Oxford Brookes lecturer contributes to major new BBC arts series

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

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An Oxford Brookes academic is playing a key role in a major documentary series on BBC this spring.

Dr James Hawes, Reader in Creative Writing in the School of English and Modern Languages, features in ‘Art That Made Us’ which explores the UK’s creative history, aired on BBC Two.

As a result of his best selling publications on German and English history, Dr Hawes was approached by the production company responsible for BBC’s Civilisations documentary series.

Having won the contract for the series, they then asked James to stay on as ‘series story consultant’. As things developed, he also became an on-screen contributor in several episodes, and is sole author of the accompanying book of the series, which is called Brilliant Isles. 

The series will be broadcast as eight episodes on prime-time BBC Two during April and May.

Speaking about the series, James said: “I’m delighted to be involved with this landmark new series. It will explore how pivotal works of art, literature, design and music have helped shape our creative story. Focusing on artworks that emerged at times of turbulence, each programme looks at what they reveal about a turning point in our history.”

Additionally, The Art That Made Us Festival is running alongside the TV series from 1-30 April. The BBC is working with a wide selection of stakeholders from across the UK including Art Fund, Art UK, the Association of Independent Museums, Libraries Connected, the Museums Association, the National Museum Directors’ Council and Scottish Library & Information Council.

They are inviting museums, galleries, libraries and archives to schedule events exploring the spark of creativity using items in the UK’s collections. Events can be virtual or in real life.

James is the author of six novels with Jonathan Cape. The first, A White Merc With Fins (1996), was a Sunday Times bestseller, as was his second, Rancid Aluminium (1997). 

This was filmed, starring Joseph Fiennes, whilst Michael Sheen starred in the adaptation of his third novel Dead Long Enough (2000).  His study of Kafka, Excavating Kafka, was the basis of a BBC documentary televised in November 2008.  Last year The Shortest History of England made number four in The Times bestsellers.

For more information please visit https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/5CNp6F10dmyXP9S9cpQW1H/art-that-made-us-festival-how-to-get-involved#:~:text=Art%20That%20Made%20Us%20is%20a%20major%20new%20documentary%20series,helped%20shape%20our%20creative%20story.