Dame Shirley Bassey - The Girl from Tiger Bay imagine...


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS


Dame Shirley Bassey - The Girl from Tiger Bay

Alan Yentob gains an insight into the creative world of Dame Shirley Bassey, and takes a look back over her life and career, complete with archive of her greatest performances.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Dame Shirley Bassey - The Girl from Tiger Bay. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

MUSIC: "Big Spender"

0:00:020:00:04

# The minute you walked in the joint... #

0:00:080:00:11

Shirley Bassey has always been in your life.

0:00:110:00:15

I think it was one night in '54... There isn't a time without Shirley Bassey.

0:00:150:00:20

# Wouldn't you like to know what's going on in my mind? #

0:00:200:00:23

This year, Shirley Bassey has taken on quite possibly her biggest challenge.

0:00:230:00:30

I can't get into it, I can't give it a performance.

0:00:300:00:33

She's confronting her life in song

0:00:330:00:37

for the making of her new studio album,

0:00:370:00:40

the first in 20 years.

0:00:400:00:41

It's a matter of making it work for the record.

0:00:410:00:44

But to make it work for the record, it has to work for me.

0:00:440:00:48

It's a daunting project. Tonight we follow her

0:00:480:00:51

throughout that process, and meet some of today's most accomplished songwriters,

0:00:510:00:56

who've been set the task of writing new material

0:00:560:00:59

especially for the dame.

0:00:590:01:01

There are so few of these types of artists around now

0:01:010:01:05

to write for. I think that's why everyone's been so excited about it.

0:01:050:01:09

There's a real pressured weightiness about trying to write for Shirley Bassey,

0:01:090:01:16

one of Britain's premier character singers, really.

0:01:160:01:20

# This is my life. #

0:01:200:01:22

She doesn't just use her voice to sing songs.

0:01:220:01:26

It's real heart and soul when she sings.

0:01:260:01:30

# This is my li-i-i-ife. #

0:01:300:01:38

APPLAUSE

0:01:380:01:39

# If I could reach out with my hands across the sea... #

0:02:180:02:25

The girl from Tiger Bay now looks out across Monaco Bay,

0:02:250:02:30

where she lives in semi-retirement.

0:02:300:02:33

# I can hope, I can pray... #

0:02:330:02:36

Despite having reached the pinnacle of success,

0:02:360:02:40

and with nothing left to prove,

0:02:400:02:42

at 72, Dame Shirley has decided to step back in the spotlight and into the studio.

0:02:420:02:49

Sometimes you could sit here in this beautiful place

0:02:490:02:54

and...you don't need to go and do that any more.

0:02:540:02:58

But do you miss it? If you're not performing, is that something

0:02:580:03:02

that's a part of your life that you would really miss if you didn't do it?

0:03:020:03:07

No. No. No, I mean, I've not done a concert tour

0:03:070:03:12

in...five years.

0:03:120:03:15

Glastonbury was, what, three years ago.

0:03:150:03:18

No, I'm quite content... not to do it.

0:03:180:03:22

Given you didn't need to do it, you have this great success -

0:03:220:03:26

looking around us, your career is all over the walls here -

0:03:260:03:31

why did you take the risk?

0:03:310:03:33

I think it was the fact that they were all famous

0:03:330:03:37

and I said, "My God, what an honour."

0:03:370:03:41

You know? "I can't turn this down,

0:03:410:03:44

"I've got to find some way of getting my voice onto these songs."

0:03:440:03:50

Guiding her through the album is Bond composer David Arnold.

0:03:520:03:56

He was responsible for casting the songwriters, and approached artists

0:03:560:04:01

as diverse as the Pet Shop Boys, Gary Barlow and the Manic Street Preachers.

0:04:010:04:06

I wanted to make a credible record, which was to do with her,

0:04:060:04:10

would be about her, and be authored by people who appreciated her

0:04:100:04:16

for what she had done and for what she can still do as a singer.

0:04:160:04:20

They are very simple songs, and yet each song seems to tell a story,

0:04:200:04:26

a narrative that is somehow personal to you.

0:04:260:04:29

It's like they got into my head.

0:04:290:04:31

I mean, how did they know so much about me?

0:04:310:04:36

# It was St David's Day

0:04:430:04:45

# When we got in Tiger Bay... #

0:04:450:04:49

Shirley Veronica Bassey was born in 1937 in Tiger Bay,

0:04:490:04:54

a poor immigrant neighbourhood in Cardiff.

0:04:540:04:57

She was the youngest of seven children.

0:04:570:05:00

Her mother, a Yorkshirewoman, her father, a Nigerian sailor,

0:05:000:05:04

who left the family when she was two.

0:05:040:05:07

From an early age, she sought solace in singing.

0:05:070:05:10

I grew up singing. My mother used to say I could sing before I could walk.

0:05:120:05:18

I think she was joking.

0:05:180:05:20

Why did you feel you needed to sing?

0:05:200:05:22

Well, it was better than crying.

0:05:220:05:25

It really was! Instead of crying, I used to sing.

0:05:270:05:30

In the middle of the night, I was uncomfortable,

0:05:300:05:34

um...sleeping in between two sisters, you know, coming in on top of me,

0:05:340:05:40

and so I would start singing

0:05:400:05:43

to make myself comfortable.

0:05:430:05:45

And then my sister would shout, "Mum, Shirley's at it again!"

0:05:450:05:51

Was it overcoming your shyness to some extent?

0:05:510:05:54

Yes, I was terribly shy. And how I ever got to go on stage

0:05:540:05:59

in front of...

0:05:590:06:01

hundreds and then thousands of people, I'll never know.

0:06:010:06:06

# Yes, many times I've wondered

0:06:070:06:11

# Why I will always remain

0:06:110:06:15

# In a place so full of mystery Bad alchemy and pain... #

0:06:160:06:24

Fellow Welsh rockers, the Manic Street Preachers,

0:06:240:06:28

took inspiration from Shirley's early life

0:06:280:06:31

and the exotic stories they'd heard about her birthplace.

0:06:310:06:35

More than anything, Tiger Bay had a bit of a looming presence in our mind

0:06:350:06:40

because we remember our fathers saying stuff about Tiger Bay

0:06:400:06:43

-when they were young.

-Very un-PC stuff.

0:06:430:06:45

Yeah, "Tiger Bay was amazing, full of wild women

0:06:450:06:49

"and fights and knives and big bloody steaks in French restaurants."

0:06:490:06:54

They talked about it as if it was party central

0:06:540:06:58

-but somehow quite dangerous as well.

-Quite exotic.

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

0:06:580:07:01

And there's a resonance there, in the culture and in your mind.

0:07:010:07:05

# I've bought a ticket of a lifetime... #

0:07:050:07:08

I tried to get Tiger Bay in the song title a lot of times

0:07:080:07:12

and it's always been quite crass, but this time it seemed perfect.

0:07:120:07:16

# The girl from Tiger Bay... #

0:07:200:07:23

I left so young.

0:07:240:07:26

It will always be in my heart...

0:07:260:07:30

but it's changed beyond recognition.

0:07:300:07:34

There's no Tiger Bay any more. You know? They pulled it apart.

0:07:340:07:38

They've made it Butetown.

0:07:380:07:41

-So...now it lives on forever in that song.

-Yes.

0:07:410:07:45

-Let's just quickly do Girl From Tiger Bay.

-Yeah.

0:07:460:07:50

# I bought a ticket

0:07:500:07:52

# Of a lifetime... #

0:07:520:07:56

Dame Shirley is in there because... this is a very early rehearsal

0:07:560:08:01

of the songs. I'm trying to make out which one this is.

0:08:010:08:04

# There's no denying who I am... #

0:08:040:08:08

'This is Shirley's opportunity to find the right key for her voice

0:08:080:08:13

'and familiarise herself with the lyrics

0:08:130:08:16

'with her musical director, Mike Dixon.'

0:08:160:08:19

Then we have this bit.

0:08:220:08:23

Sorry... Sorry, sorry.

0:08:280:08:31

That's OK, that's "all the memories and all the scars..."

0:08:310:08:34

# All the memories... #

0:08:340:08:36

-Why not... # All the memories, all the scars. # Why "and"?

-Why don't you do that?

0:08:360:08:41

-There's too many words.

-That would make more sense of the lyric.

0:08:410:08:45

That is a line I've been trying to get in a lyric

0:08:450:08:48

since, God, 2000, I think it was. 2001.

0:08:480:08:52

But I do like the words of that - "All the memories and all the scars.

0:08:520:08:57

"They dance away into the stars."

0:08:570:08:59

As soon as I saw it in this lyric, I thought, "That's amazing,"

0:08:590:09:03

cos I could see her hand going... # All the inevitable scars... #

0:09:030:09:07

I could see her almost gesticulating the lyric itself.

0:09:070:09:12

Three, four...

0:09:120:09:14

# All the memories, all the scars

0:09:140:09:18

# They dance away into the stars

0:09:180:09:22

# They dance away into the stars... #

0:09:220:09:26

I like it.

0:09:260:09:29

It's easy to write that... Our own songs are usually miserable,

0:09:290:09:32

but writing about Shirley Bassey, it felt easier to be uplifting.

0:09:320:09:36

APPLAUSE

0:09:360:09:39

She left Tiger Bay and became a cabaret singer,

0:09:390:09:43

travelling round Britain in touring revues whilst still in her teens.

0:09:430:09:48

'I love to travel. I didn't know, at the beginning,'

0:09:480:09:52

if I sang so I could travel, you know, or the other way round!

0:09:520:09:57

Is that because you're just, you like to see different places and be in different places?

0:09:570:10:02

It's in my blood.

0:10:020:10:04

My father went round the world, he was a merchant seaman,

0:10:040:10:09

'and went round the world. My stepfather, the same thing.

0:10:090:10:14

'And they'd come back with these stories,'

0:10:140:10:17

you know, of these exotic places.

0:10:170:10:20

And this little kid was listening, like, "Wonderful!"

0:10:200:10:26

But I didn't know singing would get to take me to all these places.

0:10:260:10:31

# When it comes to a question of sin

0:10:340:10:37

# As Professor Jones would say

0:10:370:10:40

# Well, it all depends on what you mean

0:10:400:10:44

# By sin today. #

0:10:440:10:48

At 17, she briefly quit the circuit to have her first child,

0:10:480:10:52

but in 1955, she landed a recording deal.

0:10:520:10:56

At 19, she released her first song, Burn My Candle.

0:10:560:11:00

# Who's got a match for a-strikin'?

0:11:010:11:04

# Don't say it all depends

0:11:040:11:06

# Who wants to help me burn my candle at both ends?

0:11:060:11:12

# Who's got a light he's hidin'

0:11:120:11:15

# Under a bush or fence? #

0:11:150:11:18

'Yeah, it was banned by the BBC!'

0:11:180:11:22

And I didn't know why. I said, "Why are they banning it?"

0:11:220:11:26

My manager said, "Well...the lyrics may have something to do with it."

0:11:260:11:31

I didn't even know... what it was about!

0:11:310:11:34

# Who doesn't mind a reaper after he's sewn wild oats?

0:11:340:11:39

# Who wants to take a chance and help me burn my boats? #

0:11:390:11:45

I'd never sung a risque song.

0:11:450:11:47

And I think they purposely didn't tell me so that I could give it that innocence.

0:11:470:11:53

'You know? Um...'

0:11:530:11:56

They conned me!

0:11:560:11:58

# Weaker than he pretends

0:11:580:12:01

# Who has an urge to turn the handle

0:12:010:12:04

# Open my door and spurn the scandal

0:12:040:12:07

# Who wants to help me burn my candle at both ends? #

0:12:070:12:16

This girl from a very poor background in Tiger Bay -

0:12:160:12:20

what was her aspiration, as far as you could see?

0:12:200:12:23

I mean, stardom was the instant word in her mind, and she achieved it.

0:12:230:12:29

Total self-confidence. She knew who she was.

0:12:290:12:32

She knew she had already arrived.

0:12:320:12:35

And now I would like to sing for you the song that, er, introduced me

0:12:350:12:42

to number-one position in the hit parade.

0:12:420:12:46

# I will love you

0:12:470:12:52

# As I love you all my life... #

0:12:520:12:59

Whenever Shirley Bassey came down Denmark Street,

0:12:590:13:02

which was Tin Pan Alley,

0:13:020:13:05

the great days in the music business,

0:13:050:13:08

publishers would say, "Shirley Bassey's down!" It was a big deal.

0:13:080:13:13

# Just as you are

0:13:140:13:19

# You are all I could pray for... #

0:13:190:13:24

We hadn't heard a voice like that, ever, in this country,

0:13:240:13:27

and I think the sheer power, energy and enthusiasm of her voice

0:13:270:13:32

was irresistible.

0:13:320:13:34

Shirley must have had hundreds and hundreds of songs submitted to her.

0:13:370:13:42

Funny songs, sexy songs,

0:13:420:13:44

cabaret songs. She wasn't the normal...just pop singer.

0:13:440:13:49

It's just one of those gifts from God, a natural instrument.

0:13:490:13:54

It's a virtuoso machine, you know?

0:13:540:13:57

# More and more

0:13:570:14:05

# And mo-o-o-ore. #

0:14:060:14:15

Half a century on, the chance to be placed alongside these classics

0:14:150:14:20

is still a challenge for today's songwriters.

0:14:200:14:23

I think for any young writer,

0:14:230:14:26

you know, I think we dream of being like those characters,

0:14:260:14:30

to have a fantastic catalogue of standards...

0:14:300:14:35

Standards are almost old-fashioned now.

0:14:350:14:39

Ready to have a go?

0:14:390:14:42

HE BEGINS PLAYING

0:14:430:14:45

-Oh, wait.

-Is this the one with loads of paper?

0:14:450:14:48

Gary Barlow wanted to recall the standards of this bygone era

0:14:480:14:52

to create his song for Shirley's voice.

0:14:520:14:55

I don't believe this, I tell you. There's so many pages.

0:14:550:14:59

-GARY BARLOW:

-I was very excited to write for that voice,

0:15:000:15:04

and instantly went on to research

0:15:040:15:07

cos I just wanted to hear whether, over time, her range had reduced

0:15:070:15:12

because she was always known for having the classic three-octave ability.

0:15:120:15:17

Was that still there? I was interested cos that affects the composition.

0:15:170:15:22

If you're working to a smaller range, that's going to affect the song in a massive way.

0:15:220:15:27

I knew he would struggle with it,

0:15:270:15:29

and I think he was struggling with it because he wanted it to be the best thing he could possibly do, ever.

0:15:290:15:35

I had the verse and the chorus,

0:15:350:15:37

and I kept getting calls from the label saying, "Can we hear the song?"

0:15:370:15:41

I'd say, "I'm busy this week, can we do it next week?"

0:15:410:15:44

I wasn't busy, I was trying to figure this section out.

0:15:440:15:48

I was trying... I was trying TOO hard, actually,

0:15:480:15:51

cos I was trying to go with the... # Dah-dah da! Dah-dah-dah... #

0:15:510:15:55

And it didn't need it.

0:15:550:15:57

He didn't send a demo - he came and played and sang for me.

0:15:570:16:01

I don't know who was nervous...

0:16:010:16:04

We were arguing there for about, like two minutes, who was more nervous!

0:16:040:16:09

# Too much figuring out

0:16:090:16:12

# Too much standing my ground

0:16:120:16:16

# No pride left to be proud Only fear... #

0:16:160:16:20

'When I sat at the piano, my hands were shaking a bit

0:16:200:16:24

'because I think, playing in front of an audience is one thing,'

0:16:240:16:27

but playing in front of an artist like her - I mean, she's a legend, you know?

0:16:270:16:33

'So I was very nervous that day.'

0:16:330:16:37

Gary's song was reminiscent of Rodgers and Hammerstein

0:16:380:16:43

in keeping with the standards in Shirley's back catalogue.

0:16:430:16:47

# I know this time's the time

0:16:470:16:51

# The time for love

0:16:510:16:53

# And it's right here in front of my eyes... #

0:16:530:16:59

'You know what the key to this song was? Something I started figuring it out on the piano'

0:16:590:17:05

was the 6th. And I don't want to get too boring, but the 6th then a chord...

0:17:050:17:10

That's a straight chord... is this note.

0:17:100:17:13

The 6th is a very old-fashioned note.

0:17:160:17:19

It's not been used for years, really it hasn't.

0:17:190:17:23

I thought if I could make this song all about the 6th, it would bring back the 6th.

0:17:230:17:28

I've been wanting to do one for years.

0:17:280:17:31

Also when you go up...

0:17:330:17:35

# Dah, dah...dah... #

0:17:350:17:39

It's such a romantic note

0:17:390:17:42

and used heavily by the Beatles, Neil Sedaka, Burt Bacharach -

0:17:420:17:48

big on the 6th, loved the 6th.

0:17:480:17:51

# I know this time's the time

0:17:510:17:55

# The time for lovin'

0:17:550:17:58

# And it's right here in front of my eyes...

0:17:580:18:04

# I know this time's the time

0:18:040:18:08

# You only get once in your life... #

0:18:080:18:15

Then we get to "left a lot of courage behind".

0:18:150:18:18

HE LAUGHS

0:18:190:18:21

-Do you want to... After...

-We go from...

0:18:230:18:26

-After you've got to...

-Bridge two.

0:18:260:18:29

-..bridge two.

-Go back to "I know this time's the time" - going back to the chorus?

-Yes.

0:18:290:18:34

Despite Gary attempting to work in the classic musical tradition,

0:18:360:18:40

the sheer amount of lyrics is new to Shirley.

0:18:400:18:43

I can't give it a performance, you know?

0:18:430:18:46

I can't...

0:18:460:18:48

It's words, words, words, words, words, words.

0:18:480:18:51

Maybe there's some bits that we can take out, some things we can take out and release it.

0:18:510:18:56

I mean, you can't do that on stage. I would...

0:18:560:19:00

-I think we need...

-I would bring it all in, like that.

0:19:000:19:04

'I found a way at the end of rehearsal for her to understand the song.'

0:19:040:19:07

We made a little trim of the very last chorus,

0:19:070:19:12

we cut a bit out, which seemed to help the shape.

0:19:120:19:15

# I know this heart... #

0:19:150:19:18

'What was fascinating was watching the repetition.

0:19:180:19:21

'Repetition caused some little cog to sort of go into place.'

0:19:210:19:26

# I know this time's forever

0:19:260:19:30

# For worse and for better

0:19:300:19:33

# This ti-i-ime... #

0:19:330:19:36

'And after about three or four times of singing it all the way through,

0:19:360:19:40

'suddenly it became her song.

0:19:400:19:43

'It stopped being Gary's song, if you like,

0:19:430:19:45

'and it became her song. It seemed to just gel.'

0:19:450:19:50

# This ti-i-i-i-ime. #

0:19:500:19:59

SHE PANTS

0:19:590:20:02

-What about that? We only got that today.

-Yeah.

0:20:020:20:06

I mean, I didn't know what to do with it until today, just...

0:20:060:20:12

I found it!

0:20:120:20:14

Ah, wow!

0:20:140:20:16

I don't know who I left out there, but Shirley Bassey came in here.

0:20:160:20:21

DRUMROLL Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Shirley Bassey.

0:20:220:20:26

# I get too hungry for dinner at eight... #

0:20:280:20:32

Shirley took her talent to the States,

0:20:320:20:36

where, uniquely, as a British singer she ranked alongside the American elite.

0:20:360:20:42

# That's why this lady is a tramp! #

0:20:420:20:44

# I like the free, fresh wind

0:20:460:20:54

# In my hair

0:20:540:20:59

# Life without care... #

0:20:590:21:01

My mother loved Shirley Bassey. Anybody who had

0:21:010:21:04

that rich, big, honest sound

0:21:040:21:09

and that's the one thing

0:21:090:21:11

about Shirley Bassey - she's honest.

0:21:110:21:13

You believe everything she says, you believe everything she sings.

0:21:130:21:17

# Yes, I'm a tramp and I love it... #

0:21:180:21:22

Shirley comes from an age where the first few syllables, you knew who the singer was.

0:21:220:21:27

Obviously, there's a generation of singers who didn't write the songs, but who took ownership of them -

0:21:270:21:32

people like Frank, Elvis, Shirley, you know.

0:21:320:21:34

They didn't necessarily write the songs but, perhaps,

0:21:340:21:37

it was just that feeling in their heads where they thought they had to make up the shortfall.

0:21:370:21:42

"We're going to make them sound like no-one else can ever sing them again."

0:21:420:21:46

MUSIC: Theme from James Bond

0:21:460:21:48

The next target in Shirley's sights was Hollywood.

0:21:480:21:53

Bond already had an iconic opening sequence,

0:21:530:21:58

but when Bassey was added to the mix, she triggered a lethal cocktail

0:21:580:22:01

of glamour, sex and danger.

0:22:010:22:04

John Barry came to me one day and said, "I've written the music for the song for the next Bond -

0:22:050:22:12

"Goldfinger - and I'd like you to hear the music,"

0:22:120:22:14

and I said, "John, hearing music is no good to me. I'm a singer. I need to hear words."

0:22:140:22:20

He said, "Well, they're not written yet."

0:22:200:22:22

INTRO TO "GOLDFINGER" PLAYS

0:22:220:22:25

I got goose bumps and I said, "John, I don't care what the words are like,

0:22:320:22:38

"I'll sing it. I'll sing it."

0:22:380:22:41

# Goldfinger... #

0:22:410:22:44

I would say that her greatest quality was this...this conviction.

0:22:460:22:52

In three notes, she convinced everybody they should be as interested as she is,

0:22:520:22:56

and so you went along with the story.

0:22:560:22:58

Well, it is one of the weirder lyrics I've ever written, it has to be said.

0:22:580:23:02

"Goldfinger, he's the man, the man with the Midas touch,

0:23:020:23:07

"a spider's touch.

0:23:070:23:09

"Such a cold finger beckons you to enter his web of sin,

0:23:090:23:14

"but don't go in."

0:23:140:23:17

What was amazing was that she made this insane lyric make sense.

0:23:170:23:22

You actually believed what she was singing.

0:23:220:23:25

# Goldfinger

0:23:250:23:28

# He's the man

0:23:280:23:31

# The man with the Midas touch

0:23:310:23:34

# A spider's touch... #

0:23:370:23:40

From the opening notes to the closing notes,

0:23:400:23:44

you just believe every word she says.

0:23:440:23:46

# Beckons you to enter his web of sin

0:23:480:23:53

# But don't go in... #

0:23:540:23:57

I have this theory that Shirley should sing all of them -

0:23:570:23:59

every Bond song - because they're just made for Shirley Bassey,

0:23:590:24:04

you know, they're provocative, they're seductive,

0:24:040:24:06

and she has a way with that kind of lyric.

0:24:060:24:09

# Diamonds are forever

0:24:110:24:15

# They are all I need to please me... #

0:24:160:24:20

There is only Shirley Bassey who gives that kind of performance.

0:24:200:24:24

I think everyone would probably sum it up in the word "drama",

0:24:240:24:27

that there is a drama

0:24:270:24:28

and a glamour and also a sort of...

0:24:280:24:30

the reason why she's right for James Bond is there's sort of a danger.

0:24:300:24:34

But Shirley Bassey's professional success was a sharp contrast

0:24:370:24:41

to the dramas in her personal life.

0:24:410:24:43

She had to deal with rumours that her first husband and manager Kenneth Hume was gay

0:24:430:24:48

and not the father of her second child, Samantha.

0:24:480:24:50

They divorced but remained friends

0:24:500:24:54

and Shirley was devastated when he was found dead in 1967.

0:24:540:25:00

# I don't need love

0:25:000:25:02

# For what good would love do me?

0:25:030:25:06

# Diamonds never lie to me... #

0:25:070:25:11

I think she had to deal with the dramas and tragedies

0:25:110:25:13

of her life, um, you know, we knew her first husband,

0:25:130:25:17

we knew her in that era - the '60s, in London,

0:25:170:25:21

when everything was going on, but she sailed through it all,

0:25:210:25:25

like a battle cruiser, you know.

0:25:250:25:28

# Diamonds are forever, forever, forever, forever

0:25:280:25:36

# And ever-er-er-er! #

0:25:360:25:43

APPLAUSE

0:25:430:25:46

Alongside the younger admirers, current Bond composer David Arnold

0:25:460:25:50

wanted to reunite the winning combination of Barry and Black.

0:25:500:25:55

-PIANO PLAYS

-No, it's only once.

0:25:550:25:58

-OK, turn over that...

-You're just doing the John Barry songs?

-Yes.

0:25:580:26:02

I've made a mistake because the repeat is not on there, it's on here.

0:26:020:26:07

John likes a certain kind of lyric.

0:26:070:26:09

I've been writing with him for 40 years, so I know what he likes.

0:26:090:26:12

He likes the simplicity.

0:26:120:26:14

It's a story about somebody who's waited

0:26:140:26:17

quite a while to find love, erm, but...

0:26:170:26:22

as if to say, you know, "it's never too late" type of thing.

0:26:220:26:25

It's a kind of a September song, if you like.

0:26:250:26:28

# Love has no season

0:26:290:26:34

# There are no rules

0:26:340:26:38

# Those who stop dreaming

0:26:380:26:44

# Are fools... #

0:26:440:26:47

'It was very interesting actually that we started playing

0:26:470:26:50

'through the John Barry/Don Black song and her first instinct

0:26:500:26:54

'was, "Oh, thank goodness, I've got a song,'

0:26:540:26:58

"that's got a verse, a chorus,

0:26:580:27:00

"a verse, a chorus, a bridge and an out. It's easy!"

0:27:000:27:03

# Our time is now... #

0:27:030:27:06

But the ease of working with her old partners only underlines the challenges for Shirley

0:27:060:27:12

in coming to terms with new songs

0:27:120:27:14

that sit rather less firmly in the tradition.

0:27:140:27:17

While she's been in rehearsals, David Arnold and his conductor

0:27:270:27:32

have been concentrating on taking the writers' demos

0:27:320:27:35

and arranging them for the orchestra.

0:27:350:27:37

The way that Shirley had always made records historically,

0:27:370:27:41

they'd record her and the orchestra all in one go,

0:27:410:27:44

two or three takes, moving on - that's what you'd do,

0:27:440:27:46

and you'd record the whole album in two or three days, that would be it.

0:27:460:27:50

The idea that everything would be done and she would come in at the end and sing on the top of it

0:27:500:27:56

was something that didn't appear to be...

0:27:560:27:58

she wasn't that comfortable with it to start with.

0:27:580:28:01

It's the first opportunity for Dame Shirley to see what David Arnold has been up to,

0:28:060:28:11

as she now enters his world.

0:28:110:28:14

One, two, three...

0:28:160:28:19

-Are you all right?

-How are you, stranger?

-I'm OK. We've been working hard.

-Yeah?

0:28:190:28:24

-We've been working hard too.

-We've been working very hard.

-Hi, sweetheart.

-Hi.

-Mwah!

0:28:240:28:29

Nice to see you. This is sounding really good too.

0:28:290:28:32

-Yeah?

-Yeah.

0:28:320:28:34

She must come to terms not only with new songwriters,

0:28:340:28:37

but a new way of recording.

0:28:370:28:39

All right, guys. Let's do this, please.

0:28:390:28:42

Ralph, can you please start us off?

0:28:420:28:44

A favourite song in rehearsal was After The Rain.

0:28:440:28:47

Despite loving the melody, Shirley was uncertain of how to sing it.

0:28:470:28:53

# After the rains have gone

0:28:530:28:56

-# Something inside... #

-SHE COUGHS

0:28:560:28:58

# ..I know is dying for you

0:28:580:29:03

# The sleet and the snow... #

0:29:030:29:05

Richard Hawley's song was a world away from Bassey's usual style.

0:29:050:29:10

The song I thought

0:29:100:29:13

would be right

0:29:130:29:14

was a bit more folky, in a way, than anything that she'd ever done.

0:29:140:29:21

I thought cos it was kind of a new album

0:29:210:29:25

that it would be OK to do that.

0:29:250:29:28

# After the rains have gone

0:29:350:29:37

# Something inside me I know

0:29:370:29:41

# Is dying for you

0:29:410:29:44

# The sleet and the snow

0:29:440:29:46

# Just drifts me, I know, away

0:29:460:29:52

# After the rains have gone

0:29:520:29:53

# Something inside me cries

0:29:530:29:55

# What's behind that door? #

0:29:550:29:58

Life's about beginnings and endings, you know,

0:29:580:30:01

about getting through one period in your life and just trying to carry on to another.

0:30:010:30:05

# Well, I just can't fake it any more. #

0:30:050:30:11

It is... You're quite right. It's quite tragic.

0:30:110:30:14

# This girl just can't take it any more... #

0:30:150:30:21

It isn't like a great, grand song. It's just a little...

0:30:210:30:24

sliver of humanity - it's just a small thing, not anything grand or bold,

0:30:240:30:29

and I thought it might be interesting for her to sing that.

0:30:290:30:33

# This girl just can't take it

0:30:340:30:40

# Any mo-o-o-ore... #

0:30:400:30:45

-If we sing it like that, it'll be extraordinary.

-Pretty.

0:30:450:30:51

I wouldn't sing that out really that much more than that, a little, but...

0:30:510:30:55

-Yeah, a little...

-If we can get that sense of intimacy...

0:30:550:30:58

Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce Dame Shirley.

0:31:010:31:05

'Ladies and gentlemen, let's meet Miss Shirley Bassey.'

0:31:080:31:11

APPLAUSE

0:31:110:31:13

-Shirley, I'm a great fan of yours.

-Oh, really?

-Yes...

0:31:200:31:23

-Oh, yes, yes.

-That's marvellous.

-I've got every one of your records.

0:31:230:31:27

-Except one.

-Oh?

-Yes.

0:31:270:31:28

-Well, Ernie is very sensitive about the words, and...

-Yes.

0:31:280:31:31

-..the words on this record make him cry.

-Yes, they do.

0:31:310:31:35

Which one of my songs makes him cry?

0:31:350:31:37

-Hey, Big Spender.

-LAUGHTER

-He can't help it.

0:31:370:31:40

# Hey, big spender

0:31:400:31:42

# Spend a little time with me. #

0:31:440:31:48

After Bond, Shirley Bassey's success was colossal.

0:31:480:31:51

Long before Madonna, she was the original material girl.

0:31:510:31:55

# To have fun

0:31:550:31:57

# Fun

0:31:570:31:58

# Fun! How's about a few laughs? Laughs... #

0:31:580:32:02

She had her own TV programme and sell-out shows across the world.

0:32:020:32:06

# Let me show you a...

0:32:060:32:08

# Good time!

0:32:090:32:10

# Hey, big spender

0:32:100:32:13

# Hey, big... #

0:32:150:32:16

But by the end of the '70s,

0:32:160:32:18

the glamorous showbiz world Shirley had conquered

0:32:180:32:21

was starting to fade.

0:32:210:32:22

Now divorced for the second time,

0:32:220:32:25

with few challenges left in her career,

0:32:250:32:27

she went into semi-retirement, away from the public spotlight.

0:32:270:32:31

Despite the fact that you're this performer who was on stage,

0:32:330:32:36

and you inhabit the song on the stage,

0:32:360:32:38

-you are a very private person, aren't you?

-Yes.

0:32:380:32:41

-So, it's a trial for you, even sitting here with me.

-Mm-hm.

0:32:410:32:44

-I'm lucky to be here.

-Yes.

-I know that, because I know you hate it really.

0:32:440:32:51

I do. It's...it's that shyness, and talking...

0:32:510:32:56

We're talking music, that's OK - to talk about me and my personal life is hell.

0:32:560:33:04

# I...

0:33:120:33:13

APPLAUSE

0:33:130:33:15

# I don't know who

0:33:150:33:16

# I

0:33:190:33:20

# I don't know why... #

0:33:210:33:22

Success, in a way, it ruins you, really.

0:33:250:33:29

It ruins you, your personal life and relationships,

0:33:290:33:34

especially for a woman.

0:33:340:33:37

# I love you... #

0:33:380:33:40

The success broke up my marriage and it didn't help my children any.

0:33:400:33:47

In 1985, tragedy struck -

0:33:480:33:51

the death of her daughter Samantha aged only 21,

0:33:510:33:55

who died in mysterious circumstances.

0:33:550:33:58

# ..the windowpa-a-a-ne

0:33:580:34:04

# I... #

0:34:060:34:07

She has had, in her personal life, a bumpy ride,

0:34:070:34:10

but she has this inner drive that enables her to deal with it and move on

0:34:100:34:16

without sacrificing her talent.

0:34:160:34:19

# Must watch you

0:34:190:34:20

# Go dancing by... #

0:34:220:34:23

Having done everything that she's done,

0:34:230:34:25

why would you want to back into a little studio and out there again to be judged, criticised,

0:34:250:34:30

and wrung out as much as possible?

0:34:300:34:33

# Love you... #

0:34:330:34:35

I think it says a lot for her that... that she did that,

0:34:350:34:39

because, you know, it's a very different world in terms of female artists,

0:34:390:34:44

and it's a very different world in terms of the way records are made,

0:34:440:34:47

you know, because she didn't have to.

0:34:470:34:49

SHIRLEY VOCALISES

0:34:530:34:54

SCALES PLAYED ON PIANO

0:34:540:34:56

This is a key stage of the album.

0:34:580:35:02

Shirley lays down her vocals and the producer, David Arnold, takes the opportunity

0:35:020:35:07

to get to grips with his artist.

0:35:070:35:09

# Forever young I will stay

0:35:100:35:14

# The girl from Tiger Bay. #

0:35:140:35:17

-Quite a few of these lines and phrases now are really beginning to change shape.

-Yeah.

0:35:250:35:29

On a boring, technical note, on "I bought a ticket of a lifetime" line,

0:35:290:35:33

-I wonder if we could soften it, so rather than "bought"...

-# Bought a ticket... #

0:35:330:35:37

..the American "bought a ticket", so it's slightly less...

0:35:370:35:41

Ah, but it's very Welsh, you see.

0:35:410:35:43

"I BOUGHT a ticket."

0:35:430:35:45

We pronounce our Ts.

0:35:450:35:48

-You're just intuitively musical, aren't you, really?

-Yes.

0:35:480:35:51

-So there's no science to this or...

-No, I mean, I don't read a note of music...

0:35:510:35:56

# I bought a ticket... #

0:35:570:35:59

..but I always insist on having the music there

0:35:590:36:03

cos I can tell if I have to go up or down or stay on the same note, that's about it.

0:36:030:36:08

# Forever young... #

0:36:080:36:10

-And you never thought to yourself, "Yes, I think I'm going to learn to read music"?

-I did.

0:36:100:36:15

My throat specialist said, "I think it would change your naturalness,

0:36:150:36:20

"because then you'll be singing the notes too perfect and too rounded.

0:36:200:36:24

"Don't go there."

0:36:240:36:27

# Forever young I will stay

0:36:270:36:31

# The girl from Tiger Bay. #

0:36:310:36:34

-That was perfect.

-That was perfect. Absolutely dead-on.

0:36:360:36:39

Another tricky one out the way.

0:36:390:36:41

-Can I go now?

-Nearly.

-Nearly!

0:36:410:36:44

Got one more.

0:36:440:36:46

Some songs went smoothly but one song was proving a struggle.

0:36:460:36:50

The producer David Arnold's own composition.

0:36:500:36:54

# Where is the solace that I crave?

0:36:540:36:58

# Will it still haunt me to my grave?

0:37:010:37:04

# Too broken to forgive

0:37:060:37:09

# Too painful to relive now... #

0:37:100:37:14

Oh-h!

0:37:140:37:16

It's not right, it's not right.

0:37:160:37:18

# Where is the solace that I crave?

0:37:180:37:23

# That I crave... #

0:37:230:37:25

-You said this was one of those.

-I knew it would be from the beginning.

0:37:250:37:31

Spot these a mile off.

0:37:310:37:33

It's going up and down.

0:37:330:37:35

It doesn't... For me, to sing it, it doesn't make sense.

0:37:350:37:40

-David, the other option...

-It's in the wrong key.

-..is to change the tune.

0:37:410:37:45

'It's too low. She can't reach the low notes, the high bits are too high.

0:37:450:37:49

'I couldn't figure out that we sort of missed it in all that rehearsing.'

0:37:490:37:54

-Just go in for that line. Just go for that line.

-I... It's...

-I know.

0:37:540:37:58

-Oh-h!

-Don't worry.

-'We're looking at each other and thinking,'

0:37:580:38:01

"This might be the first casualty."

0:38:010:38:03

I'm thinking, "That's a shame cos it's mine."

0:38:030:38:06

# Where is the solace that I crave? #

0:38:080:38:11

It's OK, it's in your head the wrong way.

0:38:110:38:14

# Where is the solace THAT I crave? #

0:38:140:38:17

David, what do you think about...?

0:38:170:38:20

David!

0:38:220:38:23

Yes.

0:38:260:38:28

-Where do you want us to go from?

-We'll just go from "there may be other arms".

0:38:280:38:31

-SHE SIGHS

-Yep?

0:38:310:38:33

-It's going to be one of those.

-I know.

0:38:330:38:35

# There may be other arms

0:38:360:38:38

# To hold... #

0:38:380:38:40

'And she sings it again and again and again and all the time really pushes herself quite hard in the studio.'

0:38:400:38:45

-Shall I...?

-No.

-Should I throw it?

-No.

0:38:450:38:49

'And sometimes I was thinking, "God, I wouldn't push my mum as hard as I'm pushing you." '

0:38:490:38:54

I think we should just do one more.

0:38:540:38:56

How can we save this? How can we save this?

0:38:560:38:59

I'm just going to pop out to the piano.

0:38:590:39:02

Oh, he's coming into our territory. No, no, you mustn't!

0:39:020:39:06

No, producers mustn't come in. It's bad luck.

0:39:060:39:09

-Bad luck!

-All right. Stay there. Tell him to stay there.

0:39:090:39:12

SHE LAUGHS

0:39:120:39:14

HE LAUGHS TOO

0:39:140:39:16

-No, stay... It's bad luck, apparently. You've got to go in the other room.

-Now, what...?

0:39:160:39:21

It's too low and then it's too high.

0:39:210:39:25

It's a matter of making it work for the record.

0:39:250:39:28

-To make it work for the record, it has to work for me.

-I agree.

0:39:280:39:31

'My ear was picking up'

0:39:320:39:36

something else, and that's where not reading music comes into it,

0:39:360:39:43

cos your ear wants to sing something else - it goes off somewhere.

0:39:430:39:47

'David and Mike won't let me do that and I keep saying, "It's artistic licence.'

0:39:470:39:54

"Give me artistic licence."

0:39:540:39:56

-Try one more.

-I will try one more.

-One more time all the way through and we'll look at a few bits.

0:39:560:40:02

'We'd readjusted the second half of the verse and I said, "Let's try that and see how we get on.'

0:40:020:40:09

"If it doesn't work, it doesn't work." She sang it once and it was just like a different record

0:40:090:40:13

and like she was a different person.

0:40:130:40:15

# How long does a heart stay broken?

0:40:160:40:21

# How long if the pain's unspoken?

0:40:210:40:27

# No solace in a kiss

0:40:270:40:29

# No comfort in a sigh

0:40:290:40:32

# No good about goodbye. #

0:40:320:40:36

Thank you very much.

0:40:380:40:39

Nailed!

0:40:390:40:42

-Congratulations.

-Thank you.

-Take your headphones off.

-Right.

0:40:420:40:45

The only woman to write a song for the album was KT Tunstall,

0:40:480:40:53

who provided a folk song for Shirley to sing.

0:40:530:40:56

# Night arrived in a shiny dress

0:40:560:41:00

# The water calm and still

0:41:000:41:02

# The only sound for miles around

0:41:020:41:06

# Was a hungry cat on a windowsill

0:41:060:41:09

# In amongst the quiet... #

0:41:090:41:11

Her song, Nice Men, underwent the biggest transformation.

0:41:110:41:15

# Where have all the nice boys

0:41:150:41:17

# Where have all the good boys

0:41:170:41:18

# Where have all the nice boys gone? #

0:41:180:41:21

This is one that nearly didn't get done.

0:41:210:41:24

-Yeah.

-Is that because you couldn't find your way round it, or...?

-Yeah.

0:41:240:41:28

It was very difficult to...

0:41:280:41:30

It was not me at all, and I had to make it me,

0:41:300:41:34

cos I liked the song but I didn't think it was me.

0:41:340:41:38

The way it's written, it's not... You can't make it sexy.

0:41:380:41:43

It should be sexy.

0:41:430:41:45

It should be slow and...

0:41:450:41:46

You try it at the tempo you think it should go and I'll try and follow you.

0:41:460:41:50

# Night arrived in a shiny dress

0:41:500:41:53

# The water calm and still

0:41:530:41:56

# The only sound for miles around

0:41:560:42:01

# Was a hungry cat on a windowsill... #

0:42:010:42:04

-It's a bit blues...

-Yeah.

0:42:040:42:06

You know, something like from Cats.

0:42:060:42:10

-SHE GROWLS

-Yeah.

0:42:100:42:11

# Night arrived... #

0:42:110:42:13

-Just...

-I don't know what to do with it.

0:42:130:42:16

When I'd first started writing it,

0:42:160:42:18

my impulsive lyric was "boys" -

0:42:180:42:23

"where have all the nice boys gone?"

0:42:230:42:25

and I was thinking, "That would be so cheeky of her to sing that,"

0:42:250:42:29

and I thought, "No, that's actually totally inappropriate.

0:42:290:42:33

"She should sing 'men'."

0:42:330:42:34

-Sorry.

-It's all right. One more time...

-P-p-p...

0:42:340:42:37

In the studio, Shirley's natural instinct changed the lyrics even further,

0:42:370:42:41

putting a Bassey spin on the song.

0:42:410:42:44

-I took my eyes off them.

-DEEP BREATH, THEN LAUGHTER

0:42:440:42:47

'It was called Nice Men, but you didn't like "nice". You turned it into "bad".'

0:42:470:42:54

-I don't recall, maybe I did change...

-Don't give me you "don't recall". You changed it on purpose.

0:42:540:43:01

# Where have all the nice men

0:43:020:43:04

# Where have all the good men

0:43:040:43:05

# Where have all the bad men gone? #

0:43:050:43:08

We actually re-recorded it last week

0:43:080:43:10

and I did a version of it which was sort of dirty,

0:43:100:43:13

so it's done a slightly different way.

0:43:130:43:16

# Where have they gone? Who knows? Where have they gone?

0:43:160:43:19

# Nobody knows! #

0:43:190:43:22

INSTRUMENTAL PLAYS

0:43:230:43:24

Oh!

0:43:240:43:25

That is dirty, David!

0:43:310:43:33

That is down and dirty! Hey!

0:43:330:43:38

The thing that Shirley Bassey has that many don't is that she's just so sexy.

0:43:410:43:46

Sensual more than just sexy, I think.

0:43:460:43:50

-Oh, no, at the start, it's more sexy.

-And sensual.

-Yeah.

0:43:500:43:53

At the start, it's just unbridled and natural.

0:43:530:43:57

It's just stunning.

0:43:570:43:59

Well, the legs, I mean, you know. Greatest pair of legs you ever saw

0:43:590:44:03

in the '70s.

0:44:030:44:04

# Where have all the bad men gone? #

0:44:040:44:06

There's not many women who are able to be very sexual

0:44:060:44:10

and very popular across the board.

0:44:100:44:13

I think it can be a very threatening figure -

0:44:130:44:17

the predatory female diva -

0:44:170:44:20

and she's just got the personality to handle it, where you just love her.

0:44:200:44:26

# Where have all the nice men

0:44:260:44:28

# Where have all the good men

0:44:280:44:29

# Where have all the bad men gone? #

0:44:290:44:32

-Whoo!

-That's certainly... Fantastic!

-That's going to be great.

0:44:320:44:37

-She hasn't really heard any of these.

-There's a great range to the songs.

0:44:370:44:42

-I mean, that is so different to...

-Absolutely.

-..After The Rain or something like that.

0:44:420:44:46

Come on, then, David. That's where we heard that soft side.

0:44:460:44:51

Dame Shirley was curious to hear how Richard Hawley's song After The Rain had turned out.

0:44:510:44:57

# After the rains have gone

0:44:580:45:01

# Something inside me I know

0:45:010:45:04

# Is dying for you

0:45:040:45:07

# The sleet and the snow

0:45:070:45:09

# Just drifts me, I know, away... #

0:45:090:45:15

'They brought out some nuances of my voice that I didn't know was there -

0:45:150:45:22

'the softness, that I could sing soft, which answers my critics

0:45:220:45:29

'that I am not a belter.

0:45:290:45:31

'I hate that word anyway.'

0:45:310:45:34

# This girl just can't take it any more... #

0:45:340:45:41

It's great.

0:45:420:45:44

It really is a Shirley Bassey song after all.

0:45:440:45:48

HE CHUCKLES

0:45:480:45:49

I love the key change - that was very subtle.

0:45:490:45:51

Yeah, he knows what he's doing - Mr Arnold - doesn't he?

0:45:510:45:54

That was great.

0:45:540:45:56

# Oh, I just can't take

0:45:570:46:01

# That my love don't want to fake... #

0:46:010:46:04

I believe her as well. Do you know what I mean? It's not a 17-year-old kid faking it.

0:46:040:46:10

It adds weight to it. Yeah, it's beautiful.

0:46:100:46:12

Thank you, Shirley.

0:46:120:46:14

# This girl just can't take it

0:46:150:46:20

# Any mo-o-o-re. #

0:46:200:46:24

-Never sung a song like that before.

-That's the first time you've heard yourself like that, is it?

0:46:250:46:31

-Yeah, I've never done a song like that.

-No, I know.

0:46:310:46:33

-Oh!

-It's very exposed, isn't it? It really is gorgeous.

0:46:350:46:39

# Shall we dance? Da-da-da! #

0:46:390:46:42

THEY LAUGH

0:46:420:46:44

# Shall we dance? #

0:46:440:46:45

-Well done, well done.

-Thank you very much.

0:46:470:46:49

You'd better do a good job of the mixing now, otherwise you won't get any more petting.

0:46:490:46:56

-Everything all right so far?

-Yeah.

0:46:560:46:58

# The word is about... #

0:47:030:47:05

Shirley Bassey has come out of retirement for this album,

0:47:050:47:09

and it's not the first time she's risen to a challenge.

0:47:090:47:12

Over the years, she's been lured back onto the stage

0:47:120:47:15

and into the charts by a new generation of performers and fans.

0:47:150:47:19

# It's all just a little bit of history repeating... #

0:47:190:47:23

In 2007, she played the coveted Sunday afternoon legend slot at Glastonbury.

0:47:250:47:31

I loved the atmosphere of it. I got caught up with it.

0:47:310:47:35

I didn't think I would. I thought, "What am I doing in all this mud? I don't do mud!

0:47:350:47:40

"I do glamour, you know - gowns sort of trailing along the stage,

0:47:400:47:46

"but not trailing in the mud."

0:47:460:47:48

I said, "What are you going to wear?

0:47:480:47:50

"It might be raining, there might be mud."

0:47:500:47:52

She said, "I don't care. If they want Shirley Bassey,

0:47:520:47:55

"I'll give them Shirley Bassey."

0:47:550:47:57

CHANTING: Shirley! Shirley!

0:47:570:48:00

CHEERING

0:48:020:48:04

'This strange thing took hold -

0:48:060:48:08

'this electricity in the air, you know.

0:48:080:48:12

'I was away with it. I got caught up in it.'

0:48:120:48:16

So, this song is for all you big spenders, OK?

0:48:170:48:20

CHEERING

0:48:200:48:21

# Well, when she walked in the joint... #

0:48:280:48:31

She's 72 years old - Shirley. What's happened to her voice over the years?

0:48:310:48:36

It sounds pretty much like it always sounded, doesn't it?

0:48:360:48:39

I thought that when I saw her at Glastonbury. She's just so powerful.

0:48:390:48:43

I mean, she stole the whole festival.

0:48:430:48:46

# So let me get right to the point

0:48:460:48:48

# I don't pop my cork for every man I see... #

0:48:490:48:53

One of the great things about seeing her was knowing that she's still got her instrument completely intact.

0:48:530:49:00

That must be very difficult because it's just a physical thing.

0:49:000:49:04

It's a muscle and some people aren't lucky, as they get older,

0:49:040:49:07

that they don't keep their voice.

0:49:070:49:09

# A little time with me! #

0:49:090:49:12

Frank Sinatra didn't have the vocal power as he got older,

0:49:120:49:16

but replaced it with a sort of experience,

0:49:160:49:18

but Shirley Bassey's still got the vocal power.

0:49:180:49:23

'It really was phenomenal.

0:49:230:49:25

'I will never ever forget that.'

0:49:250:49:28

Has that changed things for you? Could this have happened if you hadn't had that experience?

0:49:280:49:33

It may not have. I think perhaps these people suddenly saw, you know, me at Glastonbury,

0:49:330:49:40

the granny, you know,

0:49:400:49:42

and maybe... I'd like to think they said, "I'd like to write a song for her."

0:49:420:49:48

So, how's it gone? How do you think it's gone?

0:49:480:49:50

It's sometimes frustrating, sometimes exhilarating, when I got it.

0:49:500:49:55

You know, when I didn't get it - "Aggh! I can't do this!"

0:49:550:49:59

-She's very tough to work with, isn't she?

-No.

0:49:590:50:02

She's a pussycat, actually.

0:50:020:50:04

You're kidding. They boss me around something terrible.

0:50:040:50:07

-You've only knocked a couple of music stands over.

-That's all.

-Yeah.

-I didn't hit anybody.

0:50:070:50:13

When I threw a tantrum, they just didn't react.

0:50:130:50:20

-You did have one, I suppose. There was one.

-The stand?

-Yeah.

0:50:200:50:24

-There was one...

-Stand and headphones.

-And the headphones.

-And ripping up the music.

0:50:240:50:28

-I didn't rip it.

-Now I know we've made a Shirley Bassey record.

0:50:280:50:31

You know, the producer says, "Could we do that again? Could we do that again? Could we do that again?

0:50:310:50:38

"Could we do that again?"

0:50:380:50:39

And I must say I was very patient about it.

0:50:390:50:42

No, because if he says, "Do it again," it means it isn't right, and I'm a perfectionist

0:50:450:50:52

and I got angry at myself - nobody else.

0:50:520:50:55

It's been three months since Shirley finished the album,

0:50:570:51:01

and now, for one night only, thanks to these new songs,

0:51:010:51:05

she's reborn again as the performer.

0:51:050:51:07

So the Electric Proms are coming...?

0:51:090:51:12

Oh-h! Aggh!

0:51:120:51:14

The idea of going on a live stage is nerve-wracking

0:51:140:51:20

and, as I get older,

0:51:200:51:23

the shyness gets worse.

0:51:230:51:25

I think for a lot of performers, performance is a matter of life and death,

0:51:250:51:31

because if the performance isn't right, they're going to...

0:51:310:51:35

this is what people say - "I died."

0:51:350:51:38

Somebody once said to me, "It's a pity you can't see yourself

0:51:380:51:42

"on a live stage," and I started to think about, you know.

0:51:420:51:47

I suppose I should be analysed.

0:51:470:51:50

-Have you never done that, then?

-No, no, no.

0:51:500:51:53

I don't think I want to hear why

0:51:530:51:56

this shy person can go on stage in front of thousands of people.

0:51:560:52:01

I'd rather not think about it.

0:52:010:52:04

WHISTLING

0:52:040:52:06

I love the idea of what she does is that she appears in front of you,

0:52:090:52:13

the lights go down, the frock, the wig, the curtains, the orchestra...

0:52:130:52:19

CHEERING

0:52:190:52:21

..it's Shirley Bassey.

0:52:220:52:24

You know that she's going to give the show of a lifetime cos that's all she can do.

0:52:240:52:30

Shirley Bassey's performances have always been about triumph over tragedy,

0:52:310:52:37

and she's kept her private scars well hidden,

0:52:370:52:40

but tonight she's the diva at her most public and most private,

0:52:400:52:44

confronting herself as never before with a song written by the Pet Shop Boys.

0:52:440:52:50

It was written from the point of view of a diva,

0:52:530:52:56

where you've got someone who goes through a lot of heartache,

0:52:560:53:01

but is sort of fulfilled by her performance.

0:53:010:53:05

# A brave face

0:53:050:53:08

# Stiff upper lip

0:53:100:53:11

# Will do the trick

0:53:130:53:14

# Look, the mask is firm

0:53:160:53:20

# The face is mine

0:53:210:53:23

# It seems fine

0:53:240:53:27

# Until the final day

0:53:290:53:33

# I'll play this part

0:53:330:53:37

# The only way I can

0:53:370:53:40

# For to live

0:53:400:53:44

# I have to give

0:53:440:53:47

# The performance

0:53:470:53:50

# Of my life...

0:53:500:53:57

APPLAUSE AND CHEERING

0:53:570:53:59

# What's the truth... #

0:53:590:54:00

I think that there are performers

0:54:000:54:05

who prioritise their performance and their career

0:54:050:54:10

over their private life...

0:54:100:54:13

# But you go on... #

0:54:130:54:16

..but I think it is such a powerful thing to be such a powerful performer

0:54:160:54:21

that the rest of your life exists in the shadow of that performance,

0:54:210:54:26

and that, for many people, many performers like that,

0:54:260:54:31

they're most truly alive on stage.

0:54:310:54:34

# Right on cue

0:54:390:54:40

# I fell in love with you

0:54:420:54:47

# You cause many a tear

0:54:490:54:53

# I had applause

0:54:540:54:56

# I had a career

0:54:560:54:59

# Until the final day

0:55:010:55:05

# I'll play this part

0:55:050:55:09

# The only way I can

0:55:090:55:13

# For to live

0:55:140:55:17

# I have to give

0:55:170:55:19

# The performance

0:55:210:55:24

# Of my

0:55:240:55:29

# Li-i-i-i-fe! #

0:55:290:55:37

-OFF-SCREEN:

-# Until that final day

0:55:370:55:40

# I'll play the part the only way I can

0:55:400:55:42

# For to live, I have to give

0:55:420:55:45

# The performance of my life. #

0:55:450:55:51

'And that's how I went on stage -

0:55:510:55:55

'every song was the performance of my life,'

0:55:550:55:58

so that song really - aggh!

0:55:580:56:02

'You know, it really hit home.

0:56:020:56:06

'I thank them for bringing those emotions out in me,'

0:56:100:56:16

and the love that they put into those songs

0:56:160:56:19

and I hope I've done them justice, those writers justice.

0:56:190:56:24

# I bought a ticket of a lifetime

0:56:260:56:29

# There's no denying who I am

0:56:290:56:35

# Forever young I will stay

0:56:360:56:41

# The girl from Tiger Bay

0:56:410:56:45

# The girl from Tiger Bay! #

0:56:450:56:51

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:56:510:56:53

Alan Yentob gains an insight into the creative world of Dame Shirley Bassey in a programme first shown in 2009. After a triumphant Glastonbury appearance and a major illness at the age of 72, Dame Shirley tentatively re-enters the ring to confront her life in song.

Some of the best contemporary songwriters, including Gary Barlow, the Pet Shop Boys, Manic Street Preachers, Rufus Wainwright, Richard Hawley and KT Tunstall, along with James Bond composer John Barry and lyricist Don Black, have interpreted her life through song for an album produced by David Arnold.

The songs frame and explore the myth of Shirley Bassey, the girl from Tiger Bay, and the voice and the desire are not found wanting. A backstory profiling Shirley, complete with archive of her greatest performances, tells the story of what makes her the living legend that she is today.