Great Fire 350
Documentary that goes behind the scenes of London's Burning, an ambitious arts spectacle marking the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London.
A giant model of 1666 London being set on fire in the Thames, a 6km domino run made up of 26,000 breezeblocks falling through the City of London, fire installations and projections onto landmark buildings...
These are some of the highlights of London's Burning, an ambitious arts spectacle taking place on the weekend of 2nd - 4th September, marking 350 years since the Great Fire of London.
It's organised by Artichoke, the arts company responsible for London Lumiere, the Sultan's Elephant and Derry-Londonderry's Temple bonfire. The aim is to disrupt city life for exhilarating spectacles and, over the past four months, the director Helen Marriage and her team have granted Radio 4 access to its nail-biting negotiations as they prepare to stage their most challenging project so far.
Road closures, large-scale crowd control, access to historic spaces, the introduction of fire onto the streets of the City - it's the stuff of nightmares for Health and Safety, Transport for London and the Fire Service, who need to be brought on side before the final vital funding can be released.
We also follow the community project that aims to transform the lives of a large group of young Londoners, as unemployed people with no previous construction experience will build the festival's centrepiece sculpture. Their model of London in 1666 will be transported down the River Thames before being burned in a huge conflagration.
As well as witnessing the drama of mounting the show, Great Fire 350 raises questions about public space - who owns it and what is the citizen's rights to stage public events? It will look at how our cities are controlled and their resilience, even in the face of a great fire.
Producer: Paul Smith
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.