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Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year returns for new series

First episode to screen on 04 November with Irish heat on 09 December from Royal Hospital, Kilmainham

Sky Arts’ search for the new Portrait Artist of the Year will begin in earnest when the show returns on Tuesday 04 November.

Frank Skinner and Joan Bakewell are returning to host the show where aspiring portrait artists from across Ireland and the UK race against the clock to paint famous faces.

The opening episode on Sky Arts will show the London heat, with contestants painting footballer Sol Campbell, Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams – who plays Arya Stark – and broadcaster John Humphrys.

With spots in the semi-finals available at every heat, episode six will see the Sky show travel to Ireland for the final heat at Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.

Star Trek actor Colm Meaney, Divine Comedy singer-songwriter Neil Hannon and The Corrs member Sharon Corr will each pose in the Irish heat.

Each subject can take home their favourite portrait and Hannon has a tough job deciding which to pick when one painting leaves him “devastated by [his] own beauty”.

The Irish heat will also see 2013 contestant Aine Divine return for another crack at the Portrait Artist of the Year title.

Six heats will see a total of 72 artists competing on the Sky show for chance to win a €12,000 commission to paint actor Alan Cumming for the Scottish Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.

The broadband and digital TV provider gives each contestant just four hours to paint their celebrity sitters before their masterpieces fall under the watchful gaze of the judges.

Portrait artist Tai-Shan Schierenberg, independent curator and art historian Kathleen Soriano, and Kate Bryan – the head of Contemporary at the Fine Art Society – will judge each entrant.

The winners of the heats which are being held in London, Edinburgh, Dublin and Cardiff will then face each other in the semi-final at the Royal Academy, London.

This will see them undertake a double portrait challenge with the best three contestants battling out to paint Lord of the Rings actor Sir Ian McKellen in the grand final at the National Portrait Gallery.

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