This September, BBC Music will celebrate the 30th anniversary of one of the most influential albums of all time - Nirvana’s second studio album, Nevermind – with a range of programming across BBC TV, radio, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds. Programming will explore the music of the album in depth, as well as taking a broader look at what made Nirvana one of the most significant bands in rock history.
When Nirvana Came to Britain – a new documentary for BBC Two, featuring contributions from former members, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic
6 Music’s Deep Dive into Nevermind, which sees BBC Radio 6 Music celebrate music of the album, playing tracks from it throughout the day
Teen Spirit: Nevermind at 30, a new Radio 4 documentary, hosted by author Doug Coupland
Another chance to see Dave Grohl in conversation with Dermot O’Leary in Reel Stories: Dave Grohl on BBC Two as well as Classic Albums – Nirvana: Nevermind on BBC Four
BBC Radio 2 programmes including Jo Whiley, Sounds of the 90s with Fearne Cotton and The Rock Show with Johnnie Walker will mark the anniversary
Lorna Clarke, Controller, BBC Pop says: “Nirvana’s Nevermind was an album that had a huge impact on music at the time – both for the industry and for fans. The longevity and influence of Nirvana as a band is undeniable, with their music holding a special place in the hearts of audiences across the board. So, it’s fitting that BBC Radio and TV are coming together to celebrate this iconic record, thirty years on. It’s another great opportunity for our platforms to come together to mark the big moments in music, as we have done this year with David Bowie: Five Years On, The Glastonbury Experience and Amy Winehouse: 10 Years on, in addition to our upcoming coverage of the Mercury Prize 2021.”
When Nirvana Came To Britain (BBC Two) produced by Wise Owl Films, tells the story of how between 1989 and 1994, Nirvana introduced a new and exciting brand of rock music to the UK, changing the musical landscape of the time and influencing a generation of British youth.
The programme charts the band’s rise from their very first British tour, during which they performed in pubs and tiny venues, through to their legendary and infamous TV appearances on programmes such as The Word and Top of the Pops - moments that helped to cement their status as one of the biggest rock bands on the planet and brought grunge culture to the mainstream.
Viewers also learn the ways in which British music had a huge influence on Nirvana and their sound.
Featuring unseen archive as well as home movie footage shot by the band themselves, the film revisits the little-known British locations that played a surprising role in Nirvana’s story. These include the London guest house they regularly stayed at - the Dalmacia Hotel on Shepherds Bush Road, outside which photographer Martyn Goodacre took his famous shots of the band in 1990 - to the small Edinburgh pub where they once played a surprise acoustic gig to just 30 people.
There are contributions from Nirvana’s surviving members, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, as well as BBC Radio 2’s Jo Whiley, 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq (both of whom were present to chart band’s meteoric rise), members of Nirvana’s British tour crew, their UK publicist Anton Brookes, booking agent, Russell Warby and George Krivosic, former manager of the Dalmacia Hotel on Shepherds Bush Road (where the band regularly stayed during their time in Britain). Dave and Krist, in revealing new interviews, share their memories of the band’s time in Britain and explain why it has always held a special place in their hearts.
Dave Grohl says: “The UK definitely responded to Nirvana much more, before America. You guys were the first with everything…we cut our teeth there. After touring the UK I remember going back to America to the same bars and clubs where we were playing to 99 people…150 people…it was definitely not like what it was in the UK. It really is like a second home.”
Speaking of Nirvana’s first UK tour in 1989, bassist Krist Novoselic says: “I’d never been to Great Britain. We got off the plane and we were in this different world.”
Mark Robinson, Executive Producer of When Nirvana Came To Britain says: “Nirvana’s relationship with Britain really was a two-way trade-off. Nirvana were inspired by bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin and championed British groups like The Raincoats and The Vaselines – but their brand of rock was to have a huge influence on the sounds coming out of the British music scene in the 90s. This story has never been told on TV before, so it’s been fascinating to hear it from Dave and Krist themselves, as well as the people who literally went on the journey with them, as they toured the UK.”
6 Music’s Deep Dive into Nevermind sees the station celebrate the album in each of its daytime shows on Friday 24th September (7.30am-7pm) - the same date it was released in 1991. All daytime presenters from Lauren Laverne (7.30am-10.30am) through to Steve Lamacq (4pm-7pm) will each play three tracks from Nevermind. Songs will include classics such as Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come As You Are and Lithium and will each be introduced by special guests such as Butch Vig, Teenage Fanclub, Wu Lu and Brix Smith, who will reveal why the album and Nirvana are so important to them.
These contributions from special guests and the tracks from Nevermind will form a special programme, 6 Music’s Deep Dive Into Nevermind, to be broadcast on 6 Music on Thursday 23rd September (4am-5am) and then available to listen to on demand, on BBC Sounds.
On Friday 24th September, 6 Music presenters will celebrate the breadth of music released in the same year as Nevermind. All tracks played on 6 Music between 7.30am and 7pm that day will be from 1991.
That same evening (9pm-10pm) listeners can hear Teen Spirit: Nevermind at 30 on BBC Radio 4. The programme sees Canadian novelist, artist and author of Generation X, Doug Coupland, speak to musicians, artists, activists and fans about how Nevermind changed their lives. Special guests will include Bat For Lashes, The Unthanks, Brix Smith, Deborah Levy and Zawe Ashton.
On BBC Radio 2, Jo Whiley will be making Nevermind her Vinyl Revival pick of the week in her shows from Monday 20th – Thursday 23rd September (7pm-9pm). She’ll play tracks from the album each night and invite listeners to share their memories of the album and Nirvana. On Friday 24th September, Sounds of the 90s with Fearne Cotton (Fridays, 10pm-12am) will see Fearne joined by Radio 1’s Daniel P Carter, who will share his memories of Nirvana in the 90s and his thoughts on what this seminal album means to the world, 30 years on. On Saturday 25th September, The Rock Show with Johnnie Walker (Saturdays, 8pm-9pm) will dedicate the show’s regular This Week In Rock slot – in which Johnnie highlights big moments in the history of rock - to the anniversary of Nevermind. Johnnie will also hear from Skin from British rock band Skunk Anansie, who will celebrate Kurt Cobain as her chosen Rock God.
Elsewhere on BBC television, BBC Two will also offer another chance to see Reel Stories: Dave Grohl in which the Foo Fighters frontman and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl speaks in depth to Radio 2’ Dermot O’Leary from his studio in LA. Dave looks back on his time in Nirvana, as well as 25 glorious years of the Foo Fighters. From appearances on the 90s TV show, The Word to The White House via Wembley Stadium, Dave talks candidly about the key moments that have defined his career. This programme was first broadcast in March, 2021.
BBC Four will broadcast Classic Albums – Nirvana: Nevermind. It is an album which began the band’s rapid rise to international superstardom. The programme tells of how Nirvana came to record Nevermind and the subsequent effect the record had on the music industry – as well as the band themselves. It offers an insight into the songwriting genius of Kurt Cobain and reveals why Nevermind remains a milestone in rock history to this day. This programme was last broadcast in 2019.
When Nirvana Came To Britain follows Wise Owl Films’ When Bob Marley Came To Britain, which is currently available on BBC iPlayer following last Friday’s (27th August) reggae themed night of programming on BBC Four. Also broadcast that night and available on BBC iPlayer is Reggae at the BBC - featuring performances from Bob Marley, Gregory Isaacs, Desmond Dekker and more. Plus, there’s Sounds of the 70s: Reggae – which celebrates the reggae music exported from Jamaica and the home-grown reggae-influenced sounds that sprouted from UK cities in that decade. Performances from Ken Boothe, Dave and Ansel Collins, Steel Pulse, Janet Kay, Susan Cadogan and The Specials all feature in this programme. Finally, Reggae Fever: David Rodigan, explores the career of Radio 1Xtra DJ, David Rodigan and offers a window through which to see a wider human story about social change in the UK.
BBC Four, along with 6 Music, will be providing live coverage of the 2021 Mercury Prize Awards Show, which takes place on Thursday 9th September at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith and will be hosted by 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne. BBC Four will broadcast Hyundai Mercury Prize 2021 Live: Album of the Year (9pm-10.15pm) and The Mercury Prize on BBC Radio 6 Music, will be hosted by Tom Ravenscroft (8pm-12am). Both programmes will feature live performances from the shortlisted artists and will include the live announcement of this year’s winner.
6 Music will also be celebrating previous winners with The Mercury Prize: Winners’ Playlist on Tuesday 7th September (4am-5am). The programme will then be available to listen to on BBC Sounds, alongside mini guides to each of this year’s nominated albums.
Plus, this Saturday 4th September on BBC Two, catch Beyoncé at the BBC (8.30pm-9pm) - a trip back through the BBC archives which proves why everyone is Crazy in Love with Beyoncé. This selection of performances covers the entirety of Queen B’s career – from the early days with Destiny’s Child, right through to the present day and her position as one of the biggest musical stars on the planet. This programme will be followed by Beyoncé at Glastonbury 2011 (9pm-10.35pm)
When Nirvana Came To Britain is produced and directed by Stuart Ramsay for Wise Owl Films. The Executive Producer is Mark Robinson. It was Commissioned by Owen Courtney, Commissioning Executive, BBC Music TV
A Deep Dive into Nevermind on BBC Radio 6 Music is produced by Matthew Mills and Lucy Madge for BBC Audio
Teen Spirit: Nevermind at 30 is produced by Jack Howson. It was commissioned by Daniel Clarke for BBC Radio 4.
Jo Whiley (BBC Radio 2) is produced by Anna Richards for BBC Audio
The Rock Show with Johnnie Walker (BBC Radio 2) is produced by Liz Barnes for Listen
Sounds of the 90s (BBC Radio 2) is produced by Hannah Talbot and Claire Solan for Somethin’ Else