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9 items from 2011

Have 75 years of television made us smarter?

5 November 2011 5:07 PM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Seventy-five years after the UK's first TV broadcasts, has the medium been beneficial?

Boyd Hilton, TV and reviews editor of Heat magazine

A curious phenomenon is occurring each Wednesday. The BBC is receiving a lot of love. Well, to be specific, David Attenborough's current series is. Frozen Planet is so beautifully put together, so moving, so informative, that even those cynical journalists who routinely abuse the BBC on behalf of their paymasters for the simple reason their products are in direct competition with it are eagerly embracing the brilliance of this programme. The phrase "worth the licence fee alone" is being trotted out all over Twitter. It's also as much evidence as I need to win this argument. I'm already smarter than I was before I watched the first two episodes. By the end of show seven, I fully expect to be some kind of expert on the natural history of the polar regions. »

- Peter Conrad, Boyd Hilton

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Is there life on earth after Attenborough?

12 June 2011 2:35 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Sir David brought the natural world to the TV generation. But now that every corner of the planet has been captured on screen, Andrew Anthony asks how do his heirs build on his legacy?

In the beginning there was the word, and the word was with Attenborough, and the word was Attenborough. As an evolutionary scientist, Sir David Attenborough may laugh at the biblical allusion, but he has certainly had an instrumental role in creating our modern perception of the world. For not only did Life on Earth, his landmark 13-part 1979 natural history series, change our relationship with television, it also transformed our understanding of nature and the planet at large.

Tim Scoones, who is executive producer of populist wildlife show Springwatch, is in no doubt of the legacy of Life on Earth and its countless imitators. "It has been significant in reconnecting an increasingly disconnected human population with the »

- Andrew Anthony

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Geordie Shore: Toon tuning out | Media Monkey

26 May 2011 4:03 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

No one was expecting Kenneth Clark's Civilisation when MTV announced it was making a new reality series, Geordie Shore, which is a bit like its Us hit Jersey Shore but set in Newcastle. But the first episode has still had locals up in arms featuring, as it did, members of its cast strip, vomit, and cheat on their partners, reports the Sun. And no, the complaints weren't from people who hadn't been invited.

Television industryMTVUS television industryViacomTelevisionMonkey © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds »

- Monkey

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BBC2 looks to drama to solve identity crisis in the shadow of budget cuts

9 May 2011 6:09 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Caught between big sister BBC1 and upstarts BBC3 and BBC4, the 'difficult middle child' is working to regain its niche with increased investment in drama – despite cost cuts

It has been called the BBC's "difficult middle child"; the channel that sits uncomfortably between BBC1's high-wattage productions and digital upstarts BBC3 and BBC4; the network whose most popular shows are frequently snatched away by its more mainstream sibling, while other programmes that may once have found a home there now play out on the more niche outlets. So – minus Miranda and MasterChef, without the critically acclaimed Being Human or The Killing – what's left for BBC2?

Finding answers to this question is understood to be a priority for George Entwistle, who has just inherited responsibility for the BBC's portfolio of TV channels as the newly appointed BBC Vision director. Entwistle is said to remain convinced of the power and importance of channel brands, »

- Ben Dowell

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This week's new DVD & Blu-ray

29 April 2011 4:06 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »


Blu-ray, 2 Entertain

Out on 9 May

Historian Kenneth Clark introduces this landmark documentary series with a quote from John Ruskin about how the key to understanding a great nation is to look at their deeds, words and art, the last being "the only trustworthy one".

So begins an epic voyage around the historical culture of western civilisation, taking in the greats such as Da Vinci, Mozart, Dante, Shakespeare, etc, working backwards from their art to discover how it was formed by their lives. Overseen by David Attenborough (when he was head of BBC2) and still as bright and informative as it was when first transmitted in 1969, Civilisation has yet to be bettered. Shot on film (the remastered Blu-ray looks stunning) and in colour (when most TV sets were still black and white), it's a precursor to many of the great shows from the golden era of factual TV such as Life On Earth, »

- Phelim O'Neill

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Civilisation in HD: Which other shows deserve a high-def makeover?

9 February 2011 6:38 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

A visual delight starts tonight when Civilisation is shown in HD – so what other epic art series should be aired in high resolution?

The BBC is to show Kenneth Clark's 1969 television series Civilisation in HD from tonight – a highly promising marriage of old and new. The calm, clear photography that still makes this television history of European art and culture such a visual delight will hopefully be revealed in all its glory – for a new century – by a high definition makeover. But what other classics of art television might be worthy of high definition rediscovery?

Civilisation was not the first art programme on British television. Clark himself had given highly successful lectures to camera on ITV. But when BBC2 was launched it was the first British channel to show exclusively in colour. Its pioneering director of programmes, David Attenborough, and his team saw the potential of colour television for »

- Jonathan Jones

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Twelve hours mainlining culture with Kenneth Clark

4 February 2011 4:04 PM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

The BBC is repeating its mammoth 1969 documentary series Civilisation. But will today's reality TV-addled audiences be up to the job of watching it? Our correspondent takes in the lot in one sitting

The BBC HD channel as we know it is largely a showcase for wildlife shows and Michael Portillo's face. Things will take a swing upmarket this week however thanks to its sparkling new hi-def conversion of Civilisation, Kenneth Clark's landmark 1969 arts history documentary series. But how well will Civilisation play to today's flabby generation of microscopic attention spans? According to my editor, the surest way to find out is to make me consume all 13 50-minute episodes in a single sitting and see if I die of boredom in the process. Let's start the clock …

00:05 Right from the outset it's clear that Civilisation isn't interested in easy answers. After an opening burst of terrifying church organ, »

- Stuart Heritage

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Why the BBC is right to bring us back to Civilisation ... in high definition

24 January 2011 9:00 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Kenneth Clark's 1969 art history series – with its sheer visual beauty and wise words – is ideally suited for modern viewing

A wise choice by the BBC to showcase HD television with a state-of-the-art remastered version of Kenneth Clark's art history series Civilisation. The first thing that struck me when I watched this exquisitely intelligent documentary for the first time, on its DVD release a few years ago, was its overwhelming visual beauty.

I had never seen it, but had heard plenty about how "old fashioned" and "staid" it looked in comparison with modern television. Yet in truth, the camerawork and direction in Clark's perfectly paced essays on the story of European culture since the Dark Ages rise to the poetry of cinema. Instead of rapid cutting we get long, slow panning shots of landscapes in southern France and Italy, the corridors of the Vatican, or the ages-old lifestyle of a Benedictine monastery. »

- Jonathan Jones

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BBC remasters Civilisation for HD

20 January 2011 9:04 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Landmark Kenneth Clark documentary series from 1969 to help boost profile of BBC HD channel

It was a landmark documentary series that is still discussed in hushed tones today. Now Kenneth Clark's Civilisation, the acclaimed BBC2 series from 1969 that traced the history of western art and philosophy, is to be remastered in high definition for a new generation of television viewers.

The 13-part series will be repeated in full from next month on the BBC's high definition channel, part of what the corporation called its "wider commitment to the arts through showcasing the jewels of its arts archive".

It will also be hoping it boosts the profile of the BBC HD channel, which is currently watched by a fraction of the audiences garnered by its standard definition parent channels, despite the booming popularity of HD TV sets.

Danielle Nagler, head of HD and 3D at the BBC, said: "Kenneth Clark »

- John Plunkett

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