Monday, September 18, 2023

Portrait Artist of the Year 2023 has a very different start this year!

I've been keeping my eyes peeled for any indication of the starting date for the tenth series of Portrait Artist of the Year - and I now know when it will start next month - of which more below!

What I did not expect was that the very first episode is going to be a very special feature length episode! 

Or that there are also other plans were in hand to celebrate ten years of Portrait Artist of the Year - and YOU ARE INVITED!

Celebrations for ten years of Portrait Artist of the Year

This year Sky Arts is expanding the tenth series to include TWO extra special events
  • a special episode - involving winners from the first nine series
  • an attempt to set an official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the most people painting online and in a single venue simultaneously.

Portrait Artist of the Decade (First Episode of the 10th series)

The tenth series launches with a special 90 minute feature length programme on 4th October 2023. 

Portrait Artist of the Decade will be broadcast on Sky Arts, Freeview and NOW.

“We are tremendously proud that over 10 years Portrait Artist of the Year has become the pre-eminent painting prize in the UK, and that so many of the wonderfully talented artists who’ve appeared on the programme have gone on to have such glittering careers in portraiture. That plus a range of famous faces captured on canvas make this a true jewel in the Sky Arts crown.” Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts

  • All the previous winners of the first nine series return to Battersea Arts Centre to compete for the title of "Portrait Artist of the Decade".
  • The sitter will be Dame Judi Dench
  • The 90-minute special aims to:
    • celebrate one of the world’s most acclaimed actors and 
    • find out what has happened to previous winners and their careers since they won.
“We’re very proud of everything our series has delivered over ten years for Sky Arts and especially for the hundreds of brilliant and inspiring artists who’ve featured in it. And what better way to celebrate our tenth anniversary than with Dame Joan Bakewell, Dame Judi Dench and Dr Jane Goodall, DBE as our sitters?” Stuart Prebble, Chairman of Storyvault Films - who make the show

Dame Judi Dench at Battersea Arts Centre
- with Morag Caistor (the 2022 PAOTY winner) in the background

A record-breaking portrait painting attempt! 

There's also going to be a live record-breaking portrait painting event on 30th September.  (see Update #2 below)

[UPDATE #1: Unfortunately this is the same date as the next Train Strike (on 30th September). However you can get to London via National Express Coach services to Victoria Coach Station - and you can walk to the Lindley Hall from there! Or come to London on Friday and go home on Sunday and make a weekend of it! But book soon!]

[UPDATE #2: The date has now been changed to Saturday 28th October 2023, 2pm - 5pm. I'm doing an update post on Saturday about what's changed since I originally posted]

This will attempt to set an official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the most people painting online and in a single venue simultaneously - as follows:

  • Celebrity Sitter: Sir Lenny Henry (comedian, actor, presenter and national treasure) returns - as a challenge for all those who thought they could do a better job of painting him! That last bit is what was my first reaction following the comments about last year's final!
“I loved sitting for Portrait Artist of the Year in 2022 and it was a real honour to take part. This year is a little different, but no less momentous. I’m so grateful for the chance to be invited back to play my part in what will hopefully be a new world record for the history books!”
  • Venue: This needs to be rather big to accommodate 200 painters and the RHS Lindley Hall in Victoria, London has been chosen. (Address: Elverton Street, London, SW1P 2PB). This is a venue which is very familiar to me since I've visited many RHS Shows and Botanical Art Shows there!
  • Take Part: There are 200 places in the Lindley Hall for portrait painters. 
    Artists of all ages and abilities can sign up to paint Sir Lenny Henry and break the world record here. (This is the link to Eventbrite where you book your place)
This event is open to all budding artists, Portrait Artist of the Year fans, and anyone who fancies giving it a go, whether you've been painting for years or have yet to pick up a brush. It's completely free and open to all ages** and abilities. All art materials will be provided for you.
  • Live-Streaming: The session will also be livestreamed for fans across the world to join the record attempt online and create their own portrait of the actor, writer and comedian.
Lenny’s portrait by Morag Caister, last year’s Portrait Artist winner, is currently on display in the newly reopened National Portrait Gallery (On display in Room 33 on Floor 0)

Portrait Artist of the Year 2023 (Series 10)

Portrait Artist of the Year 2023 will be broadcast weekly on Sky Arts, Freeview and NOW starting on 11th October 2023.

The Commission Prize

Prize: £10,000 Commission to create a portrait
Sitter: world-renowned conservationist Dr Jane Morris Goodall, DBE, who is a British born conservation icon, best known globally for her work with chimpanzees.

The portrait commission will then be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in December.

The Sitters for the semi-final and Final

  • The Final: three finalists will paint the one and only Dame Joan Bakewell (broadcasting legend and Portrait Artist of the Year royalty)!
  • Semi-Final: Each heat winner will paint British pop icon Emma Bunton

The 21 Sitters for the Seven Heats

As usual, there's a variety of people sitting for the heats. Most of them are faces well known to television viewers. I've grouped them according to their background.

Presenters / Television people

  • Nihal Arthanayake (Presenter),
  • Emma Freud (Broadcaster), 
  • Ainsley Harriott (Chef/television personality), 
  • Mishal Hussain (Presenter)
  • Susanna Reid (Presenter), 
  • Alan Titchmarsh (Presenter)


  • Nigel Havers (Actor)
  • Daryl McCormack (Actor)
  • Lenny Rush (Actor)


  • Phillipa Perry (Author) - Wife of Grayson Perry and co-presenter of his art show
  • Rory Stewart (President of “Give Directly” and author and ex-MP),
  • Joe Sugg (writer and YouTube personality)


  • Vanessa Kingori (Conde Nast Chief Business Officer),


  • Rob Delaney (Comedian), 
  • Josh Widdecombe (Comedian)


  • Jay Rayner (Critic), 


  • Shirley Ballas (Dancer)


  • Richard Curtis (Screenwriter), 

Singers / Musicians

  • Nicky Spence (Opera Singer)
  • Fleur East (Singer), 

Sports People

  • Sue Barker (Sports personality / ex-presenter)

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Hosts / Judges

Other than that everything continues as before:
  • The hosts continue to be Dame Joan Bakewell and Stephen Mangan.
  • The Judges continue to be the same as for the first nine series: Kathleen Soriano, Tai-Shan Shierenberg and Kate Bryan.
The series was filmed at Battersea Arts Centre by Storyvault Films for Sky Arts in April 2023.

More about Past Series Reviews & Learning Points (PAOTY Series 5-9)

Series 9 of PORTRAIT ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Autumn 2022)

Series 8 of PORTRAIT ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Autumn 2021)

Series 7 of PORTRAIT ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Autumn 2020)

Series 6 of PORTRAIT ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Spring 2020)

Series 5 of PORTRAIT ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Winter/Spring 2019)

Series 4 of PORTRAIT ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Winter / Spring 2018)

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