BBC4 to take its time with Slow TV

The unhurried art of craftsmanship, filmmaker Frederick Wiseman's tour of London's National Gallery and a real-time canal ride comprise a selection of slow TV programs airing this spring on BBC4. (Pictured: National Gallery)
March 3, 2015

The unhurried art of craftsmanship, filmmaker Frederick Wiseman’s tour of London’s National Gallery and a real-time canal ride comprise a stable of slow TV programs airing this spring on BBC4.

In a series titled ‘BBC Four Goes Slow,’ the pubcaster has lined up three “deliberately unrushed” programs inspired by the Scandinavian concept of slow TV, in which an ordinary event is filmed in real time. Norwegian broadcaster NRK first pioneered slow TV with live broadcasts of such events as a seven-hour train ride, 18 hours of salmon fishing and a 134-hour cruise.

Among the BBC4 programs is the 3 x 30-minute series Make, which examines the art of crafting simple objects such as a steel knife and wooden chair. Each half-hour segment is billed as an “absorbing, often hypnotic portrait of time-honored skills and techniques.” Make is produced and directed by Ian Denyer, exec produced by Richard Bright for BBC in-house productions, and was commissioned by Clare Sillery, commissioning editor for documentaries.

Also premiering as part of the series is the two-hour special The Canal, which spans an uninterrupted canal ride down one of Britain’s waterways, filmed in real time. Facts about the canal and its history are to be presented in captions embedded on the passing landscape. The special is exec produced by Emma Tutty for The Garden Productions and Clare Paterson for the BBC.

Finally, Wiseman’s three-hour documentary National Gallery (pictured), which goes behind-the-scenes of the institution, will also be broadcast. Like many of the director’s films, the doc has no voiceover, score or sound effects, and introduces viewers to the museum’s animated docents, executives and visitors.

“‘BBC Four goes Slow’ is another brilliant example of something only BBC Four would do,” said Cassian Harrison, channel editor for BBC4, in a statement. “This surprising selection of programs is the antithesis to the general direction much of television is going in. Slowing everything right down gives us the time to really observe things as they happen and this series of programs celebrates the simple pleasures of life in the slow lane.”

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.