Letchworth features in new BBC Four documentary series Utopia: In Search of the Dream

Professor Richard Clay filming on location in Letchworth for Utopia: In Search of the Dream. Picture

Professor Richard Clay filming on location in Letchworth for Utopia: In Search of the Dream. Picture: LGCHF - Credit: Archant

Letchworth is to star on national television next week as part of a new BBC Four documentary series looking at the idea of utopia.

The team behind Utopia: In Search of the Dream – presented by art historian Professor Richard Clay – filmed in the original garden city in April.

Among other things they explored the Garden City Collection, off Wilbury Hills Road, and interviewed curator Vicky Axell.

Letchworth features heavily in the second hour-long episode, Build It and They Will Come, which will be shown on BBC Four on Tuesday night – a week on from the opening episode, Blueprints for Better.

The people behind the show include production manager Clare Burns – who lives in Letchworth herself, and very much enjoyed shooting in her hometown.


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She said: “The second episode of our series examines some of the attempts to create liveable utopian societies.

“Sometimes they work, but more often, for various reasons, they fail. We filmed at a Shaker village in New Hampshire, a hippie community in Virginia, a communist housing estate in Lithuania – and in Letchworth!”

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“As well as interviewing Vicky, we filmed all across the town – from the allotments in South View and the first roundabout in Broadway to the little green on Westholm and the Spirella Building.

“We sent up a drone camera over Norton Common and got some beautiful aerial shots.

“I was very proud of my hometown, and I hope viewers enjoy the series and agree with our conclusions about Letchworth.”

The documentary is part of BBC Four’s utopia season of programmes, which looks into and celebrates the ideas, inspirations and visionaries behind the idea of a place or state of things in which all is perfect.

BBC Four channel editor Cassian Harrison explained: “Utopian ideals and the very idea of utopia itself have always fascinated and inspired the human race – from art and architecture movements, to genres of fiction, new experimental societies and beyond.

“With the intellectual ambition that is its hallmark, BBC Four is delving into a world of visionaries, philosophers, and genius to examine what propels us to endlessly search out ideas of perfection.”

The show featuring Letchworth is scheduled be shown on BBC Four at 9am on Tuesday, August 15, and will be available afterwards on BBC iPlayer at bbc.co.uk/programmes/b090w6y3.

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