David Bowie: ‘Finding Fame’ News Round-Up

❉ Here’s a round-up on the latest news about the new BBC Bowie film.

Back in 2018, We Are Cult told you about the announcement of the final part of a trilogy of documentaries about David Bowie, originally entitled David Bowie: The First Five Years. Like its award-winning partners, David Bowie: The Last Five Years in 2017 and David Bowie: Five Years in 2013, it is produced and directed by Francis Whately.

At 6:00am today (Tuesday 29 January 2019) various news sources including davidbowie.com went live with new details about this imminent documentary, sourced from the BBC Media Centre:

David Bowie: Finding Fame

This feature-length documentary tells the untold story of how David Robert Jones became David Bowie, how Bowie became Ziggy Stardust and how Ziggy became immortal – changing the musical landscape as he did so. David Bowie: Finding Fame is the story that finally makes sense of one of the greatest icons of the 20th and 21st centuries.

With remarkable, unheard audio recordings, unseen archive and unpublished documents alongside exclusive interviews with David’s family, girlfriends, lifelong friends and early collaborators, this film shows how his experiences in the 1960s created a blueprint for his entire career.

Starting in 1966, when he changed his name to Bowie, the film traces his interest in everything from Holst to Bill and Ben, the Flowerpot Men, and Anthony Newley to Tibetan Buddhism. Highlights include a deconstruction – through the eight-track masters – of Bowie classics including Space Oddity, The Man Who Sold The World and the song he wanted to forget, The Laughing Gnome. There are previously unheard demos, never-before-seen footage of his journey through Siberia in 1973 and extraordinary Ziggy footage, believed to be lost forever.

Contributors include Bowie’s first cousin and lifelong friend Kristina Amadeus, and his former girlfriend and muse Hermione Farthingale – neither of whom have been filmed talking about him before; the late Lindsay Kemp, in his last filmed interview; former girlfriend Dana Gillespie; lifelong friends Geoff MacCormack and George Underwood; producers Mike Vernon, Tony Visconti and Tony Hatch; and Woody Woodmansey, the last remaining Spider From Mars.

This transmission is ahead of the 50th anniversary of the release of David Bowie’s Space Oddity. Directed and produced by Francis Whately, this is the last part of his award-winning and acclaimed David Bowie Trilogy – David Bowie: Five Years, David Bowie: The Last Five Years and now David Bowie: Finding Fame.

The Executive Producer is Phil Dolling.
A BBC Studios Production.

More exciting news followed in the pages of The Daily Telegraph, in a news story posted at 7:30am, declaring that the ‘Holy Grail’ of David Bowie footage had been found and in was in the process of being digitally restored for under-the-wire inclusion in the forthcoming documentary.

Anita Singh reported:

David Bowie’s Top of the Pops appearance as Ziggy Stardust in July 1972 is regarded as a seminal moment in music history.

But few people remember that Bowie actually made his television debut as Ziggy a month earlier, singing Starman on an ITV teatime show called Lift Off with Ayshea. The performance was believed lost to history when the tapes were accidentally wiped.

Almost half a century on, a recording of that first appearance has been unearthed. A member of the public came forward to say they had captured the show on computer tape, a forerunner of VHS.
It is now being restored with the aim of showing it in a forthcoming BBC documentary, David Bowie: Finding Fame

“For fans, it is something of a Holy Grail,” said Francis Whately, the film-maker, in an interview with Radio Times. “It would fall apart if we played it, so it’s had to be very carefully restored. It will be a real coup if it comes off.”

The tape has degraded and is being slowly “baked” – incubated at 130 degrees to extract moisture that has built up over the decades and rendered the footage unplayable.

Still photographs of the Lift Off appearance do exist, showing Bowie wearing the same Ziggy jumpsuit as he would later wear on Top of the Pops.

The article concludes:

The BBC documentary, which will be broadcast next month, is the final part of Whately’s trilogy of films about Bowie. It explores the star’s early years and includes contributions from one of his first girlfriends, actress and model Hermione Farthingale, and a cousin, Kristina Amadeus, who has never spoken publicly about him before.

Additionally, the Tuesday 29 January edition of the BBC ONE magazine programme The One Show featured a preview of the documentary alongside an in-studio interview with Kristina Amadeus and Francis Whately, and DJ Andy Kershaw in conversation with John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson, who accompanied David Bowie on guitar and vocals from 1966 to 1969. You can watch the edition here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0c01f85/the-one-show-29012019

The latest Radio Times (dated 2nd-8th February), has a five-page Bowie cover feature in celebration of Francis Whately’s David Bowie: Finding Fame.


❉ ‘David Bowie: Finding Fame’ Confirmed for BBC Two on Saturday 9 February at 9pm to 10.30pm.

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