BBC Pop Music TV today announces its forthcoming programming highlights to delight music lovers throughout the coming months.
The raft of new programmes will feature a landmark three-part documentary series exploring disco, a Reel Stories special celebrating Pet Shop Boys, the UK Network TV premiere of Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over and the return of Later…with Jools Holland, amongst many others.
Jonathan Rothery, BBC Head of Pop Music TV, says: “Over the coming months, we’re continuing our commitment to bring the broadest mix of pop music programming to viewers. As well as shining a fresh light on disco with a brand new three part series, we’ll also be celebrating some of the world’s most cherished artists from across the decades, broadcasting their stories and showcasing their career defining performances. I’m looking forward to sharing all we have in store with viewers.”
This autumn, BBC Two and PBS present Disco Inferno: The Sound of the Underground (w/t) – a three-part series examining the history and legacy of disco.
Told by disco’s original musicians, promoters and innovators, as well as today’s musical icons, the series tells the story of the people who forged a new form of music and dance and pioneered a social movement. Contributors include Nona Hendryx (LaBelle), DJ Hollywood, Ana Matronic, David Morales, Kim Petras, Nicky Siano and Pete Waterman.
The first episode, Rock The Boat (w/t), celebrates the earliest disco tracks and the creation of the disco beat, as it took over New York’s clubs and spread to Europe and the UK. It also explores the rise of a new power in music, the DJ, and how they helped disco break into the mainstream.
The second episode, Ain’t No Stopping Us Now (w/t), traces the emergence of disco icons such as Thelma Houston, Grace Jones, Donna Summer and Candi Staton. It also looks at the launch of Studio 54 and how disco went on to conquer the charts, the airwaves and the silver screen.
The third episode, I Will Survive (w/t), examines the backlash against disco and how, despite the collapse of its popularity which drove it underground, the genre went on to inspire new forms of music and once again became mainstream in the hands of a new generation of artists such as Kylie, the Scissor Sisters, Kim Petras and Jessie Ware.
Coming up tomorrow on BBC Two (Saturday 25 February, 8.15pm) is P!nk Live in the Piano Room, an extended Radio 2 Piano Room special from the American singer and songwriter P!nk. The special will see P!nk perform nine tracks with the BBC Concert Orchestra, and discuss her life and music with BBC Radio 2’s Jo Whiley at Maida Vale studios. Songs featured will be a mix of classic hits and brand new material, including a cover version of Nothing Compares 2 U, written by Prince and later performed by Sinéad O'Connor.
P!nk says: “It feels so good to be back at Maida Vale studios after so long and to be able to perform even more songs in the Radio 2 Piano Room for this BBC Two special - including some of my brand new songs. I can’t wait for you to hear them!”
Jo Whiley says: “It was a pleasure to catch up with P!nk again at the legendary Maida Vale studios for this BBC Two special. She remains as fun and vivacious as ever - both on and off stage - and I know viewers at home will enjoy watching her extended Piano Room performance as much as I did.”
All Piano Room sets are available now on BBC iPlayer, with performances from: Ellie Goulding, Freya Ridings, Haircut 100, Jake Shears, Jessie Ware, Lady Blackbird, Lemar, Louise Belinda Carlisle, Michael Ball, P!nk, RAYE, Richard Marx, Simply Red, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Stormzy, Suede, Sugababes, Suzanne Vega and Tom Chaplin.
On Saturday 4 March, BBC Two celebrates legendary artist Dionne Warwick with the UK Network TV premiere of Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over (8.40pm), featuring star-studded contributions from Alicia Keys, Barry Gibb, Bill Clinton, Burt Bacharach, Cissy Houston, Elton John, Gladys Knight, Gloria Estefan, Olivia Newton-John, Smokey Robinson, Snoop Dogg, Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick herself.
This documentary examines the artist behind hits such as What the World Needs Now, Say A Little Prayer and Don’t Make Me Over and explores how Dionne’s music crossed pan-Atlantic barriers. It also looks at the success she enjoyed in Europe, when her first album was released under the guise of a white female artist and how, after revealing her true identity, she achieved international stardom, also becoming a voice for the AIDS crisis and other social causes.
To accompany this programme, on the same evening, BBC Two broadcasts an extended version of Dionne Warwick at the BBC (10.15pm) and gives viewers another chance to see Fern Britton Meets…Dionne Warwick (11.45pm).
Also coming up in 2023, BBC Two continues its Reel Stories series with Reel Stories: Pet Shop Boys. BBC Radio 2’s Dermot O’Leary invites Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe to join him in a London cinema and relive some of the pivotal moments from their career to date on screen.
Dermot says: "I've bumped in to Neil and Chris many times over the years - including a brilliant 24 hours in LA back in the 90s...(very T4!) So I can't wait to sit down with them and watch their remarkable career on the big screen.”
Neil and Chris say: “It was such fun exploring our history on TV with Dermot O’Leary as our curator.”
Since 1985, Pet Shop Boys have achieved 44 top 40 singles in the UK, including four Number Ones, and have released 14 top ten studio albums. Some of their best loved hits include West End Girls, What Have I Done To Deserve This and It's A Sin. In 2000, they received the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music and, at the 2009 Brit Awards, they won the award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.
Previous Reel Stories interviewees include Noel Gallagher, Dave Grohl, Kylie Minogue, Rod Stewart, Sting and Robbie Williams.
In May, BBC Two presents a brand new series of Later…with Jools Holland, which returns to the historic Alexandra Palace. Last year the show celebrated its 30th anniversary with a one-off show featuring performances from Robert Plant, Michael Kiwanuka, First Aid Kit, Richard Hawley, Poppy Ajudha, and many others.
The previous series of Later, in autumn 2022, featured performances from Arctic Monkeys, Christine and the Queens Presents Redcar, Burna Boy, RAYE, Phoenix, FLO, Self Esteem and The 1975. This series will bring more unique performances from the eclectic mix of artists the show is famed for.
To complement the new series, BBC Four broadcasts a series of hour-long Later…with Jools Holland compilations themed around country, floorfillers and reggae & ska. The programmes will feature classic Later… performances from artists including Amy Winehouse, Disclosure with Sam Smith, Johnny Cash, Nile Rodgers, Róisín Murphy, Taylor Swift and The Specials.