20 May 2009

Coming to terms with our heritage

Tom Dyckoff at Covent Garden

Tom Dyckoff at Covent Garden

Starting 24 August 2009, 7:30pm on BBC Two

A new Open University and BBC production, Saving Britain’s Past, will bring the history of heritage debate to our living rooms later this year (August 2009). It is the story of how Britain, in a radical period of post war change, decided what to keep and what to lose. It’s about our attitudes to the past and explores how our feelings about heritage have changed and what these changes tell us about ourselves.

In this seven part series for BBC TWO, The Times’ architecture critic Tom Dyckhoff takes us on a chronological and geographical journey round Britain. In each programme he investigates a key event or battle that defined each decade’s attitude to heritage. The series begins in post war Bath where the bomb damage inflicted on Britain’s most beautiful city resulted in the birth of listed building status and ends in Britain’s most multicultural street Brick Lane where debates over what to save and what to lose are defined by cultural, religious and commercial interests.

Along the way the story reveals the fight to save country houses and how one had to reinvent itself to survive. It shows the spirit of activism that infused the local community in Covent Garden Market which prevented the site from being bulldozed, and how a pit turned museum in Wales to become a beacon of hope for the community. The series also reveals how an ambitious media campaign appealing for funds in the Highlands of Scotland prevented land from being sold on the open market.

Dr Rodney Harrison, Lecturer in Heritage Studies at The Open University and academic consultant to the series, said: “The series chronicles the British men and women who have campaigned and protested to protect and preserve their heritage. In doing so, it shows that heritage is not set in stone, but is determined by a set of values which we wish to use to build a sense of community and identity in the present. What we define as ‘heritage’ is constantly changing in the light of the present, as we look to the past to imagine our future.”

If you would like to know more about Saving Britain's Past or download The Open University's free heritage booklet further exploring the themes raised in the series, visit www.open2.net/savingbritainspast (link right)

The Open University would also like to encourage viewers to join them in mapping the nation's contemporary heritage. What would you save? Why not participate by visiting open2.net and tell us about a place, object or practice that means something to your sense of identity and community. The site also features a ‘how to’ guide and links to the OU Creative Archive site where you’ll find useful video clips ranging from the historic to country landscapes, urban environment to the seaside.

Editor’s Notes
Saving Britain’s Past is an Open University fully funded production with the BBC.

BBC Multiplatform Commissioning Executive is Catherine McCarthy. The Open University Academic Consultants are Dr Rodney Harrison and Dr Susie West. The Broadcast and Learning Executive for The Open University is Caroline Ogilvie.

Heritage, whose heritage? (A180)
Understanding global heritage (AD281)
Making sense of the arts (Y160)
Introducing environment (Y161)
Start writing family history (A173)
The arts past and present (AA100)
Introducing the social sciences (DD101)
Art and its histories (A216)
World archaeology (A251)

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