ROCK TILL WE DROP: 4-PART BBC MUSIC DOCUMENTARY SERIES (2022)
You're never too old to rock. Martin Kemp and Lady Leshurr bring together incredible musicians - with one catch. They have to be over 64. Who will wow the Isle of Wight Festival?
SERIES 1:EPISODE 1
Martin Kemp and Lady Leshurr search for incredible musicians over the age of 64 to form two rock‘n’roll bands. Both mentors hold ‘open mic’ sessions to find the bands' lead singers. Martin is looking for a soul voice, while Lady Leshurr is searching for someone who can mix rock with reggae. The mentors need someone with charisma to excite a crowd at the Isle of Wight Festival, where the two bands will go head to head in just six weeks’ time.
Lady Leshurr meets 67-year-old Martyn, a part-time postman with frontman attitude. Meanwhile, Martin is wowed by 74-year-old Jimmy from Newcastle, who once sang with Tina Tuner but just missed out on hitting the big time.
The teams hit the road to find their band members. Martin's music director Toby finds a guitarist who used to play on the same bill as Marvin Gaye but now lives in a bedsit in Bath. Lady Leshurr is moved by the quiet talents of 77-year-old keyboardist Spike. And can Martin really select 95-year-old jazz drummer Roy to anchor his band?
With time ticking down to the Isle of Wight Festival, Martin and Lady Leshurr must decide on their lineup as soon as possible. Neither are completely sure whether they have they have found the right blend of musicians. And, most importantly, will they be good enough to wow a screaming crowd of up to 60,000 fans?
SERIES 1:EPISODE 2
In this second episode, the two bands come together to rehearse for the first time, and while Martin Kemp and Lady Leshurr love their band members individually, hearing them play together is a very different experience. Lady Leshurr’s song choice doesn’t work for her Merseybeat drummer, 72-year-old Arty, who doesn’t like reggae. He admits he would rather go home than change the drumming habits of a lifetime. Meanwhile, Martin Kemp also has problems with his drummer Roy, who is struggling physically and feeling uncertain about playing a full set at the age of 95.
Away from the intense rehearsals, we go home with the musicians to find out more about their lives. We meet postman-turned-lead guitarist Martin at his trailer-park home and find out how 80-year-old Scottish ex-head teacher Eileen is taking to her new role as keyboardist in a rock band.
By the end of rehearsals, Martin has lost two of his band members and is seriously losing ground to Lady Leshurr.
SERIES 1:EPISODE 3
As time ticks on, Martin Kemp and Lady Leshurr know that their bands need to start playing real gigs if they are to stand any chance of performing live at the Isle of Wight Festival.
Rehearsals intensify so that the bands can perfect the tracks they’ve learnt so far. Martin’s band gets an immediate lift as 79-year-old rock drummer Barry arrives to replace Roy on the drums. Meanwhile, 80-year-old ex-headteacher Eileen wows everyone by singing backing vocals about gangster lifestyle on their latest track, Rockstar.
In Lady Leshurr’s band, there’s mutiny afoot as 77-year-old lead singer Bette is refusing to sing Lady Leshurr’s song choice, stating that she doesn’t understand Coldplay’s Viva La Vida lyrics. Bette wants to sing Elton John’s Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me instead, but can she convince her fellow band members and Lady Leshurr to back her?
Help arrives in the form of soul legend Mica Paris and Justin Hawkins from The Darkness. Can Mica turn up Jimmy’s performance, and can Justin encourage Bette to sing to individual members of the audience for maximum emotion and to increase her performance and stage presence?
The first live gigs take place in Manchester and Birmingham, but can the bands impress the young crowd? Will Leburn remember his solo, and will Bette raise her performance levels? Adding to the drama, a band promoter in the audience is reporting back to the Isle of Wight organisers. It’s time for both bands to show that whatever your age, if you’ve got the talent, you can rock a crowd.
SERIES 1:EPISODE 4
In this fourth and final episode, and with just days until the bands are due to appear on the main stage at the Isle of Wight Festival, disaster strikes. Carol, Lady Leshurr’s charismatic 72-year-old bass player, has been struck down with Covid-19, so they need to find a replacement. With just four days to go, 65-year-old Brian, whose last gig was at his local village hall, agrees to stand in. 'If I hadn’t taken the chance, I’d never have forgiven myself,' he says.
In a last-ditch attempt to help her lead singer’s performance on stage, Lady Leshurr brings in X Factor finalist Fleur East to boost Bette’s confidence.
Meanwhile, Martin Kemp is concerned about 74-year-old Jimmy’s voice and whether Leburn will be able to pull off his guitar solo.
Finally, the two rock bands cross the Solent to join the Isle of Wight Festival, which is already in full swing. The ageing rockers join the crowds, dancing, trying out the festival glitter paint and marvelling at the scale of main stage. It is not until they are due on stage that the nerves and excitement kick in as they get ready for the gig of a lifetime.
It is time to find out who will be voted the best band based on their performances. Will it be Martin Kemp’s band with their rock classic Alright Now, or Lady Leshurr’s band with their reggae mash-up?
This final episode is so much more than just a competition about two bands. As 77-year-old Bette says, 'People look at me and think – poor old thing. That’s what I want to change on stage today.' Both bands hope to change those perceptions and prove that older musicians have the talent and drive to rock one of the biggest stages in the world.
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