Architecture on TV season at BFI Southbank, June 2016



  • THU 9 JUN, 18:10 – SCREENING AND INTRO: Architecture’s Arrival on Screen: Kenneth Clark / Onstage: Arts Producer John Wyver
  • MON 13 JUN, 18:20 – SCREENING AND Q&A: Nairn’s Journeys / Onstage: Writer and filmmaker Jonathan Meades
  • WED 15 JUN, 18:20 – SCREENING AND INTRO: Perspectives on Pevsner / Onstage: editors of the ‘Pevsner Architectural Guides’ Charles O’Brien and Simon Bradley
  • WED 22 JUN, 20:50 – SCREENING AND INTRO: Cities & Critics / Onstage: Director Mike Dibb 
  • SUN 26 JUN, 15:10 – SCREENING AND INTRO: Concrete at a Crossroads / Onstage: Joseph Watson, London Creative Director, National Trust
  • THU 30 JUN, 18:15 – SCREENING AND INTRO: Transport as Architecture: Ballard to Banham / Onstage: Writer and journalist Paul Morley

This year’s Broadcasting the Arts focuses on Architecture on TV, exploring TV’s role in British architecture. Television has long been an outlet for Britain’s most imaginative critical voices, including JG Ballard, Iain Nairn and Raymond Williams, all of whom make appearances in programmes in the season. TV has not only provided a platform for these commentators but played a pivotal role in broadening architecture’s audiences and engaging the public in debate.

Architecture was first introduced to television by the didactic Kenneth Clark, best known for his work on Civilisation, the season includes two episodes of his earlier programme Great Temples of the World where he investigates some of the world’s most celebrated religious sites including Chartres Cathedral (ATV, 1965) in France, and Karnak (ATV, 1966) an Egyptian temple which is the largest ancient religious site in the world. In Nairn’s Journeys Ian Nairn set out to prove that architecture is more than just structural design, it is the creation of place, space and identity. The season will include a screening of two episodes: Oxford (BBC, 1970) and Football Towns: Huddersfield and Halifax (BBC, 1975), which will be followed by a Q&A with writer and filmmaker Jonathan Meades.

Other critics featured in the season include the prodigious Raymond Williams who makes a rare television appearance in Where We Live Now: The Country & The City (BBC, 1979). Williams charts the explosive and sometime poetic relationship between Britain’s rural landscapes and the rise of industrial cities. This will be screened alongside Twilight City (C4, 1989) a captivating docudrama exploring London’s social and structural changes in Thatcher’s Britain. Basil Spence and Patrick Nuttgen examine contentious debates that surround the use of concrete and steel on the steps of the Southbank Centre in Concrete at a Crossroads featuring The Pacemakers: Basil Spence (COI, 1973), Where We Live Now: Architecture for Everyman (BBC, 1982) and Heart by-Pass: Jonatan Meades in Birmingham (BBC, 1998).

The season rounds off with a unique J.G. Ballard double bill which sees the author deconstruct the beauty and menace of motorised society in Transport as Architecture: Ballard to Banham; this event will be introduced by journalist Paul Morely who appears alongside Ballard in The Thing is… Motorways (C4, 1990). In addition to Ballard’s thoughts on the utopian sentiments behind motorways and service stations, Reyner Banham pays tribute to LA and its freeways in Reyner Benham Loves LA (BBC, 1972).