BBC to Mark Queen’s Birthday with Celebratory Programmes


BBC to Mark the Relationship Between Her Majesty The Queen and the Commonwealth with a Trio of Celebratory Programmes

· BBC One and BBC Radio 2 will mark the Queen’s birthday, which falls at the end of this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, with a live music extravaganza.

· George Alagiah will retrace the steps of the fascinating history of the Queen’s Commonwealth in ‘The Queen: Her Commonwealth Story’

· Sir Lenny Henry will examine the deep-rooted relationship between Britain, the Commonwealth and its 2.3 billion people in ‘The Commonwealth Kid’

On Saturday 21 April, BBC One and BBC Radio 2 will broadcast a special concert in celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s 92nd birthday, live from the Royal Albert Hall. The concert comes at the end of a week when many Commonwealth Leaders will be gathered in London for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. It will be attended by the Queen and many members of the royal family, with performances from a host of musical stars.

Already confirmed are Sir Tom Jones, Kylie Minogue, Craig David, Anne Marie, Shawn Mendes, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Sting & Shaggy, who will come together to put on a birthday party like no other.

With celebratory performances from acts from across the world and stars from around the Commonwealth, ‘The Queen’s Birthday Party’ promises something for all the family. Tickets are available from 9am on Wednesday 21 March from the Royal Albert Hall

Highlights of the concert will be broadcast on BBC World Service English, giving listeners around the world the chance to hear the celebrations.

BBC newsreader George Alagiah will present a new film for BBC One exploring the fascinating history of the Queen and the Commonwealth that she has led for over 60 years. Walking in Her Majesty’s footsteps, George discovers how the role of heading-up this family of nations progressed, exploring moments of triumph, diplomacy, challenge and political intrigue.

George’s journey starts in Tonga, one of the furthest flung stops on the Queen’s first Commonwealth tour in 1953, where he meets Princess Pilolevu, granddaughter of Queen Salote of Tonga, who welcomed the 27-year-old Queen.

From there George’s own Commonwealth tour takes him to Australia, Ghana, India and South Africa. George explores how, amidst safety fears and the risk of political unrest, the Queen travelled to newly independent Ghana and charmed President Nkrumah. And looking at how royal visits to Commonwealth countries haven’t always run so smoothly, the film explores how the Queen’s arrival in India in 1997 meant revisiting the painful memories of the 1919 Amritsar massacre, with many expecting an apology for this difficult episode in Britain’s past.

George Alagiah said: “What we see in this film is the transformation of a young, diffident woman into a confident figure able to command the respect of leaders around the world. We discovered that as Head of the Commonwealth she has far more room to manoeuvre – able to influence world events in a way she cannot at home.”

Gathering testimony from people who have met the Queen across the years and from experts who have followed her fascinating journey, George builds a picture of how deftly the Queen has played her role as head of the Commonwealth.

The Princess Royal talks about her own experiences of royal walkabouts and the Queen’s role in a male dominated world.

Other interviewees include former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, the second Commonwealth Secretary-General Sir Sonny Ramphal and South African politician Mamphela Ramphele, who reveal unique insights into the Queen’s contribution to the history of the Commonwealth.

Also airing on BBC One in April, this special film follows Dudley-born, Jamaica-bred Sir Lenny Henry as he examines the deep-rooted relationship between Britain, the Commonwealth and its 2.3 billion people.

Fascinated with his own heritage and the Commonwealth, Lenny considers himself a Commonwealth Kid, born to Jamaican parents who came to the UK as part of the post-Windrush generation in 1957. It’s an issue close to his heart and a subject he feels deeply passionate about.

In this hour-long film, Lenny will set off on a tour of the Caribbean visiting the Bahamas and his homeplace of Jamaica to hear what the Commonwealth means to the people who actually reside there. In this funny and fascinating journey into the body, mind and soul of the Caribbean, Lenny will investigate the experiences of those who live so far from the UK, but remain members of this vast and populous club.

From street vendors to government officials and teachers to students, he will examine the special bond that exists between the people of the Caribbean and the UK, a microcosm of the wider relationship between all of the people of the Commonwealth.

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