Sky Arts: must-watch shows and documentaries

TV channel dedicated to arts and culture goes free-to-air this week

Goldie: The Art That Made Me
(Image credit: Sky Arts)

Sky Arts will this week become free to watch for everyone across the UK.

From Thursday 17 September, the TV channel dedicated to arts and culture will move to Freeview channel 11 and Freesat channel 147.

While the Sky Arts linear channel will be made free, the Sky Arts On Demand library of content, with more than 2,000 hours of shows, will remain exclusive to Sky and Now TV Entertainment Pass customers.

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With many music venues and theatres still closed because of coronavirus measures, the broadcaster is pledging to “increase access and drive participation at a vital time for the cultural sector”.

Writing in the London Evening Standard, director of Sky Arts Philip Edgar-Jones said: “The crisis for culture is anything but over. But I hope that we can build on and amplify the brilliant work that leaders in the arts are doing to keep the country’s greatest cultural assets alive. If we can help keep the nation dancing, singing, painting and making - we’ll have made a start.”

New shows and documentaries include Brian Johnson meets Dave Grohl, Goldie: The Art That Made Me, Danny Dyer on Pinter, and No Masks. Existing programmes such as The South Bank Show will also feature.

Here we pick out the programmes to watch.

Brian Johnson meets Dave Grohl

Newly-commissioned shows


New series for 2021 where artists and communities across the UK join forces to create the next great British landmark. The show has been created in response to the current debate about the meaning of public monuments, and who or what is commemorated.

Portrait Artist of the Week

The live-streamed paint-along version of the channel’s flagship series Portrait Artist of the Year, has been confirmed to return this autumn both on Sky TV Facebook and Sky Arts, following its huge success during lockdown.

Goldie: The Art That Made Me

Renowned visual artist and musician Goldie goes on a personal and passionate journey into the world of graffiti and street art, tracing the evolution of the art form in parallel with his own career. Taking viewers to cities including New York, London, Manchester, Wolverhampton, Miami and Lisbon, Goldie meets the originators and crucial artists from the scene, plus those who continue to push at the edges of the art form today.

Danny Dyer on Pinter

Taken under his wing following roles in films like 1997’s Human Traffic, Pinter cast Dyer in several of his plays, including No Man’s Land and The Homecoming. Now, 12 years after Pinter’s death, Dyer takes a look back at his mentor’s work and the profound influence he had on his life. Dyer said: “It was an honour to take part in this documentary as I got to go on this journey down memory lane. My relationship with Harold is something I will always cherish and I was very touched by the whole experience. What an incredible complex humble human being he was. I miss him every day.”

Sky Arts Late

New late-night, feature-length monthly arts and culture show, with Tim Marlow hosting alongside a cast of leading and new voices from across the industry. Featuring topical debate, critical discussion, and performances, the first edition of this series will assess the importance of culture in the nation’s recovery from Covid-19 and how it is reshaping creativity.

ENO’s Drive & Live: La Bohème

Sky Arts will film and broadcast the English National Opera’s much-anticipated return to live performance with a drive-in, super-sized, and socially-distanced production of La Bohème at London’s Alexandra Palace.

No Masks

Theatre Royal Stratford East and Moonshine Features present a new work based on the real-life experiences and testimonies of key workers from east London. Weaved together with imagined narratives, written by artistic director Nadia Fall and Rebecca Lenkiewicz, No Masks will be a testament to the dedication of key workers during the Covid-19 crisis as well as an exploration of our shared hopes and fears.

Life & Rhymes

A celebration of spoken word hosted by Benjamin Zephaniah, featuring some of the country’s leading performers who will be lighting up the mic with their lyrical creativity. The poets will perform in front of a live audience of spoken word fans who are key to every performance. Each week Zephaniah will open up the floor to give audience members the opportunity to spontaneously take part in the open mic section of the show.

Inside Art

Presented by Kate Bryan, Inside Art is a series that explores temporary exhibitions at galleries and cultural venues in the UK, connecting audiences with art experiences from photography, painting and sculpture exhibits, to design video and fashion. It will look at the curatorial decisions being made at institutions as well as focusing on the artists themselves. Arts institutions involved in the series include Four Corners, Beecroft Gallery, Hepworth Wakefield, Linda McCartney at the Walker Art Gallery and Manx Museum. Each episode will air during the dates of the featured exhibition.

Brian Johnson meets Dave Grohl

It’s a meeting of rock legends as AC/DC’s Brian Johnson and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters share stories about life on the road. For Grohl, this is a once in a lifetime meeting with one of the greatest rock idols.

Guy Garvey: From The Vaults

Elbow frontman and broadcaster Guy Garvey lifts the lid on two decades of TV gold – with era-defining musical performances, long lost studio appearances and revealing interviews that have remained on the shelves for decades. Curated from the archives of broadcasters like Granada Television, Tyne Tees and London Weekend Television, each programme features some of Garvey’s favourite performers from a different year across the 1970s and 1980s, as seen on shows like So It Goes, The Tube, Harty and Razzmatazz. The unseen, uncensored, unbelievable and unexpected are all brought together in this series revealing the buried treasure of Britain’s rich music archive.

ICON: Music Through The Lens

Featuring in-depth interviews with the most renowned photographers, musicians, journalists and social commentators, ICON is a six-part rollercoaster ride through the rich history and cultural impact of music photography. The show will feature photographers such as Lawrence Watson, Bob Gruen, Mick Rock, Deborah Feingold, Baron Wolman, Rankin, Lynn Goldsmith, Ross Halfin and Gered Mankovitz alongside artists including Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Ziggy Marley, Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Alice Cooper and Zara Larsson.

Portrait Artist of the Year

Existing Sky Arts programmes

Portrait Artist of the Year

Returning for a seventh series, Stephen Mangan reprises his role as host and judges include artist Tai Shan Schierenberg, independent curator Kathleen Soriano and art historian Kate Bryan. Throughout the series 24 celebrity sitters from the worlds of stage, screen, sport and music become the subject for the painters. Celebrity sitters include Normal People’s Paul Mescal, First Dates front-of-house Fred Sirieux, singer Ray BLK and newsreader Sir Trevor McDonald.

The South Bank Show

Leading figures discuss their work, influences and inspirations in a collection of eye-opening exclusive interviews with Melvyn Bragg. In the next series, due to air in November 2020, interviewees will include Bernardine Evaristo, Benjamin Zephaniah, Gillian Anderson and Simon Armitage. This series is complemented by The South Bank Show Originals, featuring famous past episodes with added footage and extra interviews and contributors.

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