Thursday, May 12, 2016

The NEW BBC Painting Show

Last year we had The Big Painting Challenge and this year there is The BBC Painting Show. Or at least that's its working title. You never know they may get creative and come up with a new and improved title as well.

[UPDATE: It now looks like it might well be called "The School of Art".]

For those who want to improve as a painter

So if you want to improve your painting fancy showing all the artists in the UK how you can paint here's
  • what the context for this show is about
  • the nuts and bolts of what you have to do.

What's different this year?

Do you think that with the right coaching and inspiration you could become a truly great artist?
This time the emphasis is on painters who want to get better and the show is about what happens to them as they get instruction from.

It sounds to me very much as if the BBC is going for a show pretty much like the The Great Pottery Throw Down. Features of this were:
  • one location only (this helps the BBC contain costs. Multiple locations is a recipe for losing control of a budget!)
  • participants were skilled - and capable of becoming better. Most of the Thowdown participants had been working with clay for some time and demonstrated some commitment to it. I think that's a pretty good indicator of the sort of person they may well be looking for
I'm wondering if what they're looking for are painters at an intermediate stage who are capable - if they receive instruction - of moving up and learning the skills associated with painters who operate at a professional level - with instruction. In other words rather like the programme model associated with the Pottery Show where the potters learned new ways of working with clay and creating a pot before having a go for themselves.

That suggests to me that, by definition, they'll be looking for people who are
  • happy to engage with new ways of working (i.e. not "set in their ways")
  • can demonstrate an ability to learn from instructions and apply pretty fast.

Who can enter The BBC painting Show?

  • You've got to be 16 years old or older on 1st July 2016. I suggest you don't try and cheat. If they've got any sense they'll ask to look at your birth certificate if you are at the younger end of the spectrum.
  • You MUST be 
    • an amateur painter
    • resident in the UK
    • able to commit to all the filming days required - including weekdays and weekends - probably during July and August 2016 .
Read the application form carefully - and note that it's pretty clear (or at least it is to me) that they are less than keen on participants who are going to create fodder for spoiler stories in the tabloids.

How to enter The BBC painting Show

You need to email your application to no later than Friday June 10th 2016. However the BBC would much prefer it if you got it in ASAP!

What does an application comprise?

First you need to download and complete the application form. (Word, 120KB).

PLUS you also need to organise THREE photographs.
  • two photographs of your work. Remember the quality of the photo is at least as important for this 'competition' as it is for any other so don't be sloppy!
  • a photo of yourself. Make it a nice one - and remember they want to see your face. Best to make it like somebody you wouldn't mind seeing on television!
Don't freak! The application form is SEVEN pages long. However this is because they've attached to the form:
  • the rules of the show
  • the information about use of personal data
  • the personal declaration
The questions are not difficult but like any interview form they are there for a reason. So do have a think before you answer them

The document is in Word - so if you can use Word to answer the questions I recommend you do. It's so much easier reading typed words rather than handwriting!

Aspects of your past they will be interested in

Those questions about convictions and bringing the show into disrepute are there for a reason.

Note that the programme will do background checks on those shortlisted or selected for the programme.  That basically means a police check and other background checks to make sure there's no evidence that you're not telling porkies!

If you lie and then somebody tells them the truth I'm guessing it's almost inevitable that you'll find yourself removed from the shortlist, selected artists and/or the show. (That's certainly what happened to the woman who made the Final of The Voice after the tabloids asked pointed questions about her drug habit!)
I understand that the supply of any knowingly inaccurate, misleading or false information in this form would lead to my disqualification from taking part in the programme. (Part of the Declaration you have to sign)
That's just plain embarrassing when you have millions of viewers watching you!

The audition process

If you get past the initial stages of selection (i.e. your application indicates you might be suitable) then you will be invited to an audition.

Otherwise known as "can they talk and paint while having a camera pointed straight at them?" You'd be surprised how many people can't!

They will also want to see how you come across on the small screen. I'm guessing they will get you to do a challenge which not unlike what the series will be doing.

This is what the Rules state
When selecting applicants for this series, the following will be taken into account: artistic ability, artistic potential, enthusiasm, drive, personality, motivation and inspiration, age, geography, experience, skill, hobbies and other interests, personal background and circumstances. Initial selection will be based on the application forms and telephone interviews. In addition the Producers may (but may not) invite short listed applicants to attend an interview at their discretion.
Think about all the BBC 'competition' shows. You know you empathise the most with those who seem absolutely normal! We like those who are well rounded, engaged and committed. We also like the idiosyncratic, the innovative and the mildly whacky. We tend not to like the narrow minded, bored, boring and inarticulate - and they tend to get screened out. Any show can also only have a small number of 'BIG characters' so do think very carefully before engaging with full "luvvie" mode!

I'm hoping Anne Blankson Hemans or any of the other participants in The Big Painting Challenge will come along and comment on how she found the interview process

Where are the auditions?

They're doing auditions in London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast.

Note no expenses are paid to participants until after the second audition stage. Like any other competition, all the initial expenses of entering are down to you.

The Big Painting Challenge

For anybody who has not yet caught up with my blog posts about The Big Painting Challenge you can read them below


  1. Lol, was formulating some comments asI read and then saw my name mentioned Katherine. I get so so excited when I read about shows like this and I guess that's what the BBC like to see: real enthusiasm and a willingness to take part in any challenge they throw at you. Important note; be naturally enthusiastic but be yourself.

    My first awareness that I had been shortlisted was just a few days after the submissions closed. Important note; get your submission in sooner rather than later.

    So I was told I had made the shortlist and what the next stage would be ie I would be invited to an audition.and could I state my prefetence of dates and locations, London or Manchester. Being in the midlands I didn't care. Important note... the more flexible you are, the better your chances.

    The next phone call came, I think it was a brief phone interview... that's when they ask you about your convictions and your skeletons in the cupboard... be honest because they will find out. They do check. They don't care if you have been declared bankrupt as I had (I think they kind of like those background stories on adversity and how you have turned your life around) but if you have criminal convictions even spent ones it could be a problem if you don't tell them. What the beeb hate is hearing it first from another source. Important note... Be honest.

    At this interview I was asked to email some more examples of my work. I don't know if my fellow contestants were asked to do this but having submitted two oil paintings I sent 3 water colour and ink sketches.

    Then the next phone call comes... Can I attend an interview in Manchester? Of course I can. They won't pay your expenses at this stage so you have to be ready for this.
    Manchester was fab. I got to meet some of the other would be contestants. We we divided into 2 groups and then were asked to draw in charcoal. Our 'sitter' was Pudsy bear. The second session was a still life of some very shiny cocktail accoutrements which we could paint in colour in our chosen media.

    During both sessions the camera follows you and you may be interviewed. Try not to be nervous or self concious. I remember sitting on the floor to prime my board in one of my brightly coloured backgrounds and attracting a bit of attention. The cameraman came right down to my level as did my interviewer. The other thing they seemed to be interested in were my brightly coloured individually toed rainbow socks. Important note. The interviewers were all very nice people and have clearly been trained to keep you at ease. There is no need to be nervous, overly brash, loud or flamboyant. Similarly Uriah Heap would probably annoy any audience. Be yourself, be natural and be comfortable.

    Be prepared to spend the entire day at the audition and get ready to wait around for hours. A lot of that happens during filming. After the drawing and painting session there was a brief interview in front of a camera. I can't say this enough, be yourself and speak clearly and naturally. Important note... if you are comfortable you probably won't even notice the cameras.

    A few days after Manchester, I got the call. Whopeeeee! The rest as we know is history.

    Important note... do make sure you have your phone at hand or do return calls. I missed my first phone call cos they left a message on my landline which I almost never check. Luckily they called my mobile after a few days...

    Last important note... it's a whole heap of fun. Make sure you enjoy the process and finally... good luck!
    Anne Blankson-Hemans

  2. Oh one other comment. After my selection was confirmed we were asked to attend a psychological interview at the Beeb centre in London, White City. The Beeb do have a duty of care towards anyone they present especially on National TV. They need to ascertain for themselves that you undrstand what it is you are letting yourself in for. Basically you are opening yourself up to criticism and possibly abuse from the public and how well can you cope with that? Also how well can you cope with rejection? If this is one of those competitions where someone is eliminated each week how would you feel.

    I think between you and me they need to make sure that you are not going to jump off the nearest bridge. You need to think seriously about this if you are very sensitive or are of a depressive disposition. I thought I was ok but I didn't realise how much I would enjoy it and even though I realised I probably wasn't going to win it, I was enjoying the travel, the new locations, the challenges and the canaraderie so much I was heartbroken when they booted me off at the semi final stage.

    So the important note here is to examine your skin :-) . How thick is it? It's ok to be emotional. As artists we generally are. I shed a few tears in the show not because of the harsh judgements (they were fair and uncannily spot on), but because I was frustrated with myself. I knew what I wanted to do but it did not always turn out that way. Alone in your studio you would simply start again. On TV and with the clock ticking, there often isn't that sort of second chance. Once again I say... it's fun enjoy it. You'll be amazed at how much you will learn about yourself.

    The very final interview after the psychological assessment was with one of the producers. At this stage you get to ask as many questions as you want (tho you won't always necessarily be given the answers :-) ). Once again at this interview you are asked about any skeletons in your cupboard. This is your very last chance...

  3. This is a very true account so far. I auditioned in July. I had a great day. What an experience. Not bothered if I get selected as I just enjoyed myself and don't take things too persons. Good luck all the talented people of the UK. X

  4. Dear Katherine Tyrrell, thank you very much for getting back to me. Hopefully they will do series 3 for me to try enter that time <3. I will email them to put me on distribution list for further events. Carla

  5. Anyone know if this is going to happen again in 2017/2018 and if so how would I apply for it?

  6. Hi I have received a notice via Facebook that the BBC are looking for another set of amateur artists this year (2017) however I cannot get a response from the email which I sent. The notice I saw mentioned that they want to receive applications prior to 23rd March. Do you know if they are? Kind regards

  7. Sorry - no idea. Where exactly did you see this (URL?)?


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