Arena (British TV series)
Message in a bottle title sequence used by Arena since 1975.
|Created by||Humphrey Burton|
|Opening theme||"Another Green World" by Brian Eno|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||over 600|
|Editor(s)||Anthony Wall (1985–present)|
Anthony Wall and Nigel Finch (1985–1995)
Alan Yentob (1979–1985)
Leslie Megahey (1977–1978)
|Original network||BBC Two (1975–2011)|
BBC Four (2003–present)
|Original release||1 October 1975 –|
|BBC Four - Arena|
Arena is a British television documentary series, made and broadcast by the BBC since 1 October 1975. Voted by TV executives in Broadcast magazine as one of the top 50 most influential programmes of all time, it has produced over six hundred episodes directed by, among others, Frederick Baker, Jana Boková, Jonathan Demme, Nigel Finch, Mary Harron, Vikram Jayanti, Vivian Kubrick, Paul Lee, Adam Low, Bernard MacMahon, James Marsh, Leslie Megahey, Volker Schlondorff, Martin Scorsese, Julian Temple, Anthony Wall, Leslie Woodhead, and Alan Yentob.
The current series editor is Anthony Wall, who has edited Arena since 1985.
The arts strand Arena was initially created in 1975 by the BBC Head of Music & Arts at that time, Humphrey Burton, when he founded a magazine named Arena exploring art, design, filmmaking, and theatre. In 1977, under producer and director Leslie Megahey, the strand divided into Arena Theatre and Arena Art and Design, and Arena became less of a magazine and more a home for short, distinctive and stylish films about mainly British theatre and visual arts. In 1978 Megahey became editor of Omnibus and Alan Yentob, who had been supervising Arena Theatre, took over and the two themes were merged. The series, relaunched in January 1979 and renamed simply Arena, began to adopt a format of single subject essays. It earned great critical acclaim for its enthusiasm for the popular as well as the high arts. During Yentob's time as editor, Arena had six BAFTA nominations and three BAFTA awards.
A group of radical directors, notably Nigel Finch and Anthony Wall, gathered around Yentob and Arena, including Nigel Williams and Mary Dickinson. Hits from 1979 included Who Is Poly Styrene?, La Dame Aux Gladiolas, a portrait of Edna Everage, and most notably the groundbreaking My Way, an examination of the appeal of the song, by Finch and Wall. It was the first of their collaborations, which developed a new kind of arts film, taking an unlikely subject and building a poetic meditation on its various aspects - further examples include The Chelsea Hotel (1981), The Private Life of the Ford Cortina (1982), Desert Island Discs (1982). Other successes included Megahey's portrait of Orson Welles (1982), Williams's study of George Orwell (1982), Yentob's portrait of Mel Brooks (1981) and Wall's four-part documentary on Slim Gaillard (1989).
On Yentob's move to become Head of Music & Arts in 1985, Finch and Wall took over as joint editor of Arena until Finch's death in 1995. Following a period of uncertainty concerning the future of the arts strand, series editor Wall protected the series in a reshuffle of the BBC. Since then Arena has been transmitted outside the conventional weekly broadcast strand on BBC Two and BBC Four, and latterly on BBC Four.
Under Wall and Finch, Arena developed the idea of the themed evening, beginning with Blues Night (1985), followed by Caribbean Nights (1986), Animal Night (1989), Food Night (1990), Texas Saturday Night (1991) and Stories My Country Told Me (1995), a three-and-a-half-hour presentation on Nations and Nationalism. Since then Arena has won numerous awards with regular screenings at the BFI Southbank and has continued to cover the arts and culture at the highest level, with films on Bob Dylan, Harold Pinter, The National Theatre and Spitting Image, to name but a few.
Most recently Arena has developed a substantial online presence featuring the Arena Hotel, a site that turns the 600-film Arena archive into a resource to build an online hotel for the stars. The Arena Hotel was nominated for a Focal International Award in 2013.
The Arena opening titles were voted among the "Top 5 Most Influential Opening Titles in the History of Television" by Broadcast magazine in 2004.
Wall has been the Editor of Arena since 1985. He joined the series in 1978 and became one of its leading directors.
Awards and nominations
Arena has won a Primetime and International Emmys, a Grammy, nine BAFTAs, six Royal Television Society Awards, a Peabody and the Prix Italia. Arena also won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Paris is Burning, the Best Performance Award for Lili Taylor's role in I Shot Andy Warhol at the Sundance Film Festival, and the SFFIF's Mel Novikoff Award.
Making The Shining
The Comic Strip Hero
The Orson Welles Story
Borges and I
C. L. R. James' First Cricket XI
The Confessions of Robert Crumb
Evelyn Waugh Trilogy
The Other Graham Greene
Slim Gaillard's Civilisation (Episode 2) - "How High The Moon"
Slim Gaillard's Civilisation (Episode 3) - "My Dinner With Dizzy"
Slim Gaillard's Civilisation (Episode 4) - "Everything's OK in the UK"
The Human Face
Punk and the Pistols
|1996||H. O. Hazareth|
The Burger & the King: The Life & Cuisine of Elvis Presley
The Football Men
Looking for the Iron Curtain
Salgado: Spectre of Hope
Harold Pinter Season at the BBC
Nigel Williams Martin Rosenbaum
Dylan Thomas: Grave to Cradle
Pavarotti: The Last Tenor
Shadowing the Third Man
Painting the Clouds: A Portrait of Dennis Potter
Calling Hedy Lamarr
Bergman and the Cinema
V.S. Naipaul: The Strange Luck Of...
Harold: A Celebration
Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Dickens On Film
Sonny Rollins: This is Who I Am
The Dreams of William Golding
Amy Winehouse: The Day She Came to Dingle
Sister Wendy and the Art of the Gospels
AKA Norman Parkinson
Whatever Happened to Spitting Image?
|2017||The American Epic Sessions||Bernard MacMahon|
|2017||American Epic||Bernard MacMahon|
- Vahimagi, Tise. British Television: An Illustrated Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press / British Film Institute, 1994. ISBN 0-19-818336-4.
- Tise Vahimagi. (2003-12) "Burton, Humphrey (1931-) ". BFI Screen Online". Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- Nigel Smith (22 February 2010). "Brian Eno and the Arena Bottle". BBC Music Blog. BBC. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
- International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. (2013) “International Emmy Awards – Previous Winners 'Arts Programme'” Archived 5 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine. The International Emmy Awards. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
- The Recording Academy. (2013) "GRAMMY.COM Past Winners Search – ‘No Direction Home’". GRAMMY.COM. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
- British Academy of Film and Television Arts. (2013) "BAFTA Awards Search – ‘Arena’". BAFTA. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
- "SFFILM to Honor BBC Portrait Television Series Arena with Mel Novikoff Award at 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival". SFFILM. 20 March 2019. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
- Wall, Anthony (22 October 1989). "A Traveller's Tale". An Arena Special:Slim Gaillard's Civilisation. Episode 1. BBC Two. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- Wall, Anthony (29 October 1989). "How High The Moon". An Arena Special:Slim Gaillard's Civilisation. Episode 2. BBC Two. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- Wall, Anthony (5 November 1989). "My Dinner With Dizzy". An Arena Special:Slim Gaillard's Civilisation. Episode 3. BBC Two. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- Wall, Anthony (12 November 1989). "Everything's OK in the UK". An Arena Special:Slim Gaillard's Civilisation. Episode 4. BBC Two. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- "Radio Times". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- Weprin, Alex (8 March 2008). "Paul Lee: Next-Gen Adventures in Audience-Building". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- Stories My Country Told Me: The Meaning of Nationhood. Retrieved 26 April 2016.