Wise Owl Films has landed its second BBC Two music commission with a 1 x 60 minute documentary looking back at the time Nirvana spent touring the UK, as well as examining the influence that British music had on the iconic American rock band.
Following on from When Bob Marley Came to Britain, When Nirvana Came to Britain tells the story of how between 1989 and 1994, Nirvana introduced a new and exciting brand of rock music to the UK, changing the musical landscape of the time and influencing a generation of British youth.
The programme charts the band’s rise from their very first British tour, during which they performed in pubs and tiny venues, through to their legendary and infamous TV appearances on programmes such as The Word and Top of the Pops - moments that helped to cement their status as one of the biggest rock bands on the planet and brought grunge culture to the mainstream.
Featuring unseen archive as well as home movie footage shot by the band themselves, the film revisits the little-known British locations that played a surprising role in Nirvana’s story – from the London guest house they regularly stayed at, to the small Edinburgh pub where they once played a surprise acoustic gig to just 30 people.
There are contributions from Nirvana’s surviving members, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, as well as the BBC’s Jo Whiley and Steve Lamacq (both of whom were present to chart band’s meteoric rise), members of Nirvana’s British tour crew, their UK Publicist Anton Brookes and booking agent Russell Warby. Dave and Krist, in revealing new interviews, share their memories of the band’s time in Britain and explain why it has always held a special place in their hearts.
Dave Grohl says: “The UK definitely responded to Nirvana much more, before America. You guys were the first with everything…we cut our teeth there. After touring the UK I remember going back to America to the same bars and clubs where we were playing to 99 people…150 people…it was definitely not like what it was in the UK. It really is like a second home.”
Speaking of Nirvana’s first UK tour in 1989, bassist Krist Novoselic says: “I’d never been to Great Britain. We got off the plane and we were in this different world. Whenever I went to London or Manchester, Leeds or Newcastle…I always had a great time there.”
Mark Robinson, Executive Producer of When Nirvana Came to Britain says: “Nirvana’s relationship with Britain really was a two-way trade-off. Nirvana were inspired by bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin and championed British groups like The Raincoats and The Vaselines – but their brand of rock was to have a huge influence on the sounds coming out of the British music scene in the 90s. This story has never been told on TV before, so it’s been fascinating to hear it from Dave and Krist themselves, as well as the people who literally went on the journey with them, as they toured the UK.”
Commissioned by Owen Courtney, Commissioning Executive, BBC Music, When Nirvana Came to Britain is produced and directed by Stuart Ramsay for Wise Owl Films.