Entertainment & Arts

BBC unveils new arts shows as part of boost to content

Jonathan Ross on Film 2003
Image caption Former BBC presenter Jonathan Ross will front a documentary about Pinewood Studios

BBC has unveiled range of topical arts programmes, as part of a "renewed commitment" to primetime content.

Shows include a 30-minute guest-edited art magazine show on BBC Two, called Artsnight, which will start in Spring.

Another show, Artists Question Time, will be a 60-minute one-off debate hosted by Kirsty Wark on BBC Four.

"I strongly believe that arts should be for everyone with more primetime arts content on the BBC," said BBC director general Tony Hall.

The new shows will air from March, with seasons planned on dance, film, theatre and poetry across the BBC.

Secrets of Pinewood

The year-long campaign aims to "encourage creativity and participation" in the arts.

Editors of Artsnight will be actress Maxine Peake, Sunday Times journalist Lynn Barber, writer and satirist Armando Iannucci and director of Tate Modern, Chris Dercon.

They will each edit the show, which will be aired on BBC Two following Newsnight every Friday in March.

The BBC will also team up with What Next? - a cultural movement that brings together UK-wide arts organisations.

Working with the British Film Institute (BFI), Jonathan Ross will front a documentary exploring The Secrets Of Pinewood.

The BBC Two documentary will see the former Film 2010 presenter join a number of famous faces as he goes behind the scenes of the famous studios.

Elsewhere, BBC Four will continue the film theme with In Conversation…, where actors and directors discuss their craft in front of an audience at the BFI.

Other seasons devoted to theatre and poetry include BBC Two adaptation of The Dresser, with Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Anthony Hopkins taking lead parts in the Ronald Harwood play, and a profile of the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Cost-saving

The announcement of a boost to arts content across the BBC comes as it is claimed the organisation spent nearly £7m on consultants last year.

Quoting the Freedom of Information Act, the Guardian reported that the total cost in the year ending March 2014 was £6.93m.

A BBC spokesman said it had a legal obligation to use consultants and it was cost effective to use external companies.

"We are legally obliged to use external organisations to audit our accounts," the corporation said.

"On occasion, just like any other large organisation, we also use external companies for specialist services - this saves the BBC millions of pounds because it is cheaper than employing permanent, full-time staff to carry out work which would only last a short period."

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