ABBA set for catalogue boost with BBC programming to mark 50th anniversary of Eurovision win

ABBA set for catalogue boost with BBC programming to mark 50th anniversary of Eurovision win

ABBA have been one of the leaders of catalogue in recent years, thanks to their enduring legacy, a new album release in 2021 and a hugely successful avatar concert series.

Music Week has reported on the catalogue boost for ABBA from the Universal Music UK campaign. The greatest hits Gold album was No.10 overall in 2023.

The Swedish stars are now set for another celebratory moment with the BBC unveiling plans to mark the 50th anniversary of them winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974. ABBA won for Waterloo at a ceremony staged at the Brighton Dome.

In April, the BBC will air a range of programmes on BBC Two, Radio 2, BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer.

BBC Two will screen When ABBA Came To Britain, a documentary which will be broadcast in early April as part of a dedicated Saturday night of ABBA specials on the channel. It looks at the time they spent in the UK from 1974 to 1982 and examines their legacy, from Eurovision to ABBA Voyage.

Featuring previously untransmitted interviews with ABBA, the documentary focuses on the ongoing love affair between the UK and the Swedish supergroup. It is produced by Wise Owl Films, the Leeds-based team behind BBC Two’s award-winning When X Came To Britain strand (Bob Marley, Nirvana, Motown, Tina Turner and Blondie) and The Hacienda: The Club That Shook Britain.

The documentary will include a wealth of BBC and non-BBC performances, as well as news footage, which all show how ABBAmania took hold in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s. The story is brought up to date with the quartet’s return to Britain in 2022, choosing to launch their ground-breaking ABBA Voyage spectacle in London.

Rachel Davies, commissioning editor, BBC Pop Music TV, said: “When ABBA came to Britain is a love letter from this country to the beloved Swedish super-group, celebrating the special relationship we have as a nation with Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Anni-Frid. We focus on the stories of individuals who were lucky to be caught up in their world. A must watch for pop fans of all ages.”

There can be fewer bands, if any, who have straddled generations of British music fans in a more impressive way than ABBA

Mark Robinson

Mark Robinson, of Wise Owl Films, said: “There can be fewer bands, if any, who have straddled generations of British music fans in a more impressive way than ABBA. Their original fans might now be in their fifties and sixties, but their children, and even their grandchildren, will be just as familiar with their biggest hits thanks to the likes of Mamma Mia! and Voyage. This film shows the enduring and often emotional impact that ABBA have left on British fans and musicians across the decades, but we will also chart the key role that Britain played in the band’s history – from the music of groups like The Beatles to playing host to defining moments in their career.”

It was commissioned by Rachel Davies and Jonathan Rothery, BBC head of pop music TV. It is produced and directed by Dhivya Kate Chetty and the executive producer for Wise Owl Films is Mark Robinson. Leeds-based Wise Owl Films is a non-scripted label of Lime Pictures, part of All3 Media.  

Further programmes to be broadcast as part of the ABBA night on BBC Two include More ABBA at the BBC, alongside the original 2013 edition of the archive-based show; ABBA in Switzerland, a 1979 BBC special recorded on location in the Swiss Alps featuring special guests Kate Bush and Roxy Music; and The Joy of ABBA, a 2013 documentary on the group’s huge success in the UK.

BBC One will broadcast the feature documentary ABBA: Against The Odds later in spring. The programme will be produced by multi-award winning documentary makers Rogan Productions (Freddie Mercury: The Final Act), directed by BAFTA and Emmy Award-winner James Rogan and distributed worldwide by BBC Studios.

“Telling the epic story of ABBA’s greatest period of musical achievement framed between the albums Arrival (1976) and Super Trouper (1980), this is the story of ABBA’s deeply personal and perilous journey through the band’s most transformative years and rise to global fame,” said a statement. In the UK the film will be shown on BBC One and BBC iPlayer this May.

On Radio 2 and BBC Sounds in April, Eras returns (following previous series on Kylie Minogue and The Beatles), telling the story of ABBA in four chapters. The series uses the band’s own words with extensive archive material. Contributors include Kylie Mingoue, Rylan, ABBA historian Carl Magnus Palm, session musician Janne Schaffer, Rod Stephen (creator of Björn Again), and ABBA Voyage producers Ludvig Andersson and Svana Gisla. 

In addition, Sophie Ellis-Bextor shares her love for the band in ABBA, My Supergroup. Both will be available on BBC Sounds from Saturday, April 6 and broadcast on Radio 2 later that month.

Also in April, Radio 2 will launch a vote to discover the listeners’ Ultimate ABBA Song, featuring their favourite Top 40 tracks.


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