Wise Owl Films has landed its first BBC Two commission with a 1 x 60-minute documentary that explores Bob Marley’s influence on the UK.
In the 1970s, Bob Marley rose from humble beginnings in his homeland of Jamaica to become a global superstar. It was a journey that took him to Britain - the place he came to regard as his second home.
When Bob Marley Came to Britain, narrated by Obaro Ejimiwe, features rarely seen archive footage and interviews with people who met and knew him, and looks at Marley’s special relationship with Britain. It reveals how his presence helped influence British politics, culture and identity, during a time of massive social and civil unrest in the UK - and how his universal message of One Love and unity helped inspire a generation of Black British youth.
This film also explores Marley’s time in Britain – the houses he lived in, football kickabouts in Battersea Park and visits to the UK’s growing Rastafarian community, including secret gigs in the North of England. It was in Britain that Bob Marley established himself as an international artist, recorded some of his most successful albums and performed some of his most memorable concerts.
When Bob Marley Came to Britain features interviews with those who met Marley in the UK including photographer Dennis Morris, who accompanied Marley on tour; founding member of the reggae band Aswad, Brinsley Forde; The Cimarons’ Locksley Gishie; reggae legend Marcia Griffiths of Bob Marley’s vocal group The I-Threes; and filmmaker and BBC Radio 6 Music presenter Don Letts. There are also memories of the most important gigs he played in Britain, including early Wailers gigs in small pubs and clubs when the band were still largely unknown, a now-legendary acoustic performance in the gym of a Peckham High School and a triumphant show at the Lyceum theatre in London.
Wise Owl Films’ Creative Director and Executive Producer Mark Robinson comments:
“We know that Bob Marley’s music has impacted on millions of people’s lives across the planet - but less well known are the life-changing stories of the people he met while he lived in the UK. Although Marley lived and recorded in London during the Seventies he also toured the country extensively - from Teesside to Lancaster, Birmingham to Bristol – and helped change the culture of Britain along the way.
“For this documentary we talked to those who have never forgotten their encounter with Marley – whether they accompanied him on tour, saw him perform in their school hall, or were present when he visited Rastafarian communities in the North of England.
“It’s also the story of how Britain changed Bob Marley – it was the place he called his second home and played a major role in making him a global superstar.”
When Bob Marley Came to Britain is a 1 x 60’ minute film for BBC Two as part of a BBC Music television series.
Commissioned by Owen Courtney, Commissioning Executive, BBC Music.
The documentary was produced and directed by Stuart Ramsay, story produced by Karen Gabay, and executive produced by Mark Robinson for Wise Owl Films.