BBC4 lines up “Medieval Kings,” “Art Nouveau”

UK digital channel BBC4 has unveiled a host of factual commissions, including a major new arts series, Art Nouveau, and medieval history series The Private Lives of the Medieval Kings, as controller Richard Klein (pictured) maintains that the channel will not be axed as part of impending BBC budget cuts.
August 26, 2011

UK digital channel BBC4 has unveiled a host of factual commissions, including a major new arts series, Art Nouveau, and medieval history series The Private Lives of the Medieval Kings.

The commissions were revealed by BBC4 controlled Richard Klein (pictured above) during the Edinburgh International Television Festival, which is currently taking place in Scotland.

They come as Klein today assured that the factual-focused channel is not about to be shuttered, despite facing a major budget reduction. “The channel is not going to be axed,” he told UK newspaper The Guardian today. “That’s not going to happen.”

The Private Lives of the Medieval Kings, a 3 x 60-minute series presented by art historian Dr Janina Ramirez, aims to tell the story of the world of the medieval monarchy, as preserved through illuminated Royal manuscripts which form part of the British Library’s Royal Collection.

The series is produced by Oxford Film and Television, with Nick Kent the exec producer. It was commissioned by BBC commissioning editor for arts Mark Bell.

“The story of the Medieval Kings was captured through beautiful manuscripts that remain as vibrant today as when they were first penned,” said Klein. “BBC4 will recreate that world, drawing on Dr Janina Ramirez’s in-depth expert knowledge, to decode the manuscripts.

“It is a privilege to be able to offer viewers the first chance to see these manuscripts in all their glory on television through our collaboration with The British Library.”

Prior to The Private Lives of the Medieval Kings, BBC4 and the British Library collaborated on series such as The Beauty of Maps in 2010 and The Beauty of Books in 2011.

Elsewhere, the public service broadcaster has also revealed details of its forthcoming Army Season, which promises to look at “the art of soldiering, the history and culture of its regimental make up, and the specialist skills in logistics that make the modern British Army one of the most efficient forces anywhere in the world.”

The season will include a new series on The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and a series on five different regiments, entitled Regimental Stories. In addition, there will be a comprehensive BBC4 archive collection made available online, consisting of 40 programs exploring the changes undergone by the British soldier in the 20th century.

 “With the launch of the Army collection online, BBC4 becomes a fully digital brand able to offer viewers a permanent collection of programs to enjoy at any time,” said Klein. “They will be carefully curated by BBC4 and will enable viewers to delve more deeply into subjects that they have enjoyed on the channel.

“Over time, as we add new collections, there will be an extensive range of archive programs available online.”

Finally, BBC4 has unveiled details of Art Nouveau, a three-part series which looks at how the movement flourished in Europe at the end of the 19th century, reflecting “an explosion of new ideas about nature, sex, the city and God,” according to the network.

The series will explore the European cities “which most powerfully expressed the movement at its creative heights, connecting the impact of the movement on the fabric of those cities today.” It promises to use rare archive footage and photo archives “to bring the movement to life.”

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.