BBC Radio 2 will celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Abbey Road album with Radio 2 Beatles, a four-day pop-up DAB radio station. It will feature programmes fronted by Gary Barlow, John Bishop, Martin Freeman, Guy Garvey, Dave Grohl, Giles Martin, Cerys Matthews, Paul Merton and many more hosting shows along with Radio 2 presenters including Zoe Ball, Sara Cox and Jo Whiley, and other huge fans of the Fab Four.
Broadcasting from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 September from London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios, the station will honour John, Paul, George and Ringo as a group, as individual artists, and as songwriters. All the live shows on Radio 2 Beatles will come direct from Abbey Road – with some also simulcast on Radio 2 and BBC Sounds – and broadcast alongside pre-recorded specials and classic Beatles content from the unique BBC archive.
All programmes featured on Radio 2 Beatles will be available to listen to on BBC Sounds for 30 days after broadcast.
Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2 says:
“The Beatles are woven into the fabric of UK culture. They inspired and continue to inspire artists of all generations and created some of the world’s most loved music. As their seminal album Abbey Road is 50 years old, I am delighted that Radio 2 is celebrating the Fab Four with a four-day pop-up DAB radio station.”
Programme highlights include We Write The Songs, where Gary Barlow interviews Paul McCartney; series My Beatles, with Dave Grohl, Jack Savoretti and Tom Odell talking about the influence the Fab Four’s music had on them, and I Was There, in which the likes of Tony Blackburn and radio critic Gillian Reynolds talk about what it was really like being part of the swinging Sixties; whilst Martin Freeman presents the story of The White Album across two shows.
Lauren Laverne presents Desert Island Beatles, featuring the many guests who’ve selected one of their group or solo records, plus Liza Tarbuck meets pop-artist and Sgt. Pepper sleeve designer Sir Peter Blake, while Jimmy Tarbuck hosts an hour of novelty versions of hit Beatles songs.
Simulcast on Radio 2 and BBC Sounds, and broadcasting live from Abbey Road studios on Thursday morning, Radio 2 Beatles will be launched by Ken Bruce and later that day, Jo Whiley will present her Radio 2 evening show live from Abbey Road with live performances and very special guests. On the Friday, the day kicks off with The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show, with a special Friends Round Friday including music from Rick Astley.
Later that day, Sara Cox presents a Beatles All Request Friday, and that evening Friday Night Is Music Night presents The Beatles Orchestrated, hosted by Guy Garvey. On the Saturday morning Dermot O’Leary presents his show live from Abbey Road, followed by an extra hour exclusive to the pop-up, where Dermot speaks to Richard Curtis about his film Yesterday.
Other shows exclusive to Radio 2 Beatles include Grace Dent presenting Hip to the Trip focusing on free love, fashion and The Fab Four, while Nicky Campbell discusses the role played by the band’s producer Sir George Martin, with his son Giles. Actor Himesh Patel tells the incredible story behind Abbey Road and songwriter Guy Chambers looks at the genius of their lyrics and melody.
Craig Charles uncovers some of the BBC’s incredible archive audio, and Paul Merton takes to the imaginary stage to introduce The Beatles Fantasy Concert. Scott Mills takes us on an alphabetical trip through the Beatles back catalogue, Paul Gambaccini tells the musical story from the other side of the Atlantic, and Tris Penna charts each of the Fab Four’s individual music careers and most memorable albums.
Radio 2 Beatles has also commissioned a special chart from the Official Charts Company – The Beatles Downloaded: Official UK Top 60, will be revealed across the Saturday and Sunday afternoons with Janice Long and Greg James counting down the most downloaded and streamed Beatles songs in the UK. Plus Steve Wright presents a special Beatles Love Songs, Trevor Nelson playing classic soul Beatles’ covers in Rubber Soul, Alice Levine explores the Fab Four’s various musical pairings, and Country Covers with Ben Earle, from The Shires, features Fab Four tracks covered by country artists.
From the BBC archive Radio 2 Beatles will be broadcasting When John Met Paul with Bob Harris, Radio 4’s Mastertapes with Paul McCartney, and Sgt. Pepper Recreated, recorded in 2007 and featuring performances from Oasis, Bryan Adams, and Kaiser Chiefs.
Radio 2 Beatles follows other successful pop up DAB’s from the station, including Radio 2 Eurovision (2014 and 2015) and Radio 2 Country (2015, 2016 and 2017).