Melvyn Bragg

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Bragg
FBA, FRSA, FRSL, FRTS
Melvyn Bragg.jpg
Bragg addressing the London School of Economics, c.1990s
Born (1939-10-06) 6 October 1939 (age 74)
Carlisle, Cumberland, UK
Nationality British
Alma mater Wadham College, Oxford
Occupation Broadcaster, presenter, interviewer, commentator, novelist, scriptwriter[1]
Notable work(s) In Our Time
Television The South Bank Show
Political party
Labour

Melvyn Bragg, Baron Bragg, FRS, FBA, FRSA, FRSL, FRTS (born 6 October 1939), is an English broadcaster and author,[2] best known for his work with ITV as editor and presenter of the The South Bank Show (1978–2010).

Earlier in his career, Bragg worked for the BBC in various roles including presenter, a connection which resumed in 1988 when he began to host Start the Week on Radio 4. After his ennoblement in 1998, he switched to presenting the new In Our Time,[3] a discussion radio programme which has run to over 600 editions. He is currently Chancellor of the University of Leeds.[4]

Background[edit]

Bragg was born on 6 October 1939 in Carlisle,[5] the son of Mary Ethel (née Park), a tailor, and Stanley Bragg, a stock keeper turned mechanic.[6] He attended the Nelson Thomlinson School in Wigton[5] and read Modern History at Wadham College, Oxford in the late 1950s and early 1960s.[7]

Broadcasting career[edit]

Bragg began his career in 1961 as a general trainee at the BBC,[5] spending his first two years in radio at the BBC World Service, then at the BBC Third Programme and BBC Home Service.[8] He joined the production team of Huw Wheldon's Monitor arts series on BBC Television.[8] and won an award for his screenplay on Debussy. He presented the BBC books programme Read All About It (also editor, 1976-77)[9] and The Lively Arts, an arts series which included Whose Doctor Who (1977), the earliest documentary on the television series.[citation needed]

He is best known for the London Weekend Television (LWT) arts programme The South Bank Show, which he edited and presented from 1978 to 2010.[10] He was Head of Arts at LWT from 1982 to 1990 and Controller of Arts at LWT from 1990. He is also known for his many programmes on BBC Radio 4, including Start the Week (1988 to 1998),[11] The Routes of English, (mapping the history of the English language), and In Our Time (1998 to present), which in March 2011 broadcast its 500th programme. In February 2012, he began Melvyn Bragg on Class and Culture, a three-part series on BBC2 examining popular media culture with an analysis of the British social class system.[12]

In 2012 he brought back The South Bank Show to Sky Arts 1, and is expected to stay with Sky until 2015.[13] In December 2012, he began The Value of Culture, a five-part series on BBC Radio 4 examining the meaning of culture, expanding on Matthew Arnold's landmark (1869) collection of essays Culture and Anarchy.[14] In June 2013 he wrote and presented The Most Dangerous Man in Tudor England, broadcast by the BBC. This told the dramatic story of William Tyndale's mission to translate the Bible from Latin to English.

A novelist and writer of non-fiction, Bragg has written a number of television and film screenplays. Some of his early television work was in collaboration with Ken Russell, for whom he wrote the biographical dramas The Debussy Film (1965) and Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World (1967), as well as Russell's film about Tchaikovsky, The Music Lovers (1970). He is president of the National Academy of Writing. His 2008 novel Remember Me is part of a series of autobiographical fictions.

Bragg is a Vice President of the Friends of the British Library, a charity set up to provide funding support to the British Library.[15] He became a member of the Arts Council Literature Panel in 1969, since becoming Chairman, and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society.[16]

Bragg appeared on the Front Row "Cultural Exchange" on May Day 2013. He nominated a self-portrait by Rembrandt as a piece of art which he had found especially interesting.[17]

Intellectual contributions[edit]

Bragg has described the rise of a mass intelligentsia in Britain.[18] He is credited[by whom?] with bringing the term "intelligentsia" into common consciousness; it was earlier used only in specialist sociological studies.

Personal life[edit]

Bragg in 2011

Bragg married his first wife, Marie-Elisabeth Roche, in 1961,[5] and they had one child, a daughter.[19] Ten years later she killed herself. He did not know that his wife had a history of suicide attempts. "I could have done things which helped and I did things which harmed", he told The Guardian in 1998. "So yes, I feel guilt, I feel remorse."[20]

Bragg's second wife, Catherine Mary Haste, whom he married in 1973,[5] is also a television producer and writer, having, among other things, edited the 2007 memoir of Clarissa Eden, widow of Sir Anthony Eden, and collaborated with Cherie Booth, wife of Tony Blair, on a 2004 book about the wives of British Prime Ministers. They have a son and a daughter.

Bragg has publicly discussed two nervous breakdowns that happened in his life, one in his teens, and another in his 30s.[21]

A friend of Tony Blair, in 1998 Bragg was named in a list of the largest private financial donors to the Labour Party.[22] He is a supporter of Arsenal F.C.[23] and Carlisle United (London Branch Hon President).

Selected honours and awards[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

Novels[edit]

Non-fiction books[edit]

Children's books[edit]

Screenwriting[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Lord Bragg of Wigton FRS FRSL FRTS". British Academy. Retrieved 4 October 2011. "Public understanding of the arts, literature and sciences. Broadcaster, presenter, interviewer, commentator, novelist, scriptwriter." 
  2. ^ "Melvyn Bragg calls on new BBC boss to reverse 'shrinking arts coverage'". The Independent. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "In Our Time: Melvyn Bragg's superior radio masterclass". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Profile, leeds.ac.uk; retrieved 8 April 2013
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Quicke, Andrew. "Melvyn Bragg". Encyclopedia of Television. Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  6. ^ "Family detective: Melvyn Bragg" The Telegraph.
  7. ^ "Family detective: Melvyn Bragg". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Article by Melvyn Bragg in British Mensa Magazine, January 2002, p. 7.
  9. ^ Andrew Quicke "Melvyn Bragg - U.S situation comedy [sic]", Museum of Broadcast Communications
  10. ^ "ITV Fact File on The South Bank Show". 
  11. ^ Simon Elmes, And Now on Radio 4: A Celebration of the World's Best Radio Station, Random House Books, 2007, pp. 72-73.
  12. ^ "Melvyn Bragg on Class and Culture", bbc.co.uk; accessed 3 April 2014.
  13. ^ "Melvyn Bragg expected to stay with Sky Arts for two more years". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  14. ^ "The Value of Culture". Folksonomy. Retrieved 4 January 2013. 
  15. ^ "Friends of the British Library Annual Report 2006/07". Retrieved 2009-09-07. 
  16. ^ "Melvyn Bragg FRS". The Royal Society. Retrieved 10 April 2013. 
  17. ^ "Images for Melvyn Bragg's Cultural Exchange". BBC. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Melvyn Bragg on the rise of the 'mass intelligentsia'", Philosophy For Life.
  19. ^ Guinness, Daphne (14 July 2008). "Melvyn in the Middle". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 July 2008. "...my first wife was an aristocrat. I didn't know that for a year." 
  20. ^ "Plato or Nietzsche? You choose", guardian.co.uk; accessed 2 April 2014.
  21. ^ Daphne Guinness (14 June 2008). "Melvyn in the middle". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  22. ^ ""Luvvies" for Labour". BBC News. 30 August 1998. 
  23. ^ "Melvyn Bragg on becoming a fan". guardian.co.uk (London). 17 May 2009. 
  24. ^ Minutes and Order Paper - Minutes of Proceedings from the House of Lords, 28 October 1998.
  25. ^ "Notice: 4SI (Issue: 55222)". The London Gazette (55222). 11 August 1998. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  26. ^ "Bragg opens namesake drama suite". BBC News. 17 October 2005. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  27. ^ "Melvyn Bragg to receive BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award". BBC News. 1 June 2010. 
  28. ^ Honorary Fellows of the Royal Society

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Katharine, Duchess of Kent
Chancellor of the University of Leeds
1999–present
Incumbent