| 20 Jul 2024
Two months of Frank Sinatra on BBC Radio 2 to celebrate his centenary

MUMBAI: 12 December is remembered as Frank Sinatra’s birth anniversary, and BBC Radio 2 announced a set of programs to celebrate what would have been one of the best selling musician’s centenary year. A season of special programming began on 23 November with ‘Frank And The Golden Era Of Radio’- an hour long informative programme about the legendary performer’s journey as a radio star that includes rare and unheard recordings of the singer on air during 1930s and 1940s.

‘When Frank Met Billie’ was the feature of the day on 24 November, when host for the night Jamie Cullum remembered and celebrated the interconnected careers and friendship of two of the most influential artists of the 20th century- Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday. Sinatra was an unknown singer when he met Holiday, but 20 years later, he was by side as she lay on her death bed.

On 30 November, listeners will learn about Sinatra’s interesting trip to England and Scotland in the coronation summer of 1953, through the special programme of the night titled ‘Sinatra In The UK, 1953.’ In the early 1950s, Sinatra went through a depressing phase due to a damaged public relation to his marriage with film star Ava Gardner, followed by series of flop singles. Before the tour, Sinatra- whose career was on a decline- appeared in the film ‘From Here To Eternity’, which shot him back into stardom. Hosted by Leo Green, the programme will revolve around how Sinatra coped with the gradual diminishing of his fan base.

The radio will also broadcast ‘Sinatra: The Comeback’ that will examine the factors that resulted into the singer’s decline in the early 1950s and the two important steps that led him back on the road to recovery. Frank Sinatra won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in ‘From Here To Eternity’ and his recording career was revived, thanks to Capitol Records who signed him in 1953, in what was described as “the greatest comeback since Lazarus.”

The programme will feature on BBC Radio 2 on 1 December. It will include interviews with Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Eli Wallach, Billy May, Nelson Riddle, Quincy Jones, Johnny Mandel, and Neal Hefti and will be hosted by Guy Barke.

The next week will start with ‘Sinatra on Screen’, which will air on 7 and 8 December. The programme will exclusively focus on Frank Sinatra- the actor. Sinatra had an equally celebrated and colourful career in films and explores the relationship between his screen and music persona. The feature will be divided into two programmes; the first will focus on the struggles and Sinatra’s path to glory, that includes an Academy award. The second programme will revolve around Sinatra’s life in Las Vegas while shooting for ‘Ocean’s 11’. ‘Sinatra on Screen’ will be presented by Angie Dickinson on Monday and Tuesday.

Later in the same week, the radio channel will air ‘Friday Night is Music Night’ on 11 December, where Kurt Elling, Clare Teal and Anthony Strong will join the BBC Concert Orchestra led by Guy Barker MBE. An ode to Sinatra’s grand life as a musician will be presented via a recorded session at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival in May. The two-hour long programme will air from 8 pm to 10 pm.

On Sunday 13 December, Michael Ball and Clare Teal will reveal the Top 20 UK Official’s Sinatra compositions. The list will include physical tracks sales and digital track sales from 1952 to the present, compiled exclusively by the Official Charts Company for BBC Radio 2’s special. ‘Sunday Night with Michael Ball and Clare Teal’ will be on air from 7 pm to 9 pm, and 9 pm to 11 pm, respectively.

‘Frank Sinatra: The Dream Concert’- the last programme on the two months special- will be divided into two parts- Monday, 14 December and Tuesday, 15 December. Not a concert per se, but the programme will be a compilation of all the live tracks performed by Sinatra throughout the years highlighting his showmanship and the legacy.

All programmes, except ‘Friday Night is Music Night’ and ‘Sunday Night with Michael Ball and Clare Teal’ will go on air at 10pm.