Melvyn Bragg

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Melvyn Bragg_table_infobox_0

The Right Honourable

The Lord Bragg CH HonFRS FBA FRSLMelvyn Bragg_header_cell_0_0_0

BornMelvyn Bragg_header_cell_0_1_0 (1939-10-06) 6 October 1939 (age 81)

Carlisle, Cumberland, EnglandMelvyn Bragg_cell_0_1_1

Alma materMelvyn Bragg_header_cell_0_2_0 Wadham College, OxfordMelvyn Bragg_cell_0_2_1
OccupationMelvyn Bragg_header_cell_0_3_0 Melvyn Bragg_cell_0_3_1
Notable workMelvyn Bragg_header_cell_0_4_0 In Our TimeMelvyn Bragg_cell_0_4_1
TelevisionMelvyn Bragg_header_cell_0_5_0 The South Bank ShowMelvyn Bragg_cell_0_5_1
Political partyMelvyn Bragg_header_cell_0_6_0 LabourMelvyn Bragg_cell_0_6_1
from the BBC Radio 4 programme Front RowMelvyn Bragg_cell_0_7_0
Melvyn Bragg_cell_0_8_0 from the BBC Radio 4 programme Front RowMelvyn Bragg_cell_0_8_1

Melvyn Bragg, Baron Bragg, CH, HonFRS, FBA, FRSL (born 6 October 1939), is an English broadcaster, author and parliamentarian. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_0

He is best known for his work with ITV as editor and presenter of The South Bank Show (1978–2010), and for the BBC Radio 4 documentary series In Our Time. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_1

Earlier in his career, Bragg worked for the BBC in various roles including presenter, a connection that resumed in 1988 when he began to host Start the Week on Radio 4. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_2

After his ennoblement in 1998, he switched to presenting the new In Our Time, an academic discussion radio programme, which has run to over 870 broadcast editions and is a popular podcast. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_3

He was Chancellor of the University of Leeds from 1999 until 2017. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_4

Early life Melvyn Bragg_section_0

Bragg was born on 6 October 1939 in Carlisle, the son of Mary Ethel (née Park), a tailor, and Stanley Bragg, a stock keeper turned mechanic. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_5

He was given the name Melvyn by his mother after she saw the actor Melvyn Douglas at a local cinema. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_6

He was raised in the small town of Wigton, where he attended the Wigton primary school and later The Nelson Thomlinson School, where he was Head Boy. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_7

He was an only child, born a year after his parents married. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_8

His father was away from home serving with the Royal Air Force for four years during the war. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_9

His upbringing and childhood experiences were typical of the working-class environment of that era. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_10

As a child, the woman he was led to believe was his maternal grandmother was in reality the foster parent of his own mother; his grandmother having been forced to leave the town owing to the stigma of her daughter being born illegitimately. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_11

From the age of 8 until he left for university, his family home was above a pub in Wigton, the Black-A-Moor Hotel, of which his father had become the landlord. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_12

Into his teens he was a member of the Scouts and played rugby in his school's first team. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_13

Encouraged by a teacher who had recognised his work ethic, Bragg was one of an increasing number of working-class teenagers of the era being given a path to university through the grammar school system. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_14

He read Modern History at Oxford University, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_15

Career Melvyn Bragg_section_1

Broadcasting Melvyn Bragg_section_2

Bragg began his career in 1961 as a general trainee at the BBC. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_16

He was the recipient of one of only three traineeships awarded that year. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_17

He spent his first two years in radio at the BBC World Service, then at the BBC Third Programme and BBC Home Service. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_18

He joined the production team of Huw Wheldon's Monitor arts series on BBC Television. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_19

He presented the BBC books programme Read All About It (and was also its editor, 1976–77) and The Lively Arts, a BBC Two arts series. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_20

He then edited and presented the London Weekend Television (LWT) arts programme The South Bank Show from 1978 to 2010. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_21

His interview with playwright Dennis Potter shortly before his death is regularly cited as one of the most moving and memorable television moments ever. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_22

By being just as interested in popular as well as classical genres, he is credited with making the arts more accessible and less elitist. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_23

He was Head of Arts at LWT from 1982 to 1990 and Controller of Arts at LWT from 1990. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_24

He is also known for his many programmes on BBC Radio 4, including Start the Week (1988 to 1998), The Routes of English (mapping the history of the English language), and In Our Time (1998 to present), which in March 2011 broadcast its 500th programme. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_25

Bragg's pending departure from the South Bank Show was portrayed by The Guardian as the last of the ITV grandees, speculating that the next generation of ITV broadcasters would not have the same longevity or influence as Bragg or his ITV contemporaries John Birt, Greg Dyke, Michael Grade and Christopher Bland. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_26

In 2012 he brought The South Bank Show back to Sky Arts 1. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_27

In December 2012, he began The Value of Culture, a five-part series on BBC Radio 4 examining the meaning of culture, expanding on Matthew Arnold's landmark (1869) collection of essays Culture and Anarchy. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_28

In June 2013 Bragg wrote and presented The Most Dangerous Man in Tudor England, broadcast by the BBC. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_29

This told the dramatic story of William Tyndale's mission to translate the Bible from the original languages to English. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_30

In February 2012, he began Melvyn Bragg on Class and Culture, a three-part series on BBC2 examining popular media culture, with an analysis of the British social class system. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_31

Bragg appeared on the Front Row "Cultural Exchange" on May Day 2013. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_32

He nominated a self-portrait by Rembrandt as a piece of art which he had found especially interesting. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_33

In 2015, Bragg was appointed as a Vice President of the Royal Television Society. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_34

Writing Melvyn Bragg_section_3

Having produced unpublished short stories since age 19, Bragg had initially decided to become a writer after university. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_35

He recognised that writing would not, initially at least, earn him a living, and he took the opportunity at the BBC that arose after he had applied for posts in a variety of industries. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_36

While at the BBC, he continued writing. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_37

Publishing his first novel in 1965, he decided to leave the BBC to concentrate full-time on writing. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_38

In 1972 he co-wrote the script for Norman Jewison's film Jesus Christ Superstar (1973). Melvyn Bragg_sentence_39

Although he published several works, he was unable to make a living, forcing a return to television by the mid-1970s. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_40

A novelist and writer of non-fiction, Bragg has also written a number of television and film screenplays. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_41

Some of his early television work was in collaboration with Ken Russell, for whom he wrote the biographical dramas The Debussy Film (1965) and Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World (1967), as well as Russell's film about Tchaikovsky, The Music Lovers (1970). Melvyn Bragg_sentence_42

Most of his novels are autobiographical fictions, set in an around the town of Wigton during his childhood. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_43

Bragg received a variety of reviews for his work, some critics declaring it outstanding and others suggesting it was lazy. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_44

Many suggested that splitting his time between writing and broadcasting was detrimental to the quality, and that his media profile and his known sensitivity to criticism made him an easy target for unjust reviews. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_45

The Literary Review's prize mocking his writing of sex in fiction, according to The Independent, was awarded not on readers' nominations, but simply because it would be good PR. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_46

From 1996 to 1998 he also wrote a column in The Times newspaper; he has also occasionally written for The Sunday Times, The Guardian and Observer. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_47

Peerage Melvyn Bragg_section_4

Bragg's friends include the former Labour Party leaders Tony Blair, Neil Kinnock and Michael Foot, and former deputy leader Roy Hattersley. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_48

He was one of 100 donors who gave the Labour Party a sum in excess of £5,000 in 1997, the year the party came to power under Blair in the general election. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_49

The following year he was appointed by Blair to the House of Lords as the life peer Baron Bragg, of Wigton in the County of Cumbria, one of a number of Labour donors given peerages. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_50

This led to accusations of cronyism from the defeated Conservative Party. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_51

In the Lords he takes a keen interest in the arts and education. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_52

According to The Guardian in 2004, he voted 104 times out of a possible 226 in the 2002/3 session, only once against the government, on the Hunting Act. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_53

He campaigned against it on the grounds it could affect the livelihoods of Cumbrian farmers. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_54

In August 2014, Bragg was one of 200 public figures who signed a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_55

Advocacy Melvyn Bragg_section_5

Bragg has defended Christianity, particularly the King James Bible, although he does not claim to be a believer himself, seeing himself in Albert Einstein's term as a "believing unbeliever", adding that he is "unable to cross the River of Jordan which would lead me to the crucial belief in a godly eternity." Melvyn Bragg_sentence_56

In 2012, Bragg criticised what he claimed to be the "Animus and the ignorance" of the atheist debate. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_57

In August 2016, Bragg publicly accused the National Trust of "bullying" in its "disgraceful purchase" of land in the Lake District, which could threaten the Herdwick rare breed of sheep as well as the Lake District's historic farming system, for which the region was nominated as a Unesco World Heritage site. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_58

Personal life Melvyn Bragg_section_6

Bragg married his first wife, Marie-Elisabeth Roche, in 1961, and in 1965, they had a daughter Marie-Elsa Bragg. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_59

Roche was a French viscountess studying painting at Oxford. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_60

In 1971, Roche killed herself. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_61

"I could have done things which helped and I did things which harmed", he told The Guardian in 1998. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_62

"So yes, I feel guilt, I feel remorse." Melvyn Bragg_sentence_63

Bragg's second wife, Cate Haste, whom he married in 1973, is also a television producer and writer, whose literary work includes editing the 2007 memoir of Clarissa Eden, widow of Anthony Eden, and collaborating with Cherie Booth, wife of Tony Blair, on a 2004 book about the wives of British prime ministers. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_64

They have a son and a daughter. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_65

In June 2016 it was reported that Bragg and Haste had separated amicably, and that Bragg now shared a home with former film assistant Gabriel Clare-Hunt, a woman with whom he had an affair in 1995. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_66

Bragg has publicly discussed two nervous breakdowns that he has suffered, one in his teens and another in his 30s. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_67

His first breakdown began at age 13. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_68

Inspired by a passage in Wordsworth's The Prelude, he found ways to cope, including exploring the outdoors and the adoption of a strong work ethic, as well as meeting his first girlfriend. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_69

The second followed his wife's suicide. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_70

He traces the origin of a lifelong nervousness of public speaking to the experience of giving a reading from the lectern as a choirboy at age 6. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_71

At the age of 75, his life was profiled in the BBC Two television programme Melvyn Bragg: Wigton to Westminster, first broadcast on 18 July 2015. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_72

He lives in Hampstead, London, but still owns a house near his home town of Wigton. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_73

He is a member of the Garrick Club and a supporter of Carlisle United and Arsenal. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_74

He is the vice president of the Carlisle United Supporters Club London Branch. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_75

Bragg is a relative of Sir William Henry Bragg and his son Sir Lawrence Bragg, who were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1915 for their work in x-ray crystal structure analysis. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_76

He presented a Radio 4 programme on the subject in August 2013. Melvyn Bragg_sentence_77

Positions and memberships Melvyn Bragg_section_7

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Awards and honours Melvyn Bragg_section_8

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Melvyn Bragg_unordered_list_4

  • Broadcasting Guild Award (1984)Melvyn Bragg_item_4_25
  • British Academy of Film and Television Arts Dimbleby Award (1986)Melvyn Bragg_item_4_26
  • BAFTA TV Award for An Interview with Dennis Potter (1995)Melvyn Bragg_item_4_27
  • BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award (2010)Melvyn Bragg_item_4_28
  • Best New Radio Series for Routes of English (2000)Melvyn Bragg_item_4_29
  • Royal Television Society Lifetime Achievement Award (2015)Melvyn Bragg_item_4_30

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Melvyn Bragg_unordered_list_6

  • Ivor Novello Musical Award (1985)Melvyn Bragg_item_6_31
  • Honorary Degree from the Open University as Doctor of the University. (1989)Melvyn Bragg_item_6_32
  • Namesake of Millom School Drama Studio (2005)Melvyn Bragg_item_6_33
  • The South Bank Show Lifetime Achievement Award (2010)Melvyn Bragg_item_6_34
  • Sandford St.Martin Trust Personal Award (2014)Melvyn Bragg_item_6_35


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melvyn Bragg.