Imagine returns to BBC One

by Lynn Connolly

BBC’s flagship arts strand Imagine returns to BBC One on 1 November 2011 with a compelling line-up of films.

The series of films ranges from behind the scenes at the British Museum to follow artist Grayson Perry’s preparations for his latest exhibition; from exploring the enduring appeal of playwright and director Alan Ayckbourn to an in-depth essay examining the history of the book and its future in the digital age; as well as a folk music-fuelled road trip to the desert state of Rajasthan and its influential RIFF festival.

Starting the series, Alan Yentob meets artist Grayson Perry in Imagine – Grayson Perry And The Tomb Of The Unknown Craftsman. This unique portrait of the artist at work gains exclusive access to Grayson Perry as he creates his most ambitious show yet which features artefacts from the British Museum alongside his own creations, including a two-and-a-half thousand-year-old flint tool and a custom made motor bike Perry took on an art pilgrimage across Germany.

Jennifer Lebeau’s film for Imagine – Simon & Garfunkel: The Harmony Game, follows the process of making one of the most famous albums of all time, Bridge Over Troubled Water. With rare archival footage of Simon & Garfunkel at work, interviews with key collaborators such as manager Mort Lewis and drummer Hal Blaine, Lebeau’s film is a fascinating glimpse into one of music’s most celebrated duos not only at the height of their powers, but working on the album which would prove to be their last major collaboration.

In Imagine: Alan Ayckbourn – Greetings From Scarborough, Alan meets playwright and director Alan Ayckbourn as he unveils his 75th play, Neighbourhood Watch. Ayckbourn is often described as the world’s most performed living playwright and his work has been translated into more than 35 languages, and in this fascinating programme Alan Yentob uncovers what lies beneath the writer’s tragi-comic characters. He also speaks to some of the actors and directors who have worked with Ayckbourn, including Sir Peter Hall, Michael Gambon, Richard Briers, Catherine Tate and Alain Resnais.

The printed book has been a cornerstone of our culture, our society and our lives for more than 500 years but with the sudden growth of electronic books, is the final chapter about to be written in the long love affair between books and their readers? As part of the BBC Year of Books, Imagine: Books – The Last Chapter? sees Alan Yentob explore our relationship with books and how it is radically changing.

In Jill Nicholls’ film Reclaiming The Legendary Music Of Rajasthan, Alan follows the founder of the Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF), John Singh, through the remote villages of rural Rajasthan, an area famed for its folk music traditions. Singh is searching for village performers and musicians to take part in the festival, to bring back to life their music traditions which, in recent years, faced the danger of being lost in the economic boom and Bollywood sparkle of the new India. RIFF aims to help the local musicians regain the respect they rightly deserve.

Alan Yentob, the editor and presenter of Imagine, says: “So much in this season of Imagine sees artists in the process of creation, giving viewers a rare and fascinating insight into how great art is made.”

A two-part special and two further programmes in the Imagine autumn run will be announced shortly along with full transmission details.


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Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.