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Arena is the BBC's multi award-winning arts strand. Founded in 1975, Arena continues to produce gold standard documentaries for the BBC and world service.

Genres: Celebrities | Interview
Station: BBC Four (UK)
Rating: 0/10 from 0 users
Status: Running
Start: 1975-10-01

Arena Air Dates


S2017E03 - American Epic Part 2: Blood and Soil Air Date: 28 May 2017 21:00 -

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This episode takes a look at the stories of those early music pioneers whose names have largely been forgotten.

In the small South Carolina town of Cheraw, Elder Burch held lively church gatherings which inspired young musicians - including jazz giant Dizzy Gillespie. Gillespie's autobiography cites Burch and his sons as direct inspirations; it is no exaggeration to say that modern music would not look the same without Burch's early influence.

The programme takes a look at the gritty songs and musicians that came from the coal mines of Logan County, West Virginia - The Williamson Brothers, Dick Justice and Frank Hutchinson. The hellish conditions of the coal mines inspired them to find a way out, through their music.


S2017E04 - American Epic Part 3: Out of the Many, the One Air Date: 04 June 2017 21:00 -

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The third episode takes a look at the influence of Hawaiian music and more specifically, the steel guitar, which became a central sound to a range of musical styles. When Joseph Kekuku picked up a metal bolt as he wandered down a train track, the bolt hit the strings of his guitar and the sound was born. He perfected his slide to create a new instrument that would travel the world.


S2017E05 - American Epic Part 4: The Sessions Air Date: 09 June 2017 22:00 -

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The machine that introduced the sounds of America to its people has been lovingly reassembled and now, in the heart of Hollywood, in a perfect recreation of the atmosphere and conditions of America's first ever recording studios, today's music superstars roll the epic on.

Elton John, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Alabama Shakes, Jack White, Nas, Ana Gabriel, Beck, Los Lobos and Steve Martin are among the artists who test their skills against the demands of the recording machine that literally made American music. There are no edits, no overdubs and no retakes, and the disc only allows for three minutes of recording time.


S2017E06 - Kirsty Young: 75 Years of Desert Island Discs Air Date: 09 June 2017 22:00 -

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As Desert Island Discs reaches 75, today's custodian of the island, Kirsty Young, introduces the 1982 Bafta-winning Arena classic. It celebrated Roy Plomley and his magical idea on their 40th anniversary.

By then, everyone who was anyone had been cast adrift and washed up on Roy's island. Arena's castaways include 40th anniversary guest Paul McCartney, Frankie Howerd, Trevor Brooking, Professor J K Galbraith, Russell Harty and the great comedian Arthur Askey.



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