Sky Arts is to air re-worked classic episodes of London Weekend Television’s The South Bank Show.

It’s great to be part of Sky Arts enthusiastic commitment to Arts programmes. This is a major leap forward for us on The South Bank Show and with luck just the beginning of wider ranging possibilities. We hope not only to enrich Arts coverage but to broaden and change its television landscape over the next few years. – Bragg

The series, which aired on ITV for over thirty years, moved to Sky Arts in 2012.

The classic editions will air alongside brand new episodes of the programme. Presented, edited and written by Melvyn Bragg, The South Bank Show has, since 1978, made one of the most significant contribution to arts broadcasting in living memory, profiling the world’s most renowned performers, artists, actors, writers and musicians.

As part of a new agreement with ITV Studios – who own the archive of The South Bank Show footage produced by LWT –  the new series will dip into the 750-plus titles in the archive and re-version 30 episodes a year. It will feature new interviews as well as new links and comments from Melvyn Bragg. The South Bank Show II archive will also be available to Sky customers On Demand.

The South Bank Show launched in 1978 with Paul McCartney as the opening subject. The show has famously sought to bring both audiences a mix of popular culture as well as ‘high’ culture.

I started with McCartney partly because of his great talent, partly to make a point. I wanted The South Bank Show to reflect my own life and that of the team around me; to stretch the then accepted boundaries and challenge the accepted hierarchies of the arts; to include pop music as well as classical music, television drama as well as theatre drama and high definition performers in comedy as well as in Opera. The idea that popular arts were shallow by definition and the traditional arts were profound was dead, I thought, and I wanted to prove it. – Bragg

Over the course of thirty three years the show has featured artists from Sir Laurence Olivier, to k.d lang; Norman Mailer to Pavarotti; The Smiths to David Hockney, David Lean, Nureyev and Harold Pinter.

Since arriving on Sky Arts in 2012, The South Bank Show has been as contemporaneous as ever, covering everything from the world of Grime with Dizzee Rascal and Wiley; to contemporary ballet, following Tamaro Rojo in her first months as Artistic Director of the English National Ballet. The show has also profiled Tim Minchin, Alison Balsom, Pat Barker, David Hare, Nicola Benedetti, Nicholas Hytner and Alfie Boe.

While ITV Studios own the footage rights to the series, Bragg kept the rights to the format of the production.

It was a real coup for us to work with Melvyn on the awards and the new shows; but with the South Bank Show II archive, we’ll build the richest and most easily accessible arts documentary archive in the world. We’ve got big ambitions for what we do with the show. – James Hunt, director of Sky Arts

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