Simon Schama, Mary Beard and David Olusoga team up for major new BBC history series Civilisations

The trio of historians will join forces for a follow-up to Kenneth Clark's landmark art history series Civilisation

Simon Schama, Mary Beard and David Olusoga will join forces to tell the story of the whole of human history in epic new BBC2 documentary series Civilisations.


The 10-part series is a remake of art historian Kenneth Clark’s 1969 series Civilisation, taking viewers from the dawn of time through the golden ages of art and culture to the present day.

The original series focussed on the influence of Western art, but the new version will expand to include civilisations from Asia to the Americas, Africa as well as Europe.

Schama is best known for his landmark BBC2 series A History of Britain, and this year presented portrait history The Face Of Britain. first confirmed in September that Schama was a “leading contender” to present Civilisations.

Classicist Mary Beard’s series on Pompeii and Caligula have shed fresh light on the Roman Empire, and she is set to present a new series on Pompeii for BBC1 in 2016.

British-Nigerian historian David Olusoga recently presented a two-part BBC2 series on the legacy of the slave trade in Britain and abroad, and also fronted BBC2 documentary The World’s War: Forgotten Soldiers Of Empire. He is currently working on a new BBC2 series called A Black History of Britain.

BBC director-general Tony Hall said the original Civilisations inspired in him a “lifelong passion for the arts” – and he hoped that the new series would do the same for a new generation.

“We want to show them the power of art and creativity across the world – from the dawn of civilisation to today,” he said. “I’m thrilled that Simon, Mary and David, three outstanding broadcasters, have accepted the challenge.”


Filming for the ten-part series will begin in 2016, and is expected to air on BBC2 in late 2017. Schama will present six of the programmes, with Beard and Olusoga set to front a further two episodes each.