by Hans ten Cate
Sunday, 25 August 2002

The 54th annual prime-time Emmy award nominations were announced on July 18, 2002 in Los Angeles. The Human Face, With John Cleese scored two nominations in the categories of non-fiction programming.

Cinematography for Non-Fiction Programming:

  • American Experience: Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film, PBS
  • Blue Planet: Seas of Life: Ocean World, Discovery
  • The Human Face With John Cleese, TLC
  • In Memoriam: New York City, 9/11/01, HBO
  • 9/11, CBS

Non-Fiction Special (Informational):

  • The Human Face With John Cleese, TLC
  • In Memoriam: New York City, 9/11/01, HBO
  • Inside the Actors Studio: 100th Guest Special, Bravo
  • 9/11, CBS
  • We Stand Alone Together: The Men of Easy Company, HBO

The Human Face originally aired on BBC 1 (Wednesdays, March 7 to March 28, 2001) and in the United States on The Learning Channel last year (August 26 & 27, 2001).

The 54th annual prime-time Emmy Awards will air in the United States on September 22 on NBC.

The Human Face

The Radio Times described The Human Face as the definitive guide to the history of the face. Four 50 minute episodes, which have taken a year to complete, explore identity, beauty, expressions, and fame. Evidence from medicine, surgery, and psychology is presented in the form of case documentaries and comic sketches linked by veteran comedian John Cleese, a coauthor on the series, and actress Elizabeth Hurley.

Developed jointly for the BBC and The Learning Channel, the series examined the intricacies of the human face. No stone was left unturned as Cleese delved into the face as a means of communication, disguising our emotions, measuring beauty, and as a source for mental health and happiness.

The BBC initially approached John Cleese about the series. “I did it for a number of reasons. One is I quite like to make documentaries on subjects that interest me, and I thought this would be a steppingstone - and also it was a pretty interesting steppingstone 'cause my interests are primarily psychological - so this was in an area where I knew a bit already and was very keen to learn more.” [1]

Candidly admitting that his teeth are not quite his own and that he's had hair transplants, Cleese discusses in The Human Face what his face has done — or in some cases, not done — for his career, love and life. “The most important thing I did learn was that all of us tend to make snap judgments based on people's faces. It's that whole physical thing and it's the face we first focus on,” said Cleese. [2]

Throughout the series, The Human Face combines interviews with comic skits that feature Elizabeth Hurley, Cleese's Fawlty Towers co-star Prunella Scales and our own Michael Palin. In the Palin skit, the show explored the purpose and nature of "fame" and how historical figures have tried to immortalize their likeness by placing their faces on coins.

The series can now be purchased on video and DVD. There is also a hardcover book available from DK Publishing and BBC Consumer Publishing.

Warner Home Video (DVD & VHS formats) DK Publishing/BBC Publishing (240 pages) &