BBC Music Launch Promo Aired – 7 October 2014


It doesn’t matter who you are: virtually no one in Britain goes a week without being somehow reached by some part of the BBC. From cradle to grave, it beams its succulent rays; informing, educating, and entertaining the nation’s children, adults, and pensioners. So British is the Broadcasting Corporation that it became one of the major points of debate in the referendum over Scottish independence

But all is not well at its W1 headquarters. More than ever before, the licence fee – a compulsory levy on all households watching live television in the UK – is under attack. Successive governments have hijacked it to hide tax increases: Labour’s Digital Britain report pinched £200 million to roll out fast(ish, by 2009 standards) broadband; the current coalition offloaded the £245 million burden of the World Service to the BBC itself (it had been, until April, confusingly covered by the Foreign Office through grant-in-aid). The rise and rise of the pioneering iPlayer is surely one of the Beeb’s biggest successes (not just of recent years, but I’d argue of all time) – but as that wonderful creation grows up, it may well go on to be the organisation’s killer.

Allow me to explain. As I said above, you only pay the licence fee if you’re watching television, and only if you’re watching it live. Without paying a penny, you can listen to the radio, use the unrivalled News website, even attend a free BBC recording. And the law’s current wording means you can watch any TV programme you like – now, by the way, for up to thirty days after its broadcast  – on the iPlayer. It’s thought that half a million people do this already, . Given the freely available nature of pretty much all BBC content, it’s unsurprising that the Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, said recently “£145.50 [a year] is a lot of money for some people”. It’s hard to disagree with that, but for the fact that, broken down, it equates to just under 40p a day.

Get used to hearing that figure banded about over the next couple of years. As the BBC hurtles towards its Royal Charter renewal in 2016, there’s a constant sense of needing to prove itself. And so, tonight, the launch of BBC Music was heralded on every channel and across all outlets with a simulcast star-studded cover of God Only Knows by The Beach Boys. All together, thirty acts were involved with the recording, which is being promoted with a three-minute film shot at the deserted Alexandra Palace Theatre, and which will form the Children In Need charity single. You can learn music from professionals as you view the page here to know how.

Star gazing in the God Only Knows video

In order of appearance:

  1. BBC Concert Orchestra (hey! Who knew? They’re not just folded away until next year after the Last Night of the Proms in September)
  2. Martin James Batlett (BBC Young Musician of the Year)
  3. Pharrell Williams (‘im off that annoying Happy song)
  4. Emeli Sande (‘er off the Olympics. You know, the one with the ‘air)
  5. Elton John (life always looks rose-tinted through his spectacles)
  6. Lorde (“Roy-als, ROY-ALS”)
  7. Chris Martin (“And I will tryyyyy to fix you”)
  8. Brian Wilson (what do you mean ‘Who’s that?’? It’s only BRIAN WILSON, founding member of The Beach Boys)
  9. Florence Welch (Britain’s answer to the zaniness of Lady Gaga. But more tame… as required for a British audience)
  10. Kylie Minogue (made her name on BBC telly: Neighbours or The Voice, depending how old you are)
  11. Stevie Wonder (the legend that is)
  12. Eliza Carthy (me neither… her bio says she’s the daughter of Martin Carthy, the acclaimed folk musician. Me neither)
  13. Nicola Benedetti (as fit as a fiddle)
  14. Jools Holland (I’ll tell you who he is Later)
  15. Brian May (guitar-playing brother of James. Since boyhood they’ve shared a barber)
  16. Jake Bugg (rockin’, folkin’, strummin’, doeswhateverhewantsin’ lad)
  17. Katie Derham (took over presenting duties on the Proms when Alan Titchmarsh was sacked. Don’t feel too sorry for him: with the money he made from all his gardening shows, he was raking it in)
  18. Lauren Laverne (bio says she’s one of 6 Music’s most recognisable faces… but 6 Music is a radio station? How am I supposed to recognise one of its presenters’ faces?)
  19. Gareth Malone (we LOVE Gareth. Thank God he shaved that awful beard off. The ten-year-old choirmaster’s boyish good looks are back)
  20. Alison Balsom (she’s always blowing her own trumpet. No, really. That’s her job)
  21. One Direction (Harry Styles. Oh, and the other four)
  22. Zane Lowe (“BBeeeC Redio One” presenter)
  23. Jaz Dhami (upcoming star on the Birmingham bhangra scene. Not that he’d make a song and dance about it)
  24. Paloma Faith (actually one of the finest voices in British music today. Check out her cover of Into My Arms, for Dermot O’Leary’s Saturday Sessions on, oh yes, the BBC)
  25. Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders frontwoman. I guess she’s the one they’d walk Five Hundred Miles for)
  26. Jamie Cullum (sunny, summery Sunday afternoons aren’t chilled enough until These Are The Days is on in my ears)
  27. Baaba Maal (one of Africa’s best known musicians, apparently, and hoarder of letter As)
  28. Danielle de Niese (one of the biggest names in the opera world, her bio boasts. Actually, I think you’ll find Praskovia Kovalyova-Zhemchugova of Russia has a bigger name)
  29. Dave Grohl (formerly of Nirvana, now of the Foo Fighters)
  30. Sam Smith (absolutely certainly definitely not John Newman)


Acts from the BBC's God Only Knows promo.

Acts from the BBC’s God Only Knows promo.

“I’m just honoured that God Only Knows was chosen. God Only Knows is a very special song. An extremely spiritual song and one of the best I’ve ever written.”

— Brian Wilson, speaking at the launch of the BBC promo, October 2014

The Paul McCartney Conspiracy (update, 10 October 2014)

Rewatching the video this afternoon, I spotted a marking on one of the balloons, seen floating behind Danielle de Niese in the closing seconds of the video. Replaying those frames in HD, the letters clearly read ‘LMW 281f’ – but quite what that meant, I didn’t know.

It turns out that it’s a Beatles reference. LMW 28IF is the registration plate of the white car in the background of the legendary Abbey Road album cover – and, as this website explains, the source of a ridiculous and fanciful conspiracy. Basically, the thinking goes that Paul McCartney died just as the Beatles were on the brink of enormous success, so to avoid bursting the balloon just as it was bulging, he was replaced by a look-a-like sound-a-like play-a-like replacement. Really. LMW, therefore, stands for ‘Linda McCartney Weeps’; ’28’ the age McCartney would have been ‘IF’ he were still alive at the time of the photoshoot. Daft, huh?

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a twenty-something from Maidenhead in Berkshire, working for ITV News.