Radio Television

BBC Arts Heads to Great Exhibition of the North


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From arts, music, design and innovation to news and current affairs, the BBC will celebrate – and take part in – the Great Exhibition of the North.

A raft of programmes will broadcast live from the Exhibition, shining a light on the plethora of events celebrating the spirit of the north of England this summer.

On Friday 22 June BBC Breakfast takes its famous red sofa to a specially constructed studio overlooking the River Tyne, as Steph McGovern looks ahead to the Exhibition. BBC Look North (North East and Cumbria) and BBC Newcastle will take over the studio later on to bring updates and highlights to a local audience, while BBC Arts Digital will use the location alongside the Tyne to broadcast live interviews from key performers.

Also on Friday, BBC Arts editor Will Gompertz will report from the NewcastleGateshead Quayside during the Exhibition’s spectacular opening ceremony for BBC News at Six and Ten. Plus, on Saturday 23 June, Mishal Husain will co-present BBC Radio 4 Today live from the Great Exhibition of the North.

On Saturday 23 June at 6.30pm on BBC Two, a special documentary by BBC Arts titled The Great Exhibition Of The North previews the summer-long festivities. Presented by BBC Radio 6 Music’s Shaun Keaveny the programme profiles artists featured in the Exhibition’s opening ceremony, including Maximo Park, poet Lemn Sissay and artist Glenn Brown. Shaun also visits key landmarks in the North East, including the Swing Bridge over the River Tyne, as he looks ahead to the Exhibition’s programme of events.

Then on Thursday 28 June at 7pm on BBC One in the North East & Cumbria, Yorkshire & Lincolnshire and the North West, Jill Halfpenny narrates The Great Exhibition: A Northern Story. This half-hour documentary follows preparation for the Exhibition’s grand opening, including the construction of a giant water sculpture and the homecoming of Stephenson’s Rocket.

On Friday 29 June, Lauren Laverne broadcasts her popular BBC Radio 6 Music show live from Sage Gateshead. The show will feature Leeds DJ Nightmares On Wax, who will take charge of the tunes for regular Friday feature Desert Island Disco.

And on Saturday 30 June, BBC Music Introducing will showcase six up-and-coming acts from the north of England in a special concert at Sage Gateshead. The line-up for the event features Sam Fender from North Shields, Newcastle’s A Festival, A Parade, Leeds band Polo, Middlesbrough singer/MC Dylan Cartlidge, RnB/pop singer Chrystal, who’s from Bolton, and Roxy Girls from Sunderland.

Beginning on Thursday 12 July at 9am, BBC Radio 4 celebrates the power of northern music, film, design and visual arts in a new four-part series, Great Exhibition Of The North. With each episode presented by a different great northern woman – Lauren Laverne, Antonia Quirke, Steph McGovern and Degna Stone – the series explores how the region is represented on the big screen and how a new generation of northern artist are cutting their own paths in the modern world.

BBC Radio 4’s series also examines how the connection between the north’s industrial past and the beauty of its design continues to be imagined afresh in our digital world, and how visual artists in the north are bringing a modern perspective to their work.

The Exhibition’s grand opening will be streamed to a global audience on Friday 22 June. A collaboration between BBC Arts, BBC Live, BBC Research & Development, BBC North East and the NewcastleGateshead Initiative, the live stream will include the unveiling of choreographed fountains with music from Maximo Park, Darkstar, Kate Rusby and the Royal Northern Sinfonia – as well as a spectacular firework display and exclusive behind-the-scenes action.

BBC R&D will also capture events at Sage Gateshead via four cameras, with footage streamed live online. All the action on the opening day of the Great Exhibition of the North can be followed live here

Throughout the Exhibition, BBC R&D is making its suite of digital tools available to northern artists who want to develop their digital skills, opening up innovative tools and technologies to a brand new community.

Looking ahead to the opening of the Great Exhibition of the North, Alice Webb, Director of BBC North, says: “The Great Exhibition of the North is shaping up to be a wonderful celebration for the north of England and the BBC is committed to showcasing activities in NewcastleGateshead, and beyond, this summer.

“With coverage available on TV, radio and online, we will capture the spirit and excitement of the Great Exhibition of the North, making it available to a wider audience in the UK and further afield.”

Sarah Stewart, Chief Executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, says: “The opening event for the Great Exhibition of the North on the 22 June marks the start of a fantastic 80-day programme of events celebrating great art, culture, design and innovation from across the North.

“It has always been important that as much of the programme is as accessible as possible for everyone to enjoy and working with the BBC to showcase the breadth of the Exhibition has been crucial to achieving this aim. We look forward to a fantastic summer of activity.”