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Christmas with Quentin Blake at the Rosie

Quentin Blake and his artwork at the Rosie Hospital is featuring in a BBC Two documentary on Christmas Day at 4.10pm.

If you’ve ever read a Roald Dahl book or walked the corridors of Cambridge University Hospitals, you will be familiar with the work of Sir Quentin Blake.

In this celebration of one of Britain’s best-loved artists, Quentin tells the story of his 70 year long career, in his own words and pictures. It features contributions from some of his closest collaborators and biggest admirers – among them David Walliams, Michael Rosen and Lauren Child.

The film also focuses on Quentin's belief in the healing power of art and includes his drawings on the walls of the Rosie Hospital.

Interviews with patients and staff, including midwife Sue Prytherch, describe how they find comfort in the artworks. She said:

"At the Rosie Hospital we have pools in each room and kindly Quentin Blake made us some pictures of mothers and babies in water."

Quentin Blake
Quentin Blake artwork at the Rosie

Our ladies when they’re lying in the pool in very strong labour often find them very comforting and very relaxing

Sue Prytherch, midwife at the Rosie Hospital

Sue added:

"Quentin has picked up on what women do with their babies when they see them, because they gaze and gaze and gaze before they touch very often, and we see this gaze all the time."

Parent Zoe Loughlin added:

"The Rosie is where we welcomed both of our babies into the world. As soon as you went in you notice that it’s Quentin Blake.

"You don’t get a much more momentous day in your life ever than going to have a baby, and also a little bit scary. And so the fact that there is something so familiar is really quite nice and comforting. We now have some Quentin Blake books which we really enjoy reading with Morgan."

When you are sitting there holding this new-born child in your arms it does really reflect that experience

Zoe Loughlin, parent to Morgan
Quentin Blake
Quentin Blake artwork at the Rosie

Blake's first book was published 61 years ago.

He didn't go to art school - studying English at Cambridge - but fellow artists now place him firmly in the tradition of a master draughtsman. He says:

"What I did do was go to life drawing classes a couple of times a week. I never look at something I need to draw, I just feel I know what happens.

It may not be anatomically perfect, but it just comes out of the imagination

Quentin Blake

Over 500 volumes later, and now aged 89, he’s still hard at work, drawing every day and determined to break down the barriers between illustration and ‘fine arts’.

As he looks back, Quentin shares his pleasure in the blank page, the scratch of a quill, and the enjoyable chaos and mischief of childhood.

Especially for this documentary, he's been filmed creating an extraordinary new work: a canvas 30 feet long and 7 feet high.

Made with unprecedented access to Quentin's vast archive, this charming documentary offers a welcome escape into the artist’s exuberant and joyful world.

Quentin Blake: The Drawing of My Life

Broadcast on BBC2 on Christmas Day at 4.10pm, and for viewers in the UK it will be available on iPlayer for a further 12 months.