Entertainment

BBC prepares to broadcast Glastonbury’s biggest event yet

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for British festival-goers: Glastonbury Festival returns this weekend.

Most of the 200,000 crowd – including a large part of the British music industry – are already on site at Worthy Farm but, for those who can’t get a ticket, the BBC is promising wider coverage than ever before.

The company has recorded record viewing figures for Glastonbury 2023, with Sir Elton John attracting 7.6 million viewers for his farewell performance on Sunday night. But the BBC’s head of popular music television, Jonathan Rothery, says he feels no pressure to beat those statistics.

“Record numbers are always good, but as long as we’re entertaining people, that’s good,” says Rothery. Variety. “Glastonbury’s coverage isn’t broken so we don’t need to fix it, and anything we add needs to be in the best interests of the viewer. What I avoid is creep, and things just grow from year to year for the sake of it. »

The BBC’s iPlayer on-demand streaming platform is adding a second channel to Glastonbury this year, which will feature an ongoing series of festival highlights and talking points for more casual audiences, while related coverage Glastonbury – commissioned by BBC Director of Music Lorna Clarke, with television coverage produced by BBC Studios Music Productions, began on 3 June and runs across TV, iPlayer, radio and BBC Sounds until 14 July. And, for the first time, two headline performances (Dua Lipa on Friday and Coldplay on Saturday) will be broadcast live around the world on BBC.com.

SZA completes the headlining line-up and Glastonbury TV presenter Clara Amfo says she is pleased to see two female headliners after last year’s controversy over almost all-male headliners (Guns N’ Roses keyboardist Melissa Reese being the exception).

“Seeing someone like Dua headlining on Friday is really exciting,” says Amfo Variety. “Ten years ago, or maybe a little longer, there were definitely people who would have pooh-poohed the idea of ​​a pop star having the gravitas and appeal to fill that spot. There’s still this banal conversation that ‘real music’ is just four guys with guitars, and what constitutes a great headliner is much more complex than that. I’m delighted that there are a lot of women in the line-up.”

This year the festival will face tough competition for attention with the Euro 2024 football tournament and a chaotic general election campaign entering its final week.

“If linear broadcasting needs to adapt to some big news event or football match, we can always have our eyes glued to iPlayer,” says Rothery. “It gives me peace of mind knowing that the user experience is great and you can watch what you want, when you want.”

Meanwhile, Amfo says with big viewing figures comes big responsibility as she and her fellow presenters – including Lauren Laverne, Jo Whiley and Jack Saunders – guide the nation through the festival.

“Our thing is never, ‘Na-na-na-na-na, we’re here and you’re not,’” she says. “I do not like it. It’s impossible for everyone to go, so it’s our job to say, “We’re excited to be here, we know how lucky we are, so let’s share this excitement with you and give back.” as interactive as possible. »

“Glastonbury is now this cultural moment,” Rothery adds. “It’s not like a drama or social media content that you can leave alone or wait for word of mouth; it’s there and it’s immediate, and that’s why so many people are watching. It’s the Wimbledon (tennis tournament) of music and long may it continue.”

Aside from Glastonbury, Rothery and Amfo are doing their part to get more music on TV.

Amfo recently left her hugely influential show ‘Future Sounds’ on BBC Radio 1, but she still features on the station, including in its recent Dua Lipa special. But she also appeared on ITV’s BRIT Awards coverage (declaring she would love to return in 2025 if asked) and the channel’s Studio Sessions, a live performance and discussion show featuring Jess Glynne and Yungblud in its first season.

“We got the numbers back and they look good,” says Amfo. “I’m as addicted to TikTok as the next person, but there’s something to be said by watching your favorite singer perform a few songs and dig a little deeper into their real opinions. More TV performances! »

Since returning to the BBC from Channel 4 two years ago, Rothery has overseen more television content, including documentaries and BBC2 theme nights, as well as viewing radio franchises and events such as Radio 1’s Big Weekend and Radio 2 In Concert.

“Music TV has been on this circular journey,” he says. “It’s a genre that punches above its weight, whether in the realm of live events like Glastonbury or in the realm of documents. There is a real desire at the BBC to place music and do it well. »

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Meanwhile, one of the biggest live events of last summer in the UK is coming to the big screen.

“Blur: To the End,” a stunning new documentary chronicling the band’s album and 2023 reunion tour, culminating in two headline shows at London’s Wembley Stadium, will be released in UK cinemas on July 19, with a US release to follow. A full concert film, “Blur: Live at Wembley Stadium,” has also been made and will be released on September 6.

Both films were directed by Toby Langley, better known as Toby L, who is also the co-founder of independent label Transgressive Records. Transgressive has previously released non-Blur projects from the band’s frontman (Damon Albarn) and guitarist (Graham Coxon), and L has also directed music-related films such as “Liam Gallagher: Knebworth ’22” and “Olivia Rodrigo: Sour Prom.”

The director says it was important that the Blur documentary showed the true story of the band’s reunion.

“There are too many staged documentaries,” he says. “I’m not a fan of glossy documentaries, because is it real life or not? If it’s not, just make a hyper-real, fictionalized version of your life, don’t pretend it’s a documentary, it’s something different. Luckily, Blur has a certain disposition towards honesty and truth, and they say, ‘Yeah, we want this to be really real.’”

The end result is both hilarious and surprisingly moving, as the Britpop band overcome initial tensions to rediscover the spark and connection that made them one of Britain’s biggest bands in the ’90s.

“When I first saw them in a room together, it was like ‘Avengers Assemble,’” says L, whose first concert as a kid was Blur at Wembley Arena. “These four superheroes with completely different personalities and talents who emerge and become this unit, and then retreat back into their own world.”

The band’s comeback album, ‘The Ballad of Darren’, reached number one in the UK last year but, despite the success of the record and the tour, it’s unclear whether the band will continue – and the documentary deliberately leaves things open-ended.

“Does it matter?” “, asks L. “These moments are eternal, because we can talk about them and watch them again and again. Ultimately, group members have their own opinions on whether or not the group should continue, and that is up to them to determine. But personally, I appreciate the ambiguity. »

L says he would love to work with Rodrigo again (“She’s the real deal, the complete package”), but intends to focus on “the day-to-day work” in 20th anniversary year. A series of special releases, concerts and events will celebrate this milestone, starting with Glastonbury Festival this weekend and including a party in New York at The Knitting Factory on September 24.

“We’ve survived Creation Records now and it’s crazy,” says L, who runs the label with his colleagues Tim Dellow and Lilas Bourboulon. “I feel very lucky and motivated to keep going because the industry has gone crazy again and no one has any answers. When we’re the underdog or when things are tough, that’s when we make the most sense as a company.”

“If you’re in it for the right reasons, as an artist and as a record label, there’s always a way out, you just have to fight a little harder,” he adds. . “With the independents, it’s always been like that. I’ve never had a month where I sat down and said, “Everything’s okay.” I always worried about the next meal, and that’s okay. »

The label, which also has publishing and management divisions, has released highly acclaimed artists like Arlo Parks, the Mystery Jets and Sophie over the years and sold a minority stake to Firebird Music Holdings in 2022. But L says the team has no plans to sell or pack up their stuff anytime soon.

“We will continue as long as everyone involved wants us to: the artists who want to work with us, the team behind the scenes and the audience who listen to the music,” he says. “We can be the biggest independent music company on the planet. I’m not saying this selfishly, it’s just based on the knowledge we have, the relationships we’ve invested time, love and passion into, and our ethical approach. »

“That’s why Transgressive has survived,” he adds. “Because, apart from the business models and the industry bullshit, it’s always been a pure entity.”

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Legendary publicist Alan Edwards has seen a lot during his 50-year career in the music industry which has seen him represent artists like David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Prince, Blondie, the Spice Girls, the Sex Pistols ,Amy…

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News Source : variety.com

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