With exclusive access, Dolly’s Country (working title) comes to BBC Two this autumn as part of a season of programmes putting a spotlight on country music. On BBC Four, Country Music is a star-studded eight-part series by Ken Burns. Highlights from the Country Music Association Awards 2019 will be broadcast on BBC Four and BBC Radio 2. Also on Radio 2 is Brad Paisley: This Is Country Music, a four-part series presented by the country star, plus Bob Harris returns to The Country Show.
Dolly Parton has often been seen as a caricature. And it’s an impression she herself has done little to discourage. But for far too long this persona has obscured the real Dolly. Dolly’s Country (w/t) is a major feature length documentary which uncovers a very different character - a Dolly that is no less extraordinary, but far more authentic and far more surprising.
In the film, talking about her incredible life and career, Dolly Parton says: "You’ve got to be daring, you’ve got to be able to get outside yourself and I’ve always said... that my desire to do something was greater than my fear of it… I’ve loved the journey, and it’s been hard, and I’ve paid some major dues and learned some hard lessons, but I wouldn’t have it any other way… I wanted to be seen, I wanted to be recognised, I wanted to be appreciated for what I do.”
Jan Younghusband, Head of Commissioning, Music Television, says: “Dolly Parton is a living legend and I’m thrilled she’s given her time to make this incredible film for BBC Two. It’s going to be a fascinating insight into her incredible career. Along with Ken Burns’ definitive major series, Country Music, and wonderful coverage of the CMA’s, this is going to be a brilliant autumn of programmes for fans of country and music-lovers everywhere.”
Dolly’s Country (w/t) is a Man Alive Entertainment production. It is the latest film from Bafta winning producer/director, Francis Whately, since David Bowe: Finding Fame which aired on BBC Two in January, which was the last in his trilogy of films on the musician (following on from David Bowie: Five Years and David Bowie: The Last Five Years).
With unprecedented access, it reveals the genius songwriter behind the rhinestones; the private individual who reveals almost everything if you take the time to explore the lyrics; the modern feminist who doesn’t want to be called a feminist. Talking about her on camera for the first time are Dolly’s musicians, co-writers and producers, in an exploration of why she is seen as one of the greatest song writers of modern times. The film uncovers that, under the wigs, is an acute social commentator, someone who has moved seamlessly with the times and has been an influence to successive generations of pop and country stars across the decades, from Olivia Newton-John to Kylie and Jack White to Miley Cyrus. And at Glastonbury in 2014, she played to possibly the largest audience ever seen at the festival. Footage from that incredible performance will be shown in the film.
Dolly personally takes viewers musically and lyrically though some of her greatest songs including The Bridge, I Will Always Love You and 9 to 5, revealing how they fit into her 50 year career. Coming right up-to-date, cameras capture her celebrating the 50th anniversary of her very first performance at the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville’s home of country, as well as featuring footage from that original performance. Surrounded by friends and fellow stars is Dolly, the universally adored, global phenomenon in action, doing what she does best - being a star! Contributors to the film include Kylie Minogue, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Danny Nozell (Dolly’s manager), Charley Pride, Mac Davis, Chris Stapleton, Wayne Moss, music producers Linda Perry, Kent Wells and Val Garay, and band members Jerry Douglas, Carl Jackson, Charlie McCoy, Eddy Anderson, Lloyd Green, Mike Severs, Hargus ‘Pig’ Robbins and Stuart Duncan.
Coming to BBC Four, Ken Burns’ Country Music epic was filmed across eight years and features many of the biggest country stars. The series explores the history of this uniquely American art form across the twentieth century, from its roots in ballads, blues and hymns, to its global popularity.
Across eight episodes, Country Music features never-before-seen footage and photographs and interviews with more than 80 country music artists, with biographies of the fascinating characters who created and shaped the genre, from the Carter family, Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills to Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks and more. It also covers the times in which they lived, featuring incredible stories of the joys and hardship they went through. The series will be broadcast as six hour long episodes followed by two 90 minute episodes.
And BBC Four will also be broadcasting highlights from the CMA Awards which take place in November which will hosted by Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire.
The programmes in the Country Music season will be reflected in Radio 2’s The Country Show with Bob Harris, which features all the latest country news, reviews and interviews (Thursdays, 9-10pm). Ben Earle – one half of The Shires, the UK’s most successful country act ever – concludes his run of programmes standing in for Bob Harris (22 and 29 Aug). Multi-million selling trio, Lady Antebellum, present the programme direct from Nashville (5 Sept), and the show will come direct from the BBC Introducing stage at the Long Road Festival in Leicestershire with Paul Sexton introducing an hour of live music from the very best emerging artists in the country (12 Sept). New acts include Kezia Gill, Louis Croft, Ryan Farmer and Eva Rose, alongside special performances from Introducing alumni Roseanne Reid, The Curse of Lono, CC Smugglers and The Luck. Bob Harris returns to Radio 2 on 19 September following time away due to illness. He will be joined in session by guitarist and singer Molly Tuttle, who Bob hails as “one of the greatest performers in the world at this moment.”
Bob Harris said: “I am so happy to be returning to Radio 2. Following my aortic dissection at the beginning of the summer the past few months have been amongst the toughest of my life, but I am now fit again and raring to go. Thank you with all my heart to the thousands of people who have sent me messages of love and support. Your good wishes have been an essential part of my recovery. Thank you to Kristian Bush, Carrie Underwood, Little Big Town, Trisha Yearwood, Lady Antebellum, Paul Sexton and especially to Ben Earle for doing such a fantastic job sitting in for me and thank you to Radio 2 and my producer Mark Hagen for keeping the door open for my return”.
One of Country Music’s biggest names, Grammy Award winning Brad Paisley - who will be back in the UK performing in October - returns to BBC Radio 2 following his award-winning debut series in 2018. In Brad Paisley: This Is Country Music, he’ll again bring his incredible knowledge of the form, along with personal insights and anecdotes, delivered with real humour and warmth. The four part series will feature some of the most contemporary offerings in country alongside classic songs (21 Sept, 5, 12 and 19 Oct, from 9-10pm, a TBI Media production).