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Civilising Missions

‘Civilisations is an epic new series spanning 31 countries on six continents, and covering more than 500 works of art. Presenters SIMON SCHAMA, MARY BEARD and DAVID OLUSOGA will explore humanity’s desire to create.’ I confess that I have not seen every episode of the BBC/Nututopia series ‘Civilisations’ but I have a few preliminary or draft thoughts that might be worth sharing. The extra S is clearly intended as a kind of rebuke to Kenneth Clark and the makers of his 1960s series which focused on the achievements of European or Western civilisation. The series famously begins with Clark refusing to define ‘civilisation’ but archly saying he knows it when he sees it, followed by a droll pan to Notre Dame. In its day, ‘Civilisation‘ was ground breaking television that spawned a number of genuinely ambitious series authored by grandees such as Jacob Brownowski. There was nothing so ambitious that the once humble medium of television couldn’t tackle it. Now we have a new, very expensive series with an extra S made in a new age of television by an independent company. It has multiple presenters and a global brief. Not just the Sistine Chapel, but Angkor Wat. Not only […]
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