the authors themselves. Plundering the BBC archive, and produced in partnership with The Open University, In Their Own Words reveals Britain's greatest novelists talking candidly about their life and work.

The full extent of this resource is surprising and takes us from late Victorian writers like GK Chesteron, HG Wells and EM Forster (all of whom recorded for the BBC in the Twenties and Thirties) through to Salman Rushdie, Angela Carter and Martin Amis.

It includes the only recording of Virginia Woolf in existence, as well as surprising set-pieces: William Golding addressing a room of primary school pupils about Lord Of The Flies; JG Ballard, author of Crash, celebrating the beauty of the motorcar; and Kingsley Amis and John Braine in a smoke-filled Soho restaurant discussing the impact of the Second World War on the British novel.

The BBC archive website is also working with British Novelists In Their Own Words to create a new online collection to bring together the full versions of many of the interviews used in the series. Audiences will be able to watch extended interviews with the greats of modern literature, on-demand, in this permanent web resource, from the day the programme transmits by visiting

The Open University is creating an interactive timeline to complement the series and enable viewers to navigate their way through literary history, which will go live immediately prior to transmission. at Some of our best-loved writers and reviews of their works also feature in a free Open University booklet, which is available online or by calling 0845 366 8022.

In Their Own Words was co-produced by The Open University and the BBC.
Arena – Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way
BBC Four
Arena profiles jazz legend Dave Brubeck in his 90th year. This is the third in a trilogy of films, co-produced by Arena with Clint Eastwood (the others included Tony Bennett – The Music Never Ends (2008) and Johnny Mercer – The Dream's On Me (2010)). Dave Brubeck – In His Own Sweet Way will tell the story of a living genius.
Brubeck's career began 65 years ago with revolutionary experiments that would come to be called cool jazz – he was the first jazz musician to appear on the cover of Time magazine. He had one of the biggest popular hits in jazz history with Take Five, a sound as familiar today as it was in 1959.

Brubeck's daring experiments with time marked him out as one of the most adventurous and technically accomplished jazz musicians ever. A year ago, Brubeck received America's most prestigious cultural accolade – the Kennedy Centre Lifetime Achievement Award. 
The producer and director is Bruce Ricker and the executive producers are Clint Eastwood and Anthony Wall.

BBC Vision/Co-production Clint Eastwood
Renaissance Remastered
Presented by Matthew Collings, Renaissance Remastered tells the story of how the greatest Renaissance paintings were created, using the latest digital technology to present a stunning new way for viewers to enjoy paintings on the screen.

Spanning 50 years of Renaissance genius, from the early Renaissance of the 15th Century through to the High Renaissance of the early 16th Century, the episodes will look at the artists Piero della Francesca, Raphael and Hieronymus Bosch.
Using digital technology, the series will give a general audience access to the intricacies of technique and delicate details that are normally only seen by conservation experts or the artists themselves. The technique, known as "image mapping", involves knitting together very high resolution images of small areas of the painting so that the camera can move from a wide-shot of the whole painting to close-ups of tiny details which are not visible to the naked eye. 

These close-ups reveal delicate details of technique and in some cases startling details of imagery which are not even apparent when viewing the paintings in a gallery. The result will be a fresh and exciting vision of the Renaissance and a new way of seeing and understanding the secrets of technique, imagery and imagination that lie behind all great paintings.
Blakeway Productions

Impressionism (Working title)
Waldemar Januszczak returns to BBC Two with a fresh new look at Impressionism.

Impressionism is often understood as a sunny riverside movement (the familiar cliché of Monet and Renoir boating on the Seine) but, in this series, Waldemar will reappraise the Impressionists and illuminate the less familiar aspects of the movement.
Impressionism was a conglomeration of different ambitions and styles. The main players of Impressionism – Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, Seurat – were crucially important, but there were 31 artists in the first Impressionism exhibition, 90 per cent of whom subsequently slipped out of sight.

Even critical Impressionists, such as Caillebotte and Guillaumin, who were such prominent exhibitors in the movement, are little understood or appreciated these days. Waldemar will seek to shine a light on these "forgotten" artists. He will also explore the fierce revolutionary relationship that the movement had with science including experiments and examinations of optics, paints and techniques relevant to the time and the artists.
ZCZ Films
The Art Of Travel – A History Of Watercolours With Sheila Hancock (working title)
A celebration of the rich yet largely untold story of British watercolour. Focusing especially on the work of amateur travelling painters of the 19th Century, Sheila Hancock will look closely at the technique of watercolour painting and the unique strengths of a portable medium as a means of record in the days before photography.

She will travel through the Lake District and other parts of the UK, and through France and Italy to revel in the beauty of Venice and the Tuscany. Sheila will also concentrate on the paintings of famous artists such as Turner and Constable, whose watercolour works are often overlooked.

This programme will be a celebration of an art form at which amateurs excelled but in which leading artists, who boasted of their prowess in oils, often made their most personal and intimate works – thousands of which, to this day, remain hidden in gallery drawers for Sheila Hancock to unearth.
BBC Vision – London Factual

Rebuilding The Past (Working title)
Rebuilding The Past is a brand-new architecture series, presented by Dan Cruickshank and Charlie Luxton, that brings back to life, brick by brick, some of Britain's most historic buildings which no longer exist. 

Each building tells a unique story, presenting Dan and Charlie with a fascinating detective mission and the chance to uncover the history of the people who designed and adapted them. This is the story of ordinary people's architecture – and this series is also about the history of British people, told through the buildings that were part of their lives.
Every year, dozens of historic buildings are snatched from the jaws of bulldozers. Rescued by museums, conservation organisations and local enthusiasts, they are painstakingly taken apart and stored away. In each episode, Rebuilding The Past will follow a new team of local experts as they attempt to bring one of these structures back to life – without the help of an instruction book.

The teams will face puzzles and crucial decisions at every step, from choosing the right approach, to layout and building materials. They must work out the history of vernacular architecture from the ground up, interpreting clues as they go and re-learning long lost techniques. The extraordinary buildings featured will include an Edwardian coal-fired fish and chip shop in the North East and a Victorian pre-fab mission church.
Darlow Smithson

RIBA Stirling Prize to move to BBC Two's The Culture Show

BBC Two's flagship arts programme, The Culture Show, is to broadcast The Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize for the first time. Now in its 15th year, the prize is awarded to the architects of the best new European building "built or designed in Britain".
The winner of the UK's most prestigious architecture prize will be announced live as part of a special edition of The Culture Show, presented by Kevin McCloud on Saturday 2 October at 6.30pm, from The Roundhouse, London. Architecture critic and The Culture Show presenter Tom Dyckhoff will present films about the shortlisted buildings.
The BBC's Commissioning Editor for Arts, Mark Bell, said: "As part of the BBC's commitment to the arts we're delighted to be shining the light on the very best in British architecture. The Culture Show, which reflects the best of the cultural landscape, is the perfect vehicle for delivering a strong live programme about architecture."
Ruth Reed, RIBA President said: "This is the 11th year the RIBA Stirling Prize will be broadcast on national television, and we are delighted this year to be joining forces with the BBC. The fit with the BBC and the RIBA is fantastic and is sure to give the prize even greater prominence over the coming years." 
The Culture Show editor, Janet Lee, said: "The Culture Show team are very excited to be able to showcase the work of some of the world's greatest architects and give insight to our viewers on just what it takes to build brilliant buildings."

BBC Vision/London & BBC Scotland


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