“Civilisations Stories shines a light on how distinctive regional cultures formed, from Mark Williams exploring the radicalism of The Birmingham Enlightenment to Amber Butchart revealing the roots of fashion’s association with London’s East End. The programmes are compelling and thought-provoking and are complemented by BBC local radio stations and our partners in the Civilisations Festival in encouraging everyone to delve into the art, culture and history on our doorsteps.” – David Holdsworth, Controller of BBC English Regions
Eleven programmes across England will accompany the highly-anticipated landmark BBC Arts series Civilisations. The eleven BBC One documentaries, one for each BBC English Region, discover the stories behind treasures displayed in museums and galleries across the country. Art works and artefacts reveal fascinating histories of the communities where we live.
In the West, Bristol’s first Poet Laureate Miles Chambers (pictured above) uses art and artefacts to explore how slavery shaped people’s lives. From a statue of a slave owner to a medallion designed to promote the end of the trade, art tells the story of our changing views on this dark episode of history. BBC arts reporter Geeta Pendse joins former miners, curators, painters and enthusiasts to tell the story of coal mining in the East Midlands. An industry, which once employed more than 24,000 men across the region, is commemorated in the rich collection of paintings, preserved colliery buildings, and artefacts created for and inspired by the dangerous world of “pit life.”
In the East, Bush craft expert Ray Mears discovers the treasures of the Bronze Age, focussing on communities at Seahenge in Norfolk and Flag Fen in Peterborough. His knowledge of survival in the wild gives him a unique perspective on the treasures produced during this age of unprecedented invention. Angela Bruce discovers what happened when the Romans ruled her native North East. Hadrian’s Wall is a visible reminder of the thousands of Romans who arrived in a land populated by the warring tribes of England. As well as their art and architecture, she uncovers the legacy of Roman ideals and beliefs.
The eleven Civilisations Stories will also contribute towards a special accompanying programme for BBC Two, Civilisations On Your Doorstep. Here, Mary Beard will explore the stories and controversies behind extraordinary works of art from all over the world that are now displayed in museums across Britain. She will open the doors to the UK’s national holdings, tracing British attitudes to civilisation through the story of collecting around the country.
Civilisations Festival will take place across the country from 2-11 March and is a collaboration between the BBC, museums, galleries, libraries and archives across the UK. More than 300 organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have signed up as partners. The Festival will shine a spotlight on partners’ collections, as they host events to spark debate, broaden understanding and share ideas about what the term ‘civilisation’ means for their communities. An air date for the episodes is yet to be scheduled by the beeb.
“The Civilisations Festival is a ground breaking partnership between the BBC and museums across the country. It has huge benefits for our sector highlighting the wonderful collections and stories associated with the nation’s museums during the screening of one of the BBC’s landmark series. We hope it will open us to even wider audiences than ever before.” – Nick Merriman, Director of the Manchester Museum