BBC announces George Michael world-exclusive programming

I'm delighted the BBC is broadcasting the Symphonica concert which was recorded at the Opera Garnier in Paris, a stunning setting in which to perform a gig dedicated to a charity that’s so close to my heart. It was a magical night, so I’m thrilled that fans will get the chance to experience it, as well as hearing the behind-the-scenes story on Radio 2."George Michael
Date: 17.03.2014     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.05
Category: BBC One; Radio 2
  • BBC Radio 2 to broadcast two-part documentary ‘Up Close With George Michael’
  • George Michael ‘Symphonica’ concert highlights to be broadcast on BBC One

BBC Radio 2 and BBC One will broadcast world-exclusive programming featuring George Michael, one of the UK’s best-loved musicians, giving the behind-the-scenes story of his critically acclaimed orchestral tour, ‘Symphonica’, as well as the highlights of a special charity performance he gave during the tour.

George gives a rare interview in BBC Radio 2’s ‘Up Close with George Michael’ a two-part documentary which will air on Tuesday 18 and 25 March from 10 to 11pm. The documentary was recorded in October 2011, shortly before George contracted pneumonia, which forced a delay to the tour. Produced by Sue Clark Productions and presented by former Ready Steady Go host Vicki Wickham, George tells the story of the tour and the making of the album, also entitled ‘Symphonica’, which is released this month (March). George talks openly about his prison experience, his drug rehabilitation and how he rewarded himself by going on tour in 2011/2012. The two-part special also includes interviews with his song-writing partner and oldest friend David Austin plus Dawn French, Shirlie Kemp, James Corden and the legendary producer Phil Ramone. The Symphonica album was Ramone’s last project before his death in March 2013, and this documentary contains one of his final interviews.

BBC One in April (exact date tbc) presents highlights from the Symphonica concert recorded on 19 September 2012 at the Opera Garnier, Paris, a charity fundraiser for the French HIV charity Sidaction. The concert, and tour, featured George reinterpreting a selection of his own songs from his near 30-year career, as well as some of his favourite tracks by other artists, backed by a 40-piece orchestra. This particular performance made pop history as George became the first international pop star to perform in the Opera Garnier, a venue renowned for hosting classical music and opera performances.

George Michael says: "I'm delighted the BBC is broadcasting the Symphonica concert, which was recorded at the Opera Garnier in Paris, a stunning setting in which to perform a gig dedicated to a charity that’s so close to my heart. It was a magical night, so I’m thrilled that fans will get the chance to experience it, as well as hearing the behind-the-scenes story on Radio 2.”

Jan Younghusband, BBC Head of Commissioning for Music and Events TV, comments: “George Michael is one of the UK’s most iconic figures in entertainment, which makes it an exciting opportunity for our audiences to hear from him in a rare interview, as well as watch his favourite songs being reworked with a live orchestra via two of the BBC’s most popular channels – BBC One and BBC Radio 2.”

George Michael’s illustrious career began when he and friend Andrew Ridgeley formed Wham! In 1983, their first album, 'Fantastic’, topped the UK charts at number one. The group stayed together for five years and secured four number one singles and two number one albums, signing off in style with ‘The Final’ concert at Wembley Stadium in 1986. Since the break-up of Wham! George has enjoyed a hugely successful career as a solo artist, his debut album 'Faith' (1987) - and the single of the same name – gained instant and international success and the album has since been certified Diamond. Over the last four decades George has achieved eight number-one albums and 13 number-one singles in the UK and has sold millions of records worldwide. George has also won numerous music awards including three Brit Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, four Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards, and two Grammy Awards.

KA