This Summer, the BBC will celebrate 60 glorious years of The Rolling Stones with a star-studded season of programming across television, radio and digital platforms.
The centrepiece is a world-exclusive four-part series of films, My Life as a Rolling Stone, to premiere on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer this summer, produced by Mercury Studios.
It tells the story of one of the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands in a way that has never been done before – by viewing the band through the musical lens of each member, delving deep into their personalities, passions and memories from the past 60 years. Four hour-long films, each an intimate portrait of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts, show how these individual musical geniuses came together to make the music that has provided the soundtrack to the lives of millions.
The films feature unrivalled access to and newly-filmed interviews with the band members, and from a stellar cast of artists who’ve loved and been inspired by the band, including P.P. Arnold, Chrissie Hynde, Slash, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner and Steven Tyler.
The landmark series, produced by Mercury Studios for the BBC, will include unseen footage and exclusive stories from Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood interwoven with new and archive interviews and performance. The story of Charlie Watts, who sadly passed away in August 2021, will be told via tributes from his fellow band members and his musical peers and admirers along with archive interviews of Charlie.
The Rolling Stones created the blueprint for every budding rock band. They have overcome tragedy and controversy to record some of the most instantly recognisable and beloved songs. They have embraced the full spectrum of popular music from gritty blues to heartrending ballads, from pure pop to hard-edged rock selling millions of records along the way. Since their live debut on 12 July 1962 at London’s Marquee Club, the Stones made stadiums and arenas their home with spectacular global tours over the last six decades.
The series, which will be broadcast on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer this summer, is directed by award-winning filmmakers, Oliver Murray (Bill Wyman, The Quiet One) and Clare Tavernor (Keith Richards: A Culture Show Special). Mercury Studios will distribute the films internationally.
Joyce Smyth, manager, The Rolling Stones, says: “We are thrilled to celebrate 60 years of The Rolling Stones with these four films which give fans around the world a new and fascinating look at the band.”
Lorna Clarke, Controller, BBC Pop, says: “What better year for the BBC, in its centenary year, to pay tribute to and celebrate one of the world’s most significant rock groups, in their 60th anniversary year. The Rolling Stones have been ambassadors for great British rock ‘n’ roll for decades and are loved the world over, so I’m thrilled that the BBC is able to present this very special season of programming, including the world-exclusive TV series, to our audiences.”
Mercury Studios CEO, Alice Webb, says: “Every now and again, as filmmakers we get to work on extraordinary projects – this is one of those moments. We know their music, their swagger, their unrivalled stage presence – and through these beautiful, intimate films you’ll see the band in all their glory as we explore what makes them truly great. It’s been an honour to work with The Rolling Stones to shine a light on their incredible lives and careers – we can’t wait for audiences around the world to see them.”
Each of the four episodes will put one of the Stones in the spotlight, featuring their own personal take on the band, with added contributions about them from each of the other Stones and a cast of incredible contributors.
The four films are:
Mick’s creative and commercial vision has been instrumental to The Rolling Stones’ success. He’s steered the band to incredible musical heights, striving to keep them unified through difficulties such fallouts, changing fashions and attitudes. Jagger’s continued fame at the heart of rock and roll is without parallel, and with fellow ‘Glimmer Twin’ Keith Richards he has written and produced many of the greatest rock anthems of all time. How on earth does he do it?
This is a film about how important his unbridled passion has been to The Rolling Stones, and how the sheer power of playing live keeps them on the road. Keith’s uncompromising passion for the music he loves has driven the band to experiment with varying sounds and genres. And how important has his image of transgression and rebellion been to the legend of the Stones?
Nobody represents fun – and what happens when it isn’t anymore – more than the irrepressible Ronnie Wood. As the godfather of a very British sound and style, he was the one who helped the band regain their mojo through hard times when they needed it most. But, looking back, did the excesses go too far?
Watts was a true musician to the core with a lifetime love of jazz, often cited by Mick and Keith as the rock and the glue that held the Stones together. For six decades he was the quiet force and swinging backbeat of the Stones and the least showy drummer in rock history. How did Charlie maintain his reputation as “the drummer’s drummer”, the unruffled mainstay and linchpin of the band, oblivious to the temptations of fame, but crucial to the band’s success?
BBC iPlayer Collection
In addition to the four-part BBC Two series, a curated collection of landmark concerts and documentaries will be available on BBC iPlayer this summer, including:
Crossfire Hurricane (2012)
Crossfire Hurricane provided a remarkable new perspective on the Stones’ unparalleled journey from blues-obsessed teenager in the early 60s to rock royalty. The film combines extensive historical footage, much of it widely unseen at the time, with contemporary commentaries by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood and former Stones, Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor.
The Rolling Stones: Totally Stripped (original version 1995, re-versioned edition 2016)
This film is a newly revised version of the documentary that was originally made to coincide with the release of the Stones’ Stripped album, released in November 1995, telling the story of two studio sessions and three live shows that made up the Stripped project. The film follows the triumphant end of the Voodoo Lounge tour which found the band reimagining tracks from their back catalogue as acoustic, pared back versions, as well as cover versions.
BBC Radio 2
Along with the documentary films, the season will also include a world exclusive two-hour audio documentary, Rolling with The Stones, on BBC Radio 2, the UK’s most listened to radio station with 14.9m weekly listeners. This global audio premiere will air this summer.
Rolling With The Stones
Six decades ago, when Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Brian Jones and the late Charlie Watts played together for the first time in a scruffy pub in London’s Soho, a global phenomenon was born. Sixty years later, this incredible rock’n’ roll band are still riding every musical wave and bucking every musical trend by the simple expedient of being themselves.
Drawn from hours of unheard interviews from the band’s own archives, alongside rarely heard music and performances, Rolling with The Stones offers the ultimate presentation of one of the defining stories of the last hundred years, told intimately and revealingly by the people who wrote it. Listeners will hear directly from Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards alongside the memories of Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor and the verité archive of the late Brian Jones. There will be tributes from the bandmates to the much missed Charlie Watts who died last year, as well as from Charlie himself.
It’s the story of one world’s greatest rock bands, but more than that, it’s the story of popular culture over the last 60 years in all its magnificent glory. There’s never been a band like The Rolling Stones, there’ll never be another, and Rolling with The Stones explains why.
Rolling With The Stones will be broadcast on Radio 2 and BBC Sounds, with a complementary series – Rolling With The Stones Raw – available exclusively on BBC Sounds.
My Life as a Rolling Stone was commissioned by Lorna Clarke, Controller, BBC Pop. The series is produced by Mercury Studios. Directed by Oliver Murray and Clare Tavernor. The executive producer is Steve Condie.
BBC producer for Rolling With The Stones and executive producer for the content across all platforms is Mark Hagen.
The Rolling Stones: Totally Stripped is made by Mercury Studios; executive producers Geoff Kempin and Terry Shand.
Crossfire Hurricane is produced by Tremolo Productions and Milkwood Films for Mercury Studios and The Rolling Stones. Written and directed by Brett Morgen; executive producers Joyce Smyth, Jane Rose, Sherry Daly.