BBC to beef up its arts coverage

Live theatre and series on writers and painters are waiting in the wings – with some familiar old faces

The BBC is preparing to pour millions of pounds into television arts programming, as director-general Tony Hall tries to restore the corporation's high-brow reputation in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Mr Hall, who ran the Royal Opera House before joining the BBC in April, has entrusted some of the corporation's oldest hands to anchor the revamp of its television content, much of which will be broadcast on the flagship channels BBC1 and BBC2. Journalist Andrew Marr and art historian Simon Schama will front series on Scottish writers and British portraiture. There will also be live broadcasts from the National Theatre, 50 years old next year, and the Manchester International Festival.

Just before Mr Hall's arrival, National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner criticised the BBC for a "Downton ratings mentality", saying: "I don't see why there couldn't be a close relationship between the BBC and this vast performance network. That the two are separate... needs challenging."

Mr Hall will today announce the overhaul of programming, and on Tuesday he will outline his plans for the BBC in the run-up to its 100th anniversary in 2022. "Arts programming sits right at the heart of the BBC and is a vital part of who we are," he will say. "But I want us to be much more ambitious."

The regulator Ofcom last year criticised the five main television channels for spending only £44m on arts and classical music programming, down from £72m in 2006. The BBC director of strategic operations, John Tate, said that he was "disappointed" that Ofcom had laid "such emphasis on an apparent downturn in BBC content spend".

However, Mr Hall apparently agrees with Ofcom, and is looking to overturn a trend that saw arts and music programming fall from 1,860 to 1,821 hours across its four main television channels in 2012/13. He has pledged to increase funding for television programmes by 20 per cent, the financial details of which will be laid out on Tuesday.

Despite the innovations, the choice of presenters may seem predictable to some. Marr will present The Men Who Invented Scotland, a three-part series on diarist James Boswell, Rob Roy author Walter Scott, and the poet Hugh McDiarmid, a founding member of what became the Scottish National Party. Question Time host David Dimbleby will present Britain and the Sea.

Schama's programme, The Face of Britain, is made in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery. The BBC is following this partnership model with a number of other arts organisations, including the British Museum and Tate.

The Big Picture, on BBC1, will mix high culture with a talent show format, as 10 amateur artists compete to be crowned Britain's best artist.

Mr Hall has also unveiled a new arts brand, BBC Arts At …. These shows will broadcast live music, theatre and arts events from across the country, while there will also be new culture programmes for Radio 4. A spokeswoman for the BBC declined to comment on the exact amount of additional funding for the arts programmes.

Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Analytics Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading organisation...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Insight Analyst Vacancy - Leading Marketing Agency

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency have won a fe...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star