Elton John joins Later – with Jools Holland

Saturday: Later – with Jools Holland; (BBC Two, 9.30pm)

Friday, 15th October 2021, 5:00 pm

Recent hip injury aside, Elton John is still standing, better than he ever was – which is a miracle when you consider the problems he’s faced in the past.

In the 1997 documentary Tantrums and Tiaras, his therapist, Beechy Colclough, spoke to Elton’s now-husband David Furnish about his other half’s issues.

“Elton is a totally obsessive, compulsive person. If it hadn’t been the alcohol, it would have been drugs. If it hadn’t been drugs it would have been food. If it hadn’t been food it would have been relationships. If it hadn’t been relationships, it would have been shopping.”

Twenty-four years on from that interview, the singer-songwriter seems mellower and more content. Perhaps that’s down not just to age, but to fatherhood – he and Furnish are the doting parents of two sons born to a surrogate mother; Zachary, who is approaching 11, and Elijah, who will be nine in the New Year. In 2018, when he announced his retirement from touring, he claimed they were part of his reason for hanging up his microphone.

“Ten years ago if you asked me if I would stop touring I would have said no,” he remarked at the time. “But we had children and that changed our lives. I have had an amazing life and career but my life has changed. My priorities are now my children and my husband and my family.”

The subsequent Goodbye Yellow Brick Road tour is, however, turning into the longest such event of his career. Due to the pandemic and the aforementioned hip issue, some dates have been rearranged twice.

“At the end of my summer break I fell awkwardly on a hard surface and have been in considerable pain and discomfort in my hip ever since,” said the singer-songwriter via his official website on September 14. “Despite intensive physio and specialist treatment, the pain has continued to get worse and is leading to increasing difficulties moving. I have been advised to have an operation as soon as possible to get me back to full fitness and make sure there are no long-term complications.”

As a result, thousands of fans won’t be able to use tickets they bought in 2018 until 2023. Perhaps some of their disappointment will be eased by Elton’s appearance on the latest edition of Jools Holland’s long-running and much-loved musical showcase.

No doubt he’ll be sitting in a very comfortable chair as he discusses his latest album, The Lockdown Sessions, which features a selection of duets recorded with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Charlie Puth and Dua Lipa. He’ll also be sharing the secrets of his songwriting process – and as he’s one of the world’s most successful artists, anything he says on the matter should be very interesting indeed.

After that, Elton delves into the Later archive to showcase some of his favourite performances, which feature, among others, Christine and the Queens and Glen Campbell.

Plus, Sam Fender performs a track from his second album at the venue of his first-ever gig – the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House Museum. Birmingham-raised, Zimbabwe-born musician Sipho also appears in his Later debut.

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