BBC Two, BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 6 Music will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the passing of Kurt Cobain of Nirvana with a range of content that celebrates and remembers his life and musical legacy.

BBC Two and BBC iPlayer
BBC Two and iPlayer will dedicate a Saturday night of programmes to Kurt and Nirvana in April, with the centrepiece being Moments That Shook Music: Kurt Cobain, a new 1 x 60m documentary for the BBC from Touchdown Films.

Told exclusively through powerful and rare archive footage – some of which has never been seen on British TV before – Moments that Shook Music: Kurt Cobain is a visceral account of the days that surrounded that tragic moment in 1994 when Cobain took his own life.

By 1994, Nirvana had achieved mainstream and global success. Just as the they were hitting their stride as one of the biggest bands on the planet, their lead singer was gone and the world wanted to know why. Cobain was hailed as the voice of a generation and the effects of his passing were felt right across the world – Bill Clinton, who was president of the United States at the time, even discussed whether he should give a national address.

Now, one of musical history’s most shocking stories will be told as never before, as footage captured by local fans in Seattle and raw material from news crews reporting at the time are woven together, immersing the viewers in the events that unfolded, as they happened.

We see the poignant reaction from the electrician who discovered Kurt’s body when installing a security system at his Seattle home; statements from police at the scene; the chaos, confusion and devastation caught on video by his fans – including the moment a tape recording of an emotional Courtney Love reading her late husband’s final letter was played out to a crowd of thousands at a vigil in Seattle; and a revealing interview with Cobain himself, just months before he died.

Jonathan Rothery, Head of BBC Popular Music TV says: “Kurt Cobain’s life and death has turned into myth and legend since his passing. This documentary tries to demystify that moment in time by telling the story direct from the scene, via fly on the wall footage filmed by those that were there.”

Touchdown Films founder John Osborne, the producer and director of the documentary, says: “We are incredibly proud to be working with the BBC on this film, who share in our vision of using only archive to take viewers back to 1994; to immerse themselves in this seismic story. Kurt Cobain was the voice of a generation, but a reluctant one, and his death left a huge void. The only way to get a true sense of what happened is to witness it first hand, and that’s exactly what this film does. It never lets you look away.”

Reframing this story are archive specialists Touchdown Films, who have built a reputation for creating critically acclaimed, high-rating, primetime television. The film is being directed by Touchdown Films founder John Osborne, a filmmaker and producer who has spent over two decades making hugely successful television for UK and US networks. His credits include the acclaimed documentaries Apollo 8: The Mission That Changed the World for National Geographic, Hillsborough Remembered for History, Rock ‘N’ Roll Exposed for Showtime and The Story of Skinhead for the BBC.

Moments That Shook Music: Kurt Cobain was commissioned by Jonathan Rothery, Head of BBC Popular Music TV and Rachel Davies, Commissioning Editor, BBC Popular Music TV.

The same night, BBC Two will give viewers another chance to see: When Nirvana Came To Britain (first broadcast in 2021) which examines the special relationship between Nirvana and the UK – including the role this country played in paving the way for their global success; Foo Fighters at Reading 2019, in which BBC Radio 6 Music’s Huw Stephens introduces highlights from rock titans Foo Fighters, fronted by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, as they performed dozens of classics spanning their massive catalogue in front of the Reading Festival crowd; and The Live Lounge Show, in which Clara Amfo takes viewers behind the scenes at Radio 1’s Live Lounge in a programme that features performances from Foo Fighters and more (first broadcast in 2017).

BBC Radio and BBC Sounds
On Friday 5th April, BBC Radio 6 Music will remember Kurt with Kurt Cobain Forever.

Each hour from 7am-7pm, presenters Nathan Shepherd (sitting in for Chris Hawkins), Deb Grant (sitting in for Lauren Laverne), Mary Anne Hobbs, Craig Charles and Emily Pilbeam (sitting in for Huw Stephens) will play a track by the lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter of Nirvana.

The songs will be introduced by voicenotes from famous fans of Kurt, including musician and producer steve albini, Michael Azerrad (author of Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana), Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai, Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses and 50FootWave, musician Nuha Ruby Ra, painter and author Billy Childish, Courtney Taylor-Taylor of The Dandy Warhols, Carlos O’Connell of Fontaines D.C., Lia Metcalfe of The Mysterines and more.

A collection of programmes dedicated to Kurt Cobain will also be available on BBC Sounds from Friday 5th April, including: the Kurt Cobain Forever Playlist; Nirvana Live, featuring recorded live tracks performed in Seattle, Reading and New York (first broadcast in 2023); The First Time With…Dave Grohl, in which the former Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman shares his musical milestones with 6 Music’s Matt Everitt (first broadcast in 2015); Nirvana at the BBC, featuring Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Butch Vig in conversation from the BBC archives (first broadcast in 2023); and Deep Dive into Nevermind, in which Butch Vig, Bat For Lashes, Teenage Fanclub, Breeders, Wu Lu and many more share their memories and passion for Nirvana’s seminal LP, with the album played in full (first broadcast in 2021).

On BBC Radio 2, Jo Whiley will be playing tracks from Nirvana’s album Nevermind and sharing listeners’ memories in her show (from Tuesday 2nd to Thursday 4th April, 7-9pm) and Dermot O’Leary will mark the anniversary by playing a Nirvana track in his Saturday show’s weekly vinyl slot (Saturday 6th April, 8-10am).