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Review Show moves to BBC4 monthly slot in arts revamp

27/02/2013 20:46

For nearly 20 years it has brought BBC2 viewers the latest developments in the world of arts and culture, in various incarnations and featuring bickering panellists including Tom Paulin, Allison Pearson and Tony Parsons. But now The Review Show, one of the BBC's flagship arts programmes, is to be moved from BBC2 to BBC4 and cut from a weekly to monthly slot – as new director general Lord Hall prepares to join the BBC on 2 April from one of the UK's leading arts institutions, the Royal Opera House. Arts coverage on BBC1 and BBC2 is being cut as a result of the BBC's £700m cost-cutting measures, Delivering Quality First.
The BBC's arts commissioning editor, Mark Bell, said the reduction in arts coverage was minimal across BBC1 and BBC2, amounting to a "couple of hours" a year. "The total number of hours is down a bit, but some other genres have been hit worse," he said. "On the whole I feel relieved. DQF is hitting all of us and arts has come out pretty well." Bell added: "We feel that there are other ways of reflecting the arts topically beyond getting people to sit around a table and discuss it." Martha Kearney and Kirsty Wark, who share presenting duties on The Review Show, will remain on the programme, which will be expanded from 45 minutes to an hour and given a peaktime berth between 7pm and 10.30pm. The Review Show currently airs at 11pm on Friday nights on BBC2.
The switch was part of a number of new arts programmes announced for BBC4 on Tuesday, including What Do Artists Do All Day?, a series of intimate observational portraits of leading artists; Secret Knowledge, looking at the hidden gems of some of the world's biggest arts institutions, and Opening Night, about new exhibitions and events beginning with the Roy Lichtenstein retrospective at Tate Modern. BBC4, which celebrated its 10th birthday last year, is refocusing on arts and culture as part of wide-ranging cost-cutting measures at the channel which will see it drop all of its drama programming. However, the channel is still investing in comedy and recently commissioned its first sitcom in front of a live studio audience, Up the Women, starring Jessica Hynes.
The BBC said it was increasing its spend on arts and culture on BBC4, as well as the number of hours it devoted on screen. Richard Klein, the BBC4 controller, said: "Arts, music and culture have always served as the backbone of BBC4 but this year we're increasing our commitment to topical arts, introducing a number of new strands that will enable us to shine a light on contemporary arts, theatre, literature and film. "With a series of discussions and portraits, we'll study the working lives of creative figures and explore single objects that can tell the story of the world's most interesting museums and galleries."
The Review Show was originally launched as The Late Show spin-off Late Review in 1994 and has been through many incarnations in the 19 years since. It was presented by Mark Lawson until 2005, when Kearney and Wark took over, and in the early years often featured a regular panel of Paulin, Pearson and Parsons. After The Late Show's demise in 1995 Late Review continued as a standalone show in the late evening BBC2 lineup. It was renamed Review and made a short-lived moved to Sunday night in March 2000, before being rebranded Newsnight Review early the following year and switching back to Friday nights (where it can currently be found) and the number of editions a year were doubled to 50.
In its latest revamp three years ago The Review Show was moved out of London to the BBC's production base in Glasgow. Other new BBC4 arts shows will include an Evening with Joan Bakewell, ahead of her 80th birthday, and an edition of Timeshift presented by Rachel Johnson, former editor of The Lady magazine, in which she goes back in time to discover, appropriately enough, "how to be a lady". Great Artists in their Own Words, a new three-part series, will tell the story of the 20th-century artistic revolution, while Beautiful Things will celebrate "ornate and exquisite art and artefacts that aren't considered traditionally beautiful".
Jude Law will narrate a documentary about artist William Turnbull, while editions of arts strand Arena will mark the National Theatre's 50th birthday and the centenary of fashion photographer Norman Parkinson's birth. The fourth and final part of BBC4's partnership with the V&A, Handmade in Britain, will look at fabric. Klein said the change of channels was an opportunity to take a fresh look at The Review Show after 19 years. "I am actually rather pleased to have it, it is a fantastic opportunity to reconsider how you might put topical arts out rather than … a slot at 11.20pm on a Friday night which isn't particularly prominent," he said. "I think it's exciting. It's good trying to change things and see if we can do it better. When you have blogs and tweets, we have to rethink how we review topical arts; you could argue once a month or once a week, it doesn't make that much difference. "Once a month will make it more of an event. Is aspic the way forward? It isn't."
Klein said The Review Show, which will be given an 8pm Sunday slot, would look "very similar" to the current format and will continue to be filmed in Glasgow. He said BBC4 would look to cover topical arts in a range of other shows on the channel, including its new Opening Night strand. "At the moment on BBC2, The Review Show does about 300,000 [viewers] on a Friday night," he added. "Most arts programmes on BBC4, in terms of reach and share, are easily as good as what you would find on BBC4 and Sky Arts, not necessarily BBC2. Most of our arts shows are doing quite comparable figures to what you see on BBC2 these days."
Last Friday's Review Show, an Oscars special, had 372,000 viewers, a 3.3% share of the audience. It was around half the 729,000 viewers who watched Newsnight, on BBC2 before it, and was beaten by a CSI repeat, with 566,000 viewers, on Channel 5. The Friday before that, 15 February, The Review Show was watched by 313,000 viewers, a 2.8% share.

Source: https://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2013/feb/26/review-show-arts-moves-bbc4-monthly

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