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Last on

Tue 10 Nov 2009 22:30 BBC Radio 2

1 hour
First broadcast:
Tuesday 10 November 2009

As Radio 2 continues to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Richard Herring irreverently intertwines the fall of communism with the rise of David Hasselhoff.

In 1989, David Hasselhoff was between jobs. Knight Rider had been cancelled a few years earlier; Baywatch had yet to rescue his career, so he decided to become a pop star. And had some success. His single, Looking For Freedom, reached number one in Austria, Switzerland, and West Germany, helped by his bright idea of taking the talking car from Knight Rider on stage with him.

Meanwhile, the wheels of history turned. Communist Hungary removed its travel restrictions with Austria, allowing thousands of East German tourists to escape to Austria and enter West Germany. While weekly protests grew, Hasselhoff's song pumped away relentlessly in the discos of West Berlin. On 9 November 1989 the Wall fell. To ring in the New Year, there was no question as to who would best symbolize a new beginning and freedom - The Hoff. After spending almost two months at number one, David Hasselhoff performed Looking For Freedom live on top of the Berlin Wall in front of hundreds of thousands of Germans - and walked into the history books.

Richard Herring casts an eye back over this extraordinary episode in modern history. He gets into the GDR swing of things by taking a ride in a Trabant and learning the Lipsi Dance, the German Democratic Republic's official answer to rock n' roll. We speak to key figures in the Berlin music scene including the Klaus Renft Combo, who were banned by GDR authorities, and Berliners whose lives were affected by the Wall. And we track down the producer of Looking for Freedom, fans who witnessed Hasselhoff atop the Wall, and of course, The Hoff himself.

  • Richard at the Brandenburg Gate

    Richard at the Brandenburg Gate

  • Jack White, the producer of 'Looking for Freedom'

    Jack White, the producer of 'Looking for Freedom'

  • Richard with a Trabant

    Richard with a Trabant

  • Richard learning the Lipsi dance with Melanie

    Richard learning the Lipsi dance with Melanie


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