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Disco Inferno: New BBC Two documentary series to explore the legacy of disco

BBC Two is to air a three-part documentary series exploring the legacy of disco.

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The show, provisionally titled Disco Inferno: The Sound of the Underground will examine the rise – and fall – of disco, and celebrate its continuing musical and cultural legacy.

A teaser shares: “Told by the original musicians, promoters and innovators – as well as modern day musical icons – this will be the definitive story of the people who forged a new form of music and dance – and pioneered a social movement.

“This series will revel in iconic disco tracks and remarkable archive footage, analysing and exploring the anthemic songs and sound they established. Disco Inferno will reveal the surprising and overlooked history of disco: its origins, its triumphs, its fall…. and its legacy.

“Disco embodies the height of 1970s glamour, hedonism and exuberance. It’s a thumping sound born out of New York that went on to take over the world. The story of disco is a nostalgia-fuelled, star-studded, glitterball-littered affair, featuring sensational songs, incredible dance moves, fabulous fashion and great characters.

“But disco’s origins are often forgotten, meaning so is its wider significance. Disco originally belonged to the marginalised and dispossessed: gay, black and Hispanic people and women. It was their weapon in a battle for community, identity and inclusivity; and once unleashed, it took on a life of its own.

“This landmark series will bring the overlooked pioneers together to tell a powerful, new revisionist history of the disco age. Their experience speaks to the big issues of today: Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ identity and female empowerment.

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“This is an extraordinary story – where young black women became divas, black and Latino men turned into superstar DJs and openly gay men became Svengali producers. Together they unleashed a sound that took the world by storm, spreading to Europe where it gave us ABBA, Grace Jones and Boney M.

“But disco shone brightly for just a short time. The wealthy mainstream took hold of disco’s pioneering vision and obscured what it really stood for. The subsequent hate-fuelled backlash is one of the most extraordinary instances of cancel culture in recent history.

“But the story of disco is also a survival story. The music and its ethos flowed out of America into Britain and Europe, and evolved into an electronic dance sound that laid the foundations for contemporary dance culture. Such is its legacy, it is still a force to be reckoned with today.

“By turn heart-warming, angry, funny, outrageous and moving, this series will explore the battle for identity and expression pioneered by a small minority, which became a movement that swept the world.”

The series is being made with PBS and will air on BBC Two in the UK.

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Jonathan Rothery, Commissioning Editor for the BBC, said: “There’s no doubt that disco had an enormous impact – not just on the musical landscape at the time of its emergence and far beyond, but as a social and cultural force for change.

“This documentary series from BBC Studios, which the BBC has supported together with PBS, will highlight many new or untold stories of the genre. I’m looking forward to sharing Disco Inferno with audiences on BBC Two.”

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