BBC One’s flagship arts documentary series Imagine presented by, former controller of BBC One, Alan Yentob returns for a new run with programmes including a look at Britain’s most successful crime writer, Ian Rankin while novelist Jeanette Winterson returns to the scenes of her childhood in Lancashire and special edition looking at the life of rock star Freddie Mercury.
Returning next month the series will include authors Ian Rankin and Jeanette Winterson, pianist Lang Lang, photographer William Klein, choreographer Matthew Bourne, and ‘The Sound Of Music’, an exploration of why music has such a powerful effect on our emotions.
Britain’s most successful crime writer, Ian Rankin, invites Imagine to get up close and personal and follow him for six months as he writes his next novel in Ian Rankin And The Case Of The Disappearing Detective. Rankin’s maverick cop, DI John Rebus, propelled him to fame as an author, but having retired his most famous creation five years ago, Rankin is now faced with a dilemma: what will he write about next? Imagine follows Rankin’s creative process. Through Rankin’s own video diary footage, we see him wrestle with his demons and numerous unfolding plots.
From child prodigy to global phenomenon, the extraordinary life of Chinese pianist Lang Lang is explored by Imagine. Lang Lang looks back to his childhood and embarks on the most demanding year of his professional life, celebrating his 30th birthday accompanied on stage in Berlin by 50 aspiring young pianists. And in the course of Lang Lang’s extraordinary year, he reveals a personal story that began with great hardship and a family dream that nearly ended in tragedy.
Twenty-five years after Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, her first novel and literary triumph, novelist Jeanette Winterson returns with Alan Yentob to the scenes of her extraordinary childhood in Lancashire. Adopted by Pentecostal parents, the young Jeanette was raised as a Christian pre-destined for missionary work. Her life had all but been laid out by the larger-than-life Mrs Winterson, her adoptive mother, yet the narrative was cut short when Jeanette fell in love with a young woman. Imagine accompanies Jeanette on the journey she recently told in her bestselling memoir, Why Be Happy, When You Could Be Normal?, back to Lancashire and beyond, through her literary career.
To coincide with a major exhibition of his work at London’s Tate Modern Imagine profiles the legendary American photographer and filmmaker William Klein. Klein is one of the great mavericks, restlessly moving between different art forms, each time creating new and pioneering works that have proved hugely influential. His early New York photos helped shape the art of street photography, while his witty, dramatic images for Vogue in the 1960s reinvented the possibilities of fashion photography. Imagine will explore William Klein’s remarkable life story, retracing his life and travels between Paris and New York and preparations for his exhibition at the Tate Modern.
In The Sound Of Music, the documentary reveals why music has such a powerful effect on our emotions. We tend to play music when words are not enough, at funerals and weddings, when making love, giving birth, breaking up; but why do we do it? It is ‘just’ a sequence of sounds, but it seems to hold more emotion and go deeper than words; it can be transcendent.
Alan Yentob talks to one of Britain’s leading composers, George Benjamin, the magnificent Jessye Norman, one of opera’s greatest voices, and chart-topper Emeli Sande, whose rendition of Abide With Me captivated the world at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, about the music that moves them the most. He quizzes a vicar, a psychologist, a Hollywood film composer, an ad-man and even the people who choose the music for shopping malls. Through the work of scientists and psychologists, we know music can induce a range of emotions.
And ending the series ahead of Christmas, Imagine explores the magical world of British choreographer Matthew Bourne, who has brought new audiences to dance with his reinterpretations of the classic ballets. Most famous is his international hit Swan Lake, featuring all-male swans. Imagine captures the creation of his new ballet as he celebrates a career spanning 25 years with a unique twist on the classic ballet Sleeping Beauty.
There is also the Imagine special edition Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender. Freddie Mercury was one of the most charismatic performers in British rock: flamboyant and outrageous, he thrilled audiences around the world with the iconic band, Queen. However, in this edition of Imagine, through extensive archive interviews and some previously unseen footage, a very different portrait of the singer emerges. Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender focuses on Freddie and the solo projects he embarked on, including his collaboration with opera singer Montserrat Caballe on ‘Barcelona’, and his return to Queen just before his death.
We also see the private and personal side of Mercury discussing life as a gay man before he came out. With contributions from his closest collaborators including, amongst others, Brian May and Roger Taylor, it is the interviews with Freddie that are the most revealing.
Imagine begins on BBC One from November 6th.