Elvis Costello: Mystery Dance (2013)
Elvis Costello: Mystery Dance, the first-ever documentary portrait of one of the greatest musicians and songwriters of our time. Assured of Costello’s full collaboration, exclusive access to his extensive archive and with the full participation of his record company, the film is a definitive portrait of a major music icon.
The Joy of ABBA (2013)
Combining European musical influences, perfect production and lyrics of love and loss, ABBA made us fall in love with the sound of Swedish melancholy. This documentary explores the music of ABBA and chronicles how they conquered both Sweden and Britain in the face of constant criticism.
Genius of Bert Jansch: Folk, Blues & Beyond (2014)
Interviews and rare archive footage weave together performances from a landmark multi-artist concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London, celebrating the songs and artistry of the great folk-blues troubadour Bert Jansch.
You’ve Got A Friend: The Carole King Story (2014)
Documentary telling, in her own words, the story of Carole King’s upbringing in Brooklyn and the subsequent success that she had.
Cosmonauts: How Russia Won the Space Race (2014)
When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon in 1969, America went down in popular history as the winner of the space race. But that history is bunk. The real pioneers of space exploration were the Soviet cosmonauts. This remarkable feature-length documentary combines rare and unseen archive footage with interviews with the surviving cosmonauts to tell the fascinating and at times terrifying story of how the Russians led us into the space age. A particular highlight is Alexei Leonov, the man who performed the first spacewalk, explaining how he found himself trapped outside his spacecraft 500 miles above the Earth. Scary stuff.
Jeff Lynne’s ELO Live at Hyde Park (2014)
On a sunny day in September 2014, Jeff Lynne, head honcho of 70s hit-making band ELO, took to the stage in London’s Hyde Park and, with the help of his backing band and the strings of the BBC Concert Orchestra, brought to a close Radio 2’s Live in Hyde Park annual festival. After an absence from the live stage for 28 years, this headline set by Jeff Lynne’s ELO was a much-anticipated and talked-about event. In front of 50,000 people, Jeff Lynne delivered a rousing and crowd-pleasing string of the Electric Light Orchestra’s chart-topping hits, including Livin’ Thing, Sweet Talkin’ Woman, Don’t Bring Me Down, Mr Blue Sky, and Roll Over Beethoven. And there was also Jeff’s touching tribute to his band buddies from Traveling Wilburys, in his performance of their 1988 hit Handle With Care.
The Irish Rock Story: A Tale of Two Cities (2015)
This musical celebration charts the lives and careers of some of the biggest selling acts in Irish rock, punk and pop from Van Morrison and Thin Lizzy to The Undertones and U2. From the pioneers of the showbands touring in the late 50s through to the modern day, the film examines their lineage and connections and how the hardcore, rocking sound of Belfast merged with the more melodic, folky Dublin tradition to form what we now recognise as Irish rock and pop.
Botticelli’s Venus: The Making of an Icon (2016)
Sam Roddick explores the enduring appeal of Botticelli’s masterpiece The Birth of Venus, one of the most celebrated paintings in western art. A joyous celebration of female sexuality, its journey to worldwide fame was far from straightforward and it lay in obscurity for centuries. Artist and entrepreneur Sam explains why Botticelli’s nude was so revolutionary, and explores its impact on contemporary culture with artists such as Terry Gilliam, who memorably reinvented Venus for his Monty Python’s Flying Circus animations.
World War Two: A Timewatch Guide (2016)
Professor Saul David uses the BBC archive to chart the history of the world’s most destructive war, by chronicling how the story of the battle has changed. As new information has come to light, and forgotten stories are remembered, the history of World War Two evolves. The BBC has followed that evolution, and this programme examines the most important stories, and how our understanding of them has been re-defined since the war ended over 70 years ago.
EMI: The Inside Story (2016)
One record company has been a constant presence in popular music throughout our lives. EMI brought The Beatles to the world and in every decade since has been instrumental in producing some of Britain’s most celebrated and enduring music.
The Beatles: Love Me Do – A Documentary (2013)
On October 5th 1962, the Beatles released their first single, Love Me Do. It was a moment that changed music history and popular culture forever. It was also an extraordinary year in social and cultural history, not just for Liverpool but for the world, with the Cuban missile crisis, John Glenn in space and beer at a shilling a pint. Stuart Maconie explores how the Beatles changed from leather and slicked back hair to suits and Beatle mops, and how their fashion set the pace for the sixties to follow. Pop artist Sir Peter Blake, Bob Harris and former Beatles drummer Pete Best join friends to reflect on how the Beatles evolved into John, Paul, George and Ringo – the most famous band in the world.
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