Docuseries review: A life in ten pictures

The ABC / BBC series ‘A life in ten pictures’ is a riveting documentary series that examines a famous person’s life through the lens of ten iconic photographs.

From Elizabeth Taylor grabbing a quick nap on the couch next to James Dean during the filming of ‘Giant’, to Freddie Mercury’s exuberant baby face in Zanzibar under the watchful eye of his nanny – the photos range from rare childhood pics to staged portraits to private snaps.

All of the famous figures are entertainment industry greats who are no longer with us and achieved incredible fame fortune and generally controversy, in their lifetimes. With the series featuring Tupac, John Lennon, Elizabeth Taylor, Freddie Mercury, Muhammad Ali and Amy Winehouse, it becomes obvious early on that some thrived on the fame – and yet others were broken by it.

Each of the photos is narrated by the friends, family and colleagues they left behind – often other participants in the snaps or those professionals who took them. During Amy Winehouse’s story, a particularly regretful journalist talks about the impact of her own predatory paparazzi behaviour and the shame that she carries with her years later.

Not typically attracted to the sensationalised cult of celebrity, on the contrary I have found this series to be thoughtful, revealing and slightly dark at times.

There seems to be a limited number of episodes and dodgy time frames, and at the moment ABC viewers can find just the latest episode on Amy Winehouse – while BBC viewers have access to the full range of available episodes.