This week, tucked away on Sky Arts, we will witness a piece of television history.


On Tuesday evening, Melvyn Bragg, who for generations of viewers is synonymous with the arts on TV, will sign off from his last South Bank Show.

Not that Sky is billing it as that, but when you read our interview with Bragg in this issue, it’s obvious that he considers this is the end of his flagship show.

Whether it’s the last time we see the man himself conducting an interview on-screen is, possibly, another matter.

But if it is to be Bragg’s goodbye to television, what a farewell this is. Over two nights and four programmes we see him gently interrogate a man many consider to be Britain’s greatest living artist: David Hockney.

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Their exchanges are enlightening, uplifting and, in places, nostalgic, as you would expect from an interviewer and an interviewee both in their 80s who share a lot of history.

The similarities between the two men are striking – northern, working-class outsiders who broke into the upper reaches of their fields through talent and personality.

Which brings us to another sad landmark: As we went to press, the death of Michael Parkinson was announced. He, too, was a northern outsider who broke into television in the 1970s, then the domain of urbane southern smoothies, and single-handedly created the great British chat show.

A fixture in Radio Times – and the nation’s sitting rooms – for decades, Parkinson was the definitive interviewer of the talented and the famous. You can read our tribute in this issue.

David Hockney Radio Times cover
David Hockney on the cover of Radio Times.

Also in this week’s Radio Times:

  • Ben Whishaw on his acting journey from Paddington to Bond, how despite his fame he’s still never recognised, and why acting is like a childhood game
  • Melissa Thorpe, who headed the Spaceport Cornwall, reflects on the devastating failure of Virgin Orbit's British space launch project, which she had worked on for nearly a decade
  • Speaking on The Radio Times Podcast, comedian and actress Rose Matafeo discusses her career journey, the need for more diversity in stand-up and the evolution of love in her show Starstruck

Looking for something to watch tonight? Check out what is on with our TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


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