ABC series ‘Stuff the British Stole’ to spotlight Parthenon Marbles debate


Museums and galleries across the United Kingdom and the world are filled with artworks, jewels, and priceless relics seized during the reign of the Empire. They usually come with polite plaques, but the truth is often far from polite.

Following the success of Season 1, Walkley award-winning journalist Marc Fennell returns with a blockbuster new series of Stuff the British Stole, which premieres tonight (Monday, June 17) on ABC TV and ABC iview at 8pm.

Filmed across 11 different nations from Kenya to Canada, the first episode will shine a spotlight on the Parthenon Marbles debate.

Sitting in the British Museum, the Parthenon Marbles are arguably the most famous artefacts that the English possess. But because of how they were taken, questions are still being asked to this day about the legitimacy of their acquisition, and headlines are often made as Greece and Britain trade barbs and leak news.

Marc told The Greek Herald he decided to focus on the Parthenon Marbles debate after receiving a huge reaction to a podcast episode he did on the same topic in 2021.

“The show was a podcast first and then a TV show. We did an episode on the Parthenon Marbles on the podcast and because of that I didn’t want to redo things we’d done before, but when the first season of the TV show came out I got a lot of emails from Greek people around Australia being like, ‘you need to revisit the marbles’,” Marc explained.

“When we did the podcast, it was very much focusing on the efforts of the Greek diaspora around the world to bring the Parthenon Marbles home. This time, we look at some of the different ways in which people are trying to solve the debate.”

marc fennell
Marc Fennell at the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.

To do this, Marc takes viewers on a globetrotting odyssey in series two, episode one of Stuff the British Stole. From a casual chat with Stephen Fry in London, to a robust debate with British Lord Sumption in the shadow of the Acropolis at sundown, and the blindingly white marble hillside of Carrara, Italy, Marc gets to the heart of one of the world’s most controversial art scandals.

“The British Museum didn’t allow us to film inside and nor did they agree to an interview or to answer written questions. So I think that kind of tells you a lot about how they view this debate,” Marc said.

“But we did speak to a whole range of people in Greece and Australia as well, like Emmanuel Comino.

Mr Comino, a 91-year-old Kytherian migrant to Australia, first started the international campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. He is the founder and chairman of the International Organising Committee – Australia – for the Restitution of the Parthenon Sculptures (IOCARPM) and vice chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures (IARPS).

“He’s passionate, he’s fired up. I think that tells you something right? This is not just about pieces of stone. This is about a sense of pride and a sense of identity and I hope that’s what people get from the episode,” Marc said.

“Whether we’re talking about Greek objects of Kenyan objects or Indigenous Australian objects, it’s just never about the physical thing. It’s about what it means, a sense of identity. Each one of us is a chapter in a story that has raged for 1,000 years in the past and just a recognition of the pride of that and wanting to reclaim some of that story. And I think Emmanuel embodies that passion in a way that you just want to hug him. It’s breathtaking to behold.”

In tonight’s episode, Marc not only speaks with Mr Comino, but he also meets the scientists and artists in Italy who are furiously creating 3D sculptures of the Marbles in the hopes that the British Museum will give back the real ones.

“It’s a huge thing for them to try and do and it shows you how passionate people, even non-Greeks, are about the Parthenon Marbles issue,” Marc said.

You can watch episode one of Stuff The British Stole on ABC TV and ABC iview at 8pm tonight (Monday, June 17).




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