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Mary Beard's Shock of the Nude - BBC2

(Image credit: BBC/Lion TV/Helena Hunt)

Classical scholar Mary Beard's Shock of the Nude explores the role the naked body has played in art through history

"Don’t expect a straightforward history of the nude in these programs," states presenter Mary Beard at the beginning of Mary Beard's Shock of the Nude, a new two-part documentary (Monday, 9pm, see our TV Guide for full details).

"I’m going to be exploring the problems, the anxieties and the scandals surrounding the image of the naked body."

Mary Beard behind a statue

Mary with statue of nude male, The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge

Her uncovering of the nude begins with what is thought to be the first full size sculpture of a naked women – the Goddess of Aphrodite – made by the Greek artist Praxiteles.

MORE: Mary Beard: Civilisations

She also reflects on the idea of the "male gaze", reveals how for a long time women were banned from drawing a naked man and how much that has changed today as she joins a life-drawing hen party.

From demure sculptures to explicit paintings, Mary leaves no fig leaf unturned as she gets to the bottom of why the nude holds such a complex place in history.

 

TV Times rating: ***