Portrait Artist of the Year returns to Sky Arts on 13 October

Thursday 19 August 2021

Celeste, Alastair Campbell, Alexa Chung, and Lydia West all sit for portraits in brand new series

Easels at the ready! The time has finally arrived for a new selection of talented artists, chosen from thousands of entrants, to compete in the nation’s favourite art competition, Portrait Artist of the Year. On Wednesday 13 October 2021, the show will make a welcome return to Sky Arts and streaming service NOW for its eighth series.

Portrait Artist of the Year, back with much-loved hosts Stephen Mangan and Joan Bakewell, brings with it a brand-new batch of amateur and professional artists as they battle it out to impress expert judges Tai Shan Schierenberg, Kathleen Soriano and Kate Bryan. And Portrait Artist of the Year would not be complete without an impressive and diverse mix of famous and celebrated subjects from the worlds of stage, screen, literature, sport and politics.

Taking the famous subject’s chair this year are: Celeste (Singer/Songwriter), Kelly MacDonald (Actor), Gabrielle (Singer/songwriter), Lydia West (Actor), Nish Kumar (Comedian), Alexa Chung (Creative Director), Alistair Campbell (Politician), Ian Hislop (Journalist), Hugh Skinner (Actor), Daniel Mays (Actor), Gyles Brandreth (former politician) Emma Dabiri (Author), Sophie Cookson (Actor), Jacob Fortune-Lloyd (Actor), Polly Walker (Actor), Philip Glenister (Actor), Chris Packham (Naturalist), Ali Jawad (Paralympic powerlifter), Arlene Phillips (Dancer), Grace Neutral (TV Presenter), Maggie Aderin-Pocock (Scientist), Sergei Polunin (Ballet dancer), Karen Gibson (Conductor) and David Olosuga (Historian).

Nine artists compete in each of the eight heats, and each heat winner will go on to paint rock and roll legend and former Pink Floyd drummer, Nick Mason in the semi-final. For our grand finale, three finalists will battle it out to take home the crown, painting the iconic Barry Humphries, best known for his on-stage and television alter ego Dame Edna Everage. This season’s Portrait Artist of the Year winner will receive a £10,000 commission to paint the esteemed Scottish-Italian classical solo violinist, Nicola Benedetti, which will be exhibited at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Joan Bakewell said: “I never cease to delight in presenting Portrait Artist of the year: once again the series brings a galaxy of famous faces and reputations, their faces as varied as their careers… each one challenging our eager competitors. The whole thing mixes talent with pleasure, effort with entertainment”.

Stephen Mangan said: “Joan and I have had the difficult task, once again, of watching a raft of talented artists paint portraits of a bunch of fascinating celebrities. I wanted the show to be Joan and I painting portraits of artists while being watched by celebrities but apparently ’no one would watch that’. Whatever, Sky Arts.”

Philip Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts, Sky, said: “Over the years Portrait Artists of the Year has unearthed, encouraged and nurtured some brilliant portrait artists – many of whom have gone on to successfully make a living from their art; and that’s something we are really proud of as we welcome back a new intake of brilliant painters to turn our celebrity sitters into works of art. Watching paint dry has never been this exciting.”

Landscape Artist of the Year is due to return in early 2022 and production is already underway. Portrait Artist of the Year and Landscape Artist of the Year are produced by Storyvault; Executive producers are Danielle Graham, Samantha Richards and Stuart Prebble. Benedetta Pinelli is commissioning editor for Sky. The series was recorded within strict Covid safety protocols at Battersea Arts Centre.

Portrait Artist of the Year will air on Sky Arts, Freeview Channel 11, and streaming service NOW from Wednesday 13 October 2021.

For more information please contact:

calum.mcgarry@premiercomms.com / hannah.harris-turner@premiercomms.com

About Sky Arts

Sky Arts exists to bring more art to more people across the UK. In 2020, with the creative industries under serious threat, we threw open our doors to make the channel free for everyone to watch. We’ve redoubled our mission to increase access to the arts and we’re committed to getting everyone involved as the industry recovers. The fact is, we need the arts now like never before, and Sky Arts brings them straight to your living room.

We have something for everyone, championing creative talent by showcasing the best in music, theatre, dance, literature, opera and visual art. From Glyndebourne to Grime and Cézanne to The Style Council, we’ve got your passions covered. Millions of viewers tune in to hit returning series such as Portrait Artist of the Year, Urban Myths and British cultural institution The South Bank Show, but our acclaimed new programmes might take you anywhere from Pinter’s house with Danny Dyer to a Scottish road trip with Samuel Johnson.

Collaboration is at the heart of what we do. Sky Arts is the headline sponsor of National Theatre Live in the UK, and we work with cultural partners across the country including the English National Opera, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate, Creative Industries Federation and Coventry City of Culture to name but a few.

You can watch Sky Arts for free on Freeview channel 11 and Freesat channel 147. If you’ve got Sky or a Now TV entertainment pass, you can also watch over 2,000 hours of shows exclusively on demand.

We’re passionate about supporting the next generation of artists, so we’re working with five leading Sky Arts Ambassadors - Booker Prize-winner Bernardine Evaristo, dance artist Akram Khan, conductor Charles Hazlewood, Theatre Royal Stratford East Artistic Director Nadia Fall, and sculptor Anish Kapoor – to run bursary schemes for new and emerging talent.

About Sky

Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of the Comcast group. Across six countries, we connect our 23.4 million customers to the best entertainment, sports, news and arts including our own award-winning original content.

Our technology, including the market leading Sky Q, connects people to everything they love – with entertainment from Sky TV, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer, and apps like Spotify, YouTube, BBC Sounds, Highbrow, Peloton, Fiit, and more, in one place, easy. Our streaming service NOW brings viewers all the enjoyment of Sky with the flexibility of a contract-free service. Through our new B2B broadband provider, Sky Connect, we offer superfast broadband with business-grade 4G back-up to small businesses in the UK.

Building on the success of Sky Originals like Chernobyl, Gangs of London and Brassic, we are doubling our investment in original content by 2024 through Sky Studios. Sky News provides impartial and trustworthy journalism for free, Sky Arts is the UK’s only dedicated free-to-air arts channel making the arts accessible for everyone and Sky Sports, our leading sports broadcasting service, brings customers some of the biggest and best global sporting events from the Premier League to Formula 1 and everything in-between. Our new TV and movie studio, Sky Studios Elstree, which will open in 2022, is expected to create over 2,000 new jobs and generate an additional £3 billion of production investment in the UK over the first five years.

We believe that we can be a force for good in the communities in which we operate. We’re committed to being Europe’s first net zero carbon entertainment company by 2030 and we’re proud to be a Principal Partner and Media Partner of COP26. We take pride in our approach to diversity and inclusion: we’ve been recognised by The Times and Stonewall for our commitment to diversity and we’ve set ambitious 2025 targets to continue to increase diversity and representation. We’re also committed to investing £30million across our markets over three years to improve our approach to diversity and inclusion, and to tackle racial injustice.

About NOW

NOW is the home of brilliant entertainment. We’re one of the UK’s leading streaming platforms with critically acclaimed shows, new and exclusive movies, unmissable sport and epic kids TV – all with no contract. Join in with an Entertainment, Cinema, Sports, Kids or hayu Membership to stream instantly across TV, mobile, desktop and over 60 other devices. Watch on the go and even offline with our app by downloading shows and movies.

Entertainment Members can enjoy critically acclaimed dramas, documentaries and comedies, Emmy award-winning shows, the best of HBO and exclusive Sky Originals. Cinema Members can discover over 1000 brilliant movies, from the latest blockbusters and classic favourites and a new premiere every day. Sports Members cheer on unmissable Premier League, international cricket, F1, golf and more – all live, across 11 Sky Sports channels.

Plus, members can enhance their experience with NOW Boost – that’s full 1080p HD, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and streaming on up to 3 devices at once, for an extra £3 a month.

For super-fast broadband, members can enjoy a contract-free connection with a NOW Brilliant Broadband, Fab Fibre or Super Fibre Membership.

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