Melvyn Bragg was born in Wigton, Cumbria, and educated there and at Wadham College, Oxford. His broadcasting career began at the BBC in 1961. He worked on the arts programme Monitor with Huw Wheldon in the mid-1960s; during this time he began writing novels, set mostly in his native Cumbria. He collaborated with Ken Russell and wrote the 1970 film about Tchaikovsky, The Music Lovers. He also wrote Isadora, directed by Karel Reisz, Play Dirty starring Michael Caine, and worked with David Lean.
In 1977, Melvyn started LWT’s long-running arts programme, the award-winning The South Bank Show. The programme was decommissioned in 2010, when he took the programme to Sky Arts. Sky Arts also broadcasts 30 editions a year of South Bank Show Originals.
Melvyn presents arts and science programmes and marshals discussion shows on BBC Radio (In Our Time), and writes non-fiction books, including The Adventure of English (2003) and The Radical Impact of The King James Bible (2011). He is an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy, and was given a peerage in 1998.