Portrait Artist of the Year 2021 start date and celebrity sitters revealed

Details for Portrait Artist of the Year 2021 have been confirmed as the hit show returns to Sky Arts and NOW.


A new selection of talented artists, chosen from thousands of entrants, will compete in the nation’s favourite art competition as it makes a return to TV for an eighth series.

Portrait Artist of the Year 2021 will start on Wednesday, 13 October at 8PM hosted by Stephen Mangan and Joan Bakewell.

Once again the amateur and professional artists will battle it out to impress expert judges Tai Shan Schierenberg, Kathleen Soriano and Kate Bryan.

And Portrait Artist of the Year would not be complete without an impressive and diverse mix of famous and celebrated subjects from the worlds of stage, screen, literature, sport and politics.

Stars taking the famous subject’s chair this year include Celeste (Singer/Songwriter), Kelly MacDonald (Actor), Gabrielle (Singer/songwriter), Lydia West (Actor), Nish Kumar (Comedian), Alexa Chung (Model/TV Presenter), Alistair Campbell (Politician), Ian Hislop (Journalist), Hugh Skinner (Actor), Daniel Mays (Actor), Gyles Brandreth (former politician) and Emma Dabiri (Author).

They’re joined by Sophie Cookson (Actor), Jacob Fortune-Lloyd (Actor), Polly Walker (Actor), Philip Glenister (Actor), Chris Packham (Naturalist), Ali Jawad (Paralympic powerlifter), Arlene Phillips (Dancer), Grace Neutral (TV Presenter), Maggie Aderin-Pocock (Scientist), Sergei Polunin (Ballet dancer), Karen Gibson (Conductor) and David Olosuga (Historian).


Nine artists compete in each of the eight heats, and each heat winner will go on to paint rock and roll legend and former Pink Floyd drummer, Nick Mason in the semi-final.

In the grand final, three finalists will battle it out to take home the crown, painting the iconic Barry Humphries, best known for his on-stage and television alter ego Dame Edna Everage.

The prize for the winner is a £10,000 commission to paint the esteemed Scottish-Italian classical solo violinist, Nicola Benedetti, which will be exhibited at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Joan Bakewell said: “I never cease to delight in presenting Portrait Artist of the year: once again the series brings a galaxy of famous faces and reputations, their faces as varied as their careers… each one challenging our eager competitors.

“The whole thing mixes talent with pleasure, effort with entertainment”.

Stephen Mangan said: “Joan and I have had the difficult task, once again, of watching a raft of talented artists paint portraits of a bunch of fascinating celebrities.

“I wanted the show to be Joan and I painting portraits of artists while being watched by celebrities but apparently ’no one would watch that’. Whatever, Sky Arts.”


Portrait Artist of the Year will air on Sky Arts, Freeview Channel 11, and streaming service NOW from Wednesday 13 October 2021.

Meanwhile, Sky has confirmed sister show Landscape Artist of the Year is due to return in early 2022.

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