Suzy Klein, Head of Arts and Classical Music TV at the BBC has announced four major new series for 2023.

The shows are Treasures of the National Trust (w/t) – a new six-part series exploring the hidden stories of a myriad of  National Trust buildings and the objects found within them; a new three-part documentary on Pablo Picasso; Inside The Moulin Rouge (w/t) on Paris’ world-famous cabaret house and a  new series of African Renaissance with Afua Hirsch as she travels to Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco

All are in production and for TX on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer in 2023.

Suzy Klein said: “I’m delighted that these programmes for 2023 showcase BBC Arts’ reputation for making documentaries of depth, complexity, discovery and unparalleled quality.

“Fifty years after his death Pablo Picasso remains a provocative figure, whose life and work still challenge and delight in equal measure. The return of Afua Hirsch to Africa – the youngest and most culturally dynamic continent on earth right now – promises to be full of energy and discovery.

“Treasures of the National Trust takes our audiences beyond the velvet rope and into the backstories of treasured artefacts, buildings and the multi-layered stories of the owners of these historic houses. And Inside The Moulin Rouge takes us behind the scenes in Paris to discover a British cultural success story – the world’s most famous music-hall, dominated by dancers from across the UK and led by feisty Yorkshirewoman Janet Pharaoh.”

The new commissions:

Treasures of the National Trust


Following on from Secrets Of The Museum, which explored the V&A’s archives and exhibitions, Blast! By The Sea has been commissioned to make a new series exploring another of Britain’s cultural institutions: the National Trust.

Reflecting the national scale and importance of the National Trust’s many properties and the characters who care for them, the series will tell the hidden stories of a myriad of wonderful buildings and the objects found within – ranging from an ornate Chinese bridge at Biddulph Grange Gardens in Stoke-on-Trent, to the brick-pattern wallpaper of Paul McCartney’s childhood home, a post-war Liverpool council house built in 1955, and showcase stories relating to the gardens and landscapes within which these properties sit.

The series will follow National Trust experts and conservators at work across Britain, as they breathe new life into fragile marvels, uncover hidden stories, and battle to keep the past alive. Each programme will introduce audiences to some of the entertaining volunteers and staff who care for the properties and these objects; we’ll understand their passion, dedication and affection for the treasure houses they help to maintain.

Based in a different region of the UK for each episode, it will look behind the scenes at the extraordinary work that is being done to conserve these properties and their contents for future generations.

Picasso (w/t)


Marking the 50 years since his death, the BBC has commissioned Minnow Films to make Picasso (w/t), a three-part landmark documentary series on one of the greatest, most controversial, artists of the 20th century.

Inside the Moulin Rouge


The Moulin Rouge is the world’s most famous cabaret. It is a French landmark, the epitome of Parisian chic, and it’s run by a Yorkshirewoman – artistic director Janet Pharaoh.

This new six-part Arts documentary follows Janet as she recruits a new cohort of dancers to the team – many of whom are British. From auditions in Leeds and London, new recruits will be cast to take part in the Moulin Rouge’s high-kicking spectacular shows, while living together in apartments in Paris.

As well as the young dancers, the team also includes more than 450 staff members, who work to keep the extraordinary nightly show running, at a make-or-break moment in the Parisian institution’s history, as it comes back from the restrictions of covid and lockdown.

Of the thousands who audition, most will get rejected. Only the very best will ever get the chance to secure one of the most coveted and lucrative contracts in the world of performance.

We’ll follow the story of young Brits who want make good the dream of dancing at one of the world’s most famous venues. And we’ll tell the story of this legendary landmark’s history, see the craftsmanship that goes into the costumes and staging, and understand the techniques of choreography and performance that make up the incredible dance numbers.

African Renaissance


Journalist Afua Hirsch explores some of the most exciting cultures in Africa, a continent which is home to the youngest and most dynamic population in the world. In this new series of her cultural travelogue she heads to Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco, three of Africa’s biggest countries, where young people are rewriting the cultural narrative with a thriving art, music and fashion scene that is reverberating around the world.

Afua meets leading artists and performers on the cutting edge of cultural change in each country. In South Africa, she looks at how far township cool is bringing the country together; in Nigeria, she examines the roots of a cultural confidence that has made the country Africa’s biggest exporter of artists, writers and actors; and in Morocco, she traces the extraordinary cultural impact of the Arab Spring over the last ten years and what’s it meant for the place of women in the country.

Production credits

Treasures Of The National Trust (w/t) is a Blast! By The Sea production for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. The executive producers are Sacha Baveystock and Sarah Spencer. The commissioning editor for BBC Arts is Alistair Pegg.

Picasso (w/t) is a Minnow Films production for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. The executive producer is Sophie Leonard and Greg Sanderson. The commissioning editor for BBC Arts is Mark Bell.

Inside The Moulin Rouge (w/t) is a Dragonfly North (a Banijay UK company) production for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. The executive producers are Peter Wallis-Tayler and Ros Ponder. The commissioning editor for BBC Arts is Alistair Pegg.

African Renaissance is a ClearStory production for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. The executive producer is Russell Barnes. The commissioning editor for BBC Arts is Emma Cahusac.


Afua Hirsch. Image credit: Clear Story/Alex Thomas

Jon Creamer

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