The team at TBI are delighted with the fantastic reaction to our live programme which went out on Saturday 14th April on BBC Radio 2 exactly 100 years after the Titanic disaster in 1912. The show started at 11.35pm just before the iceberg hit and ended at 2.20am when the ship disappeared.
The programme was presented by Jeremy Vine, Dermot O’Leary and Penny Smith, who together with our Titanic experts, took us through minute by minute what was happening to the passengers and crew, the structure of the ship and the musicians who made up the ship’s band. The programme included actors reading the accounts of over 30 eye-witnesses – from First Class aristocracy to steerage passengers and by sticking to the facts the programme presented an authentic idea of what really happened.
Music made up a large part of life onboard the Titanic before and during the night of the 14th of April, and music was also at the heart of our programme. Our very own Titanic orchestra recreated the music that was played on the ship – a mixture of classical pieces, ragtime (the rock ‘n roll of the age) and stirring anthems. Our band also played alongside special musical performances from Billy Bragg (who wrote a song especially for us) Paul Carrack, Hue and Cry, Hal Fowler, Jacqui Dankworth, Charlie Wood and BBC2 Folk Awards winner Bella Hardy.
The original band had a significant, if surreal presence in the sinking of the Titanic. The ship’s band continued to play throughout the night and kept passengers occupied with foxtrots, show songs and extracts from operas such as Madam Butterfly and Aida. It seems strange now and must have seemed strange then, that as the boats were lowered Alexander’s Ragtime Band echoed around the decks and over the water. This was surely one of the most poignant performances in history.
The band continued to perform as the water rose around them, some still smoking. One eye-witness wrote ‘Only the engulfing ocean had the power to drown them into silence.’
On the 20th November 2013 we retold, in real time, the story of the Assassination of John F Kennedy. Jeremy Vine, Dermot O'Leary and Louise Minchin were joined in the studio by several expects, a whole host of musicians, four actors and a live orchestra.
Live from the Royal Albert Hall, this commemoration concert was the biggest in the UK to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. This incredible story was retold through drama and narration, and featured Patrick Stewart, Jeremy Vine, Dermot O’Leary and Louise Minchin. They were accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra and a military band featuring musicians from all the UK services.
On the 50th anniversary of the famous 12-hour session at Abbey Road which resulted in the Beatles’ iconic album Please Please Me, leading artists such as Stereophonics, Graham Coxon, Gabrielle Aplin, Joss Stone, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, Paul Carrack, Mick Hucknall and I Am Kloot attempt to record the same songs, in the same timescale, in the same studio. The results will be captured in this programme, presented by Stuart Maconie. Amongst those paying their own tribute to the album’s success are Burt Bacharach and Guy Chambers, as well as people lucky enough to have been there 50 years ago telling the remarkable story of what happened that day, including engineer Richard Langham and Beatles’ press officer Tony Barrow.
The Beatles’ Please Please Me: Remaking a Classic is part of a season of programmes celebrating the long player across BBC Four, Radio 2 and 6 Music.
Relive some of the day’s highlights by clicking the link below: