Letchworth shines in new BBC Four series

Utopia: In Search of the Dream starts 8 August

Letchworth Garden City is set to feature in a new BBC Four Series Utopia: In Search of the Dream, which starts tonight.

The documentary is part of the channel’s utopia season of programmes, which celebrate and explore the ideas, inspirations and visionaries behind the concept of utopia: a place or state of things in which everything is perfect.

Ever since Thomas More coined the term in 1516, utopia - that better place somewhere between fiction and reality - has been reimagined and reinvented by generations of writers and dreamers. For better and for worse, utopias have been an engine of cultural change, spurring human imagination, inspiring major art and design movements, spawning new genres of fiction and forging experimental communities.

Cassian Harrison, channel editor, BBC Four says: “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.”

In Utopia: In Search Of The Dream art historian Professor Richard Clay explores an eclectic range of visionaries and reveals how they have fuelled our ideas of the perfect state. The production team and Richard visited Letchworth back in April and spent time filming at the Garden City Collection and interviewing curator Vicky Axell.

Production Manager and Letchworth resident, Clare Burns, commented: “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 ‘hippy’ community in Virginia, a Communist housing estate in Lithuania and Letchworth!”

She continued: “As well as interviewing Vicky, we filmed all across the town; from the allotments on South View and the first roundabout on 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 home town and hope viewers enjoy the series and agree with our conclusions about Letchworth.”

The series Utopia: In Search of the Dream starts on Tuesday 8 August at 9pm on BBC Four. The episode featuring Letchworth Build It and they Will Come will be broadcast at 9pm on Tuesday 15 August and will be available after transmission on BBC iPlayer.