Bassey! - Episode 1
There is nothing like a Dame who drags herself from the docklands of Cardiff, to the diamond-studded wellington boots of Glastonbury seven decades later. As Dame Shirley Bassey prepares to release a new studio album, after five decades in the business, "The Girl From Tiger Bay" tells her story to Paul Sexton.
In the personal interview that underpins the story, Dame Shirley reveals some of the secrets that have kept her at the pinnacle of her profession for so long, and why she thinks she holds such a cherished place in the public's affection. She reminisces about rubbing shoulders with everyone from JFK and Elvis to Morecambe & Wise.
Throughout the series we hear the memories of those who've worked alongside La Bassey, a varied cast including Don Black, Jimmy Tarbuck, Des O'Connor, Chris Rea and Shirley Eaton (the original "golden girl" of Goldfinger, the title song of which announced the singer's arrival onto the world stage and into 007 folklore).
Many of the artists who've written new material for Bassey also contribute, including Gary Barlow, Neil Tennant, Richard Hawley, Tom Baxter, Kaiser Chiefs' Nick Hodgson, as well as the album's producer - and current James Bond composer - David Arnold.
In part one, Dame Shirley talks candidly about growing up in a mixed-race family in impoverished wartime Tiger Bay. She recalls how her mother said that, as a child, Shirley would often sing instead of crying ("weird kid, I was"), and how her siblings didn't appreciate her constant vocalising around the house ("until I made it, and then they said 'That's my sister'").
From humble early public performances in working men's clubs, we hear about the determination that would take her into the charts for the first time in early 1957, just a few weeks out of her teens. That drive was to bring her nine top ten singles and many hit albums within a few years, as she established a reputation as one of Britain's greatest live entertainers.