Singer, writer and former The Voice UK coach Boy George is to journey back to his formative years for a BBC Two documentary this October looking at the 1970s.
“I think of the ‘70s as being this glorious decade where I discovered who I was and discovered all these amazing things… punk rock, electro music, fashion, all of that. And yeah of course there was that dark side to the ’70s, the rubbish, the strikes, the poverty and I’d get chased and confronted for the way I looked. But I was a teenager. I didn’t have any time for misery I was just having a great time with my friends. My ‘70s were all about Bowie, Bolan, dressing up and going out, I think of it as the last bonkers decade, and I loved every second.” – Boy George
The programme is part of the BBC Music year-long season, My Generation telling the story of popular music, which launched with the 1950s back in April.
Boy George’s 1970s: Save Me from Suburbia looks back to September 1982 when an unknown George Alan O’Dowd – aka Boy George – appeared on the BBC’s Top of the Pops with his group, Culture Club, singing Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?. The next day, the British press went wild. Totally bewildered by his appearance, they asked ‘Was he a boy or a girl?’ in hand-wringing horror.
British teens on the other hand loved it and sent it to Number 1 in the charts; the rest of the world would soon follow resulting in Number 1’s in 23 countries. To date, Boy George is a Brit and Grammy Award-winning artist who has sold over 100 million singles and in excess of 50 million albums. He is also the author of two bestselling autobiographies, a fashion designer, a Broadway producer and, arguably, single-handedly the public figure who did most to usher in a new era of sexual tolerance in Britain at a time when being gay was not widely accepted.
1970s: Top of the Pops was king of the music show
In this film George will recall, revisit and assess how the 1970s moulded the person and artist he would become. This is his musical, social and sexual coming of age, when he discovered the power of his own sexuality before setting about turning that persona into a popstar. Set against a backdrop of social discord, disenfranchisement & sexual repression – the seventies was also conversely the decade that revelled in colour and creative chaos giving the world glam rock, disco & punk… and the young George O’Dowd was at the birth of them all.
The documentary includes contributions from contemporaries like Martin Degville (Sigue Sigue Sputnik), Andy Polaris (Animal Nightlife), DJ Princess Julia and pop star Marilyn this is, as George said “the last ever bonkers decade”, and it totally and completely shaped him.
Other programming still to air includes on BBC Four, BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 2 which will also be airing some of the key names from the decade. On BBC Four The Selecter’s Pauline Black presents the third instalment of People’s History of Pop, film-maker and DJ Don Letts presents Skinhead, a documentary about this provocative movement, plus there’s a treat from the archives with Classic Albums: Catch a Fire – Bob Marley.
6 Music takes on the sound of one day in 1979 and Radio 2 delivers 70s versions of all its specialist music shows. And, following their daylong tie in exhibition linked to the 1960s part of My Generation, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London will be holding another special day celebrating the 1970s on Saturday 8 October.
BBC Music: My Generation is a year-long landmark season of programming charting the history of popular music across the decades from the mid-1950s to the noughties through the memories of the people who were there. This major BBC season airs in five instalments across the year with the fans and the musical icons of the time giving their own unique perspectives. The season launched in April with a look at the decade of music from the 1950s, continuing in July with the 1960s.