'It is so much more than the headliners': Lauren Laverne's Glastonbury guide

'It is so much more than the headliners': Lauren Laverne's Glastonbury guide

Radio 6 Music's Lauren Laverne has praised Emily Eavis and tackled criticism of the Glastonbury line-up with the BBC in the midst of its longest celebration of the festival yet.

The BBC is Glastonbury’s exclusive broadcast partner, providing six weeks of build-up and coverage from June 3 to July 14 across TV, BBC iPlayer, radio and BBC Sounds. 

Laverne, who will again serve as one of the lead BBC TV presenters of this year's event alongside Clara Amfo, Jack Saunders and Jo Whiley, told Music Week she cannot wait to be back on Worthy Farm.

“It’s the best bit of the year and I’m really up for it,” she said. “It’s all about trying to bring that festival experience as close as you can to audiences at home."

The festival returns from June 26-30, headlined by Dua Lipa, Coldplay and SZA. Viewers will be able to watch over 90 hours of live performances across the five main festival stages, with 10 streams broadcasting across five weeks. 

Alongside the debut of Glastonbury Channel II on iPlayer, the highlights of 2024’s coverage will also include 30-minute specials with Dua Lipa and Coldplay on BBC Two and a series of Sidetracked podcasts by Annie Mac and Nick Grimshaw that includes interviews with Emily EavisShania Twain and more.

Emily, and her husband, Nick, who is absolutely wonderful, their whole team, they work so hard and so brilliantly

Lauren Laverne

“We’re going to be there from the Wednesday morning to the following Monday and there’s loads of extra coverage this year," said Laverne, speaking in the new issue of Music Week. "There are special episodes of Sidetracked with Annie Mac and Nick Grimshaw in the run-up for people who want to take a deep dive into the event or the artists. And, once we get into the weekend, it will be all over BBC iPlayer.

"The great thing about all the technology that we’ve got now with apps like Sounds and iPlayer is that we can bring such an extensive range of things to viewers and listeners, so they can find whatever they want to on a livestream of particular stage. It’s really interesting to see how effective it is at getting you round the festival site. It’s a bit like when you’re there with your mates and everybody is looking at programmes.”

Laverne also discussed her long-standing relationship with Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis. 

“Emily is a friend," she said. "When she was younger, she was working in music TV, and we worked at the same company. There was a group of us and we would go and get dinner. The strange thing about it is that people would never put this in the story of my life or Dermot O’Leary’s life or Emily’s life. But that was the time we all met each other and became friends.

"Dermot and I worked together on XFM, then he started dating a girl I was living with and now they’ve been married for decades. I also met my husband on that show. It is this shared experience that we went through together when we were young, but it’s invisible to everybody else.”

Asked whether the Eavis family receive the credit they deserve, Laverne added: “Emily, and her husband, Nick [Dewey], who is absolutely wonderful, their whole team, they work so hard and so brilliantly. They’re not in it for the credit, they’re in it because what they do is utterly unique. It’s an expression of Britishness and British culture, it says something about us as a country that is so special."

With Glastonbury, you’re talking about how many acts? About 2,000? If you can’t find something that you like, among that, I think it might be you

Lauren Laverne

She continued: "It’s not about making money and the commercial, corporate game; they give a lot of money away. The amount they donate to charities is next level. I know how hard Emily works because she’s my friend and I know about the invisible stuff that people don’t see.

"When they stopped using plastic water bottles on site there was pressure on every other festival to follow suit. So there’s the environmental side, then the work on diversity, inclusion and gender balance. I know how much effort goes into that and I think if other people understood that, then they would realise there is a lot more to running a festival than who is headlining the main stage.”

Following Elton John's star turn in 2023, the lack of veteran acts among the headliners has been criticised by some this year. However, the ratio of women to men has improved markedly, and Laverne suggested the line-up is varied enough to suit all tastes.

“It’s always going to generate conversation and that’s fine," she offered. "That’s like any music event, you can’t really avoid it. With Glastonbury, you’re talking about how many acts? About 2,000? If you can’t find something that you like, among that, I think it might be you. But I think when you’ve got the biggest music and arts festival on the planet, if you’re just determined to moan about it and find fault, and you can’t find anything that you like, I think it might not be Glastonbury that is the problem.

"It’s all of the clichés, everybody has a different Glastonbury experience. You can go and never see a band and have an amazing Glastonbury. You can go and see music all weekend, none of which you have ever heard before in your life, and have an incredible time. It is so much more than the main headliners.”

Other Pyramid Stage acts will include Little Simz, LCD Soundsystem, PJ Harvey, Burna Boy, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Kiwanuka, Janelle Monae, Paul Heaton, Keane, Ayra Starr, Paloma Faith, Olivia Dean and Shania Twain, who will occupy the coveted Sunday teatime legends slot.

“I’m very excited to see what Little Simz does," said Laverne. "She told me it will be her only UK show, so I think she will have something very special planned. She is so exciting."

Idles, Disclosure and The National will headline The Other Stage, which is also set to feature D-Block Europe, The Streets, Two Door Cinema Club, Anne-Marie, Camila Cabello, Avril Lavigne, Bombay Bicycle Club, Bloc Party, The Last Dinner Party, Nothing But Thieves, Confidence Man and Headie One.

Recalling her favourite Glastonbury moments, Laverne added: “I remember interviewing Stevie Wonder in 2010, when I was pregnant with my second son. He came off stage and was just being so chilled. It was like it was a Wednesday and he had just popped to the corner shop, but he’d just played the most mind-blowing set you’d ever seen. We nearly called the baby Stevie.

"Also, Beyoncé [in 2011] was just the most extraordinary thing. It felt as if Glastonbury was truly international and making waves, everything changed at that moment.”

Subscribers can read the full Music Week Interview with Laverne here.

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