Vernon Kay kicks off his new weekday mid-morning BBC Radio 2 show on Monday 15 May. Making your mid-mornings memorable, Vernon’s bringing big tunes, big names and big laughs to weekdays from 9.30am-12pm.
As well as a few new surprises of his own, the show will feature the daily music quiz Ten To The Top at 10.30am, Tracks Of My Years at 11.40am, more incredible performances from the Radio 2 Piano Room, plus the Record and Album Of The Week and the latest travel news from Richie Anderson.
In the first few weeks of his new show, Vernon will welcome two new Piano Room sessions – Def Leppard on Thursday 18 May and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds on Thursday 1 June. Each artist, accompanied by the strings section of the BBC Concert Orchestra, will perform a classic track, a new song and a cover version, which will be available for 30 days afterwards on BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer.
Vernon Kay says: “To be hosting the new Radio 2 mid-morning show is a total privilege. It’s going to be an unforgettable start to what promises to be an amazing journey. And to have two music legends coming up in the Radio 2 Piano Room is a dream come true.”
Helen Thomas, Head of Radio 2 says: “There’s truly something for everyone on Radio 2 and BBC Sounds in the next few weeks, whether it’s bringing the nation together to feel great with our access all areas coverage of the Coronation concert in Windsor; our shows building up to the Eurovision Grand Final from Liverpool or Vernon Kay launching our brand new mid-morning show, with incredible musical performances from Noel Gallagher and Def Leppard alongside the BBC Concert Orchestra in the Piano Room.”
Def Leppard say: “We are so excited for our Radio 2 Piano Room performance from the legendary Maida Vale studios! We’ll be playing a couple of our classic tracks reimagined with a very special Bowie cover thrown in. Performing these songs alongside the BBC Concert Orchestra is going to be spectacular!”
Def Leppard is an English rock band formed in 1976 in Sheffield. Since 1992, the band has consisted of Rick Savage (bass), Joe Elliott (lead vocals), Rick Allen (drums), Phil Collen (guitar), and Vivian Campbell (guitar). Def Leppard have sold more than 110 million albums worldwide, including two of the best-selling albums of all time, Pyromania and Hysteria. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. In May 2022, Def Leppard released their twelfth studio album Diamond Star Halos. The album scored a Top 10 debut on the Official UK Album Chart and North America’s Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart. And from the intimacy of the Piano Room, the band will be embarking on a UK and European stadium tour in May, June and July.
Noel Gallagher says: “I’m looking forward to playing the Radio 2 Piano Room with the BBC Concert Orchestra. We will be performing a few tracks including a single from my new album and a cover version of a classic track I haven’t played before.”
Noel was the main songwriter, lead guitarist and occasional lead vocalist of Oasis, one of the UK’s biggest and most loved bands, who played a huge role in shaping and inspiring contemporary guitar music from the 1990’s onwards. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds first emerged in 2011 with their debut eponymous debut album achieving double platinum sales. Over the course of a decade, the band have achieved four consecutive Number One albums, totalling 12 across Noel’s career and cementing his position as one of the most prolific and successful British songwriters of the last 50 years. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ fourth studio album, Council Skies, is due for release in early June and the new single, also called Council Skies, recently received its world exclusive first play on The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show.
Bill Chandler, Director of the BBC Concert Orchestra, says: “The BBC Concert Orchestra is delighted to be back in Radio 2’s Piano Room with Def Leppard and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, for what promises to be a must-listen mid-morning show with Vernon Kay. Through our ongoing collaboration with the Piano Room we continue bring inspiring musical experiences to everyone, everywhere.”
Let’s Do the Time Warp Again: The Rocky Horror Story celebrates fifty years since this iconic show’s first ever performance, presented by Ore Oduba, who is currently playing Brad Majors in the London production (Saturday 3 June, 1-2am and on BBC Sounds for 30 days).
Ore says: “The Rocky Horror Show changed my life when I joined the cast and, after its five decades bewitching audiences worldwide, I can’t wait to celebrate this cult classic with Radio 2 listeners. We’ll be joined by stars from the original 1973 company, share stories with the current production and of course play plenty of music from one of the best-loved musicals of all time. Remember, it’s just a jump to the left…”
Featuring a mix of new interviews, music and archive, listeners will hear from actors charting fifty years’ worth of productions, including the show’s creator, Richard O’Brien, plus Tim Curry, Rayner Bourton, Patricia Quinn, Amanda Redman, Gordon Kennedy, Jason Donovan and many more. So come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab. We can see you shiver with antici…pation! A Made In Manchester production.
On June 7 2023, not only would it have been Prince Rogers Nelson’s 65th birthday, but it will be exactly 45 years since an emerging artist – Prince – released his debut album. Whilst not an overnight commercial success, it made critics sit-up and take notice. A few years later, Prince was one of the biggest stars in the world, with a smash-hit film and a string of hit singles, albums and awards to his name.
In Prince: The Fans’ Story listeners will hear from artists who love Prince, worked with him, covered his music, and have been inspired by him. Sound-tracked by some of Prince’s biggest hits, there will be personal memories shared from Adam Lambert, Ellie Goulding, Jake Shears, Sharleen Spiteri, Jim Kerr, Lemar, Jessie Ware, Mick Hucknall, Midge Ure, Noel Gallagher, Richard Marx, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Mica Paris, Tom Grennan and Radio 2’s very own Trevor Nelson and Michelle Visage (Sunday 4 June, midnight -1am, and on BBC Sounds for 30 days). A Mostest Production.
Radio 2 will commemorate the 75th anniversary of Windrush with a season of programmes. A special concert 75th anniversary of Windrush curated and hosted by Radio 2 presenter Trevor Nelson, will mark the 75th anniversary of Windrush, and be recorded on Friday 9th June. Trevor will be joined on stage at the Royal Albert Hall by the world-renowned Chineke! Orchestra conducted by Chris Cameron, alongside a host of artists including Craig David, all telling the story of the far-reaching impact of Caribbean culture and music on the UK over the last 75 years. As well as recognising the influence of West Indian immigration, the concert will acknowledge the Windrush scandal, in which hundreds of Commonwealth citizens – many from the Windrush generation – were wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights (Sunday 18 June, 8-10pm).
Trevor says: “I’m thrilled to be asked to be part of the Windrush 75 celebrations as my parents were immigrants from St Lucia. Although I was born in Britain I am equally as proud of my Caribbean roots and am delighted to be hosting what should be an incredibly special night, which Radio 2 listeners can enjoy the following week.”
On Thursday 22 June 1948, an ex-troop ship called the Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury carrying 800 passengers who had left behind their homes in the Caribbean for a new life in Britain. Radio 2 marks the 75th anniversary of Windrush arriving in Britain with a Jeremy Vine Show special (Tuesday 20 June, 12-2pm) in which he speaks to special guests telling him what that experience was like and what those arriving went through. How did the reality of life in Britain compare with the expectations and hopes of the Windrush generation? And what was the impact many years on of that moment in history?
On BBC Sounds from Sunday 18 June, there’s also another chance to hear My Boy Lollipop: The Caribbean Comes To Britain, written and presented by Stuart Maconie. With the new immigrants came their slang, their customs, their food and fashion, but it was probably the music that had the first impact. Afro-Caribbean calypsos had taken root in the folk scene of the early 1960s, but for many Britons their first experience of this new music came courtesy of an effervescent, feisty young woman from the Jamaican slums called Millie with My Boy Lollipop. It sold over seven million copies worldwide and helped to launch Island Records into mainstream popular music. Millie even appeared on a Beatles TV special in 1964. This programme was first broadcast in 2013 when The People’s Songs told the story of modern Britain through 50 hit records and the memories of Radio 2 listeners. A 7digital production.
Next month, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the release of Wham!’s debut album, Fantastic, this July, and what would have been George Michael’s 60th birthday on 22 June, Radio 2 and BBC Sounds Celebrates George Michael.
WHAM! The Fans’ Story celebrates one of the most loved British pop duos of all-time, Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael – AKA Wham!. Their first hit, Young Guns (Go For It), stormed the chart at the end of 1982 and Wham! mania would go on to achieve global pop domination. Despite releasing just two studio albums and calling it a day with Wham! The Final at Wembley Stadium in June 1986, their pop legacy lives on to this day and their string of smash hits remain airplay staples all over the world.
The show features Wham!’s Andrew Ridgeley, plus their backing singers Shirlie Kemp and Pepsi DeMacque, who each reflect on those happy days. Also appearing are the group’s pop contemporaries including Nik Kershaw, Deniece Pearson of Five Star, plus a whole host of artists who were inspired by Wham!, including Claire Richards of Steps, Mark Feehily of Westlife, B’Witched’s Lindsay, Sinead and Edele, Louise, Michael Ball, Gary Davies (who interviewed the band on Radio 1 in the 80s), Rylan and others. This will be an hour packed with nostalgia, fascinating insights and a packed with the best pop hits ever created (Saturday 17th June, 1-2am and on BBC Sounds for 30 days). A Mostest Production.
Also on BBC Sounds is another chance to hear Your Ultimate George Michael Top 40 featuring a countdown chart of his favourite releases as voted for by Radio 2 listeners to mark 40 years since Wham!’s first entry, Young Guns (Go For It) in the UK singles chart in 1982; George Michael at the BBC, featuring George in conversation and performing across the years at the BBC, including his BBC Radio Theatre performance from 1996 – An Audience with George Michael (both BBC Audio productions); and George Michael: Older at 25 featuring Melanie C looking back at his Older album to mark its 25th anniversary, featuring Russell T Davies, James Blunt, Bananarama, Shirlie Kemp, Ed Sheeran, Jack Savoretti and more (A Mostest production).
As previously announced, Radio 2 is the home of Eurovision 2023 on UK radio, with programmes across the network covering the news and building up to the excitement of the live Eurovision Grand Final which will be hosted this year by Rylan and Scott Mills. They will be broadcasting live from the Liverpool Arena, introducing the 67th Eurovision Song Contest and bringing listeners each country’s performance. Hoping for UK Eurovision glory is UK entrant, Mae Muller, with I Wrote A Song (from 8pm until the end of the final, Saturday 13th May). And for the first time, Radio 2 will also be broadcasting the two Eurovision Semi-finals, presented live by Paddy O’Connell (8-10pm, Tuesday 9th and Thursday 11 May).
Rylan says: “Eurovision is my favourite time of the year, I cannot wait! And I’m so excited and absolutely buzzing to be hosting the Eurovision Grand Final on Radio 2, the biggest and best music event in the world, with my partner-in-crime Scott Mills. We can’t wait to bring listeners closer to the action than ever before, with all the fun, excitement and backstage gossip from what promises to be an unforgettable night.”
Scott says: “I can’t begin to describe how excited I am to be presenting the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest on Radio 2. I’ve had the great pleasure of being involved with Eurovision in various ways over the years, from commentating alongside Graham Norton to singing karaoke with the contestants, but presenting from the Grand Final in Liverpool is the ultimate childhood dream come true. Rylan and I will be going all out so please come and join the party live on Radio 2!”
Paddy says: “I’m walking on sunshine to join Radio 2 in Liverpool, as historic hosts for Ukraine, hosting the Eurovision semi-finals live on air. Sam Ryder broke the UK Eurovision spell last year and I hope it’s magic for Mae in 2023.”
And Radio 2 Celebrates Eurovision also delivers:
• Scott and Rylan’s Epic Eurovision Battle, a Radio 2 commission for BBC Sounds in which the two hosts put their Eurovision knowledge to the test
• Richie Anderson live from Liverpool on The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show (Tuesday 9th – Thursday 11 May, 6.30-9.30am), with Zoe and the whole Breakfast Show team live from Liverpool on Friday 12 May joined by a host of special guests to mark the eve of the Grand Final
• Scott Mills live from Liverpool on Wednesday and Friday that week, with Richie Anderson sitting in on Tuesday and Thursday (as Scott prepares to host the semi-finals on BBC ONE and BBC iPlayer with Rylan)
• The Jeremy Vine Show (Friday 12 May, 12-2pm) will focus on what the event means to Ukraine and Ukrainians who have fled the war
• Michelle Visage’s Handbag Hits (Friday 12th May, 7-9pm) will be devoted to non-stop Eurovision bops, culminating with a Eurovision edition of Lip Synch anthem.
And kicking off Super Saturday, Dermot O’Leary (Saturday 13 May, 8-10am) celebrates the day of the Eurovision Grand Final with 1969 UK Eurovision winner Lulu; Claudia Winkleman (10am-1pm) continues the build-up with music and special guests; Steve Wright – who presents Sunday Love Songs every week on Radio 2 – hosts Your Ultimate UK Eurovision Song (Saturday 13 May, 1-3pm), a Top 40 countdown of the nation’s favourite UK entries as voted for by the public; Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Eurovision Kitchen Disco (Saturday 13 May, 3-6pm) across three hours brings Eurovision winning songs, the most famous names to compete in the contest, and the songs that came close to victory; Richie Anderson will host an All Request Eurovision Party (Saturday 13 May, 6-8pm); and OJ’s Eurovision After Party (Saturday 13 May, approx. 11.20pm-2am) will see OJ Borg live from Wogan House in London playing the hits of Eurovision past and present.
All the pre-recorded specials are now available to hear on BBC Sounds as part of the Celebrating Eurovision season, which also includes When Ireland Ruled Eurovision presented by Dermot O’Leary featuring interviews with all the previous winners from the golden era of Ireland’s Eurovision, Melanie C’s Pride of Liverpool celebrating the City of Pop, so-called due to the amount of Number One records recorded by artists from the city, Sam Ryder’s My Life in a Mixtape with Sam sharing the songs and memories that have been the soundtrack to his life so far; and Scott and Rylan’s Epic Eurovision Battle featuring the two super-fans going head-to-head using every ounce of their Eurovision knowledge to respond to a series of categories, as decided by their fellow Radio 2 presenter, Michelle Visage.
Ahead of the live broadcast of the Coronation Concert (Sunday 7 May), Radio 2 will be live from Windsor Castle with Zoe Ball and Dermot O’Leary, with the concert itself accompanied by commentary on Radio 2 from Jason Mohammed later that evening.
Paul Gambaccini will also celebrate the Coronation in Pick of the Pops on Saturday 6 May (1-3pm), covering the chart during the week of King Charles’ 18th birthday in 1966 and the week of his 50th birthday in 1998.
In addition, there will be further specials on BBC Sounds including: The Coronation Collection presented by Elle Osili-Wood, a series of pocket guides to different aspects of the Coronation which will be broadcast across Jeremy Vine’s show on Radio 2 from Monday to Friday 5 May; The King & I presented by Sara Cox which features stories of people who’ve met the King over the years; The King’s Garden presented by Zoe Ball which shines a light on the gardens at Highgrove; and In Youth We Trust – How the Prince’s Trust Changed My Life, presented by Jeremy Vine, which features incredible stories from those whose careers were kickstarted by the Prince’s Trust.
BBC Radio 2 is the UK’s most listened to radio station, with a weekly audience of 14.29 million (RAJAR Q4, 2022), and won Station Of The Year at the Music Week 2021 awards. The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show is most listened to breakfast show in the UK with an audience of 7.14 million (RAJAR Q4, 2022). The network’s presenters include Michael Ball, Zoe Ball, Rob Beckett, Tony Blackburn, OJ Borg, Rev. Kate Bottley, Rylan, Fearne Cotton, Sara Cox, Jamie Cullum, Gary Davies, Paul Gambaccini, Angela Griffin, Bob Harris, Vernon Kay, Cerys Matthews, Scott Mills, Jason Mohammad, Trevor Nelson, Dermot O’Leary, Elaine Paige, Mark Radcliffe, Romesh Ranganathan, DJ Spoony, Liza Tarbuck, Jeremy Vine, Michelle Visage, Johnnie Walker, Jo Whiley, Phil Williams, Claudia Winkleman, Steve Wright and Owain Wyn Evans.
BBC Radio 2