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Neil Young on the BBC

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Mark Cooper Mark Cooper | 20:03 UK time, Saturday, 27 June 2009


Many viewers have left comments on the Glastonbury website asking why we are not showing all of Neil Young's set on the website or last night on television.

The BBC has spent the last couple of months talking to Neil's management about how much of his set we might be able to show on TV, radio and online over Glastonbury weekend.

Neil Young's career has been conducted on his own terms. Last night Neil's management agreed to let TV and radio broadcast five songs as they watched and listened to his performance. They believe in the live event and retaining its mystery and that of their artist. They have decided to make one song available online over the weekend to give a flavour of his set. That's Rockin' In The Free World and that's their decision.

You probably won't find too many Neil Young performances available freely on TV or online. He generally prefers the audience to find his albums and recently exposed much of his early work on the multi- DVD set, Archives Volume 1.

The BBC made a documentary with Neil last year, Don't Be Denied. It offers an insight into his career, its fierce independence and his insistence on running his music and his career on his own terms. Long may he run.

Mark Cooper is the Executive Producer of the BBC's Glastonbury coverage


  • Comment number 1.

    Perhaps these sorts of limitations could be made clear in advance so as not to raise peoples expectations and also be taken into account in the BBC's own build up to the event which did seem to suggest there would be more to see.

  • Comment number 2.

    Are there to be similar restrictions placed on the broadcast of tonights headliner, Bruce Springsteen?

    I fear that the level of hype and publicity surrounding his appearance at Glastonbury will not be matched by live coverage of his set.

  • Comment number 3.

    i would like to hear your explanation of not showing Bruce Springsteen live.

  • Comment number 4.

    Wonder if Bruce will also block his live debut? The signs are looking poor for Bruce fans at the moment with Franz F advertised as main tv band? Hope I am wrong. This years coverage with all it's feeds is poor, endless repeats of Lily, Gaga etc.. With 12 stages of music would expect a bit more range of music.

  • Comment number 5.

    And Bruce Sprinsteen Mr Cooper? Surely with this post you could have filled us in. I see he is on front of the Radio Times for this week.

  • Comment number 6.

    Is anyone familiar with Neil Young's involvement on going green with the Linc Volt automobile?

  • Comment number 7.

    You should have informed fans up front about the restrictions. It is really disappointing and we are still not clear how much is going to be shown later. Also you misleadingly indicate that radio 6 is going to play his live set. All they have done so far is tell us what he has played!!

  • Comment number 8.

    There is far too much coverage of BBC presenters.
    Do the BBC have to pay extra to show more of the
    actual festival performers?

    ps. Please publish the BBC expenses for this
    for this debacle.

  • Comment number 9.

    I agree with all the comments about the BBC having known about these issues and choosing not to be up-front with the viewers about it. By keeping quiet about the lack of content from the headliners for reasons beyond the BBC's control has only got people annoyed with the BBC producers, blaming them for something they can't do anything about. Listening to viewers is supposed to be one of the BBC's core values, and you have alienated many viewers by ignoring repeat requests (not just this year but also in previous years) from licence fee payers for transparency in exactly what you are able to show of artist sets, especially headline acts. We don't expect miracles, if you aren't allowed to show it then there's nothing anyone can really do, but a bit of clarity and respect for the viewers wouldn't go amiss.

  • Comment number 10.

    I have been let down by the BBC for the last time now. I am feeling really let down by the BBC - The poor coverage of a headline act from Glastonbury really highlights some of the ineptitude that exists within the BBC. After failing to deliver the advertised full coverage of Neil Young, I shall no longer be paying any kind of TV License.

    Come knock on my door, the TV License enforcers have no legal right whatsoever to enter my property. As far as they are concerned, my television set is for watching dvd's only.

  • Comment number 11.

    Mr Cooper, it might be useful if the license payer knew this information before the event. No use in making excuses afterwards, suppose we will see the same excuses rolled out tomorrow when the widely advertised Mr Springsteen gets shoved to some highly edited highlights...

  • Comment number 12.

    Bruce Springsteen is live now on BBC Two and on the Glastonbury website. Enjoy!

  • Comment number 13.

    I have two thoughts. It was very helpful of Mark Cooper to let us know retrospectively that Neil Young's management had curtailed access to his live set. This as he makes clear was known about two months in advance. Glastonbury was advertised hard around Neil Young, Blur and Bruce Springsteen. So who didn't speak to who? It's very disapointing. Neil Young on mainstream tv is a rare treat for people like me who travel to see him, and I was looking forward to showing my 13 year old that my life-long passion for his idiosyncratic music style was shared by more mainstream music fans. Five songs was fine for me on mainstream telly. I hardly expected more. But the whole purpose of the internet is to expand coverage which can't be fitted in on terrestrial telly. Oh dear, I couldn't even find Neil Young on the graphics at the top of the page much to my bemusement - I watched the ticker menu through twice and NO Neil Young. Having cocked up you weren't coming clean until viewer reaction forced your hand. Secondly, good festival coverage shouldn't consist of smug dj-stylee presenters telling us staying at home what a fabulous time they are having at Glastonbury, and what time band XYZ is on. This is a complete and utter waste of airtime for those who are not there. DOH! No one gives a damn about the presenters, it's all about the music, which we don't hear NEARLY enough of. I want to hear a decent chunk of a live set from each band so that I can make my mind up about them. Your coverage is SO wrong! Please take heed. Just pile up the music on the internet and let us make up our own minds.

  • Comment number 14.

    Currently watching the Boss (recorded earlier) on BBC2 - very disappointed in the quality of the sound! - earlier Pendulam were awesome (Live) - why has the recorded session degraded (it's supposed to be in HD after all)

  • Comment number 15.

    Is there similar restrictions on Q-Tip from last night ?

    There were no pictures or video from that performance ...same goes for The Streets !!

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    If I really wanted to see Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen, I'd have bought a ticket and gone to Glastonbury. It hacks me off when people think it's their god-given right to subject us all to their squawking and moaning.
    "...raising people's expectations...." "I would like to hear your explanation..." "...ignoring repeat requests...from licence fee payers..."
    Grow a set of cojones and shut the flip up.

  • Comment number 18.

    Cross posted elsewhere but Bruce's set last night which filled up the first 90mins or so of the BBC2 highlights show is now available on iPlayer (UK only) for next 7 days. (part one). (part two)

    Jem Stone (I work for the BBC)

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    You should have been much more open and transparent BEFOREHAND ...... way more upfront

  • Comment number 21.

    my comments referred to the moderators ?????????
    and now we have censorship!

  • Comment number 22.

    Oh and about 40 minutes of further tracks not show on BBC2 are at the Glastonbury site:

  • Comment number 23.

    Thanks for showing us Neil in all his glory, he ROCKS. Wished I could have been there this year. To all those who complained about not knowing in advance, get real, get a ticket next time. Live music is better, bumper stickers should be issued...

  • Comment number 24.

  • Comment number 25.

    good for neil young, i attended gig in london yesterday and was so impressed.real feel to his music.the atmosphere in hyde park was something to see and feel i have always stayed away from the larger festivals and gigs,but will now try to attend glastonbury,and hope for some of the majic of the 1971 festival.

  • Comment number 26.

    Apparently we are paying, and paying for,
    400 BBC staff to attend Glastonbury in return
    for countless hours of gurning and preening
    "presenters" and a few minutes of acts.

  • Comment number 27.

    It seems the BBC put a lot of effort into making sure Neil Young was happy with their coverage of his set and this has only to be praised however the viewers should have been told about the arangement and I feel we require an apology.

    P.S. less Jo Whiley, Edith Bowman and Reggie Yates these people belong on CBBC (if on TV at all) because of their patronising child-like manner. Please more Lauren Laverne.


  • Comment number 28.

    ...however the viewers should have been told about the arangement and I feel we require an apology.
    I would bet that you also think it's okay to pay for a bag o' chips by cheque*

    *acknowledgement to PC

  • Comment number 29.

    There is an argument for the case that the BBC misled viewers in the Glastonbury previews by emphasising Neil Young's appearance at the festival, ie., that the beeb would show a good portion of his set. However, as someone who still attends gigs whenever possible, I have to say that I prefer live performances to those mediated through TV; there's nothing to beat the live experience. Both Neil Young & Bruce Springsteen are recognised for their live shows as much as their back catalogue. I was pleased that so much of Springsteen's set was shown last night, it was spell-binding to watch; "Outlaw Pete" will have astonished many indie kids for its passion & duration. I've seen Springsteen in concert quite a few times now & he remains the best live act I've ever witnessed.

  • Comment number 30.

    #27 & #29 Quite agree with both sentiments, but when this was promoted so heavily "as though" live sets were to be on show, then I for one want an explanation that takes into account the use of resources and capacity of the beeb to manage this festival coverage.
    Last night's Blur coverage was interrupted as well and we had the 2 presenters telling us to get on with what was on offer as they wanted to dash back to their places and watch the show!
    I go to live shows regularly, couldn't get a Glasto ticket this year, and didn't want to go to Hyde Park as Glasto was on the telly(Not).
    Comparing ITV's coverage of IOW with the BEEB @ Glasto or what's available elsewhere in the world, where rampant capitalism does no one's telly watching any favours, is like comparing the cultural desertifciation of post war Russian sculpture with Richard Serra or Hepworth's work.
    Just because they have rubbish tv doesn't mean we can't criticise the quality and management of the excellent service we compulsorily pay fortunes for.(comparatively)
    If #26 is right, why use 400 staff when (at the last moment) they aren't needed.
    The house rules on here are very interesting, and some of the Beeb staff posts show a picture of poor organisation and attempts to catch up with backlash from this very badly managed coverage.
    I've asked Radio 4's Feedback programme to cover this overpromotion and underdelivery, of headliners.
    Maybe you all should too!

  • Comment number 31.

    The BBC has previous on this sort of thing; Neil Young at The Fleadh in 2001 to be precise.

    This was to be a live radio broadcast of Neil's set and was heavily trailed on Radio 2, in the Radio Times and in the Guardian Guide.

    With no prior explanation, the broadcast was pulled and we were 'treated' to Janice Long (or Liz Kershaw?)giving us a live report of what Neil Young had just played, saying how good he was etc. - Great radio!

    And guess what the excuse was? That's right, it was the fault of Neil Young's Management!

    So obviously this marks a great deal of improvement - the Beeb has come a long way in 8 years.

  • Comment number 32.


    Of course there are limits to how much any artist should get at Glastonbury, and it'll never satisfy all the people all the time.

    But is the BBC making a rod for its own back? Imagine how many more fans could enjoy Glastonbury if the BBC could switch from 3 TV stages and 2 live TV channels to a bit less telly and a lot more exclusive radio coverage.

    Neil Young fans might be upset but my favourite band was the only Peel Stage headliner not to get any BBC coverage at all this year.

    Surely there is a case for covering both the Peel Stage and Jazz World Stages on radio instead of trying to shoe-horn them into the TV schedule? Leave TV to the main stages, then these stages could flourish on radio.



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