BBC celebrates Sir Kenneth Clark and his iconic series Civilisation

Sir Kenneth Clark was arguably the most influential figure in 20th century British art. Born into a world of privilege, his achievements were staggering – keeper of the King’s Pictures, director of the National Gallery, founder of the Arts Council and independent television, and best remembered as the presenter of one of the most ambitious arts series ever made – Civilisation.

This month, BBC Two and BBC Radio 3 explore this iconic presenter, following the recent announcement that a new Civilisation is to be commissioned. The BBC is looking back at the history and impact of the original series he presented on BBC Two in 1969, to coincide with Tate Britain’s exhibition Kenneth Clark: Looking For Civilisation.

The Culture Show will present an intimate portrait of the contradictory and elusive character, who transformed our cultural landscape. The hour-long Clark special Sir Kenneth Clark: Portrait Of A Civilised Man (Saturday 31 May, BBC Two), will look at the staunch defender of Reithian values and how this Sixties man was attacked for being an elitist “posh man in tweeds”. But Kenneth Clark held a passionate belief that art was for everyone and made it his mission, through television, to share his love of art with the masses.

What is the future of arts broadcasting? What does it mean to explore art through the prism of a landmark series? In an increasingly diverse broadcasting landscape, what could a new version of Civilization say about the role of the arts now? These are some of the questions that BBC Radio 3 will delve in to when Philip Dodd chairs a debate about arts broadcasting, past and present. With contributors including presenter, lecturer and researcher Dr Janina Ramirez, the programme will be recorded in front of an audience at Tate Britain on Wednesday 4 June and broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking on Thursday 5 June at 10pm.

Notes to Editors

About BBC Arts:

There is more arts on the BBC than ever before. BBC Arts is giving the British public a front row seat at some of the most exciting cultural events across the UK - giving the public access, nationally and globally, to the greatest writers, performers and thinkers in a way that no one else can. BBC Arts Online ( captures the best arts programming across the BBC and is an open space for arts journalism, comment, opinion and debate.

The Culture Show:

Executive Produced by Janet Lee.

For more information and publicity queries, please contact DS

Radio 3:

Radio 3’s Free Thinking debate is produced by Zahid Warley

For more information on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Debate or publicity queries, please contact MC4