About the show
Tells how the British musical became a driving force behind musical theatre around the world - a tale of titanic shows, phenomenal daring, epic rivalries, prodigious talent and gargantuan fortunes, all set in just a single square mile.
Part 1 of 3
A look at how, from unpromising beginnings in the period after the Second World War, British musicals went on to reclaim the West End from American domination. Highlights include the quintessentially British show The Boyfriend and its failure to conquer Broadway, the riches to rags story of Lionel Bart and his masterpiece Oliver, and the extraordinary partnership of Sir Tim Rice and Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber from the moment they burst onto the scene with Jesus Christ Superstar until their final collaboration of the 1970s, Evita.
Featuring first-hand accounts from the great and the good of musical theatre including Lord Lloyd Webber, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Sir Tim Rice, Elaine Paige, Ron Moody, Bill Kenwright, Sheila Hancock, Harold Prince, Robert Stigwood, Tommy Steele, Paul Nicholas and Willy Russell.
Part 2 of 3
This episode charts how British musical talent in the 1980s stormed the West End with hits like Cats, Les Miserables, Blood Brothers and Phantom of the Opera. There are first-hand accounts from the extraordinary individuals whose tenacity and creativity ensured these shows became mega-hits despite often precarious beginnings. And it reveals how the titantic shows of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh became global phenomena, securing Britain's reputation as the powerhouse of musical theatre.
With contributions from Lord Lloyd Webber, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Sir Tim Rice, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Stephen Fry, Trevor Nunn, Sir Cliff Richard, Elaine Paige, Gillian Lyne, Paul Nicholas, Bonnie Langford, Richard Stilgoe, John Caird, John Napier, Bill Kenwright, Willy Russell, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg, Anthony Pye-Jeary, Arlene Phillips, Charles Hart, Don Black, Harold Prince and Michael Ball.
Part 3 of 3
The final episode brings the story up to the 90s and beyond.
We see the rise of the jukebox musical as Bjorn Ulvaeus and Judy Craymer tell the story of the creation of Mamma Mia! Ben Elton and Brian May reveal how We Will Rock You defied the critics to become a smash hit. And as pop culture invaded musical theatre with celebrities like Jason Donovan taking leading roles, the Jerry Springer Opera proved a step too far for the moral majority.
Billy Elliot took inspiration from the doyenne of British musical theatre, Joan Littlewood, as the hit movie was recreated for the stage, while Andrew Lloyd Webber embraced the medium of television to find new stars.