Ideas - part of the BBC's Culture In Quarantine programming.

Published: 8 September 2020

Ideas - part of the BBC's Culture In Quarantine programming.

BBC Two and BBC World News

BBC Two and BBC World News

Inside Culture With Mary Beard (5 x 30’)
With a new title, and a new regular slot, Mary Beard’s topical arts series returns (formerly Lockdown Culture). This time she’s venturing from her study to meet leading creative voices, using her usual wit and journalistic rigour to find out how they’re shaping Britain’s post-lockdown culture.

As well as discussing the challenges that lie ahead for our cultural organisations, Mary will be visiting the places she has sorely missed, like the British Museum, where she gets to work taking the Lewis Chessmen out of their lockdown storage, and surprising visitors as the doors swing open once again.

  • Inside Culture With Mary Beard is a BBC Studios Production. It was commissioned by BBC Arts and BBC Two by Jonty Claypole. The Series Producer is Sandy Raffan. Executive Producer is Tanya Hudson


BBC Four

The Romantics And Us With Simon Schama (3 x 60’)
The Romantics’ century-long incendiary revolution in thought and creativity changed the way we think of art and artists, of the idea of our individuality, but also how the elevation of passion over logic could change the political landscape.

They produced mind-blowing masterpieces: Gericault, Caspar David Friedrich and Delacroix in painting; Chopin and Schumann in music; Wordsworth, Coleridge and Shelley in poetry.

The series will look at how their work gave birth to world-changing forces which still shape our contemporary world today. From Mary Wollstonecraft’s feminism to the Brothers Grimm’s dark fairy tales, William Blake’s belief in a marriage of text and image that could transform the world, Shelley’s radical politics and atheist fury, the journey into the caverns of the sub-conscious explored by Coleridge and de Quincey, to the blossoming of national folk feeling in the ballads and poetry of Robert Burns.

  • The Romantics And Us with Simon Schama is an Oxford Films Production. It was commissioned by Mark Bell for BBC Arts and BBC Two. The Executive Producer is Nicolas Kent. The Series Producers are Charlotte Sacher and Melanie Fall. The Producer and Director is Hugo Macgregor.

BBC Two and BBC World News



Between The Covers (7 x 30’)
A book club designed to bring the nation together through sharing the pleasure of reading, hosted by Sara Cox with four celebrity guests each week.

As well as chatting about their favourite books, together they will discuss the book of the week that has been specially chosen for the series, with the author introducing their book via a recorded clip. The books are:

  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • Love In Colour by Bolu Babalola
  • Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
  • Fifty-Fifty by Steve Cavanagh
  • Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud
  • This Lovely City by Louise Hare
  • The Devil And The Dark Water by Stuart Turton

All will feature a Between The Covers sticker that will appear in stores, libraries and online, so that audiences can read them too and afterwards share their thoughts using #betweenthecovers. Also on the show there is the celebrity book of the week written by one of the guests for an in-studio chat about their latest creation.

The Magical World Of Julia Donaldson (w/t) (1 X 60’)
This warmly personal portrait will celebrate the life and work of one of Britain's best-selling children's authors, with unique access to Julia Donaldson, her family, and her rich catalogue of archive and home-movies.

Specially commissioned animated illustrations from her long-term illustrator Axel Scheffler will bring Julia's biography to life. With contributions from well-known admirers and collaborators, the programme will pay tribute to the woman who has created the characters and stories that have become a fixture of children’s bedtime routines all around the world, and spawned multi-award winning adaptations for stage and screen.

The Gruffalo, Zog, The Highway Rat, Stick Man, The Paper Dolls, Tabby McTat, Tiddler... the film will uncover the surprising stories behind how her iconic characters were created, and what they mean to a generation of readers. Eccentric, warm, funny, the film will explore why Donaldson’s books appeal to both children and adults alike - tackling serious themes of love, loss, fear and tyranny in a poignant but subtle way.

  • The Magical World of Julia Donaldson is a BBC Studios Production. It was commissioned by BBC Arts and BBC Two by Mark Bell. Executive Producer is Tanya Hudson. The Producer Director is Katy Homan.

Becoming Bridget (w/t) (1 x 60’)
In 2020, it will be 25 years since Bridget Jones made her first appearance in a newspaper column detailing her rocky relationships with men, booze, fags... and knicker elastic. One of the defining figures of the 1990s, Helen Fielding’s comic creation was an instant cultural phenomenon.

Now, a quarter of a century later, BBC Two celebrates Bridget Jones and the legacy of Helen Fielding’s character. In the age of Fleabag and #MeToo, the film explores how Bridget’s story reflects changing attitudes to women - and the way their stories are told. Being Bridget will feature interviews with Helen Fielding and the friends who inspired the original characters, along with rarely seen archive and celebrity fans playing tribute.

  • Being Bridget is a BBC Studios Production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Two by Mark Bell. The Executive Producer is Tanya Hudson. The Producer Director is Alex Harding.

The Secret History Of Writing (3 x 60’)
Three dynamic and highly visual films that tell the story of writing, from cave paintings to the digital age. Writing is the greatest invention of all time, one which has shaped the course of human history, and changed the architecture of the human mind. In this series, new science and archaeology will be married to stunning locations and dazzling graphics to give viewers a fresh view of something they do every day: write.

  • The Secret History Of Writing is a DOX Production in association with Films à Cinq for BBC/Arte France/NOVA. It was commissioned by BBC Arts and BBC Two by Mark Bell. The series was written and directed by David Sington. Series Producer is Hugh Sington. Exec Producers are David Sington and Martin de la Fouchardière

BBC Four

BBC Four

Africa Turns The Page: The Novels That Shaped A Continent (1 x 60’)
Presenter and historian David Olusoga explores how Africa has become a superpower in the world of the novel and looks back to when African nations fought for independence. He meets Bernadine Evaristo, the first black woman to win the Booker Prize, as well as leading figures whose lives were touched by the African novel.

  • Africa Turns The Page: The Novels That Shaped A Continent is an Uplands Television Production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Mark Bell. Mike Smith is the Executive Producer

Richard E. Grant Write Around The World (3 x 60)
A visually stunning series in which book and travel lover Richard E Grant makes three journeys to France, Italy and Spain, visiting places that have inspired writers across the centuries.

Taking an essential reading list of five or six books from different periods and genres per programme, Richard’s understanding of the culture, history and landscape of the places he’s visiting and how they’ve changed, will be informed by the writers’ experiences.

Retracing individual journeys, exploring landscapes, views and monuments Richard will learn about key moments in writers’ lives and the impact particular destinations had on them.

  • Richard E Grant Write Around the World is a Storyvault Films Production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Emma Cahusac. Stuart Prebble is the Executive Producer.

Plague Fiction (1 x 60’)
Plague Fiction is hosted by Laura Ashe (pictured below), professor of medieval literature at the University of Oxford, who has spent much of her career studying the impact of plague on societies and cultures.

Recognising the similarities between the Covid-19 pandemic and the devastating plagues of the 14th and 17th centuries, Ashe delves into historical records and literature, as well as nearly seven decades of BBC archive material, to see what lessons can be learned from our medieval forebears - and how we can use this experience to help build a better future.

The result is an enthralling mix of practical advice, inspiring stories of human heroism, eye-watering descriptions of medieval medicine and accounts of life under plague from the likes of Samuel Pepys and Geoffrey Chaucer.

  • Plague Fiction is an Alleycats Production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Lamia Dabboussy. Executive Producers are Emma Parkins and Ed Stobart and was made under lockdown.

Art On The BBC (4 x 60’)
The series will focus on four of art’s most celebrated but controversial names: Dali, Van Gogh, Monet and Turner. In each episode, an up-and-coming British art historian will mine the BBC vaults to discover how six decades of TV has influenced our understanding of these masters.

With the help of rare archive material, the presenters will explain how Dali became the world’s first celebrity artist, how Vincent Van Gogh’s mental health influenced his work, how commercial success has blinded us to the revolutionary talent of Claude Monet, and how JMW Turner rose from the back streets of London to become Britain’s greatest maritime painter and the ‘father of modern art’.

Hosting the second series are Kate Bryan (pictured above), art historian and curator (Van Gogh); David Dibosa (pictured top), Chelsea College Of Arts’ Dr , co-investigator of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Black Artists and Modernism project (Dali); art historian Katy Hessel, founder of The Great Women Artists Podcast (Monet); and art historian Leslie Primo, lecturer for the National Portrait Gallery (Turner).

  • Art on the BBC is an Alleycats Production. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Emma Cahusac. Executive Producers are Emma Parkins and Ed Stobart.