Burt Bacharach: A Life in Song

Burt Bacharach: A Life in Song


BBC4 invites us to revel in a night of Bacharachanalia. The Burtmeister is featured in an Easy Listening clipathon at 8pm and documentary at 10.30pm, but he’s the main event of this emotional chat-and-hits concert. So, what’s it all about? Well, a career celebration, essentially. And who’s going to argue with that?

For one night only last summer at the Royal Festival Hall, the 87-year-old mulls over the milestones with Michael Grade, coming over as generous (about his long-time lyricist Hal David, for instance) and hard on himself, owning up to occasional bum notes like the song Peggy’s in the Pantry and the 1973 flop musical remake of Lost Horizon (“It was my fault”).

I don’t envy Rebecca Ferguson, Joss Stone and the other singers putting new spins on his songs, just a few feet from the maestro himself. Not that there are any arrangements to frighten the horses here, and Bacharach applauds and thumbs-ups their faithful renditions. A pared-back Windows of the World by Michael Kiwanuka is especially good – melancholy and magical. But BB’s own forays to the piano are the highlight, his trademark croak only adding poignancy.

The best advice he ever had? “Never be ashamed of a melody you can remember.” The fact that we still revere 50-year-old songs bears that out with clarity that’s almost deafening.


Coverage of a unique concert staged at London's Royal Festival Hall celebrating the music of songwriter and performer Burt Bacharach. Some of his most famous songs are performed by artists including Alfie Boe, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Shaun Escoffery, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Hayward, Michael Kiwanuka, Laura Mvula and Joss Stone. Burt himself also performs, accompanied by his band, and chats to Michael Grade about the art of songwriting and shares the stories behind some of his best-loved hits.

Cast & Crew

Host Michael Grade
Musical Guest Burt Bacharach
Performer Alfie Boe
Performer Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Performer Shaun Escoffery
Performer Rebecca Ferguson
Performer Justin Hayward
Performer Michael Kiwanuka
Performer Laura Mvula
Performer Joss Stone
Director Richard Valentine
Executive Producer Guy Freeman
Executive Producer Anita Land
Producer Carrie Frost
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