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Mad About Elvis

Documentary looking at Porthcawl Elvis Festival, the largest Elvis festival in the world, and exploring why the lure of Elvis is still so intoxicating 40 years on from his death.

Mad About Elvis is part of BBC Wales's contribution to the BBC's Our Lives strand. Elvis is alive and well and partying hard in Porthcawl, South Wales. He may have died in August 1977 but, every September, this small seaside resort is invaded by Elvises of all shapes, sizes, and talents - and his disciples. Attracting 35,000 visitors, the majority in costume, the Porthcawl Elvis Festival is the biggest Elvis festival in the world!

'It's like an annual portal to a lateral universe,' says festival organiser Peter Phillips, 'And it's a universe that's probably quite fun to live in actually.'

Fast becoming a Welsh institution, it's a festival like no other - but not for the reasons that at first seems obvious. In this colourful film we meet the people who like to lose themselves as Elvis, or who like to lose themselves through watching make-believe Elvises, and we explore why the lure of Elvis is still so intoxicating 40 years on from his death.

Amongst the rocking relics, revellers and devotees that pack the promenade, pubs and seafront pavilion, we meet festival opener Darren Graceland Jones, a full-time Elvis tribute artist whose bread and butter is performing as Elvis to dementia sufferers in care homes. He reveals the release that taking on the Elvis persona gives him in living with his own mental health issues.

We meet Becky Davis, the eternal party animal who sees the festival as her respite from being the full-time carer of her severely disabled son.

Merthyr's own Juan Lozano, a festival favourite, is 'the godfather of Elvis tributes.' He talks about the beguiling bubble afforded by wearing the mask of Elvis.

Gordon Davis made his festival debut in 2009 and, despite his English-sounding name, comes from Malta. The fans' favourite, and star of the all-new Classic Elvis Orchestra Show premiering at the 2017 festival, he confesses that he doesn't even listen to Elvis at home and to him it's his job.

Bringing them all together is charismatic festival organiser Peter Phillips, on the face of it masterminding a festival to pull in the crowds, who recognises the social need that the festival fulfils in providing a sense of belonging to those 'outside of the box' who find acceptance, friendship and inclusivity within.

30 minutes

Last on

Fri 28 Sep 2018 19:30

Music Played

  • Elvis Presley

    Walk A Mile In My Shoes

  • Elvis Presley

    An American Trilogy

Credits

Role Contributor
Narrator Ruth Jones
Producer Matt Lingard
Director Robin Toyne
Executive Producer Christina Macaulay
Editor John Wabe

Broadcasts

  • Wed 20 Jun 2018 19:30
  • Tue 10 Jul 2018 08:45
  • Fri 28 Sep 2018 19:30