Handmade in Britain began in autumn 2011 with a three-part series on British ceramics. From the history of domestic pottery to the heart of Britain’s ceramic empire in Stoke-on-Trent to the studio potters of the 20th and 21st centuries, Ceramics: A Fragile History revealed why, throughout the nation’s history, makers have created objects that are beautiful as well as functional.Two 60-minute films accompanied this series. Treasures of Chinese Porcelain, presented by Chinese ceramics specialist, Lars Tharp, charted the extraordinary rise of Chinese porcelain and its impact on British ceramics. Britain’s Most Fragile Treasure, presented by historian Dr Janina Ramirez, unlocked the secrets of the famous East Window at York Minster, the largest medieval stained-glass window in the country.
In summer 2012, Metalworks! uncovered the astonishing history of British metalwork. Showcasing the silver that enhanced the 18th and 19th-century dinner table and the armour created for the courts of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, This series concluded by tracing the history of wrought and cast ironwork from the Middle Ages to its production in the industrial age.
Handmade in Britain continued in January 2013 with a three-part series celebrating British woodworking. Carved With Love: The Genius of British Woodwork explored the careers of well-known makers Thomas Chippendale and Grinling Gibbons, as well as revealing the virtuousity of medieval ecclessiastic woodwork.
From autumn 2011 to autumn 2013, Handmade in Britain will draw on the collections and expertise of the V&A, one of the world’s greatest museums of art and design. The partnership furthers the BBC’s commitment to building partnerships with the arts sector that go beyond broadcast, from sharing expertise to widening public engagement in UK arts. In Handmade in Britain some of the most evocative objects in the V&A are used to tell particular stories, highlight groundbreaking technical innovations and illustrate how the story of artistic development in Britain is one of multiculturalism and globalisation. Contributors to the programmes include V&A curators, as well as collectors such as David Attenborough, and contemporary practitioners including Grayson Perry and Edmund de Waal.