BBC to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

On June 1, 1967, The Beatles released their seminal 8th studio album, Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. As the 50th anniversary approaches, the BBC will celebrate with programmes across TV and radio.

BBC Two will present Sgt.Pepper’s Musical Revolution, written and presented by Howard Goodall, the EMMY, BRIT and BAFTA award winning composer, best known to TV fans for his work on The Vicar of Dibley, Red Dwarf and Blackadder.

The documentary – set against a backdrop of visually stunning effects capturing the psychedelic world in which the album was created – will feature archived clips never before seen outside of Abbey Road, including studio chats, outtakes and snippets of alternative takes on classic songs from the album, which includes When I’m Sixty Four, With A Little Help From My Friends and of course, the anthemic title track.

The Beatles, in 1967. From left, are: Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney; and George Harrison.(AP Photo/ho)
The Beatles, in 1967. From left, are: Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney; and George Harrison.(AP Photo/ho)

With unprecedented access to The Beatles own archive, the programme will help assess the phenomenon of Sgt.Pepper, giving an insider’s view into the making of this cultural landmark of an album, considered by music lovers and industry insiders to be one of the greatest records ever made.

Goodall says: “Whatever music you like to listen to, if it was written after 1 June 1967 then more likely than not it will have been influenced, one way or another, by Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The record’s sheer ambition in its conception, composition, arrangements and ground-breaking recording techniques sets it apart from others of the time. It’s a landmark in 20th century music, and I’ve hugely enjoyed exploring the story behind the music.”

On BBC Radio 2, actor and Beatles fan, Martin Freeman, will present a two part series, Sgt.Pepper Forever, revealing the revolutionary studio techniques used to create the album during extraordinary studio sessions between November 1966 to April 1967. The programmes will air on May 24 & 31.

Martin Freeman is pleased to host a tribute to Sgt.Pepper
Martin Freeman is pleased to host a tribute to Sgt.Pepper

Martin Freeman says: “Sgt. Pepper is the most celebrated album by my favourite band. These documentaries will shed light on how The Beatles, with George Martin, created a piece of work that marked a watershed for what a long playing record could be. It’s my absolute pleasure to help tell you about it.”

Also on Radio 2, Paul Merton on The Beatles is a four-part series, which will air weekly from Monday 29 May. Across the four programmes, Paul will take a sideways look at the individual Beatles and attempt to answer the “What if” question – in his world, they didn’t break up at the end of the sixties.

Merton says: “I’ve had great fun selecting tracks from John, Paul, George and Ringo’s solo careers to firstly create a magical live ‘Beatles’ concert, and secondly a new ‘Beatles’ double album. I am immensely looking forward to sharing my choices with the Radio 2 listeners.”

Radio 4 Extra and 6 Music will also present a quirky and imaginative programme of tributes, delving into everything from the iconic album artwork to brand new interviews with members of The Lonely Hearts Club Band featured on the cover.

Image Credit: The Beatles (Top)

Image Credit: Roger (Middle)

Image Credit: Martin Freeman

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