Peter Gabriel    
The South Bank Show

Sandwiched between Baby Ballroom and Soap star Superstar on ITV's list of chat and talent, the South Bank Show, which has just passed its 30th birthday, is something of a miraculous survivor. In a TV culture where few things last for long and even the BBC feels the need to butcher respected programs, Melvyn Bragg and his team have sustained an intelligent, lengthy program about the arts through five prime ministers and countless reorganizations of commercial television. Viewing figures are still strong and the series has been renewed for another three years, which is a tribute to the rock-solid brand that Lord Bragg (as he is not normally called) has built up over the years. The program has been much mocked for everything from its squawky opening music, a product of the Lloyd Webber brothers, to its presenter's big hair and sometimes gushing tone. In recent interviews even he has admitted that an episode about the here-today-gone-tomorrow glam rock band The Darkness was a step too far. But a program that opened in 1978 with Germaine Greer and Paul McCartney has always been ahead of the game in recognizing that the arts mean more than Mozart. The show has an enthusiasm that is anything but exclusive: and it matters that it is shown on ITV1, not a niche digital channel. From Lulu (the opera not the singer) to Lang Lang (the like-him-or-loathe-him Chinese pianist who is the subject of next Sunday's program) the South Bank Show has opened the arts to all.  

Guardian News & Media 2008
Published: 2/4/2008
The Making of Security - Part 1

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The South Bank Show