BBC’s Great British Brush Off: Old Master or reproduction?

Big Painting Challenge presenters Mariella Frostrup and Rev Richard Coles
Big Painting Challenge presenters Mariella Frostrup and Rev Richard Coles
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THE BBC today unveiled a new art show to fill the hole in its schedule left by the Great British Bake Off.

But with an identical name to a series screened two years ago, critics were left wondering whether the new programme was an original artwork or a imitation.

Sheffield contestant Alan Tsang

Sheffield contestant Alan Tsang

The Big Painting Challenge will air on BBC1 later this year, and will see 10 amateur artists embarking on a series of painting challenges, helped by two mentors, in an attempt to be crowned champion.

Despite denials from the corporation, it drew immediate comparisons with Bake Off, which will reappear on Channel Four this year.

The BBC insisted the new show was “different” to the previous Big Painting Challenge, presented by Una Stubbs and Richard Bacon, and described as “a nationwide search for Britain’s best amateur artist”.

The new series, also in six parts, will be hosted by Richard Coles and Mariella Frostrup, and will feature judges from the arts world deciding which artists to eliminate.

Leeds contestant Suman Asi

Leeds contestant Suman Asi

Contestants include Suman Asi, a Leeds art student, and Alan Tsang, an account manager from Sheffield.

Mark Bell, head of commissioning for BBC Arts, said the Sunday evening, prime-time programme was “its own show”, “very different” to Bake Off and not designed to fill the void left by the hit series.

“We have been looking to develop something in that participation mode for a long time,” he said.

“The BBC has a long history of making broad, mainstream, participatory programmes over the years.

“There’s a long heritage of arts participation programmes that we want to continue and this is absolutely a new stab at doing that.”