BBC extends Culture in Quarantine programme for autumn 2020

BBC Arts is extending Culture In Quarantine once again during the autumn to work with parts of the UK arts scene that have been particularly hard hit by the global pandemic.

Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore says: "The BBC is the biggest creator of arts content in Britain and our contribution to the cultural economy in the UK is something that I’m passionate about.

"I hope by extending Culture In Quarantine we can help keep the arts alive at a difficult time - it’s public service broadcasting at its best, supporting the cultural sector to get back on its feet and the nation to get the very best in arts."

BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine campaign began at the start of lockdown, with unique commissions and an arts and culture service running across platforms.

The programming will also seek to provide front row seats to:

  • Ambitious theatre and performances, including Sonia Friedman’s acclaimed Uncle Vanya on BBC Four and brand new monologues on Radio 4 and BBC Four, focusing on disability and the anniversary of the disability act
  • World-class art and exhibitions with #MUSEUMPASSION - a week of digital content and behind-the-scenes access to collections
  • Further support for live music, with live concerts each week in the lead-up to Christmas on Radio 3; a two-week residency at Southbank and a brand new initiative - Experience Classical - featuring over 600 recordings online and over 150 composers
  • A new book club on BBC Two and the return of the Big Books Weekend festival, Novels That Shaped Our World, the first poetry festival since lockdown - Contains Strong Language - broadcast from Cumbria
  • Unique access and insightful portraits of celebrated artists, including Marina Abramovic, Tracey Emin, Maggi Hambing and Brian Catling on BBC One, through to BBC Four
  • A tribute to Sir Alan Parker with a specially remastered version of The Evacuees on BBC Four and an archive interview with Jeremy Isaacs
  • New Artists given vital access to a platform for their work through BBC Introducing Arts, including a 10-part series showcase on 6 Music presented by Gemma Cairney.

Jonty Claypole, BBC Director of Arts, says: "This autumn, UK culture is pulling itself out of the confinements of lockdown. The BBC is here to share that story, both the ongoing struggles and triumphs against adversity.

"Working with artists and organisations across the UK, our programmes and seasons will shine a spotlight on museums and galleries, books and poetry, and the performing arts - theatre, dance, classical music. We’ll be showcasing famous artists as well as new talent.

"And we’ll be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act. While an increasing number of people will be able to return to the creative experiences they enjoyed before lockdown, many others will still be shielding and many organisations will remain closed for the time being. In these uncertain times, the BBC guarantees everyone can continue to access and participate in arts and culture whenever and however they want."

The autumn season will include:

Theatre and performance

West End productions and dance adaptations, alongside ambitious and thought-provoking theatre and plays to mark the 50th anniversary of the BBC’s Play for Today.

The Southbank Centre will partner with BBC Radio 3 with two weeks of special broadcast events, including live classical music and literature, featuring violinist Tasmin Little’s last major recital at a UK venue before she retires.

In a special tribute to film director Sir Alan Parker, BBC Arts presents a freshly restored print of his 1975 Bafta and Emmy Award-winning television drama The Evacuees, in its original 4:3 screen aspect ratio, starring Maureen Lipman.

Topical arts

In November, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Disabilities Discrimination Act, programming will be broadcast across the BBC with a special focus on arts and disability.

Following the success of Lockdown Culture with Mary Beard, the classicist and arts presenter will be back once more from her study for a brand new series Inside Culture With Mary Beard, meeting leading creative voices to see how they’re shaping Britain’s post lockdown culture.

Classical - live music and new series

BBC Radio 3 will continue its crusade to bring live classical to audiences, through the radio, with a return to London’s Wigmore Hall and LSO St Luke’s, St David’s Hall in Cardiff and City Halls in Glasgow.

There is alsoa new initiative with BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to identify research projects about the life and works of Black, Asian and ethnically diverse composers, with a series of programming activity and a concert in 2021.

Building on the popularity of classical music during lockdown, Radio 3 and BBC Archive are launching Experience Classical - a new digital experience with over 600 audio recordings and 150 composers, to help those new to classical music and seasoned classical listeners discover and learn more about classical music.


Museums will offer special access tours in a museum’s week featuring programming across television, radio and digital. There will be discussions on how museums have adapted following coronavirus and Black Lives Matter, and special access to collections.

Artist profiles

Visual art will be in the spotlight, with unique access and insightful artist profiles of internationally acclaimed British artists Tracey Emin, Maggi Hambling, Brian Catling and an Imagine on Marina Abramovic, plus programmes which challenge perceptions of the world’s greatest painters.

Literature and poetry

World-class literature and intimate chats with authors through digital festivals, including the second ever Big Books Weekend and Contains Strong Language (Britain’s first live poetry festival since lockdown) from this year’s home of Cumbria. With live streaming and broadcasts across Radio 3 and Radio 4, and artists including Kate Fox, Rachel Long, Helen Mort, Malika Booker, Zaffar Kunial and Luke Wright.

The Booker Prize returns, and a brand new special BBC Two Book Club series, Between The Covers, showcases the best brand new fiction, plus The Novels That Shaped Our World will return to inspire curiosity and debate.

New and emerging artists

BBC Introducing Arts will continue to support new talent and emerging artists, throughout the country, with content across platforms including BBC iPlayer, 6Music, Radio 4 Extra and BBC Sounds.

Gemma Cairney presents a new 10-part series which sees emerging artists get their work broadcast on national radio - BBC Radio 6Music, in the biggest commitment to new talent to emerge from BBC Introducing Arts.

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