Celebrating an unsung hero of TV tonight

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I am not sure how well known to today’s audiences the name Sir Kenneth Clark is, but he was the writer and presenter of one of the greatest TV programmes of all time - Civilization.

This series of thirteen films was one of the commissions of David Attenborough when he was controller of BBC2.

David is one of the people featured in this Saturday’s programme at 7pm on BBC2 which will look at the life and achievements of Sir Kenneth Clark.

Civilization was partly created to showcase the advantages of colour television. It was very much a personal project with Sir Kenneth taking viewers on an individualistic journey through history – highlighting the work of great artists in a very easy-to-understand way.

Like many of Attenborough’s programmes, Sir Kenneth delivered many pieces to camera from exotic locations.

The series (which is available on DVD/blu-ray) highlighted many human achievements, and some of mankind’s failings as well.

While the style may have dated slightly, as it was originally shown in 1969, it is a series that is still interesting, and relevant today. This new programme ties in with the special exhibition currently running at Tate Britain which highlights the various artists that Clark supported during his lifetime.

Sir Kenneth was more than an excellent TV broadcaster. He was also a lecturer, author, historian, Director of the National Gallery, past Chairman of the Independent Television Authority, Chancellor of the University of York, a trustee of the British Museum and a life peer. This new programme allows us to learn more about this hugely talented person who believed that art should be accessible to everyone.

Ian K