Petroc Trelawny is our host for this year’s traditional start to the year with musical highlights from the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna.
This year’s concert is led for the first time by celebrated Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons, guiding the Vienna Philharmonic in an array of polkas, waltzes and gallops by the Strauss family and their contemporaries.
As always, the concert will end with the ever-popular By the Beautiful Blue Danube and the foot-stamping Radetzky March.
The concert is broadcast to some 50 million viewers in over 90 countries.
Spy thriller in which intelligence agent Harry Palmer is plunged into the shabby and treacherous world of counter-espionage as he uncovers a bizarre brain drain among scientists. Based on the novel by Len Deighton.
A look at the life of acting legend Michael Caine, using rarely seen television interviews and classic archive clips to tell the story of one Britain's most successful actors. Narrated by Sylvia Syms.
Goldsmith Alberto Larussa appears to have committed suicide by turning his wheelchair into an electric chair. But Inspector Montalbano discovers that the dead man's will, which leaves everything to his brother Giacomo, was forged. Giacomo is arrested, but he maintains that he did not kill Alberto. Meanwhile, Deputy Inspector Mimi' Augello is working on the case of a mysteriously-murdered electrician.
The first episode takes us back to 1920s America, where the growth of radio had shattered record sales. Record companies travelled rural America and recorded the music of ordinary people for the first time. The poor and oppressed were given a voice as their recordings spread from state to state.
The film introduces the early recordings of The Carter Family, the founders of modern country music, steeped in the traditions of their isolated Appalachian community. It also features Will Shade and the Memphis Jug Band, whose music told the story of street life in Memphis, and laid the foundations for modern-day rap and R'n'B.
Robert Redford narrates this meticulously researched story of a cultural revolution that changed the world.
THURSDAY 02 JANUARY 2020
THU 19:00 The Sound of Music (b007bgf8)
Classic film version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical. Irrepressible Maria begins to doubt her vocation and leaves her convent to become governess to the seven children of Captain von Trapp, a widower and retired naval officer. She soon turns the captain's orderly life upside down and instils a love of music in the children. Then the Third Reich annexes Austria...
THU 21:45 Talking Pictures (b04w7vyq)
A retrospective look at television appearances made over the years by Mary Poppins and Sound of Music star Julie Andrews, with interviews from the archive and classic clips capturing the milestones and highlights of her life and career. Narrated by Sylvia Syms.
THU 22:30 Inspector Montalbano (b00g6hqn)
As the small town of Vigata prepares for its New Year celebrations, local police inspector Salvo Montalbano is reluctantly making arrangements to travel to Paris with his girlfriend. What he would much rather do, however, is accept a dinner invitation by his cleaner Adelina, who has promised to cook rice croquettes.
A wealthy husband and wife are found dead in what appears to be a car accident, but which quickly turns into a murder investigation. As the circumstances surrounding the death of the couple grow more and more mysterious, clues point to the involvement of Adelina's son Pasquale.
In Italian with English subtitles.
THU 00:05 Jonas Kaufmann: Tenor for the Ages (b099tpby)
The German tenor Jonas Kaufmann is one of the hottest properties in the opera world. He captivates audiences with the power, emotion and beauty of his singing, the intelligence of his acting, his matinee-idol delivery, and his extraordinary range - from the heroic stage roles in Wagner to the intimate songs of Schubert on the concert platform.
For this documentary for the BBC's Opera Season, the film-maker John Bridcut has been given unique and often surprising access to Kaufmann across the last two years, observing him in rehearsal, backstage during performances, and in his off-duty moments. It is by far the most intimate and extensive portrait yet made of Kaufmann, now at the peak of his career. He was filmed behind the scenes at the Last Night of the Proms, when he was the first German to sing Rule, Britannia. His schedule was later interrupted for five months because of a vocal injury, but recently he made a triumphant return, notably in the production of Verdi's late opera, Otello, at Covent Garden.
Kaufmann is filmed working with the Royal Opera's music director, Sir Antonio Pappano, and the stage director, Keith Warner - and is involved in every aspect of the preparations. He talks freely about his earlier cancellations, about what keeps him going during a run of performances, and about the problems of being a star.
John Bridcut has previously made documentary portraits of Herbert von Karajan, Rudolf Nureyev, Mstislav Rostropovich and Sir Colin Davis (which was named Best Arts Documentary at the Grierson Awards). His clutch of composer-portraits began with the award-winning Britten's Children and continued with films on Elgar, Delius, Parry and Vaughan Williams. Last year he made the BBC One documentary for the Queen's 90th birthday, Elizabeth at 90 - A Family Tribute.
THU 01:35 Daredevils and Divas: A Night at the Circus (m0001jfn)
2018 marks the 250th anniversary of cavalryman Philip Astley’s very first circus, a spectacular horse show on the banks of the River Thames.
Legendary showman Astley’s signature 42-foot circus ring was the perfect size to perform tricks on galloping horses - and it was this innovation that heralded the birth of the modern circus. The circus ring remains the same size to this day.
To celebrate the 250th birthday of modern circus, this film showcases the very best of British circus through a series of lavishly filmed, spectacular live performances, presenting the art form on television as it’s seldom been seen before.
The stunning cast of performers is drawn from circuses across the UK, ranging from the timeless world of traditional circus Zippos to the next generation of contemporary circus students, who are pushing the art form in new directions at the National Centre for Circus Arts.
Other performers include Britain’s only fully inclusive circus, Extraordinary Bodies, the world-famous Gandini Jugglers, Tweedy the Clown of Giffords Circus, Britain’s biggest contemporary circus NoFit State, and two intrepid tightrope walkers from acclaimed circus company Cirque Bijou, attempting the first ever high-wire crossing of the River Wear in Sunderland to the delight of thousands of people lining the banks.
The film also features interviews with the circus performers and intimate behind-the-scenes footage, taking viewers beyond the spectacle to bring this fascinating, almost mythical world to life.
Daredevils and Divas: A Night at the Circus is hosted by the charismatic compere Doug Francisco of the cult circus troupe The Invisible Circus. Doug guides the viewer through the performances with a series of dynamic links, shot in the historic Hippodrome Circus ring in Great Yarmouth.
Daredevils and Divas: A Night at the Circus is a BBC Studios Production for BBC Four. It is produced and directed by Matt David. The Executive Producer for BBC Studios is Phil Dolling. It was commissioned for the BBC by Lamia Dabboussy.
THU 02:35 Searching for Sam: Adrian Dunbar on Samuel Beckett (m000crfc)
[Repeat of broadcast at 22:00 on Monday
FRIDAY 03 JANUARY 2020
FRI 19:00 A Hard Day's Night (b0074q9m)
Anarchic and offbeat 1960s story of 36 hours in the lives of The Beatles, as they travel to a TV show in London. The film uses a variety of cinematographic styles including documentary, surrealism and neorealism to create one of the milestone pictures of the decade.
FRI 20:30 Top of the Pops (m000crqz)
Big Hits 1989
As the 80s come to a close, the Top of the Pops vaults open once more to offer up the movers, shakers and chart toppers of 1989.
This compilation looks back at performances by established megastars Tina Turner and Phil Collins, all-conquering funki dreds Soul II Soul, dance queen Paula Abdul, northern soul girl Lisa Stansfield and wry vocal group The Beautiful South.
Madchester favourites Stone Roses and Happy Mondays also put in an appearance along with Stock Aitken and Waterman stalwarts Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Sonia, not forgetting Sydney Youngblood, Mike and The Mechanics, Rebel MC and Double Trouble, plus duets from strange bedfellows Marc Almond and Gene Pitney, and Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville.
FRI 21:30 Top of the Pops (m000crqx)
The Story of 1989
As the 80s concluded with Margaret Thatcher’s tenth year in power in contrast to worldwide political change, Top of the Pops provided the perfect barometer of the UK's end-of-decade uncertainty.
Top of the Pops hosted Pete Waterman’s final year of chart domination, courtesy of Jason Donovan, alongside the dawn of Madchester, a fresh front of female artists with attitude and power, an old-school duet between a 60s legend and an 80s icon, funki dreds and, yes, that pesky bunny.
Meanwhile, Radio 1’s old guard were stood down as a team of fresh-faced recruits from children’s television took up the helm of the BBC’s weekly pop warhorse, which remained torn between its sense of heritage and the emerging threat of youth TV.
The stars of the year, including Jason Donovan, Lisa Stansfield, Shaun Ryder, Chris Rea, Marc Almond, Sharleen Spiteri, Jazzie B and more, plus TOTP presenter Jenny Powell, deliver their tales of a poptastic 1989 at Television Centre as they prepare to head into the 1990s.
FRI 22:30 Soft Cell: Say Hello, Wave Goodbye (m0002tc3)
2018 marked the 40th anniversary of Soft Cell, one of the most colourful and charismatic bands in the history of popular music. To celebrate this landmark, singer Marc Almond and musician Dave Ball reunited for an emotional, sold-out, farewell concert at London’s O2 Arena that September.
With unprecedented access to Marc and Dave, this film follows the build-up to that gig and provides an intimate retrospective portrait of one of our greatest bands and most iconic singers. It shows rehearsals and preparations for the O2 show and footage from the actual concert itself, woven in with period archive and music videos.
The film covers Marc’s formative years growing up in Southport and Dave’s in nearby Blackpool and how the two met as art students at Leeds Polytechnic in the late 1970s. We filmed Marc and Dave in The Fenton pub in Leeds, where they went as students, and they perform an early Soft Cell song, A Man Could Get Lost, on Dave’s original keyboards especially for the BBC Four audience at The Warehouse Club where the band did their first-ever paid gig.
Soft Cell burned brightly between 1981 and 1984, after their gritty but stunning cover version of Tainted Love became a massive hit, the best-selling single in the UK of 1981 and a number one hit in 15 other countries, including the USA. Dave plays from the master tapes of that era-defining song for us.
But Soft Cell were always more interested in using their success to subvert the mainstream than in becoming pop stars, as they tell us in relation to Marc’s groundbreaking, androgynous debut on Top of the Pops. It was the beginning of a controversial career that deliberately defied and flouted convention. Soft Cell were influenced as much by punk as by Northern Soul and Kraftwerk, and refused to be pigeonholed by anyone, bringing a punk ethos to synth-pop while busting taboos along the way. In their heyday, even while refusing to compromise on their musical vision, the pair produced numerous top ten singles and three classic albums, selling 10 million records overall.
Soft Cell’s approach was wittier and more sophisticated than the press gave them credit for. Their first album, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, saw them labelled as sleazy and perverted, when in reality it deliberately used the setting of London’s Soho to explore the social and sexual undercurrents of British society at the time. The single Bedsitter laid bare the glamour of escapism from the grim realities of Thatcher’s Britain for many, while the Soft Cell anthem, Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, was actually about a powerful man, perhaps a politician, breaking off an affair with a call-girl. The video for that album’s most controversial track, Sex Dwarf, was inspired by a real headline in the News of the World. It resulted in their management’s offices being raided by the Vice Squad and the band being criticised by the very same paper.
Soft Cell’s second album, a deliberately darker work called The Art of Falling Apart, was recorded in New York and we will see how the duo’s immersion into the underground club scene and subculture informed songs such as Heat and the single Numbers, a song that spoke about promiscuity in the gay scene and proved prophetic about the coming AIDS epidemic. Despite the prejudices of the time, it managed to reach number 25 in the UK charts.
But the pressures they felt to produce more commercial music began to take its toll on them and Marc and Dave talk candidly about how they began to drift apart and slip into the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, with both becoming addicted to a variety of drugs. By 1983, before the recording of their album, This Last Night in Sodom, the duo had already decided to go their separate ways as otherwise, as Dave puts it, ‘one of us wasn’t going to make it’.
Even at the height of their addictions and near breakdowns, Soft Cell still produced a classic album with a harder, more industrial electric sound that has been cited as hugely influential by artists such as Marilyn Manson and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.
After their separation in 1984, we see how Marc Almond has gone on to become one of our greatest performers, selling an estimated 20 million records as a solo artist in a huge variety of styles, from mainstream pop to experimental ventures. The film includes sequences with Marc at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, exploring his love of Jacques Brel and French chansons, performing one of the Russian folk songs he loves – a genre in which he recorded two albums of music in the early 2000s - and with Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra with whom he has recorded an album, A Lovely Life to Live, in 2018. We also look at Dave’s solo career with successful dance duo The Grid.
The documentary ends with the duo’s rousing performance of Say Hello, Wave Goodbye at the O2.
FRI 23:30 Smashing Hits! The 80s Pop Map of Britain and Ireland (b0b99nq0)
Two 80s icons explore the distinct sounds that came out of different parts of Britain and Ireland in one of pop's golden decades.
Midge Ure, lead singer of Ultravox and one of the men behind Band Aid, and Kim Appleby, who had a string of hits with her sister Mel in the Stock, Aitken and Waterman-produced band Mel and Kim, go on a journey back in time to the 80s to figure out why certain cities produced their own diverse tunes.
It's a fascinating tale. Emerging from the ashes of punk, British and Irish music ripped up the pop rule book in the 80s and topped the charts worldwide. But there was no definitive 'British' pop sound. Innovative chart-toppers were being produced by artists hailing from all over the UK and Ireland.
In this first episode, Midge Ure and Kim Appleby explore London's new romantic movement, travel to Coventry to investigate the rise of ska and speak to some of Sheffield's electronic music pioneers.
The show features interviews with key figures, like Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet, Marco Pirroni from Adam and the Ants, Pauline Black from The Selecter, Martin Ware and Glenn Gregory from Heaven 17 and 'super-producer' Trevor Horn. But of course the star is the music - and this episode includes some of the best tunes, videos and performances from the early part of this marvellous musical decade.
FRI 00:30 Depeche Mode at the BBC (b08l6sm2)
It's 2017 and synth giants Depeche Mode are back with their 14th studio album Spirit, the band's "timeliest work yet". As the rave reviews fly in, here is a look back at the journey of one of the UK's longest-lasting and most successful bands who emerged from the UK's post-punk scene over three decades ago by featuring clips from various BBC programmes, including Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, Synth Britannia, The OZone, Def II and The Whistle Test.
From their first appearance on Top of the Pops in 1981 and the tales of how they got there, to performing on Later...with Jools Holland in 2009, the programme shares archive testimony and recent interviews from core members Dave Gahan, Vince Clarke, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher. New Life, Just Can't Get Enough, Blasphemous Rumours and Personal Jesus are among some of the classic tracks performed.
FRI 01:30 Top of the Pops (m000crqz)
[Repeat of broadcast at 20:30 today
FRI 02:30 Top of the Pops (m000crqx)
[Repeat of broadcast at 21:30 today