Melvyn Bragg rules himself out of presenting the BBC’s Civilisation remake

The legendary arts presenter tells that he has not been approached to present the new version of Kenneth Clark's seminal 1960s series - and would say no if he were asked

The BBC is still looking to find the presenter of its magisterial Civilisation remake, the new version of Kenneth Clark’s landmark 1969 documentary about Western art, architecture and philosophy.


But one leading candidate who has ruled himself out is South Bank Show legend Melvyn Bragg who still makes brilliant films for Sky Arts.

“I have not been approached and if approached I would say no,” he tells “I think that was then and I would like to move on.” Bragg won’t say who he would recommend for the gig, however. “If I say one name I will alienate ten pals,” he chuckles.

Among the names in the frame for the plum presenting gig are historian Mary Beard, artist Grayson Perry and former Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman.

There is also a campaign to ensure a female presenter wins the job, backed by civil liberties campaigner Shami Chakrabarti, journalist and writer Caitlin Moran, presenter Sandi Toksvig, and actress Haydn Gwynne.

In other Bragg news, the University of Leeds has just taken possession of thousands of hours of unseen footage from his 32 years of ITV South Bank Show interviews –  that’s 8,400 tins of film from hours of time he spent with the likes of Marlon Brando and Paul McCartney.

Once it is digitises the film it promises to be a valuable resource for academics and arts lovers everywhere.


Bragg tells he believes it will turn up a few gems that didn’t make it to the final edit. “We used material that fitted the films we were making – there was plenty of great stuff that wasn’t seen.”