Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

Radio 2 unveils summer schedule

The sun is shining on BBC Radio 2 this summer as a sizzling array of programming is broadcast across the network, from a fascinating range of distinctive documentaries and a bonanza of live music performances.

Lewis Carnie, Head of Programming, Radio 2, said: "I'm proud to present a Radio 2 summer schedule bursting with the very best entertainment for a glorious summer, whatever the weather."

On Thursday 14 July, Trevor Nelson and Jo Whiley will host a special Radio 2 In Concert with a blistering live performance from UK soul songstress Beverley Knight. Tickets are currently available via

And Friday Night Is Music Night, the world's longest-running live music programme, treads the boards at the Hackney Empire on Friday 15 July for A Musical Shrektacular, celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the film release of Shrek and the opening of Shrek The Musical in London.

Nigel Lindsay, Richard Blackwood, Nigel Harman and Amanda Holden will present the evening as well as performing songs from the new stage musical. And all the performances will be accompanied by the 70-piece strong BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Richard Balcombe, alongside songs from other movies including How To Train Your Dragon, Chicken Run, The Prince Of Egypt and Kung Fu Panda.

Following Dave Pearce's much loved dance music series, the UK's most renowned reggae DJ David Rodigan makes his Radio 2 debut with a 10-part series from 14 July at 11pm celebrating the best in reggae, roots, ska and rocksteady from the Sixties to the present day. Beginning his radio broadcasting career in 1978 at BBC Radio London, David has hosted a number of successful reggae shows on Capital and Kiss 100 in London. David's status as one of the world's most respected reggae aficionados was confirmed in 2006 when he was inducted into the Sony Radio Academy Hall Of Fame.

David comments: "I am delighted to be presenting reggae on Radio 2. The series will be a reflection of all that is great in traditional reggae, stretching back across 5 decades to its beginnings as in Jamaica whilst also targeting the very latest and best of the new releases."

National treasure Joanna Lumley recently starred on Broadway for the first time in La Bete and with her Tony nomination she has already become part of New York theatreland's illustrious history. From 11 July, she will take the Radio 2 listeners, on a fascinating historical, theatrical and musical journey down America's iconic "street of dreams" in her three-part series, Joanna Lumley On Broadway. Interviewees include Hal Prince, Oscar Hammerstein III, award-winning directors Michael Mayer and Julie Taymor, and actors Jim Dale and Joel Grey.

Joanna comments: "I'm delighted to be making my Radio 2 presenting debut on a subject so close to my heart. I really adored my time on Broadway and there is nothing so romantic, so evocative and so full of human and theatrical drama as its history. Do join me on my journey down the street of dreams!"

Dear Judy on Tuesday 26 July at 10pm sees Rufus Wainwright and friends celebrate the 50th anniversary of "the greatest night in show business history" – Judy Garland's legendary concert at Carnegie Hall on 23 April 1961.

An ardent fan, Wainwright weaves a beautifully evocative journey, charting the story of the event and its implications for one of the best-loved performers of all time.

Judy lived a famously complicated life. Performing from the age of two, she was catapulted to international fame by The Wizard Of Oz. Life would never be the same again. Every romance, success and stumble – professional and otherwise – was seized upon by the press and it was almost more than Garland could stand. Plagued by self-doubt, she couldn't recognise the talent that was plain for everyone else to see. Join Rufus and friends as they celebrate Judy.

The Radio 2 Arts Show arrives in Scotland on Friday 12 August, broadcasting live from Edinburgh Festival with Penny Smith leading the proceedings, covering Claudia Winkleman's maternity leave until January 2012.

Radio 2 returns to the Cambridge Folk Festival for a two-and-a-half hour special on Wednesday 3 August hosted by Mike Harding and produced by Smooth Operations. Acts performing live include Brit Award winner Laura Marling – who gave a beautiful performance at the Radio 2 Folk Awards in February – Richard Thompson, Rumer and Mary Chapin Carpenter.

There's no better way to kick off Radio 2's Summer of Soul season than with the greatest soul singer of them all. The Queen Of Soul: The Legend Of Aretha Franklin is a new, two-part tribute to the woman whose brilliant talent has helped to define and shape soul music, presented and produced by Paul Sexton of Wise Buddah. Incredibly, it's now 51 years since Aretha's first record was released and, across two nights in August, the series covers her amazing journey from singing in her father's church to performing at President Obama's inauguration. Contributors include Elton John, George Michael, Dionne Warwick, Ben E King, Rumer – who named a song after her on the platinum-selling Seasons Of My Soul album – and present-day R&B stars who have been massively influenced by Aretha such as Jennifer Hudson who took part in the tribute to her at the 2011 Grammys.

Radio 6 Music's Soul And Funk Show DJ Craig Charles presents Way Down South: The Muscle Shoals Story, the story of the Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the birthplace of successive generations of classic American soul and country music. Characterised by its seamless blend of R&B, soul and country, the studio's sound developed by Rick Hall was dependant on a talented roster of musicians. Produced by Henry Lopez Real of BBC Radio 6 Music, the documentary tells the story of both the studio and the band who backed everyone from Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart and Dusty Springfield through to The Rolling Stones, Lulu and The Osmonds.

Where Is the Love – The Story Of Donny Hathaway profiles the Grammy Award-winning musician who was one of the leading lights in soul music during the Seventies. He released four successful albums including duets with Roberta Flack, supported Aretha Franklin on tour, and his song Some Day We'll All Be Free has become a soul standard. Yet his personal life was blighted by mental illness leading to his untimely death aged 33 in New York. The documentary, produced by Sue Clark Productions, documents his troubled life.

The Amazing Mavis Staples sees Ricky Ross, front man of Deacon Blue, in conversation with the soul songstress. Produced by Richard Murdoch in BBC Scotland, Mavis enjoyed early success with Respect Yourself and I'll Take You There with The Staple Singers before establishing herself as a solo artist. Last year Mavis released her 12th studio album, You Are Not Alone, to favourable reviews and her first Grammy Award for Best Americana Album. Mavis will also be performing at the Colne Blues Festival in Lincolnshire from 26-29 August, highlights of which will be played in Paul Jones Rhythm And Blues show in early September.

Marvin Gaye – What's Going On 40th Anniversary sees soul legend Smokey Robinson profile Marvin's seminal album which went on to be ranked No. 6 on Rolling Stone magazine's 500 greatest albums of all time. Made by Ten Alps, it charts the recording of Marvin's 11th album in the mid Seventies, which focussed on the themes of global warming and war which continue to resonate today. It was a concept album written from the point of view of a Vietnam War veteran returning to the country he had been fighting for to find nothing but hatred and injustice.

Marking 110 years since his birth (on 4 August 1901) and 40 years since he died (on 6 July 1971), Made in Manchester present Louis Armstrong: Behind The Music which charts the story of arguably the most celebrated trumpeter of all time. Globally renowned for his flashy trumpet playing and distinctive gravelly voice, Louis set his sights on becoming a musician as a teenager and carved out an illustrious career for himself which spanned over five decades. He continued to thrill audiences all over the world with his music, until 1971 when he passed away at the age of 69 having become a jazz legend of unparalleled proportions

Alongside this, Satchmo By Satchmo: The Louis Armstrong Tapes, is a remarkable documentary told through the audio diaries of the great man himself. Produced and introduced by Paul Sexton of Wise Buddah.

Radio 2 will have a laugh on Bank Holiday Monday 29 August, which will be bursting with star names.

The nation will wake up to comedians Miranda Hart and Jon Holmes as they host the Radio 2 Breakfast Show between 7-9.30am. And between 12noon-2pm, French and Saunders return to the network.

The soul season draws to a close in style as Trevor Nelson and Tony Blackburn host a Summer Soul special on Bank Holiday Monday at 4pm. They debuted together on the network as a part of 2DAY on Wednesday 22 June.

After the show, Trevor commented: "I once went with my mates to Hackney to a Radio London Soul Night Out at the National in Kilburn, and Tony was DJing dressed as Superman. I looked at that codpiece and thought – ‘I'm never going near that man'. Look at us now! Straight after the 2DAY show, our fearless leader offered us a Bank Holiday special. My Bank Holiday is gone – I'm with Blackers!"

Tony Blackburn says: "It's been my lifetime's effort to get more soul played on the radio, and it's fantastic that Trevor and I have been offered another programme."

Later that evening Brian May and Roger Taylor feature in May And Taylor: A Johnnie Walker Special, an in-depth, two-hour programme, in which Johnnie profiles two of world's best-selling musicians.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the Old Grey Whistle Test, Radio 2 has commissioned a 16-part series entitled Old Grey Whistle Test 40 hosted by who else but Bob Harris OBE.

Bob said: "Making this series for Radio 2 is proving to be a heart-warming and exciting experience. It is wonderful to discover the affection so many of the artists still have for the Old Grey Whistle Test – big name stars whose careers the programme supported in their early days. It's a massive re-union, featuring superstars of British and American music. We are re-creating the ethos of the original shows, featuring amazing new performances, interviews and archive in a gloriously musical atmosphere. Whether you remember the original programmes or not, Old Grey Whistle Test 40 is simply a must-listen for all serious music fans."

Launched in 1971, OGWT was the BBC's flagship music programme which ran – to huge critical and audience acclaim – until 1988. It gave the first British exposure to music greats such as Bob Marley, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Steely Dan and Billy Joel.

Starting in August, the programmes will feature classic archive, new performances and interviews with artists who appeared on the original series and will be recorded at the historic Maida Vale studios. Those already confirmed to take part include Elton John, Alice Cooper, Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant, Mark Knopfler, Yusuf Islam, Emmylou Harris, Gregg Allman, Simple Minds and Neil Finn. To be produced by The Whispering Bob Broadcasting Company, each programme will cover one year of OGWT.


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