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Arena is the BBC's multi award-winning arts strand. Founded in 1975, Arena continues to produce gold standard documentaries for the BBC and world service.

Genres: Celebrities | Interview
Station: BBC Four (UK)
Rating: 0/10 from 0 users
Status: Running
Start: 1978-01-18

Arena Air Dates


S2016E01 - Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl Air Date: 18 March 2016 00:00 -

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S2016E02 - All the World's a Screen - Shakespeare on Film Air Date: 24 April 2016 20:00 -

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From the silent days of cinema, Shakespeare's plays have often been adapted to the big screen. Film-makers relished his vivid characters and dramatic plots as well as the magic and poetry of his work.

At first the results were patchy, then came Laurence Olivier. With Henry V, made to stir patriotic spirit during the Second World War, he perfectly translated Shakespeare from the stage to the screen. He followed Henry V with Hamlet, and both were smash hits. Olivier led the way for directors as diverse as Orson Welles, Kurosawa, Franco Zeffirelli, Roman Polanski, Baz Luhrmann and Kenneth Branagh.

The Bard's language has been no barrier, with bold versions of his dramas coming out of Russia, Japan, India and many other countries, not to mention Hollywood's free adaptations in genres as diverse as musicals and science fiction. Already over 30 films worldwide have been produced based on Romeo and Juliet alone.

For the first time in a single documentary, Arena explores the rich, global history of Shakespeare in the cinema, with a treasure trove of film extracts and archival interviews with their creators.


S2016E03 - 1966 - 50 Years Ago Today Air Date: 24 July 2016 21:00 -

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Based on Jon Savage's book 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded, Arena marks the year pop music and popular culture ripped up the rule book in articulate, instinctive and radical new ways. This was the year of Jonathan Miller's Alice in Wonderland, Morgan - A Suitable Case for Treatment, and the year that Strawberry Fields Forever was recorded. Television was still in black and white, but the world outside was bursting with colour and controversy. In America, in London, in Amsterdam, in Paris, revolutionary ideas slow-cooking since the late 1950s reached boiling point. In popular culture and the mass media, 1966 was a year of restless experimentation and the search for new forms of expression - particularly in pop music. This film takes viewers back to that moment in a vivid celebration of the music, films and TV that shaped the 1960s.


S2016E04 - The Roundhouse - The People's Palace Air Date: 23 October 2016 21:00 -

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Documentary telling the tragicomic rollercoaster story of a unique venue. On October 15th 1966, the Roundhouse in north London hosted its first gig - the launch of radical newspaper International Times. The audience included Paul McCartney and Marianne Faithfull, along with 3,000 others trying desperately to get in. The result was a glorious shambles. Since then, virtually every big name in rock and alternative theatre has played there. Today it's as vibrant as ever, continuing to attract big names and full houses and running an array of outreach and youth programmes enabling young people to express themselves in the arts.



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