Deal struck to show the full South Bank Show archive on Sky Arts

Melvyn Bragg and his colleagues at Sky win a deal to show classic ITV shows in re-edited form on the satellite channel

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Melvyn Bragg has finally scooped a deal which allows his new employer Sky Arts to show his South Bank Show archive.

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Under the new deal Sky Arts will bring re-worked classic episodes of The South Bank Show to the channel this year after a protracted negtiation over a complicated set of rights issues.

The new series will use the 800 titles in the archive and re-version 30 episodes a year with new interviews as well as new links and comments from Lord Bragg. The South Bank Show II archive will also be available to Sky customers On Demand.

Bragg launched The South Bank Show on ITV in 1978, with Paul McCartney as the opening subject, and it ran on the ITV network for 800 episodes until December 2009.

Soon after its demise on ITV the programme and its awards show were snapped up by Sky Arts which showed its most recent series in the spring featuring films based on arts luminaries ranging from playwright David Hare, dancer Tamara Rojo, singer Alfie Boe and comedian and songwriter Tim Minchin.

Bragg said of the deal: “It’s great to be part of Sky Arts enthusiastic commitment to Arts programmes.  This is a major leap forward for us on The South Bank Show and with luck just the beginning of wider ranging possibilities. We hope not only to enrich Arts coverage but to broaden and change its television landscape over the next few years.”

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James Hunt, director of Sky Arts, added: “It was a real coup for us to work with Melvyn on the awards and the new shows; but with the South Bank Show II archive, we’ll build the richest and most easily accessible arts documentary archive in the world. We’ve got big ambitions for what we do with the show.”