Andrew Graham Dixon is becoming a welcoming and familiar face when the BBC does the art thing and I'm only too glad to spend more time in his company with The Art of Spain on the BBC's cultural station, BBC4.
The critic and art historian, on the Spanish job in his patriotic Mini, has a thesis, as one must: Spanish art, he says, has been unfairly overshadowed by the Italian Renaissance and the 19th century French. It is in Spain that the conflicts that have shaped Europe - from Christianity versus Islam to fascism versus socialism - have shaped art more than anywhere else.
Is that really true? In the popular imagination at least, and whatever the art historians say, Picasso and Dali are surely as recognised as any artists. However, a thesis we must have and there it is.
There's no doubting our host's enthusiasm and excitement for his subject (which would have carried a plain old history of Spanish art without the need for a prick to kick against). It's natural: he's no talking head, nor a name brought in to popularise a 'difficult' subject and this feels like a genuinely authored piece of television in the best traditions of BBC documentaries.
In the first of three shows Dixon travels to the south of the Iberian peninsular and Moorish Spain, reminding us that for 700 years most of Spain was an Islamic state. Given the ways of the world it would seem calling a golden age short-lived is close to tautology, but in Cordoba he finds evidence of just that in a religious tolerance that is far too rare in the bloody histories of any of our continents.
Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together in something approaching harmony under Abd ar-Rahman I, builder of the Mezquita, the great mosque of seemingly endless red and white striped arches. That golden ages are short-lived is illustrated by what Dixon calls an act of cultural vandalism, one its perpetrator Charles V is said to have regretted — the building of a full Renaissance cathedral inside the mosque.
He finds a happier marriage of architecture and faiths in an extraordinary Islamic-styled synagogue. The tessellation, geometric designs, and simplicity of line are all there, but the Arabic script is not: Hebrew is skillfully etched onto these walls.