Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

BBC Four to investigate The Private Lives Of The Medieval Kings

BBC Four is to tell the story of the world of the medieval monarchy as preserved through beautiful illuminated Royal manuscripts, part of the British Library's Royal Collection, in The Private Lives Of The Medieval Kings. A new 3x60 series presented by renowned Art Historian, Dr Janina Ramirez, and produced by Oxford Film and Television, the series will explore the extraordinary art and culture of the period.

Many important illuminated Royal manuscripts will be captured on film for the first time, through exclusive access agreed as part of the BBC's ongoing collaboration with the British Library.  Janina will decode and contextualise the manuscripts and in doing so bring the monarchy of the Middle Ages back to life with the help of library subject experts and curators.

Through analysis of the interplay between image and text, creator and commissioner, object and context, the evolution of the monarchy and art in England will be traced across 800 years between the 9th and 16th century. Dr Janina will argue that the Royal Manuscript Collection not only reflects the medieval world it emerged from, but due to the totemic power of the book in this period, it also shaped it.

Richard Klein, Controller of BBC Four, commented: "The story of the Medieval Kings was captured through beautiful manuscripts that remain as vibrant today as when they were first penned. BBC Four will recreate that world, drawing on Dr Janina Ramirez's in-depth expert knowledge, to decode the manuscripts. It is a privilege to be able to offer viewers the first chance to see these manuscripts in all their glory on television through our collaboration with The British Library."

The BBC creates partnerships with the arts sector that go beyond broadcast, from sharing expertise to widening public engagement in UK arts. BBC Four's relationship with the British Library is part of an ongoing programme of collaborative work agreed in 2009 by Mark Thompson and Dame Lynne Brindley. The relationship's aims include developing new ways of integrating access to nearly a million hours of BBC TV and radio content and more than 150 million British Library items – which will significantly increase access to research material for the benefit of researchers and the wider public. Prior to The Private Lives Of The Medieval Kings, BBC Four and the British Library collaborated on the successful series such as The Beauty Of Maps in 2010 and The Beauty Of Books in 2011.

The Private Lives Of The Medieval Kings is a BBC arts programme commissioned on behalf of BBC Four Controller Richard Klein by Commissioning Editor for Arts, Mark Bell. The series is produced by Oxford Film and Television; the executive producer is Nick Kent.

Notes to Editors

BBC Four

Unashamedly expert, undiluted and in-depth, BBC Four offers audiences the joy of delving deeper across a wide range of subjects from all over the world, always applying a new lens to the artistic and cultural landscape

BBC Four aspires to be the most culturally enriching channel within UK broadcasting and the channel of distinction for people who love to think

BBC Four is the gold card channel for arts, music and culture. It is not just committed to arts coverage but actively celebrates the arts, producing content with a broad appeal. From the big arts subjects like The Royal Manuscripts and sculpture to examining how science has shaped our culture

BBC Four's foundation is purpose, proposition and passion. It champions the expression of opinion and point of view, from experts in their field with something to say

BBC Four approaches subject matter at a level of depth, detail and authority second to none, and interrogates a range of subjects from all over the world.  It employs style and wit, to entertain as it informs

BBC Arts

The BBC aims to provide the broadest range and depth of arts programmes on television

More people watch BBC television arts programmes than any other broadcaster: In 2010, 16.3m people watched Arts programmes on BBC One, 15.5m people watched Arts programmes on BBC Two in 2010, 8.7m people watched Arts programmes on BBC Four in 2010

The BBC creates partnerships with the arts sector that go beyond broadcast, from sharing expertise to widening public engagement in UK arts

BBC television doesn't just capture the arts as they happen but aims to provide context through original and fresh discussion and perspectives

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