The final weekend of June should have seen 200,000 revellers descend on Somerset for the 50th anniversary of the Glastonbury festival. With the event cancelled owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the BBC has announced extensive broadcast plans celebrating the British music institution from 25-29 June.
David Bowie’s headline set, from the year 2000, will be shown in full for the first time ever as part of the coverage across BBC Two, BBC Four and iPlayer. The coverage will also feature full headline performances from Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Adele and Coldplay.
Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis said: “I’m looking forward to a weekend of reflecting on the history of our festival and going back to some classic performances from David Bowie, Adele, REM, Beyoncé, the Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, Billie Eilish and lots more. Me and my dad will definitely be watching.” Eavis will join Lauren Laverne on the BBC Radio 6 Music morning show on 26 June.
Across three nights on BBC Two from 26-29 June, the BBC will celebrate memorable performances from the broadcaster’s 23-year partnership with the festival, including sets by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, REM, PJ Harvey, Baaba Maal, Amy Winehouse, Blur, Lady Gaga, Dizzee Rascal, Toots and the Maytals, Arctic Monkeys and the Rolling Stones. On the afternoon of Sunday 28 June, just as Diana Ross was due to perform at the festival’s fabled legends slot, BBC Two will dedicate a programme to the venerable artists who have soothed the Sunday teatime crowd.
Acoustic performances will form the basis of the programming on BBC Four, featuring the likes of Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Kano, Leon Bridges, Patti Smith, Richie Havens and Youssou N’Dour. Sixty full festival sets will be available on-demand on iPlayer, including shows by Florence and the Machine, Christine and the Queens, Lana Del Rey, Billie Eilish, Foals, the xx, The Killers, Lewis Capaldi and Radiohead’s historic 1997 headline set, which the group famously described as “a form of hell” thanks to technical difficulties.
A specially commissioned film, The Best of BBC Music Introducing at Glastonbury, will chronicle the major stars who played the festival’s new music stage earlier in their careers, including Sheeran, George Ezra, Nao and Celeste. Julien Temple’s film Glastonbury, celebrating the history of the festival, will be shown on 25 June on BBC Four.
Young viewers can earn a Blue Peter music badge by performing, dancing or creating DIY festivals as part of the historic children’s show programming on 25-26 June.
National and local BBC radio programming will feature extensive coverage of the festival’s history. BBC Radio 1 Xtra will reflect on historic sets by Jay-Z, Stormzy and Dave. BBC Radio Somerset presenter Andy Bennett will broadcast across eight south-westerly radio stations, talking to acts who would have performed this year, regular festival goers, Pilton villagers and the festival’s production team.
Lorna Clarke, the BBC’s pop controller, said: “Glastonbury festival has for decades been a huge moment in the BBC’s music calendar, thanks to Michael and Emily’s magical creation. Even though Worthy Farm can’t be full of thousands of music lovers this year, the BBC will celebrate with four days of memories and archive footage to give our audience a taste of the festival in their own homes.”
Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar were due to headline the 2020 festival. The organisers have not yet announced plans for next year.