Pete Tong and James Morrison lead BBC Radio 2's Spring Highlights.
BBC Radio 2, the UK’s most listened to radio station with a weekly audience of 14.9m, has announced highlights for Spring 2019.
BBC Radio 2 is turning the volume up to 11 and extending The Rock Show with Johnnie Walker from a series to a year-round programme. Produced by Wisebuddah, Johnnie’s show will now bring the best in rock music to listeners on Saturday nights from 8-9pm throughout the year.
Helen Thomas, Head of Content Commissioning, Radio 2, says: “We have been looking at ways to have a regular rock show for years. Now, with the recent schedule changes on the network, I’m very glad to say we are able to give fans a year-round Saturday night Rockfest."
Johnnie Walker says: “I am so pleased that the enthusiasm and loyalty of rock music fans has been rewarded with a weekly show, running all year. I am delighted to be able to play the music that we all love every Saturday evening - from the new bands to the classics from the past decades.”
Jeff Smith, Head of Music, Radio 2 and 6 Music, says: “Radio 2’s specialist music output is hugely popular, providing individual shows dedicated to blues, soul, dance, folk, jazz, big band, swing, country music and show tunes. I’m delighted that we can now add rock to this list.”
Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night specials this spring will include the broadcast of a unique performance by Michael Bolton at the London Palladium. Friday Night Is Music Night: Michael Bolton will be broadcast on Radio 2 on 22 March and will feature Michael singing new versions of beloved classics such as Said I Loved You But I Lied, Time Love And Tenderness and When A Man Loves A Woman, backed by the BBC Concert Orchestra.
On 29 March, also for Friday Night is Music Night, American actor, producer, singer, songwriter and Broadway star Tony Vincent will celebrate the music of David Bowie. Together with the BBC Concert Orchestra and full rock band under conductor Brent Havens, he will perform iconic favourites from Bowie’s huge catalogue of hits, including Life On Mars, Let’s Dance and Heroes.
As Radio 2 visits Cheltenham for the annual Jazz Festival, John Sessions presents Friday Night is Music Night: The Song Of Soho - a celebration of London's Soho - on 3 May. The programme will feature guest singers Georgie Fame, who sang the number one hits Yeh Yeh, Get Away and The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde in the 1960s; Strictly Come Dancing vocalist Tommy Blaize; and current lead singer of Incognito, Vanessa Haynes. All singers will be accompanied by Guy Barker and the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Jo Whiley will also broadcast from Cheltenham Jazz Festival on 2 May. For one night only she will swap slots with Bob Harris. The Country Show with Bob Harris will be broadcast from 7-8pm that night and Jo will be live from Cheltenham between 8-10pm. Her show will feature a live concert from James Morrison from 8.30pm.
Jo says: “Broadcasting live from Cheltenham will be my first outside broadcast in a long time, so I can’t wait to get out and about at the festival and see some new acts, which I hope to bring back to Wogan House and play on my show.”
On Friday 17 May (9.30am-12pm) Ken Bruce will broadcast live from Tel Aviv, Israel, as acts from 42 different countries prepare to take part in the 64th Eurovision Song Contest. Ken will speak to Michael Rice - the UK's entry to this year's competition with his song Bigger Than Us and, alongside broadcaster, journalist and self-confessed Eurovision fan Paddy O'Connell, will discuss some of the songs that are tipped to score big points in the final.
On Saturday 18 May from 8pm, Ken will once again bring listeners every country’s live performance from the Eurovision Final as he broadcasts from Expo, Tel Aviv. Paddy will join Ken to share the latest news from backstage and his predictions for the big winners of the night.
Graham will host his Saturday show live in Tel Aviv on 18 May (10am-1pm) with UK entrant Michael Rice. Plus, he’ll chat to his guests back in London, and there’ll be Grill Graham with Maria McErlane
Graham says: “I can’t wait to return once again to the pop extravaganza that is Eurovision. I’ll be broadcasting my show live from Tel Aviv, bringing all the gossip, glitz and glamour from the Song Contest to the listeners back home. As it’s my tenth year at Eurovision, I’ll be taking a trip down memory lane to reminisce about all the fantastic hits and spectacular misses from the last decade.”
Ken says: “It warms the cockles of my heart to return to the shoebox that is my commentary spot at Eurovision. I’m looking forward to getting together once again with my fellow presenters from across the continent and of course watching the spectacular live performances.”
In June, Pete Tong will explore his personal love of house music through a four-part series for Radio 2, Pete Tong’s House Nation, produced by Folded Wing. From the early sounds that emerged from Chicago, Pete will take listeners back to their clubbing days of the 1980s and 90s with the iconic tracks that kept them on the dance floor. He’ll also hear from the DJs, producers and writers who helped spawn a new culture and wave of music.
Pete says: “I’m looking forward to presenting this new four-part series, House Nation, which gives me an opportunity to take a deeper dive into the evolution of dance and electronic music and culture over the past 30 years and hear some insightful and often emotive stories from the artist and DJs that made and played them.”
Radio 2 will visit Broadway in June, as Elaine Paige presents highlights of the 2019 Tony Awards, which take place at New York's Radio City Music Hall. She'll play a whole range of stunning show tunes from the featured musicals never before heard on Elaine Paige On Sunday. Plus, listeners will hear reactions from the winners and their thoughts on being part of triumphant, popular shows. Elaine will also have special interviews with the cast and creatives of the nominated productions.
Elaine says: “I’m thrilled to be returning to New York again this year to cover the world’s most prestigious theatre awards, The Tonys. It’s fantastic to be able to give listeners of BBC Radio 2 highlights, interviews and news from the night, and give them insight into Broadway shows that will make their way to London in the future."
On Friday 14 June, the six winners of BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words will be announced at the live final at Windsor Castle, where their stories will be read out on-air by superstar narrators. There will be three winners announced - Bronze, Silver and Gold - in two different age categories (5-9 and 10-13 years). The Gold winners will receive Chris Evans’ (creator of the competition and chair of the Judges’ Panel) height in books and will be invited to visit a CBBC production, and each of their schools will be sent 500 books for their library. The Silver winners receive HRH The Duchess of Cornwall’s height in books, and the Bronze winners receive their own height in books.
This year, there is an additional prize: six well-known illustrators - Helen Oxenbury, Tony Ross, Susan Varley, Jarvis, David Roberts and Briony May Smith - will each illustrate one of the winning stories. The winners and writers of the top 50 shortlisted stories will attend a reception in the castle’s historic state rooms, which have played host to state occasions, wedding receptions and other official events for centuries. Additionally, a limited number of entrants will also be selected at random to come to the final.