Kenneth Clarke’s ‘Civilizations’ reboot headed to BBC2, PBS in future


Longtime readers of Tellyspotting will be quick to point out the glaring hypocrisy of the following comment. Kenneth Clarke’s landmark 1969 television series, Civilizations, is set to be remade by BBC2 and I can’t wait! Yes, I know, I haven’t been the most forgiving individual when it comes to re-doing past greatness but, given those involved, this one deserves our attention.

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Simon Schama, Mary Beard and David Olusoga will take viewers from the dawn of time through the golden ages of art and culture to present day in a new 10-part epic history documentary series for BBC2 and PBS. Charged with the simple task of telling the story of human history, the trio of historians will not only focus on the influence of Western art as did Clarke almost 50 years ago but will also include civilizations from Asia to the Americas and Africa as well as Europe.

Best known for his series, A History of Britain, Schama’s efforts will be familiar to American PBS audiences through his series, Simon Schama’s Power of Art and The Story of the Jews. The University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University in New York will join British-Nigerian historian David Olusoga, who recent presented The World’s War: Forgotten Soldiers of Empire for BBC2, and Mary Beard, who is also working on a series on Pompeii for BBC1 in 2016.

Tony Hall, BBC director-general, said the the original 1969 series inspired a ‘lifelong passion for the arts’ and has high hopes that the new series will do the same for a new generation by showing ‘the power of art and creativity across the world.’. Precisely why I’m excited about this series. Now, if they would jus target James Burke’s Connections for their next remake, I might reconsider my perception of reboots….