OU/BBC documentary to explore history of Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes and Me: Wednesday 16 August 2017, 21:00: BBC Four

The most famous new town in the UK - Milton Keynes - has turned 50 and so (it just so happens) has the documentary maker, Richard Macer, who grew up there. In this special programme, which is due to broadcast on BBC Four on Wednesday 16 August 2017, 21:00, the two are brought back together as Macer returns to the place he left at 18, and seeks to revaluate a town he always felt a bit embarrassed by.

Today MK has one of the fastest growing economies in the country and huge approval ratings from the people who live there, but for many years it’s been the butt of the nation’s jokes, viewed only as a concrete jungle. So, what’s the reality of living in MK? Is there a chance that Macer might discover a different town to the one he left behind?

A project with high ideals

Emeritus Professor at The Open University and academic consultant on the programme, Gill Perry, said:

"When it was first conceived in 1965, and building began in 1967, Milton Keynes was one of the most ambitious social housing projects of its kind in the UK, and the last of the post-war new towns. It is also the only new town that actually calls itself a city. It attracted some of the best known architects of its time, including Derek Walker and Helmut Jacoby. Its founding figures embraced the latest ideas in town planning, architecture, social development, design and art. This was a project with high ideals, echoed nearby in the foundation of The Open University in 1969. Sited near the original Milton Keynes village, the OU helped to change the face of adult education in the UK, with its egalitarian remit of making higher education open to all, irrespective of background or qualifications."

walton hall

Walton Hall, which became the centre of The Open University Milton Keynes campus, with early building works beginning

"One of the remarkable cultural achievements of this new town is the establishment in 1999 of an influential gallery of modern and contemporary art, supported by the local community. What's more, this gallery is scheduled to double in size over the next two years. This is quite an achievement for a 'new town' without the history and long cultural legacy of some of Britain's older towns that now boast new modern galleries."

OpenLearn has extensive resources and information on topics relating to Milton Keynes; these include short films exploring the history of Milton Keynes, bringing together architects, residents, and sociologists. For more information, visit OpenLearn.

This series is supported by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences with particular relevance to BA (Honours) Arts and Humanities and MA in Art History.

  • Commissioned by: Dr Caroline Ogilvie
  • Academic Consultant: Prof. Gill Perry
  • Media Fellow:  Dr Chris Williams
  • Broadcast Project Manager: David Bloomfield
  • Online Project Producer: Sas Amoah