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Paula Rego: Secrets and Stories

Paula Rego’s work is world-renowned but the artist – now in her 80’s – is notoriously private and her work is intensely personal. But in a new BBC programme she opens up – to her son, director and film-maker Nick Willing.


Paula Rego: Secrets and Stories Saturday 25 March BBC 2 9pm

Nick has the benefit of not only knowing his mother very well, but of having collected footage of her since 1975, when he first began to use a camera. In the film, Rego talks about the inspiration for her work, the escape that painting provided and how her native Portugal affected her art.

A must for art and art history teachers, this is also a powerful illustration of the social impact of art, both in its ability to expose and comment on public life, and in its communication of personal emotion.


There is a variety of other material about the artist on the BBC website across both radio and television, including some aimed at younger learners.  Here is our selection:


The Interview:   BBC World Service

From the BBC World Service Archive project which involves the digitisation of thousands of archived tapes, this programme was broadcast in 2010.  From the website:

“Paula Rego is an artist, with an eye for what she calls the beautiful grotesque — women, violence, sexuality and stories. She says it’s these stories, the folk tales of her native Portugal, which have informed her imagination since she was a child. Paula Rego is as famous as a footballer in Portugal, there is a museum dedicated to her work and her pictures sell for millions of dollars on the international art market.”



BBC Bitesize KS2 Your Paintings – Paula Rego’s ‘Sleeping’ (first broadcast in 2012)

This featured clip considers Paula Rego’s painting ‘Sleeping’ and the page also includes classroom ideas.

From the webpage: “A statue comes to life in a magical gallery and climbs into the painting ‘Sleeping’ by Paula Rego. Inside the painting she explores Rego’s inspirations and her desire to have viewers make up stories about her works. We explore the techniques Rego used to create her works, and her placement within the artistic world at the time of the painting and beyond. In a mixture of live action, animation and elements of the painting itself, the clip brings the painting to life and ends by encouraging viewers to create their own story to explain what is happening in the painting.”



Meridian: In the Studio with Paula Rego  BBC World Service 

Originally broadcast in 2001, in this programme the artist is interviewed in her London studio about her recent work, including her painting ‘The Interrogator’s Garden’.



The John Tusa Interviews : Paula Rego BBC Radio 3 from 2002

A monthly series in which John Tusa, Managing  Director of the Barbican Centre, talked to leading creative figures about their work. His guest in this episode was Paula Rego.