The New EastEnders is an Arts programme.

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The New EastEnders

This observational documentary series lifts the lid on the home of Brit Art - London's East End - and gets beneath the skin of not only its artists, but also its dealers and patrons, to paint a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary artistic community.

With behind-the-scenes access to key players, studios and shows rarely seen before in an arts documentary series, "New EastEnders" is a unique document of how the art world works, as seen through the eyes of those who live it rather than through critics or commentators. Filmed over six months from September 2000 to March 2001, the programmes reveal the lives and work of those involved, as they struggle to prepare for shows, sell their work, handle the press and deal with each other.

With candid and unprecedented access to such local luminaries as Tracey Emin, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Jake and Dinos Chapman, up and coming talent Philippe Bradshaw, and art dealers Jay Joplin and Victoria Miro, "New Eastenders" explores the very serious business of being a contemporary artist today, which, as well as making art, commercial sponsors and cultivating the right image.

The series is divided thematically into four parts, beginning with "The Artists", and continuing eacxh night with "The Galleries", "The Shows" and "The Art Market"

In "The Artists", the cameras follow four East End artists at different stages in their 'careers', as they set about realising projects and shows which subsequently raise fundamental questions about what it is they're doing and why.

Tracey Emin represents the artist as superstar. This edition follows her as she records a soundtrack for a cinema commercial using Turkish musicians.

Tim Noble and partner Sue Webster, recently picked out by "Time Out" as London's most important artists, prepare to show their latest piece, "British Wildlife", at their gallery - "Modern Art".

Philippe Bradshaw, an artist who has just achieved international recognition after 10 years of struggle, goes up for his first proze, the prestigious Hamlyn Award, and then moves into a new studio in Bethnal Green.

Laura White, an artist who has come down from Nottingham to try and get a foothold in the East End art scene, is finding it tough to get a gallery deal. The cameras follow her as she looks for a studio in Shoreditch, makes her latest piece and reflects on her anonymity.

"The Gallery". Without the gallery, the artist works in a vacuum. This episode documents the relationship between the artist and the commercial gallery system. Taking three contrasting examples of the relationship and one artist who makes an exhibition on his own without a gallery, the programme explores both the importance of that personal relationship and also the significance of the space in which the artist shows.

Victoria Miro is a leading contemporary art dealer with a prestigious space in Cork Street. Viewers follow her move to a spectacular new gallery in the East End and a race against time as she puts on her first exhibition of work by German artist Thomas Demand.

Sarah Myerscough is a West End dealer who wants to represent recent Goldsmith's graduate Greg Hertault, but their relationship runs into trouble when Greg decides he'd rather hold out for that elusive East End deal.

Jake and Dinos Chapman, the "bad boys" of Brit Art, open their own gallery off Brick Lane. Their first show is painter Nigel Cooke, but as they prepare for the opening, Nigel realises that the Chapmans' notoriety has its drawbacks when it comes to the public's perception of his work.

Sandy Simeonides hasn't been offered a commercial deal. Undeterred, he tries to show his work in Hoxton Square on a building site next to the White Cube gallery but, without the institionalised white walls of a gallery to frame his work, will anyone pay attention to his efforts?

"The Show"is the art world's interface with the general public. In this programme, we follow the preparation and execution of three major shows. Concentrating on the often fraught relationships between the institution, the curator and the artist, the film is a portrait of the overblown ambitions and practical compromises involved in the staging of a major art event.

'Apocalypse' was last year's controversial blockbuster at the Royal Academy. Cameras follow the New Eastenders involved in the exhibition - the artists around whom the show was conceived, Jake and Dinos Chapman; Noble and Webster, who were late additions to the line-up but who became one of the show's star attractions; and the besieged curator, Max Wigram, who has never undertaken such a high-profile project before.

'Pandaemonium' is a biennial festival of video art run by the Lux Gallery in Hoxton and this episode shows the commissioning and execution of a film by the artist Mat Collishaw, which is to be shown at Shoreditch Town Hall as part of the show. He works closely with the curator of 'Pandaemonium', Gregor Muir, who has overall responsibility for ensuring that all the films come in on time and are up to scratch.

The Great Eastern is a five-star hotel situated on the edge of the city and the East End. Artist Simon Tegala has approached them with the proposal to allow a group of artists to hold a show in the building. Seeing the PR potential of being associated with the East End art boom, the hotel agrees but then has to contend with the artists' financial disorganisation and reign in their wilder visions.

"The Market". One of the most important gauges of value in art is how much it is worth. This final edition looks at art as a commodity from the points of view of the artist, the dealer, the auction house and the collector. The film explores the issue of what makes one thing more valuable than another and questions the uneasy relationship between art and money.

The auction house, Christie's, are setting up shop in the East End in preparation for a major sale of contemporary art. The programme reveals the process involved, from the hanging of the works to the auction itself. Tracey Emin also has work which is one of the highlights of the auction. The camera's follow her piece from installation to a frantic bidding war for ownership.

Victoria Miro, whose gallery is next to Christie's, is one of the East End's biggest dealers. Viewers witness behind-the-scenes action as both "houses" battle to sell work from their shows to collectors from around the world.

Anita Zabludowicz is a collector who buys gritty contemporary art as a window on a world she would never otherwise see. Cameras trail her on a shopping spree from Christie's, to the White Cube gallery, to artist Tom Hunter's studio, in search of cutting-edge art.

A counterpoint to all this buying and selling is artist Michael Landy who is about to destroy everything he owns in the name of art. This mighty act includes all his own artwork as well as valuable pieces from such luminariesas Tracey Emin and Gary Hume. It is Landy's express intention that he should make no money from this gesture - that nothing is for sale as a result of this process. However, as the art world and the media become increasingly interested in what he is doing, it becomes clear that he has increased his own value in the market place overnight. The stark reality is that, if it is art, then it is a commodity.

Genre: Arts

Running Time: 40 minutes (approx)