The BEST episodes directed by Tim Niel

Premium Bond with Mark Gatiss and Matthew Sweet
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#1 - Premium Bond with Mark Gatiss and Matthew Sweet

BBC Documentaries - Season 2015 - Episode 247

In impeccable evening dress, Mark Gatiss and Matthew Sweet ponder the Bonds we've seen on screen since Dr No in 1962. With the release of the 24th official James Bond film, Spectre, we ask - which 007 is the best? To date, six actors have portrayed British Secret Service agent James Bond. Was Sean Connery impossible to surpass? Was George Lazenby really that bad? Was Live and Let Die really a blaxploitation movie in disguise? Gatiss and Sweet consider these and many other questions, and raise a martini in honour of their premium Bond.

The Vital Spark
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8.15
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#2 - The Vital Spark

Civilisations - Season 1 - Episode 9

Simon Schama begins Civilisations with this premise: that it is in art - the play of the creative imagination - that humanity expresses its most essential self: the power to break the tyranny of the humdrum, the grind of everyday. Art, then, makes life worth living; it is the great window into human potential. And societies become civilized to the extent that they take culture as seriously as the prosecution of power, or the accumulation of wealth. But in the century of total war and industrial slaughter was (and is) that enough? The cause of humanity went up in the smoke of the Nazi crematoria. Horror and terror brushed beauty aside and stamped on its pretensions. And in the modern world art has become increasingly commodified. Simon’s last programme explores the fate of art in the machine and profit-driven world. It looks at the rise of art as a tradeable commodity and turns on one central question: should art create a realm separate from the modern world, a place where we can escape and pull the ladder up after us? Or should it plunge headlong into chaos and cacophony while transforming the way we see it and live in it? Using the works of both dead and contemporary artists of the 20th and 21st century Simon seeks answers to these profound questions. His conclusion is imbued with hope: despite all our travails, by engaging with the here-and-now art can still offer us an insight into the incomprehensibility of the world and a way to transcend its horrors with the enduring creativity of the human spirit.

The Second Moment of Creation
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8.04
51 votes

#3 - The Second Moment of Creation

Civilisations - Season 1 - Episode 1

The first film by Simon Schama in Civilisations looks at the formative role that art and the creative imagination have played in the forging of humanity itself. The film opens with Simon’s passionate endorsement of the creative spirit in humanity and the way in which art can help to forge the civilised life. Civilisation may be impossible to define, but its opposite - evidenced throughout history in the human urge to destroy - is all too evident whenever and wherever it erupts. Schama investigates the remote origins of human creativity with the first known marks made some 80,000 years ago in South African caves; marks which were not dictated merely by humanity’s physical needs. He marvels at later cave works too: paintings of bison and bulls, and Stone Age carvings. As time passes the elements of civilisation are assembled: written language, codes of law, and expressions of warrior power forged in metals. And humanity begins to produce art not just for ritual, as Simon discovers in Minoan civilisation. But how do such cultures arise and how do they fall? Simon travels to the civilisations of Petra in the Middle East and the Maya in Central America to answer those questions. He finds that ultimately civilisations depend on humanity’s relationship with the environment for their survival, and while all believe in their own continuity, all are doomed to fall.

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The Cult of Kahlo
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#4 - The Cult of Kahlo

BBC Documentaries - Season 2002 - Episode 10

Frida Kahlo is now the most successful Latin American artist that the world has ever seen. However, when she died in 1954 she was almost unknown. Tim Niel's film explores the life and afterlife of the iconic painter and includes interviews with Frida's friends and family, Tracey Emin and Salma Hayek, who plays Kalho in a new feature film.