With voters hungry for information ahead of the British referendum on its membership of the European Union, Crux Productions is making a BBC series which sets out to discover why Britain has never quite been able to decide whether 'Europe' means 'them' or 'us'. This story of the UK's troubled relationship with continental Europe over the past 70 years is produced by John Bridcut, and comes twenty years after his acclaimed BBC Two series, The Poisoned Chalice.
Karajan's Magic and Myth, John Bridcut's film about the controversial Austrian maestro, was selected for competition in the Performing Arts section of this year's FIPA, the French documentary festival in Biarritz. Further details about the festival can be found on the FIPA website.
Twenty-five years after his death, Herbert von Karajan still excites controversy about the quality of his music-making. He dominated the recording industry for decades, and set up his own company to film almost four dozen great classical works as his legacy. In this film, directed by John Bridcut for 1212 Productions, musicians who worked with him in the Philharmonia Orchestra in London after the war, and during his long stewardship of the Berlin Philharmonic, explain how Karajan made music. "I don’t know what it is about Karajan", says the flautist Sir James Galway; "he had this sort of magic, or this allure – he had something very special." Other contributions come from Placido Domingo, Jessye Norman, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Sir Neville Marriner and Anne-Sophie Mutter.
After its first screening, the Financial Times wrote: "Another brilliant piece by John Bridcut, a mythical magician of classical music documentaries" .
Crux Productions has now embarked on a film about King George III, based on his private papers held at the Royal Archives in Windsor Castle. Last April, Her Majesty The Queen launched a five-year project to digitise the Georgian papers and make them available to the public online. No more than about 12% of this archive has been previously published, and noone yet quite knows what it will reveal. The documentary, for BBC Two, will be presented by Robert Hardman.
Also underway are a long-term project about the history of the BBC, aimed at the Corporation's centenary in 2022, and a film about the classical music world's greatest tenor. Details to follow in due course.
Fantastic Mr Dahl, John Bridcut's 2005 documentary about the life and work of Roald Dahl, has been released on Blu-Ray and DVD by the Criterion Collection, as part of a 3-disc set of Wes Anderson's animation of Fantastic Mr Fox. The documentary, presented by Alan Yentob, was originally made in 2005 for Imagine on BBC One.