Radio 1’s Big Weekend with Saturday Best Bits

Saturday: Radio 1’s Big Weekend x Saturday Best Bits - (BBC1, 10.20pm)

Crowds at BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend
Crowds at BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend

Although some festivals did manage to go ahead last year following the easing of covid restrictions, some still had to be postponed, most notably Glastonbury.

The pandemic also means it’s been two years since Radio 1 had a truly Big Weekend – the 2020 and 2021 events were virtual. Now it’s making up for lost time with three days of live music in Coventry and a very impressive line-up.

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Anne-Marie, who is on the bill today, spoke for many people when she said: “Can’t wait to be back on stage in front of actual humans for Radio 1’s Big Weekend this year! The show is gonna be really special.”

The festival got under way yesterday with an eclectic bill that included Disclosure and Jodie Harsh. But today, the event got even starrier. Along with the aforementioned Anne-Marie, there are also slots for Sam Fender, Calvin Harris, Fontaines DC, Sigrid and KSI, while the headliner is the all-conquering Ed Sheeran.

Since releasing his debut album in 2011, he’s sold more than 150 million records worldwide and, according to Spotify, he was the second most-streamed artist of the 2010s. If it hadn’t been for Adele, he also would have had the UK’s bestselling album of 2021, but he had to settle for second place that time.

So, it’s little wonder that demand for tickets was expected to be high. Part of the Big Weekend’s mission is to bring artists to cities that might not otherwise host large-scale musical events, and with that in mind, allocation was geographically weighted, with 60 per cent of tickets going to Coventry City Council residents, and 25 per cent reserved for those living in surrounding areas.

The good news for everyone across the rest of the UK who missed out this year is that Radio 1 is broadcasting from Coventry across the weekend, and BBC1 is bringing us some of the highlights in Radio 1’s Big Weekend x Saturday Best Bits.

The festival continues tomorrow, when the line-up includes rapper and local hero Pa Salieu, who says: “Excited to be finally performing in my hometown Coventry as part of Radio 1’s Big Weekend. I know the Coventry crowd will do our city proud and show all the other artists the energy of the Midlands.”

There’s also music from George Ezra, Becky Hill, Mable, Lorde, Charlie XCX, Wet Leg and Rina Sawayama. The headliner is someone who is snapping at Sheeran’s heels for the title of Britain’s biggest male solo artist, Harry Styles.

Despite the previous examples of George Michael and Robbie Williams, there still tends to be some scepticism when boyband members go solo, but since leaving One Direction, Harry has been showered with critical praise as well as commercial success.

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If you want to know why, Harry Styles x Radio 1’s Big Weekend should give you a clue when it airs tomorrow on BBC1 at 10.40pm – and it’s followed by Harry Styles at the BBC, which rounds up some of his archive performances.