Two years after the untimely death of one of popular culture’s greatest icons, the BBC is dusting off a couple of excellent documentaries about Bowie to provide a night to celebrate his creative genius.
David Bowie Night (BBC 4 Friday 12 January from 9 pm) begins with ‘Five Years in the Making of an Icon’, a 2013 film which begins with the invention of Bowie’s alien (and short-lived) alter-ego Ziggy Stardust, and progresses through a range of his other personas to culminate in a celebration of his enormous success in the world of commercial pop music. Collaborators in the various stages of his career comment on Bowie’s creative journey and the film examines how his life affected his work, including the toll taken by his drug addiction at one point in his career.
The night continues with ‘David Bowie and the Story of Ziggy Stardust’ (10.30 pm), narrated by Jarvis Cocker. This documentary, first aired in 2012, returns to Bowie’s first and possibly best-known alter ego and examines how his occupation of this role enabled him to present a persona to his fans – and obviate the need for him to be himself. The film features contributions from a range of those who knew Bowie and worked with him, including some of the remaining ‘Spiders from Mars’. Unfortunately missing is hugely talented lead guitarist Mick Ronson, who died in 1993, and whose wife Suzi was responsible for the Ziggy haircut.
It is difficult to quantify Bowie’s contribution to music, popular culture and the arts – and also to present-day attitudes to sexuality – but the programmes provide an insight into his innovatory approach, constant reinvention of himself and eclectic interests.
BBC iPlayer radio has a ‘Remembering David Bowie’ page at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03f4vrz
and there are two clips from David Bowie and the Story of Ziggy Stardust at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01k0y0n/clips