Artsnight - Episode Guide

Season 1

Maxine Peak - Marginalised Voices

Episode: 1x01 | Airdate: Mar 6, 2015

Acclaimed actor Maxine Peake (Silk, The Village, The Theory of Everything) takes over editorial control, 'curating' the opening episode of this exciting new arts series.

Celebrating voices marginalised by mainstream culture, Maxine talks to the most controversial band in Britain, Sleaford Mods. She discusses the role of women and television with an all-female panel, including W1A's Jessica Hynes, and she explores the life and legacy of Salford's Shelagh Delaney, the writer who helped inspire Coronation Street and the Smiths.

Lynn Barber - Pop Culture

Episode: 1x02 | Airdate: Mar 13, 2015

Sunday Times journalist Lynn Barber takes over editorial control to 'curate' the second episode of this new arts series.

Lynn wants to look at some of the most exciting developments in popular culture in 2015. She chats to Mark Ronson, the most intriguing pop star of the modern age, as well as looking at the boom of ingenious, inventive magazines bought by and made for young people. She sticks up for that supposed 'Mickey Mouse degree' - media studies - while former media studies student Jon Ronson explores the theme of shame in the internet age.

Armando Iannuci - High Culture

Episode: 1x03 | Airdate: Mar 20, 2015

Writer, director and satirist Armando Ianucci takes the reins of Artsnight for the third episode of the series.

Armando looks afresh at high culture - poetry, classical music and fine art - to ask why some people feel excluded from it, and why these arts matter. He talks to acclaimed poet Kate Tempest about her life and work, visits an exhibition of Goya's drawings, meets Apollo Music Projects, who are transforming children's lives with classical music, and invites stand-up comedian Josie Long to reflect on the cultural life of the nation in an age of austerity.

Chris Dercon - Berlin

Episode: 1x04 | Airdate: Mar 27, 2015

Chris Dercon, director of Tate Modern, takes the helm of Artsnight for the fourth episode of the series. Chris asks why Berlin is the creative capital of Europe; the city is a magnet for artists and musicians, with an expanding array of galleries, museums and public arts intuitions. He talks to iconoclast Ai Weiwei, who has recently opened a studio in the city despite being unable to leave China. He explores the intriguing world of drone art and the pioneering work of the late Berlin-based artist Harun Farocki. He also commissions a new film about Nick Cave's formative years in West Berlin, when the city was burgeoning with creative talent prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Season 2

Andrew Marr - In Shakespeare's Shadow

Episode: 2x01 | Airdate: Jun 19, 2015

Writer and broadcaster Andrew Marr takes over editorial control of the arts series. He wants to champion some great Renaissance dramatists whose stories have been neglected because they worked at the same time as William Shakespeare. Andrew believes our obsession with the Bard of Avon has fatally distorted our view of the Tudor and Jacobean period.

Andrew talks to director Sir Trevor Nunn, who is about to direct a production of Ben Jonson's great satire Volpone, while the Artistic Director of the RSC Greg Doran talks about the master of blood and guts drama - John Ford. Andrew also explores the dramatic life and death of Christopher Marlowe, as well as seeing how these forgotten Renaissance playwrights created roles for women just as good as Lady Macbeth.

Lily Cole - Children and Creativity?

Episode: 2x02 | Airdate: Jul 3, 2015

Model, actress and digital entrepreneur Lily Cole takes over editorial control of this episode in a new arts series.

The critic Cyril Connolly isn't much read these days, but he is still famous for one infamous phrase - 'There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall'.

Was Connolly wrong - can children in fact be a great spur to creativity? Or can children, with their all-consuming demands, inhibit an artistic life?

Lily is eight months pregnant and wants to explore this topic by talking to people with views on both sides of the argument.

The programme will look at the life and work of Barbara Hepworth, who juggled bringing up four children with her artistic career. Lionel Shriver delivers an essay on the joys of childlessness, while Lily meets Hollie McNish, a poet with a young child whose work is a riposte to the idea of the 'pram in the hall'.

The programme will also explore artist Gavin Turk and his wife Deborah Curtis's project The House of Fairy Tales, which has been delighting young people for almost a decade.

Lynn Barber - US Pop Culture

Episode: 2x03 | Airdate: Jul 10, 2015

Journalist Lynn Barber takes over editorial control of the new arts series, and indulges her passion for American pop culture.

She meets trash icon John Waters - a film director, comedian and satirist who has been called, to his great satisfaction, the 'Pope of Trash'. His new show features pubic crabs, a magazine promising nude photos of WH Auden and Lassie with a facelift.

Lynn also enters the unpredictable world of the American multimedia artist Doug Aitken. In summer 2015, he takes over London's Barbican to create a modern-day version of a 60s 'happening', involving big name artists like Jeremy Deller and Martin Creed. What will Lynn make of it all?

Samira Ahmed - The Photographic Image

Episode: 2x04 | Airdate: Jul 17, 2015

Broadcaster and journalist Samira Ahmed takes editorial control.

Samira is fascinated by photography and considers the impact a single photographic image can have, even in a modern age when nearly every person has a camera on them at all times and photos are in endless supply.

Photographers featured in the programme include Giles Duley, who lost three of his limbs while documenting a warzone in Afghanistan, and Richard Billingham, who has made a film with Benefit Street's White Dee about his parents, who he has extensively photographed. Samira explores the career of Vanley Burke, who has been documenting the black British experience since the 1960s, while Martin Parr creates a specially commissioned work for the programme.

Martha Lane Fox - Science v Arts

Episode: 2x05 | Airdate: Jul 24, 2015

Half a century ago CP Snow announced there were two cultures in the west - science and the arts. Entrepreneur and digital champion Martha Lane Fox is a passionate believer that science and arts can work together - and are already doing so. She talks to visionary architect Charles Jencks, who has created a garden that celebrates the latest discoveries in cosmology, meets experimental novelist David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, explores the extraordinary creative possibilities of virtual reality, and tracks down her hero IT pioneer and art lover Dame Stephanie Shirley.

Richard Wilson - On Samuel Beckett

Episode: 2x06 | Airdate: Jul 31, 2015

For his edition of Artsnight, actor Richard Wilson, star not only of One Foot in the Grave but also Waiting for Godot, shares his love for a playwright recently described as 'probably the most influential artistic figure of our time' - Samuel Beckett.

How does this highly experimental, avant-garde playwright speak to us today? Summer 2015 will see a peak of Beckett-mania with two festivals dedicated to this extraordinary writer. Richard Wilson explores some of Beckett's key works, including Godot and Krapp's Last Tape, which he performed last year to rave reviews.

He travels to Enniskillen, where his hero went to school, for the 2015 International Beckett Festival, and hears from fellow actors Ian McKellen, Juliet Stevenson and Hugo Weaving, as well as acclaimed director Robert Wilson. Lisa Dwan, who has made Beckett's notoriously difficult play Not I her signature piece, celebrates the playwright's love of the female voice.

Irvine Welsh - Scottish Art and Independence

Episode: 2x07 | Airdate: Sep 25, 2015

One year on from the referendum that split the Scottish nation, Irvine Welsh returns home to Edinburgh to survey what effect it had on the arts in Scotland. Now living in America, Irvine has a very different perspective on Scotland to his halcyon days of Trainspotting. On his travels round his home town, he meets with performance poets Kevin Williamson and Michael Pedersen, partners in Neu Reekie and Mercury Award winners Young Fathers. He visits the studio of artist Kevin Harman, a visual artist pushing the bounds of contemporary art, and looks at the place of politics and art through the collaborative theatre piece Two Minute Manifestos.

Has the debate around independence been a shot in the arm for Scottish art?

Hofesh Shechter - Embarrassment

Episode: 2x08 | Airdate: Oct 2, 2015

When we are embarrassed our bodies react immediately. It produces a powerful emotional and physical response that can leave us lost for words, virtually paralysed. In this episode of Artsnight, choreographer Hofesh Shechter explores how embarrassment can be rich territory for artistic exploration. He meets performance artist Bryony Kimmings, who reveals the most embarrassing details of her private life in her work. Psychotherapist Philippa Perry explores the psychological roots of embarrassment, and we meet brilliant stand-up comedians who have turned embarrassing their audience and themselves into an art form.

Ben Okri - Booker Prize 2015

Episode: 2x09 | Airdate: Oct 9, 2015

In this special edition of Artsnight, former prize winner Ben Okri explores the transformative effect of the prize on the career of its recipients. When he won the Booker almost twenty-five years ago, his life changed completely. In this programme, he tells the story of his remarkable journey. Along the way, Artsnight profiles the six books on the 2015 shortlist, meeting authors such as Chigozie Obioma, Marlon James, Hanya Yanagihara and Sunjeev Sahota, all of whom are vying to repeat Ben's feat and win this year's prize.

Will Gompertz - Art Market

Episode: 2x10 | Airdate: Oct 16, 2015

For his edition of Artsnight, BBC arts editor Will Gompertz investigates the thriving art market. He meets collectors, philanthropists and multi-millionaires pursuing their passion for art, and asks whether record-breaking sales are a good thing or damaging creativity. Arguing for better regulations in the art market, he finds out why you can buy an Old Master for a fraction of the price of contemporary art. He talks to Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk about his vision for a new type of museum and meets the 89-year-old grandmother of contemporary art - Delfina Entrecanales - who for 40 years has quietly nurtured a generation of British artists, including more than a dozen Turner Prize nominees.

Lynn Barber - Taking Risks in Art

Episode: 2x11 | Airdate: Oct 23, 2015

For her latest edition of Artsnight, Fleet Street legend Lynn Barber considers the idea of taking risks in art. The Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate is hosting an exhibition on that very theme, including works by Ai Wei Wei and Yoko Ono. In Margate, Lynn meets Peter Kennard, who has been called Britain's most important political artist. His hard-hitting anti-nuclear campaigning posters from the 1970s capture the terrifying physical risk of war, as well as the personal risk as an artist in challenging the establishment. Also in the exhibition is the doyenne of performance art, Marina Abramovic, who has had a loaded gun held to her head and an arrow to her heart, all in the name of art. In a rare and extended interview, Lynn asks her about an illustrious career which has always encompassed physical and creative risk in pursuit of her art.

George the Poet - Black Culture

Episode: 2x12 | Airdate: Oct 30, 2015

In this episode of Artsnight, George the Poet explores the meaning of black culture in four spoken word chapters. Racheal Ofori opens up some black female stereotypes, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Dennis Bovell look back at the beginnings of dub poetry, Professor Paul Gilroy explains some of the history of black diasporas, and Akala likens rap to the works of Shakespeare. George the Poet asks - what is black culture?

Josie Rourke - Biopic Heroes

Episode: 2x13 | Airdate: Nov 6, 2015

Josie Rourke, artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse, curates this celebrity-packed edition of Artsnight, looking at the changing idea of the hero in contemporary culture. She hears from screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director James Marsh about why film-makers are looking to real life for the heroes of their stories. Actor Tom Hiddleston tells Josie about the challenges of becoming the American country singer Hank Williams for a forthcoming biopic, while Erin Brockovich explains how her life was transformed by Julia Robert's Oscar-winning portrayal of her. And Josie talks to Suffragette screen writer Abi Morgan about creating strong female leading roles.

Clara Amfo - Fame Industry

Episode: 2x14 | Airdate: Nov 13, 2015

Clara Amfo is one of BBC Radio 1's rising stars. She meets extremely famous people as part of her day job, and for her edition of Artsnight she wants to look at how the fame industry works. She talks to 50 Cent about living life under a microscope, as well as looking at how 'superfans' use social media to get close to their heroes. She also chats to John Niven, author of the scabrous music industry expose Kill Your Friends, which is now a movie.

Edmund de Waal - Memory and Art

Episode: 2x15 | Airdate: Nov 20, 2015

The acclaimed artist Edmund de Waal takes over the controls of this episode of Artsnight. Edmund looks at the theme of memory and art.

He profiles the Aurora Orchestra, who are famous for performing classical works from memory, and looks at a Tate Liverpool exhibition which encourages people to memorise works of art.

Edmund also uncovers a memory that history has tried to forget - the story of the Nazis' obsession with porcelain.

Kwasi Kwarteng - British Empire and Art

Episode: 2x16 | Airdate: Nov 27, 2015

Conservative MP Kwasi Kwarteng is the guest curator of this episode of Artsnight.

The author of the book Ghosts of Empire, Kwasi looks at how the British Empire impacted on art, architecture and literature.

He meets one of Australia's greatest living novelists - Peter Carey - to discuss the writer's obsession with early colonial life, as well as exploring Tate Britain's Artist and Empire exhibition. And comedian Shazia Mirza discusses why fabric and clothing is so vital to the story of the Indian sub-continent.

Ana Matronic - Robots

Episode: 2x17 | Airdate: Dec 4, 2015

Scissor Sisters' front-woman and DJ Ana Matronic is a lifelong robot fanatic. For her episode of Artsnight, she explores how robots are taking over mainstream arts and culture - co-presenting the episode with a real robot. She finds out how robots are flexing their creative muscles - having her portrait done in a life-drawing class of sketching robots created by French artist Patrick Tresset, and talking to the electro-acoustic musician Squarepusher about his recent collaboration with a robot band.

Nina Conti - Masks

Episode: 2x19 | Airdate: Feb 5, 2016

Nina Conti explores how masks can allow us to step outside of our psychological skins and become someone else.

Maria Balshaw - Female Equality

Episode: 2x20 | Airdate: Feb 12, 2016

Maria explores why after over a century of campaigning, women still aren't equal in society.

Lynn Barber - Dark Side of Comedy

Episode: 2x22 | Airdate: Feb 26, 2016

Lynn Barber meets two American comedians who have found success in the UK, Rob Delaney and Ruby Wax.

Both performers have been open about the demons in their personallives. Rob talks to Lynn about his battle with alcoholism and clinical depression, while Ruby discusses the role mindfulness has played in her own mental health, her shows and now in her campaigns.

When Henry Met Karl

Episode: 2x23 | Airdate: Mar 4, 2016

Henry Marsh a neurosurgeon meets Karl Ove Knausgaard one of the most important authors writing today.

Thurston Moore - British Punk

Episode: 2x25 | Airdate: Mar 11, 2016

Thurston Moore - British Punk

Punk rock celebrate its 40th anniversary this year with series of events across some of the most affluential and major cultural institutions in Britain. Thurston Moore, a former guitarist with Sonic Youth had a passionate interest in British punk. Moore explores how the music medium has changed his life. He meets with Pete Shelley, Chrissie Hynde, Julien Temple and one of his all-time favourite bands, X-Ray Spex.

Ryan Gander - Everyday Life as a Creative Act

Episode: 2x26 | Airdate: Mar 18, 2016

Ryan Gander believes that there is too much of a "fear factor" surrounding the idea of art. Ryan suggests that everyday life can be a deeply creative act. In this episode, he explores an artistic colony, encounters a couple who have made a house into an aesthetic.

Season 3

David Baddiel - The Great Man Theory

Episode: 3x01 | Airdate: May 6, 2016

In the 19th century, Thomas Carlyle came up with the Great Man theory - a view that history is formed by the impact of certain charismatic and powerful men. For Artsnight, David Baddiel travels to New York to see if there are any great men left, and whether the idea, embodied by huge priapic figures like Picasso, Saul Bellow or Norman Mailer, is untenable now. David talks to writers Martin Amis, Nick Laird, Katie Roiphe and Meg Wolitzer, to ask whether anyone can be called great in a culture where so many voices and opinions exist that anyone with a claim on greatness is easily shot down. Even those who might be considered great, he argues, can't be that absurdly masculine anymore, so can only achieve greatness with an ironic nod and a wink. So what has been gained and lost by the death of the Great Man idea?

Nicholas Serota - Why Contemporary Art Matters

Episode: 3x02 | Airdate: May 13, 2016

Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, makes a personal journey to one of the most economically deprived areas of the UK, as he dares to ask why contemporary art matters? In the former steel town of Middlesbrough, Serota encounters a radical experiment by the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, as it creatively redefines its mission to better serve the community of Teesside, including its large population of asylum seekers. In New York, Serota meets artist Mark Bradford, who will represent the US at the Venice Biennale next year. Bradford, an abstract painter, is determined to use his success in the art world to help foster teenagers in the deprived neighbourhood of Los Angeles where he grew up. In London, Serota meets international artist Mona Hatoum, whose diverse body of work has long explored the interface between the personal and the political, and between self-expression and social conscience.

Lionel Shriver - Economics in Fiction

Episode: 3x03 | Airdate: May 20, 2016

After detailing the impact of a financial meltdown in her new novel The Mandibles, Lionel Shriver asks why economics, once seen as a difficult subject for fiction, has become one of the most exciting and apocalyptic subjects for writers, artists and filmmakers. Lionel speaks to Damian Lewis, star of Sky Atlantic's Billions, about the realities of playing a hedge-fund manager, talks to writers John Lanchester and Paul Murray about the challenges of turning economics into literary fiction, and meets the makers of a new documentary presented by Terry Jones, Boom Bust Boom. Playwright Lucy Prebble makes the case that theatre is the best medium for exploring the subject, profiling current productions Boy and The Invisible Hand.

Charlotte Church - Power of Singing

Episode: 3x04 | Airdate: May 27, 2016

Charlotte Church meets musicians using the power of singing to push the boundaries of what a voice can do. June 2016 sees the launch of the Festival of the Voice, a new international music festival in Cardiff. For her edition of Artsnight, life-long Cardiff resident Charlotte Church explains why she believes the festival perfectly reflects the diverse, forward-looking and creative city she calls home. Charlotte meets singers taking part who use the human voice as a tool for experimentation, social cohesion and self-expression, including Laura Mvula, Meilyr Jones, Gwenno, 9Bach and a new musical project on dementia choirs from the National Theatre of Wales.

Paul Mason - Hay Festival 2016

Episode: 3x05 | Airdate: Jun 3, 2016

At the Hay Festival, Paul Mason talks to six writers engaged with the most urgent issues of our time, from documenting the horrors of the war in Syria to how AI will determine our future, and from the fall of past empires to the possibility of a war with Russia. In the face of these momentous challenges to the global order, Paul Mason asks if the west can survive. With Simon Sebag Montefiore, Margaret Boden, Gaia Vince, Janine di Giovanni, Ruth Dudley Edwards and General Sir Richard Shirreff.

Kieran Long - Homes of the Future

Episode: 3x06 | Airdate: Jun 10, 2016

The V&A's architecture curator Kieran Long explores the future of the home in Britain. In an era of rising prices and housing shortages across much of the UK, Long talks to British architects who are designing homes for the future. He visits a new RIBA exhibition that re-imagines the staples of British housing: the terraced house, the cottage and the flat. And he travels to the Venice Architecture Biennale to see the British entry entitled Home Economics, where new types of living spaces have been constructed from scratch. In London he visits the first privately funded social housing scheme in the capital - the William Street Quarter in Barking - and talks to the residents who really love living there.

Lynn Barber meets Mumford & Sons

Episode: 3x07 | Airdate: Jun 17, 2016

In a rare interview, Mumford & Sons talk to Lynn Barber about becoming an international super group, their varied influences and tastes and their ongoing collaborations with musical giants.

In 2016 they have toured three continents, will headline at London's Hyde Park, and in June release a new album, Johannesburg, recorded with Senegalese superstar Baaba Maal.

Maria Balshaw - 2016 Museum of the Year

Episode: 3x08 | Airdate: Jul 8, 2016

Ahead of the announcement of the 2016 Museum of the Year award, Maria Balshaw visits each of the five museums shortlisted for this year's prize for BBC Artsnight. As director of the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, Maria won the award herself last year and knows what the judges are looking for as they make their final selection.

This year's shortlist features a range of institutions up and down the country, from the sprawling Victorian temple to art and design that is the V&A to Jupiter Artland, a sculpture park hidden away in acres of Scottish woodland. We also see museums which have undergone radical transformations in the past year, including Bethlem's Museum of the Mind, the York Art Gallery and Bristol's Arnolfini, and hear from their pioneering directors. And as the shortlist is announced, we see delegations from each museum gathering in Rankin's north London photography studio.

A Tribute to Carla Lane

Episode: 3x09 | Airdate: Jul 15, 2016

Carla Lane redefined British comedy drama in the 1960s with her unique brand of 'situation tragedy'. At a time when television writing was the preserve of middle-class men, she brought a convincing cast of working-class female characters to British screens. The daring honesty with which she told the stories of ordinary women revolutionised the roles available to actresses on TV and blazed a trail for the screenwriters following in her footsteps.

This special edition of Artsnight delves into the BBC's archive and brings together rarely seen interviews in which writer Carla Lane discusses her life and work, while Carla's son Carl offers personal insights into his mother's career and legacy. With contributions from the Liver Birds - Polly James and Nerys Hughes - and Geoffrey Palmer, the long-suffering husband to Ria in Butterflies.

Val McDermid

Episode: 3x10 | Airdate: Jul 22, 2016

Magazine arts show. Is fiction the best way to access the truth? Award-winning Scottish crime writer Val McDermid explores the relationship between fiction, video games and real-life crime documentary. She talks to Ken MacLeod and Richard K Morgan, whose science fiction novels offer a commentary on current political events. She meets Malath Abbas, the designer of Killbox, a new game about the ethics of drone warfare, and Lucas Pope, whose Bafta-winning Papers Please examines the moral and political decisions faced by an immigration officer. McDermid discusses the importance and the pitfalls of covering real-life crime with veteran documentary maker and criminologist Roger Graef.

Lynn Barber Meets John Lydon

Episode: 3x11 | Airdate: Jul 29, 2016

Magazine arts show. Lynn Barber meets up with the self-ordained king of punk John Lydon, who turned 60 this year. Fresh from a European tour with his group PIL (Public Image Ltd.) and with a new album out, What the World Needs Now, Lydon discusses his life, legacy and songs. Reflecting on the death of his father, the Sex Pistols, the loss of Sid Vicious and the role of music in his life, he speaks with candour and honesty about how 40 years of life on the road has changed him and his music.

Meg Rosoff

Episode: 3x12 | Airdate: Aug 5, 2016

Meg Rosoff is an award-winning novelist and author of the international bestsellers How I live Now, Just in Case and Jonathan Unleashed. For Artsnight, she explores the relationship between art and the unconscious mind. Meg meets Irish novelist Eimear McBride, author of the Baileys Prize-winning A Girl is A Half Formed Thing to discuss translating the mysteries of the brain to the page. She talks to actors Anne Marie Duff and Denise Gough about how performers tap into their unconscious on stage, and questions psychotherapist Susie Orbach and neuroscientist Lewis Hou, as she attempts to unlock the secrets of the creative brain. With contributions from renowned cellist Steven Isserlis, and principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, Edward Watson.

Season 4

Poets at the BBC

Episode: 4x01 | Airdate: Oct 1, 2016

Magazine arts show. Over the decades, the BBC has captured many of the most famous poets for posterity. This programme trawls through the archives to show how bards turned into broadcasters, featuring some of the most beloved poets Britain has produced.

Michael Palin Meets Jan Morris

Episode: 4x02 | Airdate: Oct 8, 2016

Magazine arts show. Veteran broadcaster Michael Palin travels to north Wales to interview the legendary travel writer Jan Morris. Originally born as James Morris, Jan shot to fame as part of the team that successfully climbed Mount Everest in 1953. She spent the rest of the decade as a journalist travelling the world, interviewing figures such as Che Guevara, and producing reports for BBC Panorama from Hong Kong and Japan. In the 1960s, she turned her attention to writing books about cities and countries, before undergoing gender reassignment in 1972, a process chronicled in her autobiography Conundrum. Now in her 90th year, Michael Palin meets Jan and finds out the secret to her long and happy life.

When Julie Walters met Willy Russell

Episode: 4x03 | Airdate: Oct 15, 2016

Julie Walters, one of Britain's most popular actresses, meets Willy Russell, to find out how a 15-year-old dropout from a working-class suburb of Liverpool became one of the most successful playwrights in the history of modern British theatre.

The Man Booker Prize 2016

Episode: 4x04 | Airdate: Oct 22, 2016

It's that time of year again, when readers turn to the Man Booker Prize shortlist for a view on the very best of fiction in the English-speaking world.

For this episode of Artsnight, David Baddiel, author, comedian and former Booker Prize judge, introduces the six novels chosen by 2016's judges. Reviewers including Mariella Frostrup, Val McDermid and George the Poet meet the authors and slip between the pages of the 2016 Man Booker Prize shortlist.

2016 The Year of King Lear

Episode: 4x05 | Airdate: Oct 29, 2016

This year's hottest play was written over 400 years ago - Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear. With five major productions taking place across 2016, this film looks at why Lear resonates so deeply with contemporary audiences. The programme includes contributions from Diana Rigg, Timothy West, Antony Sher and Nicholas Hytner on why Lear is widely viewed as Shakespeare's towering achievement.

What Has the Turner Prize Ever Done for Us?

Episode: 4x06 | Airdate: Nov 19, 2016

Magazine arts show. The Turner Prize is probably the most prestigious contemporary art prize in the world. It puts art in the headlines - though not always for the right reasons. In this programme, critic and broadcaster Waldemar Januszczak looks back over three decades of critical acclaim, public outcry and artistic controversy, hearing from the winners, nominees and judges to find out what the history of the prize can tell us about our relationship to the relevance and purpose of contemporary art.

The Brits Who Designed the Modern World

Episode: 4x07 | Airdate: Nov 26, 2016

If there were an olympic league table for design, Britain would be right at the top. Since the Second World War, British designers have revolutionised our homes, our workplaces, our roads and our public institutions. In November 2016, the Design Museum opens its new ú83m home in Kensington. To mark this great moment for British design, BBC Arts profiles ten great living British designers. Arts reporter Brenda Emmanus meets and profiles our 'Top 10', to find out what inspires them to make such phenomenal objects and to explore how designers have responded to society's evolving tastes.

Know Your Enemy - Stephen Poliakoff in Conversation

Episode: 4x08 | Airdate: Dec 1, 2016

The dramatist Stephen Poliakoff has long been obsessed with the secret history of Britain in the 20th century. His latest work, Close to the Enemy, looks at the clandestine work of the secret service after the end of the Second World War.

Historian and broadcaster David Reynolds talks to Poliakoff about the inspiration behind Close to the Enemy, as well as the always tricky relationship between history and fiction.

Robert Rauschenberg - Pop Art Pioneer

Episode: 4x09 | Airdate: Dec 10, 2016

Alistair Sooke celebrates the protean genius of one of America's most prolific and original artists, Robert Rauschenberg. Fearless and influential, he blazed a trail for artists in the second half of the 20th century, and yet his work is rarely seen here in the UK. That is about to change with a major retrospective at Tate Modern in December 2016. Rauschenberg was the first artist to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1963, creating a crucial bridge between the abstract expressionists of the 50s and the pop artists who emerged in the 60s. Famous for his 'combines' that elevated the rich junk of life to the status of high art, he continued to work right up to his death in 2008, collaborating with dancers, scientists and social activists on a startlingly broad array of projects. Alastair travels to the east coast of the USA to talk to those closest to Rauschenberg.