The South Bank Show is back with a new series on Sky Arts

In a brand-new series of The South Bank Show, a host of the arts’ leading figures discuss their work, influences and inspirations in a collection of eye-opening interviews with Melvyn Bragg

South Bank Show guests Jude Law with Sir Melvyn Bragg

The South Bank Show returns to Sky Arts this July with a new line-up of exclusive interviews featuring hit screenwriter Sally Wainwright, director and screenwriter Amma Asante, musician Benjamin Clementine, Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, award-winning actor Jude Law with director Ivo van Hove, and artist Yinka Shonibare MBE.

Speaking about the new series, Melvyn Bragg said: “This is the most varied and ambitious series that we’ve done.  New and established artists filmed on location and delivering the artist’s voice and work from a group of talented and energetic Directors.  I think it’s a great six-pack.”

Highlights include the first in-depth TV interview with Norwegian literary sensation Karl Ove Knausgaard, whose unflinching autobiographical series My Struggle sold in vast quantities around the world, while attracting critical acclaim and scandal.  Shot in Sweden, Norway and the UK, we encounter Karl Ove reflecting on falling in love, his wife’s breakdown, family alcoholism, raising children and the shame and joy of creativity.  He also talks about his new collection of essays On Spring, On Summer, On Autumn and On Winter, which will be published in the UK this August, and a new exhibition of Edvard Munch paintings that he curated for The Munch Museum in Oslo, featuring more than 100 works – many taken out of storage for the first time. 

Benjamin Clementine is one of the most talented musicians of his generation.  A self-taught pianist, singer and songwriter, his unique approach to music has attracted widespread critical acclaim, as well as netting him the coveted 2015 Mercury Prize for his debut album, At Least for Now.  Melvyn Bragg talks to Benjamin about his unusual life and even stranger music career. The self-confessed loner fled his home in Edmonton, London, aged 16, only to end up as a homeless busker in Paris as a 19-year-old. By 25, he had found musical stardom. With Benjamin, we return to his most cherished hideaways in and around Edmonton, and then travel to New York, the city that provided him the inspirational backdrop for his forthcoming second album.

Melvyn also talks to Sally Wainwright, one of the UK’s most prolific TV writers, about her life and career.  From early experiences writing for the soaps to the multi-award-winning Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley, which recently garnered two BAFTA’s.  Sally also talks about her more recent foray into period dramas, including her latest project: a dramatisation of the life and loves of formidable 19th-century Yorkshire landowner and diarist Anne Lister. We follow Sally back to the West Yorkshire of her childhood, and finally to the famous Bronte Parsonage in Howarth, to discover how these landscapes have influenced and continue to influence her work.

Amma Asante is a screenwriter and film director, who became only the second black British female filmmaker to have a feature film distributed in the UK.  She talks to Melvyn about her London upbringing with Ghanaian parents, being a child actor in Grange Hill, and the importance of telling stories from different points of view.  Amma’s films include the BAFTA award-winning A Way of Life, Belle, A United Kingdom, and Where Hands Touch, which is due for release later this year. 

Melvyn catches up with artist Yinka Shonibare MBE at the Royal Academy of Art, for the annual Summer Exhibition.  As a member of the hanging committee, Yinka helped to choose this year’s successful submissions and was also invited to exhibit his own new work, including a re-imagining of the classical sculpture Venus de’ Medici.  In the Royal Academy courtyard, we see Yinka’s sculptural installation Wind Sculpture VI, which continues the artist’s series relating to historical ships, perhaps most boldly personified in his first public commission: Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle.  Originally made for Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, this large sculpture is now permanently housed outside the National Maritime Museum and will also feature as part of this fascinating South Bank Show on the artist. 

The series also features an episode about the play Obsession, directed by Ivo van Hove and starring Jude Law, which first aired in May to coincide with the play’s performance at The Barbican.  The play is based on Luchino Visconti’s groundbreaking film Ossessione, with its themes of passion, desperation and destruction all powerfully reimagined by Ivo van Hove in his stage production.  With unprecedented access to the rehearsal process, from the early weeks of experimenting at Ivo’s base in Amsterdam and then to London for the final preparations at the Barbican Theatre, this episode of The South Bank Show shows first-hand how the aesthetic and complexities of a production develop as the actor and the director come together to explore the play, its text and its characters.

The South Bank Show is part of the portfolio of South Bank content on Sky Arts produced by Directors Cut Productions, which includes The South Bank Sky Arts Awards, the only awards in the world that focus on the arts in their entirety, honouring the very best of British culture and achievement, and The South Bank Show Originals, featuring famous past episodes with added footage and extra interviews and contributors.

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