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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 09:44 GMT
BBC breathes life into Da Vinci
Gavyn Davies
118m will be spent on BBC arts shows in the next year
BBC chairman Gavyn Davies has responded to criticisms of the corporation's arts coverage by announcing a new show to bring the times and work of Leonardo da Vinci to life.

The influential 15th century artist and inventor will be brought to television screens using sophisticated computer animation, Mr Davies revealed.

The show will be part of an arts schedule that will cost 118m over the next 12 months.

Some critics have complained that the BBC has marginalised arts coverage on its main TV channels.

Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo Da Vinci was regarded as centuries ahead of his time
Mr Davies said the new show would recreate the life and thinking of da Vinci, who painted the Mona Lisa, among other masterpieces.

The computer animations used will use the same techniques used in the landmark series Son of God, presented by Jeremy Bowen, which recreated the environment in which Jesus lived.

"This response to concerns about arts programmes shows we're not complacent about the large audiences we're winning," he told the Voice of the Listener and Viewer pressure group's spring conference.

A greater mix of shows should be screened in the most popular slots, he said.


"More than entertainment should appear in prime time. The balance has to be got right."

Regarded as a genius, Da Vinci also set out technological ideas that were centuries ahead of his time - for things like helicopters, canals and submarines.

Mr Davies also revealed plans for a season dedicated to playwright Harold Pinter.

It will be aired on BBC Two and new digital arts channel BBC Four.


And he pledged to help people understand digital TV and radio - and admitted he did not know as much about the technology as he should.

"Certainly what I find with ordinary people is that they are very confused about the whole digital revolution," he said.

"This is increasingly a stumbling block for many people. The confusion must be reduced.

"The government has said it is incumbent on the BBC to do better on this over time - we accept that."

See also:

14 Feb 02 | Arts
Hidden da Vincis start UK tour
13 Mar 02 | TV and Radio
BBC chairman denies class attack
22 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
Dyke defends arts on BBC
26 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Davies' vision of BBC's future
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