Inside the Mercury Prize broadcast coverage and performer line-up with BBC Music

Inside the Mercury Prize broadcast coverage and performer line-up with BBC Music

The One Show is set for a ratings bump from music industry viewers this week.

For the first and possibly last time, the live magazine programme on BBC One is set to reveal the winner of the 2020 Hyundai Mercury Prize on Thursday (September 24). Annie Mac will announce the judges' verdict on the show.

Ahead of the big announcement, there’s a special Mercury Prize show featuring performances from some of the 12 nominated acts filmed at famous venues on BBC Four tonight (September 23), which will then be available on BBC iPlayer. The annual ceremony was unable to go ahead because of Covid-19.

In the latest issue of Music Week, BPI & BRIT Awards chief executive Geoff Taylor discusses the opportunities for this year’s expanded coverage with BBC Music across TV, BBC 6 Music, iPlayer and BBC Sounds. BBC Music will also feature performances on its YouTube channel.

“We're really pleased to be going ahead with a big plan to get more coverage than we've ever had before from the Mercury Prize,” said Taylor.

“It was important to us to show support after such a difficult year for artists and the industry,” said Rachel Davies, commissioning executive, BBC Music. “When the BPI was determined not to cancel and to make it work, we really wanted to support that. It’s the artists and the music that we care about and giving them a platform.”

As well as programming throughout the week on Music Week Award-winning station BBC 6 Music, the TV coverage kicks off tonight at 10pm with the hour-long special on BBC Four voiced by Lauren Laverne.

Artists who filmed performances include Lanterns On The Lake (filmed at Sage Gateshead), Porridge Radio (Rialto Theatre, Brighton) and Laura Marling (Royal Albert Hall in London), as well as Georgia, Sports Team, Anna Meredith and Moses Boyd (all filmed at Bush Hall in London).

Charli XCX has shot an exclusive performance in LA, while Dua Lipa has made a previously unseen performance available. The BBC Four special will also feature a track from Stormzy’s 2019 Glastonbury set, along with Later… With Jools Holland archive performances by Michael Kiwanuka and Kano.

We are absolutely pushing for the winner to be on The One Show

Rachel Davies

“We didn’t just want artists at the end of a Zoom call,” said Taylor. “We wanted to have full performances of the artists with their bands, and we're excited to be supporting some local venues. They will be proper full-on artist performances, and that is perhaps the first time that a lot of people will have seen that on TV since lockdown.” 

“We’re all hungry for it, definitely,” added Davies. “We found that with the success of Glastonbury [archive sets] this year. What’s exciting about this is that there will be some new performances. We’ve gone to great lengths to film them in a Covid-safe environment. It’s not easy, but it will be worth it. We want to showcase this amazing list as much as possible.”

While the prevalence of streaming means that the Mercury no longer delivers the pure sales boost it once did, BBC Music is aiming for this week’s coverage to have an impact for the shortlisted albums.

“We hope so,” said Davies. “We are in the business of supporting artists and new music at BBC Music. This new shape [to the Mercury coverage] is a necessity this year, but it’s grown and we’ve got some positive collaborations out of it. Our colleagues on The One Show have come on board for the first time and that will shine a light on these artists and their work.”

Davies said BBC Music is encouraging The One Show to feature the winner in the prime time slot, in addition to the announcement and performance footage.

“We are absolutely pushing for the winner to be on the show,” she said. “Fingers crossed they can be there, depending who it is.”

The artist will definitely appear for an extended interview on a Later… With Jools Holland special on Friday at 10pm on BBC Two, which will also feature performances shot for the BBC Four show. It will be a chance for Holland, once a presenting mainstay of the awards ceremony, to resume his Mercury duties. 

“That will be in the more intimate style that we’ve been filming Later...,” said Davies. “The new format that we’ve developed to handle the Covid situation actually works really well to showcase the Mercury winner.

“It will be a conversation between Jools and the winner discussing the honour of that prize. It will be about the creative process behind the winning album and some of the musical influences that shaped it – so there will be a delve into the archive once more.”

Davies also highlighted the coverage on BBC Radio 6 Music. Tom Ravenscroft will present a special show from 7-9pm on Thursday (September 24.)

“There’s more programming on 6 Music this year,” she said. “Lauren’s shortlist launch was a really great show for us, it was a different way of doing things, we had to adapt. 6 Music has been a longtime supporter of the prize – there will be lots of support across the week.”

A selection of performances will feature on BBC Sounds, which will house all 6 Music content live and on demand.

A livestream of the performances by shortlisted acts will also be available for viewers outside the UK on the Mercury Prize YouTube channel. YouTube Music is this year’s digital partner.

For the exclusive interview with Geoff Taylor on this year’s broadcast coverage, pick up the latest issue – subscribers can click here.

* To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, subscribe to our digital issue by clicking here.

author twitter FOLLOW Andre Paine

For more stories like this, and to keep up to date with all our market leading news, features and analysis, sign up to receive our daily Morning Briefing newsletter

subscribe link free-trial link

follow us...