Broadcasting from September 26-29, Radio 2 Beatles will feature programmes fronted by Gary Barlow, John Bishop, Martin Freeman, Guy Garvey, Dave Grohl, Giles Martin, Cerys Matthews and Paul Merton, along with Radio 2 presenters including Zoe Ball, Sara Cox and Jo Whiley.
The station will honour The Beatles as a group, individual artists and as songwriters. All the live shows on Radio 2 Beatles will be broadcast direct from Abbey Road, alongside pre-recorded specials and classic Beatles content from the BBC archive. Some shows will be simulcast on Radio 2 and BBC Sounds.
Lewis Carnie, head of Radio 2, said: “The Beatles are woven into the fabric of UK culture. They inspired and continue to inspire artists of all generations and created some of the world's most loved music. As their seminal album Abbey Road is 50 years old, I am delighted that Radio 2 is celebrating the Fab Four with a four-day pop up DAB radio station.”
Programme highlights include We Write The Songs, in which Gary Barlow interviews Paul McCartney about the music. In the series, My Beatles, Dave Grohl, Jack Savoretti and Tom Odell talk about the influence the Fab Four’s music had on them. The pop-up station will also feature Martin Freeman presenting the story of The White Album across two shows.
BBC 6 Music Breakfast and Desert Island Discs host Lauren Laverne presents Desert Island Beatles, featuring the many guests who have selected one of their group or solo records, as a must-have track. Meanwhile, Liza Tarbuck meets pop-artist and Sgt Pepper sleeve designer Sir Peter Blake.
The Beatles are woven into the fabric of UK culture
Barlow said: “It was an absolute honour that Paul McCartney, one of my true heroes and a legendary songwriting genius, agreed to talk in depth about his work for my Radio 2 series We Write The Songs. This particular episode really is a masterclass from the master! I am thrilled to launch my first series on the network as part of Radio 2 Beatles, which sounds like it is going to be four days of unmissable radio.”
Simulcast on Radio 2 and BBC Sounds, and broadcasting live from Abbey Road studios on Thursday morning, Radio 2 Beatles will be launched by Ken Bruce. His show will feature a special Beatles-themed Tracks Of My Years and PopMaster quiz. Later that day, Jo Whiley will present her Radio 2 evening show live from Abbey Road with live performances and very special guests.
On the Friday, the day kicks off with The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show, with a special Friends Round Friday including music from Rick Astley. Later that day, Guy Garvey will be joined by the BBC Concert Orchestra and a guest list of artists – including Cerys Matthews, Katie Melua, Level 42’s Mark King – to perform songs from across the Beatles catalogue.
Other shows include actor Himesh Patel, the star of the movie Yesterday, telling the story behind Abbey Road, the band’s last recorded album. Elsewhere in the schedule, Guy Chambers looks at the genius of their lyrics and melody.
Radio 2 Beatles has also commissioned a special chart from the Official Charts Company. The Beatles Downloaded: Official UK Top 60 will be revealed across the Saturday and Sunday afternoons (5-7pm), with Janice Long and Radio 1 Breakfast Show host Greg James counting down the most downloaded and streamed Beatles songs in the UK.
Radio 2 Beatles follows pop-up DAB stations from the network including Radio 2 Eurovision (2014 and 2015) and Radio 2 Country (2015, 2016 and 2017).