Inside the BBC's One World: Together At Home special with Jan Younghusband

Inside the BBC's One World: Together At Home special with Jan Younghusband

BBC Music TV head of commissioning Jan Younghusband has spoken about the broadcaster’s coverage of the “unique” global livestream event One World: Together At Home.

One World: Together at Home is a special event from Global Citizen being held in support of the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic, led by the World Health Organisation and is curated in collaboration with Lady Gaga.

BBC One will air coverage from the live US event (which takes place on Saturday, April 18) on Sunday, April 18, from 7.15-9.15pm. In the US it will be broadcast live on ABC, Bell Media, NBC, ViacomCBS Networks and iHeartMedia in North America.  

Big names performing include Taylor Swift, Sam Smith, Camila Cabello, Celine Dion, Shawn Mendes, Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys, Usher, Pharrell Williams, Chris Martin, John Legend, Charlie Puth, Common, Niall Horan and many more.

The BBC has also lined up exclusive performances. Here, Jan Younghusband takes Music Week inside the music special... 

Why were you keen to secure broadcast rights to One World: Together At Home?

“One World: Together At Home is a very special event to thank and pay tribute to careworkers around the world at this challenging time. Global Citizen and the World Health Organisation have done a fantastic job pulling together what promises to be a unique event. As the line-up features some of the world’s most popular musicians, including Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder, as well as newer artists such as Lizzo and Billie Eilish, we felt it important that this global event was reflected on BBC One. The BBC One programme will also feature films of UK careworkers receiving some very special surprises. And information will be provided after the programme to give our viewers information and advice about how they can help and stay safe and cope with the challenges of lockdown. This is our second show with Hugh Evans and Global Citizen [following 2015’s Global Citizen Festival] whose remit is to bring awareness to all the issues of keeping people and the planet safe and well. Values we all share of course.”

How does One World: Together At Home compare to previous landmark music broadcasts?

“The BBC is unique in delivering large scale music events to our audiences such as Glastonbury, Radio 1’s Big Weekend and Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park and also has a crucial role to deliver music in response to crises, such as most recently One Love Manchester with Ariana Grande, Sound of Change Live with Beyonce, and working with Doreen Lawrence to broadcast the Stephen Lawrence Concert at the O2. We also put significant music events in a primetime slot on the BBC because we have a big following from the music audience and the artists themselves. We are living in extraordinary times at the moment as the world pulls together to get through this crisis. As all concerts are cancelled we feel our role is even more important to bring great music to our audiences and to support the artists to bring their performances to their fans.

“This event will have more resonance than a pop concert usually has, as the aim behind it is to thank frontline careworkers and people who are putting their lives at risk to keep us safe and to keep things going. It is not about ratings as such but about drawing attention to heroism and thanking everyone working to keep us safe in these times and show our appreciation. So I hope lots of people will join us to say thank you and to watch this unique event, featuring some of the world’s most popular musicians and testimony from some front line workers and messages of encouragement in these difficult times.”

We feel our role is even more important to bring great music to our audiences

Jan Younghusband

What will the UK element be for the BBC One audience?

“Some of the artists featured are popular with younger audiences, such as Lizzo and Billie Eilish, but again, it’s about viewers of all ages watching and enjoying the performances. Clara Amfo, Claudia Winkleman and Dermot O’Leary will present the BBC One coverage of the show and there will be a few surprises for frontline careworkers in the show, as you will see.”

What was the thinking behind screening the BBC One special a day after the live broadcast n the US?

“As the event will be livestreamed on Saturday night in the USA, which is at midnight our time, we decided to broadcast the show a day later. It was also important for us to cover the event for the British audience. We are delighted that we are the first UK television network to screen our coverage of the event. David Brindley at Twofour Productions is managing an international technical production with feeds coming from America overnight, hours before going to air. In the run-up to the show, the production team have worked from home and social distancing has been adhered to at all times.  

“I’m thrilled to be supporting Lady Gaga who curated the event and has inspired an incredible range of artists to take part, including Ellie Goulding, George the Poet, Jess Glynne, The Kingdom Choir, Little Mix, Michael Bublé, Rag‘N’Bone Man, Skip Marley, Tom Jones, Burna Boy, Eddie Vedder, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Steve Wonder and so many more who will be giving performances for the BBC One programme, which will also feature interviews with, and surprises for, frontline workers.” 

Do you expect to see artists benefit from their appearance on a primetime BBC One show?

“I think we all just want to try to make a contribution and to help and music has always had a crucial role in times of crisis. We’re grateful to all of the artists who found ways to record their music without their usual backup and have agreed to perform at this difficult time. We are all living in a new world of confinement and social distancing, and this show has given us the opportunity to broadcast a fantastic show featuring so many of our audiences favourite performers.” 

How will iPlayer support the broadcast in terms of bonus material?

“After the two-hour show on BBC One, which mirrors the US-made show, with some special new and relevant content for our audience in the UK, other performances will be released on iPlayer also and the whole event will be on iPlayer for 30 days after the event.” 

How is BBC Music dealing with the current restrictions in terms of commissioning and broadcasting?

“Everyone at the BBC is pulling together to continue to produce programming to keep the nation educated, informed and entertained, whilst ensuring the safety of staff. In music television, we’re planning to keep going but in a different way, with Later… With Jools Holland, and to commemorate what would’ve been Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary festival this June, which has been moved to next year. A Glastonbury experience across radio, television and online will allow us to celebrate the spirit of this unique event. We’ll announce details in the coming weeks.  

“Our recent music programmes including Kenny Rogers: Cards on the Table (BBC4), Dolly Parton (BBC2) and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Island documentary about Eel Pie Island (BBC4) have all performed brilliantly, and BBC Four continues to deliver entertaining music documentaries every Friday and classical music shows on Sundays. We are learning to make things virtually and to high quality, such as the Sacred Songs: Tenebrae in Concert on BBC Four last Sunday (April 12), making a concert with 20 musicians who would normally stand together, recorded separately on phones at home. Technology is amazing these days and we are inspired to work in a different way and make the most of what is possible so we can continue to deliver great music to our audiences.”

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