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Newsworthy Farm: BBC News at Glastonbury

Floods, mud, drugs and gentrification - the BBC reports literally from the field

Glastonbury, it seems, is seldom out of the news. Last year, we had the controversial Kanye booking, the petition to ban him, poor old Dave Grohl breaking his leg and cancelling the Foo Fighters headline slot, then Florence + The Machine getting the nod to climb one place further up the bill - and that was all before the festival even started.

It's been quieter in the run up to the 2016 festival, but we've nonetheless had news of tickets selling out in 30 minutes, regular updates on who will be headlining and opening, and an announcement of plans to honour Bowie and Prince.

In years and decades gone by, Glastonbury wasn't dissected in such forensic detail, but there was always much to discuss, as these BBC News reports stretching all the way back to the very early days of the festival prove:

1971 - John Craven investigates drug use at the second-ever festival

Anyone who grew up in the 70s or 80s will know John Craven from Newsround. Here he is in 1971 at the second Glastonbury working out whether drugs are a problem at the festival. "Really, it's only natural that when you get together 8,000 people who don't really believe in the established way, some of them will get high on drugs," he says, matter-of-factly.

But neither Craven, nor the local police or Red Cross, think there's much of a problem. If anything, they seem more concerned about "girls with retention illness caused simply because they didn't want to use the lavatories on the site".

1981 - Glastonbury gets political, and Eavis responds to criticisms from local folk

"This is the first year the festival has officially had a political motive, and that motive is disarmament," begins this 1981 report, before Catholic priest Bruce Kent, Secretary General of CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) says that support for protest group is "out of control, administratively".

Meanwhile, Michael Eavis bats off accusations that the villagers are getting restless about the festival taking place in Glastonbury:

1984 - Fela Kuti performs at Glastonbury

Having an indie pop act, The Smiths, headline in 1984 caused a Kanye-sized hoo-hah, but the booking wasn’t nearly as revolutionary as signing up Afrobeat originator Fela Kuti and his 20-piece band to also play at the festival that year. In this BBC News report, he’s called “one of the most popular controversial musicians to come out of Africa”, who has been “an outspoken critic of successive Nigerian governments - civilian and military”.

1986 - Michael Eavis goes to court to remove hippies from Worthy Farm

Hippies on the 9 O’Clock News! And all because they arrived at Worthy Farm too early. For insurance reasons, Michael Eavis needed them gone, as John Humphrys reports: “The farmer who is holding a pop festival near Glastonbury next week won a high court injunction against nearly 100 hippies camped on his land."

But Eavis let them stay till the next morning.

1987 - Drugs again, as 90 punters are arrested

In John Craven’s 1971 report, the police simply kept an eye on drug use at Glastonbury. In 1987, they pounced, arresting 90 festival-goers. “Police say they seized a variety of drugs including cocaine and LSD,” Philip Hayton reports.

In other, less dramatic news, Hayton also says that the local bobbies “have had to tow away cars to prevent traffic chaos”.

1994 - Glastonbury becomes gentrified, and the Pyramid Stage burns down

You know how everyone goes on about how middle-class Glastonbury has become in recent years? Here’s a report from 1994 on it turning into "the Ascot of festivals". An on-site newspaper vendor is interviewed. “The Guardian and the Independent are our biggest sellers at all the festivals we do - the heavy papers are a lot more popular now,” he says.

Then, also in 1994, an unimaginable disaster:

2005 - Behold, floods of biblical proportions

"The site's underwater after being battered with heavy rain," starts this Newsbeat report in 2005 - one of the worst years ever for weather. Bands due to perform on the the Pyramid Stage were pushed back or cancelled for fear they'd be struck by lightning and, as entertainment reporter Kev Geoghegan says, "I've seen people’s tents literally floating down the road."

But the punters remained defiant, refusing to go home.

2008 - Jay Z headlines, and the festival doesn't sell out

It seems almost unimaginable today, but in 2008 Glastonbury didn't sell out. On the day the festival opens, Jon Kay speaks to Michael Eavis, who says he's lost weight worrying about poor sales. Ask what he thinks is to blame he says, "Three years of mud probably, don't you think? Wouldn't it put you off?" But Kay thinks perhaps headliner Jay Z is the reason people have not flocked to Worthy Farm.

In the end, the rain held off and Jay was superb, despite protestations from Noel Gallagher in the run-up to the event. Jay got his revenge by opening up his set with a mocking rendition of Wonderwall.

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