Later this month BBC One audiences can enjoy an exciting new competition series, following the highs and lows of ten budding artists as they vie for the title of Britain’s best amateur artist in The Big Painting Challenge.
Starting at 6pm on Sunday 22 February, presenters Una Stubbs and Richard Bacon follow the efforts of ten determined artists, each believing they have what it takes to win the title. Judged along the way by two of Britain’s most respected painters, award-winning portrait artist Daphne Todd OBE, and internationally renowned figurative painter Lachlan Goudie, the no-nonsense pair critique the amateur artists in three specially designed challenges each week, deciding who goes home - and who will ultimately be crowned Britain’s Best Amateur Artist.
The competitors have to prove their skills in a range of artistic mediums - from oil, acrylic and watercolour paintings, to pencil, charcoal and chalk drawing challenges, covering figurative art themes from landscapes, cityscapes and seascapes to still life, portraiture and life drawing.
From Monday 30 March after the grand finale, the artists' best work selected by the BBC will be on display at one of the most prestigious art galleries in the country, Tate Britain. Available for the public to view for a fortnight, the winner’s pieces will be complemented by a display of works from all ten artists in a digital showreel.
Artists and Presenters
In the first episode we meet our ten artists, whittled down from the thousands who applied: Alison, Amy, Anne, Anthea, Claire, Heather, Jan, Melvyn, Paul and Richard come together for the first time to tackle their opening challenge – painting a stunning Northumberland landscape.
Read more about each artist’s inspiration for taking part, and the strengths and weaknesses of their artistic skills in their full biographies here
Each episode will come from a different location across the country, reflecting the rich diversity and stunning landscapes of Britain. The first episode sees our ten artists visit Alnwick Castle in Northumberland – known to most as Hogwarts – for a set of Landscape challenges. As we see their unique painting styles unfold on the canvas in front of them, we learn about the artists’ backstories, what drives their passion for painting - and why they want to win.
From London’s Southbank, the second episode features three tricky challenges on Portraiture including a four-hour sitting with two celebrities; much-loved EastEnders’ stars Rudolph Walker, OBE, who plays Patrick Trueman and actress Pam St Clement, famous for playing the formidable role of Pat Butcher for more than 25 years. The third episode on Still Life comes from the grounds of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, with artists tasked with capturing the drama of its stunning architecture. In the fourth week, the artists are at the prestigious Tate Britain, tasked painting human form and movement – including the seemingly impossible task of capturing a rhythmic gymnast and her flickering ribbon. In the penultimate episode, our artists hit the streets of Liverpool looking for inspiration from the Docks to the Music Quarter. And in the day’s final challenge they set out to paint the Liverpool skyline from across the River Mersey.
The grand final sees the final four battle it out to be crowned the winner. In Devon the judges are looking for the amateur artists to capture a sense of Britain’s seafaring heritage at Dartmouth Royal Naval College, whilst in the quick draw challenge the four artists have to capture at speed a sense of the naval platoon in motion. With everything resting on the final challenge, stakes are high and excitement even higher as the finalists create one last painting - capturing the light and atmosphere of Dartmouth Harbour. At the end of a grueling and emotional six weeks, Daphne and Lachlan name the first ever BBC One Big Painting Challenge winner.
Get involved and get creative
Alongside the transmission of the series is an exciting new BBC Learning initiative, The Little Picture Challenge. This UK-wide competition launches on Tuesday 17th February and is designed to give everyone the chance to emulate the amateur artists featured in the series and inspire the nation to get painting and drawing. Read more here
Notes to Editors
The Big Painting Challenge (6x60 minute) was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Controller of BBC One and Mark Bell, Head of Arts Commissioning.
It is a BBC Arts Production and Tom McDonald is the Commissioning Editor; Claire Nosworthy is the Executive Producer; Rob Clifford the Series Producer and Evih Efue the Production Manager.