Self-taught artist JACK VETTRIANO is arguably Britain’s favourite painter.
His atmospheric beach scenes can be seen on posters, cards, in books and on the walls of fans all over the country.
One of his images, The Singing Butler, is the highest selling print in Britain outdoing even Monet and Van Gogh.
To date, over a million copies of the print have been sold. He has become a phenomenon.
His original paintings are bought by private collectors - Jack Nicholson has three - and frequently feature dramatic encounters between men and women, often charged with an air of sexual menace.
His prices are soaring; in 2003 a study for The Singing Butler sold for £90,000 and recently another original went for a record £99,000.
Vettriano grew up in a small mining village in Fife and followed his father into the mining industry as an engineer.
On his 21st birthday, his then girlfriend gave him a box of paints which sparked his desire to paint.
He started by copying works of great artists and through trial and error developed and learnt his own techniques.
In 1988, Vettriano submitted two painting to the Royal Scottish Academy summer show in Edinburgh.
They were accepted, hung and promptly sold. At 37, he gave up work to paint full time.
The South Bank Show tells the story of Vettriano’s struggle to become a painter and of his snowballing success.
This film joins him as he works in his studio and he talks candidly with Melvyn Bragg about the nature and origins of the sexually troubled subject matter in his paintings.
The film also meets fans up and down the country to explore why people love his images so much - and investigates why Vettriano is not recognized by the official art world.
It leaves him on a high with his partner and elderly parents at Buckingham Palace where he recently received the OBE.
‘I am hugely surprised by the success. When I first exhibited paintings and I made a few sales, I thought that that was great.
'I had no idea that there would ever be this kind of public following and this almost adoration of the work.
'I never believed for a second that I would touch people the way I apparently do. There was no hint of what was to come, none whatsoever’, says Vettriano.
Additional contributors include best-selling crime writer and inventor of Inspector Rebus, Ian Rankin, curator and author of The Eclipse of Art, Julian Spalding, curator design guru and fan Sir Terence Conran, and Rowan Pelling, editor of The Erotic Review.
Produced and Directed by Bob Bee
Edited and Presented by Melvyn Bragg