British television has a rich history of programmes about art and artists. These shows have played a crucial role in shaping the perception and understanding of art among viewers. One of the key milestones in this regard was John Berger’s Ways of Seeing in 1972, which revolutionized the way audiences looked at art. It introduced new perspectives and challenged established norms, making art more accessible to the general public.

In addition to Ways of Seeing, there have been several other notable art programs on British television. Monitor, which aired from 1958 to 1965, provided a platform for artists to showcase their work and discuss their creative processes. The series played a significant role in promoting contemporary art and introducing emerging artists to a wider audience.

Omnibus, a documentary series that ran from 1967 to 2003, delved deeper into the lives and careers of renowned artists. It focused on various aspects of their work, including their inspirations, artistic techniques, and the societal impact of their creations. Omnibus offered viewers an in-depth understanding of art and its significance in a broader cultural context.

Arena, another prominent series that started in 1975, continued the tradition of exploring art and culture from diverse perspectives. It featured interviews with artists, critical analysis of their works, and behind-the-scenes glimpses into the art world. Arena played a crucial role in keeping art relevant to audiences and fostering a deeper appreciation for creative expression.

The Future of Art Programming on British Television

As we move into the future, there are several potential trends that may shape the landscape of art programming on British television. These trends have the potential to further enhance the viewer experience and broaden the reach and impact of art on society.

1. Embracing Technology

The integration of technology into art programming presents exciting opportunities for the future. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can provide viewers with immersive experiences, allowing them to explore artworks in unique and interactive ways. Artists and curators can collaborate with television producers to create virtual exhibitions, bringing art directly into people’s homes. Additionally, AI-powered recommendations and personalized content can offer tailored art experiences to individual viewers, catering to their specific interests and preferences.

2. Diverse Representation

Future art programs should aim to showcase a diverse range of artists and their works. The art world has historically been dominated by a select few, leaving out marginalized voices. British television has the potential to play a crucial role in bridging this gap by featuring underrepresented artists and exploring art from different cultural perspectives. By doing so, the industry can ensure a more inclusive representation of the artistic landscape, promoting diversity and fostering a greater sense of cultural understanding.

3. Interactive Participation

Engaging viewers through interactive participation can enhance their connection with art. Television programs can incorporate live interactive elements, enabling viewers to ask questions to artists in real-time or participate in virtual workshops and demonstrations. Social media platforms can also be utilized to encourage discussions and facilitate community engagement around art programming. This interactivity not only enriches the viewing experience but also cultivates a sense of involvement and ownership among the audience.

Recommendations for the Industry

  • Collaboration: Foster collaborations between artists, curators, and television producers to create innovative and engaging art programs that push boundaries and capture the imagination of viewers.
  • Funding: Allocate sufficient funding and resources to support art programming on television, recognizing its cultural and educational value.
  • Diversity: Prioritize diversity and inclusivity in art programming, ensuring representation from different backgrounds and perspectives.
  • Education: Develop art programs that not only entertain but also educate the audience, providing insights into the historical, social, and cultural context of artworks.
  • Embrace Technology: Embrace technological advancements to create immersive and interactive experiences that appeal to a broader audience.

The future of art programming on British television holds immense potential. By embracing technology, fostering diversity, and encouraging active viewer participation, the industry can continue to shape and inspire broader audiences’ understanding and appreciation of art.


  1. John Berger’s Ways of Seeing – BBC
  2. Monitor – BFI
  3. Omnibus – BFI
  4. Arena – BBC