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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Channel 5 has art attack
Tim Marlow
Tim Marlow will host the next series of Great Artists
Channel 5 has announced a range of new prime-time arts shows in an attempt to shake off its down-market image.

Programmes will focus on Da Vinci, Constable, Caravaggio and the Bloomsbury Group, among other legendary names from the arts world.

The move comes as the channel tries to appeal to a wider audience after becoming known for its diet of "football, films and fornication".

There will be 28 new half-hour arts shows after successful prime-time trials.

Great works

The channel's controller of daytime, arts and religion, Kim Peat, said the shows would look at the subject in "a popular and accessible manner".

A second series of Great Artists will look at the works of Klimt, Constable, Caravaggio and Whistler, and will be presented by Tim Marlow.

A new eight-part series, Every Painting Tells a Story, will examine great works such as the Mona Lisa and Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson.

It will be narrated by Sunday Times art critic Waldemar Januszczak.

Brash

There will also be a documentary following photographer David LaChapelle as he shoots stars including Sir Elton John, as well as other shows about the Bloomsbury Group and religious art.

Channel 5 is still known for brash documentaries like Hard Bastards and The Most Evil Men In History, plus imports and obscure and risqué films.

It was criticised for airing a jungle game show hosted by a naked Keith Chegwin in 2000.

But director of programming Kevin Lygo promised to move upmarket when he joined from Channel 4 in May 2001.

Praise

"We have got away from an image we had a few years back of being tacky and downmarket," he said recently.

He also said there was no more "adult programming" on Channel 5 than any other channel.

Under his reign, the channel has won viewers with shows like United States drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and 5th Gear, its version of motoring show Top Gear.

The first series of Great Artists was praised in the House of Commons by broadcasting minister Kim Howells.

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