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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 Season 2017 Air Dates


S2017E01 - Alone with Chrissie Hynde Air Date: 10 February 2017 21:00 -

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Arena spends the summer with super cool self-confessed rock chick, Chrissie Hynde - shopping for clothes in Paris, hanging out with Sandra Bernhard in New York, life in London and a special trip back to her home town of Akron, Ohio.

A thoughtful and intimate portrait of a 'lone, hungry, irritable wolf', featuring a glorious live performance at one of London's newest venues.


S2017E02 - American Epic Part 1: The Big Bang Air Date: 21 May 2017 21:00 -

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The first episode takes us back to 1920s America, where the growth of radio had shattered record sales. Record companies travelled rural America and recorded the music of ordinary people for the first time. The poor and oppressed were given a voice as their recordings spread from state to state.

The film introduces the early recordings of The Carter Family, the founders of modern country music, steeped in the traditions of their isolated Appalachian community. It also features Will Shade and the Memphis Jug Band, whose music told the story of street life in Memphis, and laid the foundations for modern day rap and R'n'B.


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 - Kirsty Young: 75 Years of Desert Island Discs Air Date: 29 May 2017 21:00 -

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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.


S2017E05 - 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.


S2017E06 - 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.



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