To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the release of Wham!’s debut album, Fantastic, on 9th July 1983, and what would have been George Michael’s 60th birthday on 25th June, BBC Two, Radio 2 and BBC Sounds will celebrate George Michael with a series of specials. One of the most loved British pop duos of all-time, Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael had their first hit in 1983 with Young Guns (Go For It), setting Wham! on track to global pop domination.
The Radio 2 Celebrates George Michael and Wham! Collection will be live on BBC Sounds from Saturday 10th June, and features programmes including:
George Michael at the BBC (Radio 2, Saturday 17th June, 1-2am), a unique collection of interviews from the BBC’s archives exploring George’s emergence as one half of Wham! and how he attained global icon status. George is in conversation with Kirsty Wark, Simon Bates, Steve Wright, Kirsty Young, Chris Evans and Michael Parkinson and performing at the BBC from across the decades. From his emergence as one half of Wham!, through his journey to attaining global icon status, his thoughts on songwriting, his relationship with the press, politics, how he viewed the music industry and many other topics are explored in a unique collection of interviews from the BBC’s archive. There’s a rare opportunity to hear his BBC Radio Theatre concert from 1996, An Audience with George Michael, featuring a setlist that includes Everything She Wants, Fastlove, You Have Been Loved, Father Figure and Freedom. The show will available for 30 days after broadcast.
Your Ultimate George Michael Top 30 (Radio 2, Saturday 17th June, 2-3am), a listeners’ favourite Top 30 countdown of George Michael songs.
In Wham! The Fans Story: 40 years of Wham! (Radio 2, Sunday 18th June, 12-1am) a host of stars including Claire Richards of Steps, Mark Feehily of Westlife, Holly Johnson and Kim Wilde share their favourite Wham! memories. Despite releasing just two studio albums and calling it a day only three years later, their pop legacy lives on to this day. In this show, listeners hear from Andrew Ridgeley, Shirlie Kemp and Pepsi DeMacque, who reflect on those happy days. Plus, a host of stars share their memories of Wham! mania – Claire Richards of Steps, Mark Feehily of Westlife, Holly Johnson, Lindsay Armaou and Sinéad O’Carroll of B*Witched, Denise Pearson of Five Star, Nik Kershaw, Matt Goss, Kim Wilde, Tiffany, Louise, Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud, Joe McElderry and Emma Willis, as well as Radio 2’s very own Rylan, Michael Ball and Gary Davies. This will be an hour packed with nostalgia, fascinating insights and some of the best pop hits ever created.
In Wham! The Music That Made Us (Radio 2, Sunday 18th June, 2-4am), Andrew Ridgeley reveals the musical influences that drew he and a young Georgios Panayiotou as they journeyed from Watford schoolboys to pop wannabes and onto worldwide superstardom. Featuring an eclectic range of music from the likes of Elvis Presley, Joy Division, Elton John, The Specials and Sugarhill Gang, Andrew talks about the music that bonded George and him. He’ll also spin the songs that influenced the sound of The Executive – Andrew and George’s first band together – and then Wham!, revealing the musical journey that eventually led the pair to create some of pop’s most iconic songs.
Also on BBC Sounds is another chance to hear George Michael: Older at 25, which sees Melanie C look back at the Older album to mark its 25th anniversary and features contributions from Russell T Davies, James Blunt, Bananarama, Shirlie Kemp, Ed Sheeran, Jack Savoretti and more.
On BBC Two on Saturday 17th June, George Michael at the BBC (8.25pm)
The late, great and much-missed George Michael was one of Britain’s best-loved and most acclaimed music stars. With Wham!, the group George formed alongside best friend Andrew Ridgeley, he created an 80s phenomenon. His subsequent solo work took his career to a whole new level, making him one of the key cultural figures of the day. This collection of George’s solo performances and Wham! classics comes from his appearances on a selection of BBC programmes including Top of the Pops, Wogan and Parkinson that demonstrate why he remains so fondly remembered. From Club Tropicana and Freedom, to Faith, Outside and Amazing, viewers will see how the pure pop classics of Wham! evolved into George’s mature million-selling hits.
Viewers can also enjoy George Michael – Live at Earl’s Court (10.40pm), filmed at his final two concerts at London’s Earls Court, which took place on the 24th and 25th August 2008, in front of 40,000 excited fans. Part of his 25 Live tour, the shows marked George’s triumphant return to live performance and featured both Wham! and George Michael classics and cover versions.