Imagine to return to BBC One

BBC OneBBC One’s flagship arts strand Imagine, fronted by Alan Yentob, is set to return the corporation has announced.

BBC OneThe BBC’s flagship arts strand Imagine returns to BBC One with a compelling line-up of films exploring human stories: how art and history remain at the heart of political change in Egypt and Iraq; the struggle of two of the iconic songwriters of the 20th century to come to terms with their personal demons; and the story of one of the world’s best-known brain specialists and his patients, who have overcome rare and strange conditions through the power of their creativity.

Starting the series, as part of Books on the BBC 2011, Alan Yentob meets clinical neurologist and author Dr Oliver Sacks in Imagine: The Man Who Forgot How To Read And Other Stories. Through fascinating and bizarre case studies including patients who’ve lost the ability to read, recognise faces and see in 3D, the film explores how we see, not just with our eyes, but with our mind.

“I like to think of the stories in this season of Imagine as tales of the unexpected which both will surprise and inspire our viewers.” – Alan Yentob, editor and presenter of Imagine

In Imagine: The Pharaohs’ Museum On Liberation Square Alan visits the Egyptian National Museum, a treasure trove of exhibits from Pharaonic times, which sits on Tahrir Square – the scene of the recent uprising. Exploring how attitudes to history and culture are changing since the revolution, Alan meets with officials, curators and even Omar Sharif, to understand how the country’s unique cultural history has shaped its present. The film will also feature exclusive unseen footage shot by young Egyptian filmmakers who were at the very heart of the revolution.

Imagine also casts new light on one of the most iconic figures in music history – John Lennon. Imagine: Lennon In Limbo delves into Lennon’s life following his move to New York City, as well as his relationship with Yoko Ono. Featuring never-before-heard studio recordings from the Double Fantasy sessions and never-before-seen outtakes from Lennon in concert and his home movies, the film reveals a wealth of new insights.

During his brief split from Ono, Lennon travelled to LA to let his hair down. Whilst there, he famously spent time “living it up” with one of his musical heroes – Harry Nilsson. In Imagine: Harry Nilsson – The Missing Beatle, we explore the life and career of one of the most talented, but least known, American songwriters and vocalists of the Seventies, remembered as much for his wild lifestyle as for his outstanding performance of Everybody’s Talkin’ from the movie soundtrack Midnight Cowboy. Featuring interviews and newly discovered footage, the film unveils the accomplishments of this unsung hero and asks how he inspired a generation of musicians and performers.

In the final programme, Imagine: Iraq In Venice, Alan will follow six Iraqi artists as they represent Iraq at the prestigious Venice Biennale festival for the first time since 1976. Separated from the country they love, the artists will be united at the festival through the shared theme of their work – water – particularly relevant in a country where water is more expensive than oil. Imagine will follow the artists as they prepare the work they will exhibit in The Iraqi Pavilion of the Venice Biennale, whilst negotiating with the Iraqi government and officials in Venice.