Following the release of New York Times’ documentary Framing Britney Spears, BBC Two is airing its own exploration of the pop icon’s conservatorship and the movement to #FreeBritney.
Journalist Mobeen Azhar leads the investigation, which takes him from Spears’ hometown in Louisiana to court hearings in Los Angeles as he delves further into the battle between the singer’s conservatorship team and her loyal fanbase.
Speaking of the upcoming documentary, Azhar said: “I went to LA in search of the truth of how Britney Spears, one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, ended up in a conservatorship. I found myself in a world of lawyers, superfans and paparazzi and spent time with many of the people who’ve had a front row seat in Britney’s life. This film taps into the energy of the #FreeBritney movement and questions the industry, fandom and the laws that facilitate conservatorships.”
Here’s everything you need to know.
The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship release date
The 60 minute documentary, The Battle for Britney, will be available on BBC iPlayer from Saturday, 1st May and will also be broadcast on BBC2 on Wednesday, 5th May at 9pm.
What is The Battle for Britney about?
The Battle for Britney is a new, one hour documentary by BAFTA award-winning journalist Azhar, that seeks to uncover the truth behind the conservatorship that Britney Spears has been under for 13 years.
Following Britney’s mental health crisis more than a decade ago, her career and finances have been in the hands of legal guardians led by her father, Jamie Spears. Beginning in 2020, Britney Spears attempted to have her father removed from the role in court, in a case that is ongoing.
A growing number of fans and celebrities have spoken of their support including Miley Cyrus, Paris Hilton and Cher, who recently told the Press Association: “I think her father should move over and let her have her life. I believe she’s been paying long enough.”
To discover the truth behind the headlines, Mobeen Azhar travels to Britney’s home town of Kentwood in Louisiana and attends a court hearing in Los Angeles. He sets out to speak to those on both sides – the conservatorship team and the passionate #FreeBritney fans – and his documentary includes new interviews with Britney’s make-up artist Billy Brasfield, her former choreographer Brian Friedman, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton and lawyer Lisa MacCarley.
What is a conservatorship?
A conservatorship is granted by a court for individuals who are unable to make their own decisions, for example people suffering with dementia or other mental illnesses. They are most commonly used for elderly people who are unable to make decisions about their own care.
Britney Spears’ conservatorship was originally granted in 2008, following her mental health crisis after her divorce from Kevin Federline. Her conservatorship is in two parts – one covers her estate and financial affairs, the other covers her person. Her father Jamie was initially in charge of both parts, meaning he had control over her career, estate and her personal life.
In 2018, court documents revealed that Britney had a net worth of $59 million and in that year she had to spend $1.1 million on legal and conservator fees.
At present, Jamie Spears and financial firm Bessemer Trust are co-conservators, with this arrangement currently in place until September 2021.
The conservatorship has been in place since 2008 and gave her father Jamie Spears legal control over her finances until a co-conservator was appointed last year.
The agreement was originally put in place due to concerns surrounding the singer’s mental health, but is currently being questioned following a galvanising social media campaign to #FreeBritney.
The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship will be available to stream on BBC iPlayer from Saturday, 1st May. For what to watch next, check out our TV Guide or take a look at our Documentaries hub for the latest news.