The spotlight is on one of the most acclaimed artists, Bob Dylan

Saturday: Bob Dylan: Shadow Kingdom (BBC2, 10pm)
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Saturday night has long been music night on BBC2. In the last few weeks alone, we’ve had evenings dedicated to Dolly Parton, Blondie and Take That.

Tonight though, the spotlight is on one of the most acclaimed artists of the past century – Bob Dylan. (Although admittedly, he does have to wait until the snooker is finished to get on screen.)

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Born Robert Zimmerman in Minnesota in 1941, Dylan emerged from the New York folk scene to become one of the most influential songwriters of his generation – even the Beatles took inspiration from him.

Bob DylanBob Dylan
Bob Dylan

During the course of his incredible career, he’s picked up numerous Grammys, an Oscar, the French Legion of Honour and the US President Medal of Freedom. In fact, he’s received so many awards, he can afford to be a little blasé about them – when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016, he declined to attend the official ceremony, picking it up in private at a later date.

That’s evidence of a contrarian streak that has also often been in evidence in his live shows – fans aren’t guaranteed to get his signature songs, and if Dylan does perform them, they will sometimes be radically reworked.

However, we should know what we’re in for with the first programme tonight, Bob Dylan: Shadow Kingdom. which was shot in 2021. As you may remember, not many acts were hitting the road at the time – even Dylan had to halt what fans have dubbed his ‘Never Ending Tour’ due to the pandemic. So, it finds him performing on a studio soundstage in Santa Monica, California, surrounded by musicians wearing masks as they perform songs from the early years of Dylan’s career, including Forever Young, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue and many more.

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It’s followed by another chance to see both instalments of Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed documentary Bob Dylan: No Direction Home.

Drawing on archive footage, rare recordings, in-depth interviews and photographs, it puts Dylan’s life in the context of a time of great social change.

The first episode charts his early years as a rock ‘n’ roll loving kid in the Midwest, through to him becoming a leading light of the folk scene.

The second part picks up the story as at 23, Dylan is facing the pressures that come with being dubbed the voice of a generation. Unwilling to take on the role, he instead started to explore new musical directions, making the decision to go ‘electric’, which younger viewers may not think would have been that controversial, but at the time saw him labelled a sell-out and a traitor.

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The night then ends with Sings Dylan II at 2.15am. If you’re one of those people who like Dylan’s songs, but think they sound better with someone else singing them, then it may be worth staying up for, or at least catching on iPlayer at a more civilised hour.

It takes in everyone from Joan Baez to Adele, although the most surprising reinterpretation might be Cliff Richard and the Nolan Sisters’ tackling Blowin’ in the Wind.