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Arena

Arena is the BBC's multi award-winning arts strand

Arena Episodes

Peggy Sue: Tales Of Rock And Roll

Arena - Peggy Sue: Tales Of Rock And Roll

Peggy Sue Gerron Rackham, the inspiration behind Buddy Holly's famous song, is taken back by Arena to Lubbock, Texas, where she went to the same high school as Holly and where h ...

09-02-2024

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Buddy Holly

Arena - Buddy Holly

Documentary looking at the short but brilliant career of legendary rock'n'roll star Buddy Holly. Features interviews with contemporaries and fans including backing band The Cric ...

09-02-2024

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Byrne About Byrne

Arena - Byrne About Byrne

In this diverse and inventive autobiography, painter and author John Byrne travels from his youth, through his art school years to the period of his stage and TV plays, and on t ...

29-01-2024

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The Orson Welles Story: Episode 2

Arena - The Orson Welles Story: Episode 2

Second of a two-part profile of Orson Welles, looking at films including The Trial, Chimes at Midnight, The Immortal Story and F for Fake and discussing his many unfinished proj ...

25-01-2024

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The Orson Welles Story: Episode 1

Arena - The Orson Welles Story: Episode 1

First of a two-part film profile of Orson Welles, looking at his life and career in theatre, radio and particularly film. With Jeanne Moreau, John Huston, Peter Bogdanovitch, Ro ...

18-01-2024

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My Way

Arena - My Way

An investigation of the appeal and power of the popular song My Way, which was written by Paul Anka and was recorded by many artists, including Frank Sinatra, Shirley Bassey, El ...

01-01-2024

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Frank Sinatra: The Voice Of The Century

Arena - Frank Sinatra: The Voice Of The Century

Arena profiles crooner Frank Sinatra, acknowledged as one of the greatest singers of the 20th century, from his early family background to overwhelming showbusiness success.

29-12-2023

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Tony Bennett’s New York

Arena - Tony Bennett’s New York

Once dubbed the 'king of cool', a look at the man behind the silky voice as Tony Bennett - civil rights activist, jazz enthusiast, painter and New Yorker - takes a tour around h ...

15-12-2023

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Billy, How Did You Do It? - Part 3

Arena - Billy, How Did You Do It? - Part 3

Director Billy Wilder discusses his career with German film-maker Volker Schlondorff.

14-12-2023

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According To Beryl

Arena - According To Beryl

Dame Beryl Bainbridge takes an idiosyncratic tour of the last 20 years of writer and poet Samuel Johnson's turbulent life, leading us through the streets of Streatham, the riche ...

11-12-2023

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Louise Brooks

Arena - Louise Brooks

American film actress Louise Brooks has become one of the most celebrated icons of early cinema. Her performance as unrepentant pleasure-seeker Lulu in GW Pabst's Pandora's Box ...

07-12-2023

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Billy, How Did You Do It? - Part 2

Arena - Billy, How Did You Do It? - Part 2

Second of three in-depth conversations with film director and writer Billy Wilder. He recalls his memories of the great Hollywood stars - 'Mae West walked out of the door all wh ...

07-12-2023

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Peter Shaffer

Arena - Peter Shaffer

Writer Peter Shaffer talks about his plays, his life and the theatre. \n\n'I think the live experience in the theatre is very important when you can see shocks and murmurs going ...

05-12-2023

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Billy, How Did You Do It? - Part 1

Arena - Billy, How Did You Do It? - Part 1

Billy Wilder discusses his career with German film-maker Volker Schlondorff. From Marlene Dietrich to Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart to Gary Cooper, Wilder directed the film in ...

30-11-2023

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Ken Dodd's Happiness

Arena - Ken Dodd's Happiness

A tribute to Liverpudlian comic Ken Dodd, in which he discusses his 50-year career and the influences of his comedy style. Features film clips of his early performances and foo ...

28-11-2023

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Armistead Maupin Is A Man I Dreamt Up

Arena - Armistead Maupin Is A Man I Dreamt Up

Writer Armistead Maupin tells the story behind his Tales of the City novels, introduces some of the San Franciscans who provided the inspiration for his characters and explores ...

26-11-2023

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Edward Hopper

Arena - Edward Hopper

Documentary about the great American realist painter Edward Hopper. His subject is the face of America - haunting, unforgettable images of late-night bars and lonely hotel rooms.

14-11-2023

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Dylan Thomas: From Grave To Cradle

Arena - Dylan Thomas: From Grave To Cradle

Author and broadcaster Nigel Williams examines the work and the legend of one of the most famous poets of the 20th century, Dylan Thomas.\n\nBorn in 1914, Dylan Thomas was an un ...

09-11-2023

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Have You Seen The Mona Lisa?

Arena - Have You Seen The Mona Lisa?

Arena looks behind the Gioconda smile. The Mona Lisa hangs in the Louvre behind plate glass - an unsigned, undated portrait of a smiling woman. She is the most idolised and abus ...

06-11-2023

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The Brian Epstein Story

Arena - The Brian Epstein Story

Documentary examining the turbulent life and career of Brian Epstein, who died in 1967 in mysterious circumstances. When Epstein met the Beatles at the end of 1961, he was a suc ...

04-11-2023

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Dire Straits

Arena - Dire Straits

Arena cameras were on hand to film the return of Dire Straits from their triumphant 1980 Brothers in Arms world tour. The film features a superb concert they played at The Rainb ...

27-10-2023

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Wisconsin Death Trip

Arena - Wisconsin Death Trip

Inspired by the book of the same name, film-maker James Marsh relays a tale of tragedy, murder and mayhem that erupted behind the respectable facade Black River Falls, Wisconsin ...

25-10-2023

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Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues

Arena - Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues

Hank Williams was the greatest singer-songwriter country music has ever known. He died on a journey half-way across America to a gig he would never make, at the age of just 29. ...

22-09-2023

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The Many Lives Of Richard Attenborough: Part 2

Arena - The Many Lives Of Richard Attenborough: Part 2

The conclusion to this two-part profile looks at Attenborough's career as Britain's most distinguished film director, whose biopic Ghandi won eight Oscars in 1982, including bes ...

27-08-2023

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The Many Lives Of Richard Attenborough: Part 1

Arena - The Many Lives Of Richard Attenborough: Part 1

Two-part Arena special celebrating the life and distinguished career of one of Britain's best-loved public figures. Lord Attenborough's film CV as actor stretches from Brighton ...

27-08-2023

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The Everly Brothers Reunion Concert

Arena - The Everly Brothers Reunion Concert

In the autumn of 1983, the Everly Brothers played their legendary reunion concerts in London. Of all the venues in the world, they chose the Royal Albert Hall because they had t ...

12-08-2023

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The Everly Brothers: Songs Of Innocence And Experience

Arena - The Everly Brothers: Songs Of Innocence And Experience

The Everly Brothers were among the most successful and revered of all the giants of early rock 'n' roll. A determining influence on the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and the Beac ...

12-08-2023

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Oooh Er Missus! The Frankie Howerd Story

Arena - Oooh Er Missus! The Frankie Howerd Story

Documentary about the life of Frankie Howerd, with help from friends and colleagues and including highlights from his TV and film career.

22-07-2023

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Fela Kuti: Father Of Afrobeat

Arena - Fela Kuti: Father Of Afrobeat

In 1997, over one million people gathered in Lagos for the funeral of Fela Kuti, Africa’s biggest artist, who gave the world Afrobeat, yet was also a thorn in the side of ...

15-06-2023

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Jerry Lee Lewis: Live In Bristol 1984

Arena - Jerry Lee Lewis: Live In Bristol 1984

Arena presents a concert by the legend of rock 'n' roll himself. Jerry Lee Lewis doesn't sound like anybody else - the voice, the piano and the on-stage antics make an unforgett ...

10-12-2022

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B. Catling: Where Does It All Come From?

Arena - B. Catling: Where Does It All Come From?

An eye-popping insight into the extraordinary, late-flourishing career of maverick artist, teacher and performer Brian Catling RA, whose unique vision and imagination are celebr ...

09-10-2022

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I Am Not Your Negro

Arena - I Am Not Your Negro

Narrated entirely in the words of James Baldwin, through both personal appearances and the text of his final unfinished book project, this film touches on the lives and assassin ...

01-10-2022

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James Joyce’s Ulysses

Arena - James Joyce’s Ulysses

One hundred years after its publication, this film reveals the tawdry, shocking, poetic, uplifting and gloriously kaleidoscopic humanity of James Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulys ...

07-09-2022

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A Tall Story - How Salman Rushdie Pickled All Of India

Arena - A Tall Story - How Salman Rushdie Pickled All Of India

Salman Rushdie, author of Midnight's Children, winner of the Booker Prize 1981, talks about India and the autobiographical elements in the book.

11-08-2022

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Remember The Secret Policeman's Ball?

Arena - Remember The Secret Policeman's Ball?

A celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Secret Policeman's Ball in aid of Amnesty International. Many of Britain's finest comedians, including John Cleese, Sir Bob Geldof, ...

30-07-2022

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River

Arena - River

River takes its audience on a journey through space and time spanning six continents, showing rivers on a scale and from perspectives never seen before.

25-07-2022

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Bob Dylan - Trouble No More

Arena - Bob Dylan - Trouble No More

In 1979, Bob Dylan released Slow Train Coming, an album of strictly devotional songs. He declared he had found God in Christianity. For the following two years, accompanied by t ...

20-05-2022

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Delia Derbyshire: The Myths And The Legendary Tapes

Arena - Delia Derbyshire: The Myths And The Legendary Tapes

Docudrama that explores the life and creative output of Coventry born-Delia Derbyshire – electronic musician, sound pioneer and female outsider in postwar Britain. From 19 ...

06-03-2022

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The Most Beautiful Boy In The World

Arena - The Most Beautiful Boy In The World

In 1970, film-maker Luchino Visconti travelled throughout Europe looking for the perfect boy to personify absolute beauty as the character of Tadzio in his adaptation for the sc ...

13-02-2022

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Desert Island Discs

Arena - Desert Island Discs

A 1982 film made to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Roy Plomley's classic radio programme, featuring his successor as presenter, Sue Lawley.

31-01-2022

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The Vasulka Effect

Arena - The Vasulka Effect

An exploration of the life and work of video art pioneers Steina and Woody Vasulka. The film examines the artistic processes of the pair and their profound effect on the 1960s N ...

28-11-2021

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Painted With My Hair

Arena - Painted With My Hair

Painted with My Hair is inspired by the paintings, poetry and letters of Donny Johnson, an exceptionally intelligent and talented US lifer, who has been locked away inside his c ...

31-10-2021

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Cindy Sherman #untitled

Arena - Cindy Sherman #untitled

Cindy Sherman is one of the world’s leading contemporary artists. She is also notoriously elusive. So, it is a coup for Arena to get this in-depth and revealing audio inte ...

12-09-2021

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Agatha Christie - Unfinished Portrait

Arena - Agatha Christie - Unfinished Portrait

Profile celebrating the centenary of the famous author Agatha Christie’s birth. Looking at her life, her character and the key moments in her childhood that influenced her ...

30-08-2021

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Kusama: Infinity

Arena - Kusama: Infinity

Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama’s work pushed boundaries that often alienated her from her peers and those in power in the art world. Kusama was an underdog with ...

26-07-2021

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Everything Is Connected - George Eliot's Life

Arena - Everything Is Connected - George Eliot's Life

Contemporary artist Gillian Wearing celebrates the legacy of Victorian novelist George Eliot.\n\nJust as Eliot’s novel Middlemarch explored the lives of ordinary men and w ...

09-06-2021

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Paris Is Burning

Arena - Paris Is Burning

Where does voguing come from, and what, exactly, is throwing shade? This landmark documentary provides a vibrant snapshot of the 1980s through the eyes of New York City’s ...

24-03-2021

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Whatever Happened To Spitting Image?

Arena - Whatever Happened To Spitting Image?

Documentary telling the story of the genesis of the satirical puppet show Spitting Image, with contributions from caricaturists Peter Fluck and Roger Law and producer John Lloyd.

24-11-2020

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Make Me Up!

Arena - Make Me Up!

A satirical look at the contradictory pressures faced by women today. It examines how television and social media can help us explore identity, at the same time encouraging wome ...

21-07-2020

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Philip Hoare's Guide To Whales: 1. Baleen

Arena - Philip Hoare's Guide To Whales: 1. Baleen

Acclaimed author and whale-watcher Philip Hoare takes us into the world of baleen whales, the largest animals ever to have lived. \n\nWith plates of bristly baleen instead of te ...

05-08-2019

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Stanley And His Daughters

Arena - Stanley And His Daughters

'Children of geniuses tend to have a rather hard time of it. If you're a genius you have to be a bit tough', says Unity Spencer, daughter of Stanley Spencer, one of the most imp ...

04-08-2019

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Philip Hoare's Guide To Whales: 2. Toothed

Arena - Philip Hoare's Guide To Whales: 2. Toothed

Acclaimed author and whale-watcher Philip Hoare takes us into the world of toothed whales, from the plight of the captive killer whale to the fate of the stranded London whale. ...

24-03-2019

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Jana Bokova's Havana

Arena - Jana Bokova's Havana

1990 documentary. Havana has a dilapidated ruined beauty - decaying grandeur alongside squalor with a string atmosphere of Africa and Old Spain. Despite the political turmoil of ...

11-05-2018

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Cigars - Out Of The Humidor

Arena - Cigars - Out Of The Humidor

Documentary which follows the story of the cigar - from the tobacco fields west of the Cuban capital of Havana into the factories where poetry and daily newspapers are read alou ...

22-04-2018

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My Name Is Celia Cruz

Arena - My Name Is Celia Cruz

The queen of salsa, Celia Cruz has been the most adored and dynamic singer in Latin America for more than four decades. Since she left Cuba at the time of the 1959 revolution wi ...

20-04-2018

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The 50 Year Argument - The New York Review Of Books

Arena - The 50 Year Argument - The New York Review Of Books

Martin Scorsese's documentary film charting literary, political and cultural history as per the New York Review of Books, America's leading journal of ideas since 1963.

29-06-2014

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The National Theatre - Learning Zone

Arena - The National Theatre - Learning Zone

Made especially for schools, this version of the BBC Four Arena programme examines the history and purpose of the National Theatre as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

17-06-2014

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