BBC Two is to broadcast Freddie Mercury: The Final Act – the story of the final chapter of Freddie Mercury’s life and the journey leading up to The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium that followed.
Thirty years after he died (in November 1991) from complications of AIDS, Freddie Mercury: The Final Act movingly captures the last years of his life.
Directed by James Rogan, the film follows the story from Freddie’s last concert to the tribute concert itself which took place on April 20th 1992. The documentary features new interviews with many of those who were closest to him, including Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor, Freddie’s sister Kashmira Bulsara, his friends Anita Dobson and David Wigg and his PA, Peter Freestone.
We also hear from those who performed at the epic gig, including Gary Cherone (Extreme), Roger Daltrey (The Who), Joe Elliott (Def Leppard), Lisa Stansfield, and Paul Young, as well as the concert’s promoter, Harvey Goldsmith.
The film also hears from those who saw the impact of HIV/AIDS first hand, either as medical practitioners, survivors, or human rights campaigners, including Peter Tatchell. It starts in 1986, as Queen’s Magic tour reaches its awesome climax at Knebworth Stadium in Hertfordshire and Freddie Mercury proves himself to be one of the greatest rock performers that the world has known.
Jan Younghusband, Head of Commissioning, BBC Music TV says: “James Rogan’s film: Freddie Mercury: The Final Act, is a poignant story of one of music’s most popular and talented musicians, and the legacy he left. Not only does it shine new light on Freddie Mercury’s brave journey through those final five years of his life, it also tells a wider – and hugely important – story of the emergence of AIDS at the time and how the incredible tribute concert after his death, helped to change for the better public opinion about the crisis. The artists of Queen and others who were there, speak candidly for the first time.”
James Rogan, Director, said: “Making Freddie Mercury: The Final Act has been an extraordinary journey into the final chapter of one of rock music’s greatest icons. Working with Queen and getting to see behind-the-scenes of some of their greatest performances and the legendary Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert was a rare privilege. Equally important was speaking to the people who had lived through the eye of the storm of the global pandemic of HIV/AIDS, with all its resonances with COVID today. Freddie’s death and the Tribute that Queen organised for him helped to change global awareness of this terrible disease at a critical time.”
To accompany Freddie: The Final Act, BBC Two will also show Queen at the BBC in November. Queen at the BBC is a one-hour special, featuring some of the greatest musical moments from Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon that have been shown on the BBC over the years. The band’s huge international status and punishing touring schedules meant they made surprisingly few appearances on programmes like Top of the Pops and frustratingly for fans, several of those performances were lost or never recorded.
This collection celebrates the best of what’s survived.
Freddie Mercury: The Final Act is produced by Rogan Productions. Directed by James Rogan, Executive Producers are Mark Hedgecoe, Soleta Rogan and Simon Lupton. The producer is Dan Hall. It was commissioned by Owen Courtney, Commissioning Executive, BBC Music.
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