Pop-up radio station to celebrate Beatles anniversary

A pop-up digital radio station is set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Abbey Road album.

Radio 2 Beatles will broadcast from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 September from London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios. The BBC says the station will “honour John, Paul, George and Ringo as a group, as individual artists, and as songwriters”.

Programmes will be presented by Gary Barlow, John Bishop, Guy Garvey, Dave Grohl, Giles Martin, Cerys Matthews and Paul Merton. Regular Radio 2 presenters including Zoe Ball, Sara Cox and Jo Whiley will also front shows. All of the live shows will be broadcast direct from Abbey Road. Some of the programmes will simulcast on BBC Radio 2 as well as the pop-up station.

Highlights from the schedule include:

  • Paul McCartney talks to Gary Barlow in We Write The Songs about the music, how The Beatles only began writing because other bands were stealing their act, and describing how he’s stayed at the top of the music business for six decades.
  • In the series My Beatles, Dave Grohl, Jack Savoretti and Tom Odell talk about the influence the Fab Four’s music had on them.
  • For the daily series I Was There, the likes of Tony Blackburn and radio critic Gillian Reynolds talk about what it was really like being part of the swinging Sixties

In other programmes Martin Freeman will present the story of The White Album, Lauren Laverne hosts Desert Island Beatles and Liza Tarbuck meets pop-artist and Sgt. Pepper sleeve designer Sir Peter Blake. Jimmy Tarbuck will host an hour of novelty versions of hit Beatles songs.

The station will also feature archive programmes, including When John Met Paul with Bob Harris and Radio 4’s Mastertapes with Paul McCartney. A 2007 programme, Sgt. Pepper Recreated, includes performances from Oasis, Bryan Adams, and Kaiser Chiefs.

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.”

BBC Radio 2 Beatles will be available on DAB digital radio and online. Programmes featured on the station will be available on BBC Sounds for 30 days.

Pop-up radios stations have previously been launched by BBC Radio 2 to coincide with Eurovision and the Country 2 Country festival. Temporary digital stations can be broadcast for several days or a few hours. Pop-up station BBC Radio 5 Live Formula 1 broadcast for a single race earlier this year.