BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds To Celebrate ABBA's 50th Anniversary

The public can vote for their favourite ever ABBA song for a special show, Your Ultimate ABBA Song


BBC Sounds

5 April 2024 – "Ever since I saw them perform Waterloo on Eurovision I was hooked. ABBA has been the musical backdrop to my life. I saw them live in Manchester in 1977 and it was one of the best concerts ever. I’ve got too many favourites to pick just one, so I can’t wait to find out what the British public vote as their ultimate ABBA song." — Gary Davies, presenter of Your Ultimate ABBA Song

ABBA will be celebrated on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds to mark the 50th anniversary of Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson’s Eurovision win in Brighton in April 1974.

From today, the public can vote for their favourite ever ABBA song for a special show, Your Ultimate ABBA Song, which will feature the Top 30 countdown of their most popular tracks, as voted for by Radio 2 listeners.

Following previous Eras series’ on Kylie and The Beatles, Eras: ABBA tells the definitive story of the group in four, era-defining chapters.

In Sophie Ellis-Bextor: ABBA, My Supergroup, Sophie tells of her love of the band, ABBA at the BBC features the group in archive BBC Radio interviews spanning many decades.

Your Ultimate Abba Song

Listeners can now vote here for up to five of their favourite songs from a list of 45 titles comprising all ABBA’s UK Top 40 hits, plus a selection of other classics as chosen by Radio 2’s panel of ABBA superfans, including presenters Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Sara Cox. Voting is now open and closes at 12pm on Thursday 18 April 2024. Gary Davies will host the Top 30 countdown show, Your Ultimate ABBA Song, which will include his memories of the group along with material from the BBC’s extensive archive (1-3pm, Saturday 11 May on Radio 2). Produced by BBC Audio.

Gary Davies, presenter of Your Ultimate ABBA Song, says: “Ever since I saw them perform Waterloo on Eurovision I was hooked. ABBA has been the musical backdrop to my life. I saw them live in Manchester in 1977 and it was one of the best concerts ever. I’ve got too many favourites to pick just one, so I can’t wait to find out what the British public vote as their ultimate ABBA song.”

Jeff Smith, Head of Music for Radio 2 and 6 Music, says: “Radio 2’s listeners have huge love for ABBA due to their timeless melodic music so, alongside the fantastic new Eras: ABBA series and Sophie Ellis-Bextor sharing her adoration of the group, we’re inviting them to celebrate the Swedish foursome by voting for their favourite tracks to mark this momentous anniversary.”

Eras: ABBA

On Radio 2 - and available now on BBC Sounds - is Eras: ABBA (following previous series’ on Kylie and The Beatles) which tells the definitive story of ABBA in four era-defining chapters. They’re known for their impossibly perfect pop songs, global stardom and a stratospheric revival, but how much do you really know about Sweden’s biggest musical export? With presenter Sara Cox as our guide and told in the group’s own words through rare BBC archive and new interviews with experts, insiders and famous fans, this is the story of how Agnetha, Frida, Björn and Benny went from Eurovision hopefuls to era-defining pop icons. Eras: ABBA is a window into the musical genius and sheer perseverance that brought ABBA to their rightful place at the top. Set against their timeless back catalogue, listeners will get to know ABBA like never before.

Contributors include Kylie, Rylan, Dermot O’Leary, Elaine Paige, Paul Gambaccini, Olly Alexander, Mark Gatiss, ABBA historian Carl Magnus Palm, session musician Janne Schaffer, Rod Stephen - creator of Björn Again, ABBA Voyage producers, Ludvig Andersson and Svana Gisla, and its director Ballie Walsh, plus curator Ingmarie Halling, journalist Leif Schulman, costume designer Owe Sandström, Mamma Mia! writer and producer Catherine Johnson and writer Ian Hallard. Episodes one and two will be broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on Sunday 7th April (12-1am), with episodes three and four broadcast on the station on Sunday 14th April (12-1am). A Cup and Nuzzle production.

Episode one, Eras: ABBA - The Road to Waterloo, explores how ABBA’s lives changed forever when they won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, but that the win didn’t come easy. The road to Waterloo was a long one, taking years of hard work and the combination of four world-class talents - each of them already successful in their own right - to pull it off. Sara tells how Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Frida came together to become ABBA and follows their journey to ultimately winning Eurovision, following a number of failed attempts.

Episode two, Eras: ABBA - The Arrival, follows the band as they find their feet after Eurovision, when they were almost written off as one-hit wonders. Sara takes a look at how the group pulled themselves back from the brink of obscurity and went on to become global megastars, releasing an ever-growing catalogue of hits and finding legions of new fans a very long way from Sweden.

Episode three, Eras: ABBA - Said and Done, opens in 1979 and, whilst ABBA are one of the world’s most famous bands, beneath the surface things are changing. Sara follows the band’s story to the peak of their career and reveals how, as they released some of their most iconic and sophisticated music, their personal relationships come under incredible strain. The band plays on, but how long can they last? This episode chronicles the beginning of the end for the supergroup.

Episode four, Eras: ABBA - Thank You For The Music, tells how - after a wildly successful but gruelling decade - ABBA were no more. Their ‘indefinite hiatus’ allowed each member of the group to follow their own path. Nothing lasts forever though, not even endings, as Sara tells the story of a comeback like no other. From pop history’s greatest Greatest Hits, to theatrical smashes, Hollywood acclaim and futuristic entertainment experiences, ABBA are reborn to achieve a truly timeless legacy.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor: ABBA, My Supergroup

Sophie Ellis-Bextor counts herself as one of ABBA’s biggest fans and in the hour-long special, Sophie Ellis-Bextor: ABBA, My Supergroup, she reveals how their iconic tunes found their way into her life. By the time Sophie was of an age to truly appreciate music, ABBA had already broken up several years earlier, but their absence only made her heart grow fonder of their music. She tells how she became familiar with their songs through 90s films such as Muriel’s Wedding and The Adventures of Priscilla – Queen of the Desert, and TV shows like Knowing Me Knowing You, as well as her lifelong love of Eurovision.

The 1992 hits compilation, ABBA Gold, opened up their back catalogue of hits to a teenage Sophie and from there on she was a fully-fledged fan, enjoying the ABBA journey through Mamma Mia! the stage musical, the movies which followed and their eventual incredible avatar reunion. The programme is packed with Sophie’s enthralling and delightful personal stories and gives a fascinating insight into how ABBA’s influence shaped the aspirations and sound of one of the UK’s most successful female artists of modern times, Sophie herself. The programme is soundtracked by over 20 of the group’s biggest hits, as well as archive audio from interviews, film trailers and live performances. It is available now on BBC Sounds and will be broadcast on Radio 2 on Saturday 13 April (1-2am). A Mostest production.

Sophie says: “I’ve spent thousands of hours singing and dancing to ABBA’s songs throughout my life since I first fell in love with them. This is my dream show, to share their music and the joy they bring to me and so many millions of others!”

ABBA at the BBC features all the members of the group in interviews - spanning many decades on BBC Radio - with contributors including Zoe Ball, Richard Skinner, Laurie Mayer, Tom Browne, producer Paul Williams, plus the late Ray Moore and Steve Wright. The group talk about their lives here in the UK and in Sweden and their lengthy, huge success across the globe - from their worldwide debut in the 70s, through to their recent surprise reunion album and revolutionary, hi tech, avatar-based show in London. It is available now on BBC Sounds and will be broadcast on Radio 2 on Saturday 6 April (1-2am). A BBC Audio production.

Eras: ABBA, Sophie Ellis-Bextor: ABBA, My Supergroup, ABBA at the BBC and ABBA and Beyond: The Story of Eurovision 74 with Scott Mills are available now on BBC Sounds.

Kylie, alongside other stars, performed in the presence of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus with the BBC Concert Orchestra at Radio 2’s Thank You For The Music – A Celebration of the Music of ABBA in Hyde Park in 2009, and Benny Andersson performed for Radio 2’s Piano Room in 2017.


As previously announced, BBC TV is also celebrating ABBA’s remarkable anniversary with BBC Two broadcasting a night of ABBA specials on Saturday 6 April, including When Abba Came to Britain and More ABBA at the BBC - which features a performance of So Long on Top of the Pops that hasn’t been broadcast since 1974. On Sunday 7 April, BBC Four broadcasts the Eurovision 1974 Grand Final, with a newly-recorded introduction from Hannah Waddingham. All the programmes will be available on BBC iPlayer after broadcast.

BBC Radio 2 is the UK’s most listened to radio station, with a weekly audience of 13.3 million (RAJAR Q4, 2023).The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show is most listened to Breakfast show in the UK with an audience of 6.6 million (RAJAR Q4, 2023).The network’s presenters include Michael Ball, Zoe Ball, Rob Beckett, Tony Blackburn, OJ Borg, Rev. Kate Bottley, Rylan, Fearne Cotton, Sara Cox, Jamie Cullum, Gary Davies, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Paul Gambaccini, Angela Griffin, Bob Harris, Vernon Kay, Cerys Matthews, Scott Mills, Jason Mohammad, Trevor Nelson, Dermot O’Leary, Elaine Paige, Mark Radcliffe, Romesh Ranganathan, DJ Spoony, Liza Tarbuck, Jeremy Vine, Michelle Visage, Johnnie Walker, Jo Whiley, Phil Williams and Owain Wyn Evans.

Source BBC Sounds

April 5, 2024 5:00am ET by Newsdesk  


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