It’s one of the most exciting and beloved music festivals in the world, and for five days (nearly) every June, Glastonbury Festival is also one of the biggest TV events of the year.
Since cameras started rolling in 1994, the music gathering — launched in 1971 — has quickly become a small screen institution watched by millions of people who’d never dream of dancing in wellies, shower-dodging, or trying scrumpy cider.
The coverage, which began on Channel 4 but has been provided by the BBC since 1997, has featured the best headliners, starriest names, and some of the most talked about TV moments of recent years.
From Kylie’s triumphant comeback to Jay-Z making history on the Pyramid stage and Stormzy’s politically charged set bringing grime to prime time, Glastonbury has been home to dozens of must-see moments.
For the second year without a festival, the BBC are once again filling the airwaves with a series of highlights from down the years.
Here are some of Glasto’s greatest telly hits.
As the first hip-hop star to headline Glastonbury, the New York star set the tone for an eclectic set by blasting out 'Wonderwall' in response to Noel Gallagher’s vocal criticism that his type of music shouldn’t headline the festival. Jay’s set included Amy Winehouse and The Prodigy covers, as well as a burst of his and Rihanna’s hit 'Umbrella'.
Stevie Wonder and Michael Eavis (2010)
Any music programme featuring Stevie Wonder is always going to be special, but when the soul legend is on hand to mark the festival’s 40th birthday, it’s a real moment to remember.
He also invited festival founder and all round hero Michael Eavis on stage for the Happy Birthday singalong moment, delighting fans in the crowd and on telly.
Dolly Parton (2014)
The Sunday ‘legends’ slot is one of the most popular moments of any festival weekend, but the queen of country took it to new heights in 2014. She drew the biggest crowd of the weekend to belt out all her classics in a rhinestone spangly white suit. And she even found time to pay tribute to British culture with a rendition of the Benny Hill theme tune on saxophone.
She sings like a diva but chats like a cabbie. Adele’s triumphant headline set was memorable for shifting from show-stopping tunes to impromptu chats. She’d talk to the audience on the main stage and then get up close and personal for teary natters with front row fans on a smaller podium, creating some of the best TV in years.
Breast cancer robbed Kylie Minogue of her eagerly awaited Glasto moment in 2005, but 14 years later she enjoyed the highest rated festival TV appearance ever when she headlined the Pyramid main stage. Chris Martin and long-time collaborator Nick Cave made scream-out-loud guest appearances.
Wearing a union jack emblazoned stab proof vest, grime legend Stormzy wowed the mainstream audience with a blistering set full of passionate political messaging and amazing, unforgettable, tunes, winning headlines and new fans in the headlines.
Dave/Alex Mann (2019)
One of the most viral and aspirational moments ever saw teenage music fan Alex Mann live out his wildest dreams when he was plucked from the crowd.
Singer Dave is renowned for asking for crowd help for his song Thiago Silva, and when he looked to the audience, called on 15-year-old Alex, sporting a PSG strip with Silva’s name.
The real magic happened when he got up there and delivered a word perfect rendition to massive cheers, and endless retweets.
For a second year, BBC Music brings the magic of Worthy Farm to viewers and listeners, with a musical extravaganza, The Glastonbury Experience 2021 a celebration of Glastonbury Festival across BBC television, BBC iPlayer, BBC radio and BBC Sounds, from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 June.
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