11:11 07 May 2009
Melvyn Bragg is leaving ITV next summer, the broadcaster has announced. The flagship arts programme 'The South Bank Show' will come to an end in 2010 in his absence.
The 69-year-old will also step down from his post as series editor and controller of arts for ITV Studios. Bragg has hosted The South Bank Show since its launch in January 1978.
Some have speculated that ITV's cost-cutting drives have resulted in Bragg being offered too low a budget to continue the show to the standards he requires.
Bragg said: "I have had the luck and privilege to work with fine programme makers and with hundreds of the best artists of the last half century".
The Sunday night show was hailed as treating the varied arts with equal analysis, covering both popular mediums such as film and pop music alongside ballet and opera.
Over the years the programme has featured a wide variety of subjects, among them Germaine Greer, Gerald Scarfe, Eric Clapton, David Lean, Tracey Emin, Sir Harold Pinter and Sir Paul McCartney. Bragg even got drunk on camera with Francis Bacon.
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"None of this would have happened without Melvyn who has remained the driving force behind the show and has been a great champion of the programme and of ITV."
ITV said Bragg is discussing other potential projects with the commercial channel, which is also exploring new opportunities for arts programming.
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