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Thursday, 2 December, 1999, 12:50 GMT
BBC's all-star millennium bash
The BBC's 2000 Today team 2000 Today's Michael Parkinson, Philippa Forrester, Gaby Roslin, Katy Hill and Shauna Lowry

The BBC has lined up a host of famous names for its landmark broadcast 2000 Today to herald the new millennium.

Excerpts from pop veteran Sir Cliff Richard's concert at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham will feature in the 28-hour live programme welcoming the dawn of a new era.

Despite the fact that his No 1 single Millennium Prayer has been snubbed by many radio stations, the 59-year-old's show will be among the programme's musical highlights from around the world.

Pop veteran Sir Cliff Richard will be performing BBC millennium star: Sir Cliff Richard
Performances by French musician Jean-Michel Jarre at the Pyramids in Egypt, pop singer Bjork in Iceland and rock stars Manic Street Preachers at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium will also feature.

The BBC's 12m coverage will bring together 60 broadcasters and some of the best-known faces on British TV to capture events as they happen.

Veteran BBC journalist John Simpson will report on the first midnight from the uninhabited South Pacific island of Kiribati, while locations such as Times Square in New York, Sydney Opera House and the Millennium Dome at Greenwich will also be visited.

Gaby Roslin and Michael Parkinson will lead the team in the studio at BBC Television Centre in west London. They will be joined by other well-known names including Barbara Windsor, Michael Palin, Rolf Harris and Peter Snow.

Jamie Theakston will present the Millennium Countdown concert from Greenwich with music from Eurythmics, Simply Red, Bryan Ferry and Martine McCutcheon.

The Two Ronnies in a millennium routine One-off special: A special sketch from The Two Ronnies
Comedy stars such as The Two Ronnies, Harry Enfield, Neil Morrissey, Jack Dee, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer will also have starring roles in 2000 Today.

In the minutes leading up to midnight, 2000 Today will visit events around the country following the Queen's official opening of the Millennium Dome.

"At the stroke of midnight, the 12 bongs of Big Ben will punctuate 12 stunning images - they will portray a sense of our past, a feeling for what we have to look forward to and the essence of what's happening across the UK," said Avril McRory, head of the BBC's millennium event.

"On the final bong, the first fireworks will be lit at Tower Bridge creating one of the most dramatic scenes on the night, the Wall Of Flame along the Thames to Vauxhall Bridge. Now that will be unforgettable."

Global highlights will include a sequence at 11pm on New Year's Eve which will give a snapshot of celebrations at midnight around Europe, ending with the Papal Blessing in Rome.

Links will be made to the South Pole and to space, with NASA astronauts giving their reflections on board the last space shuttle flight of the century.

In the UK, there will be broadcasts from a gas rig in the Irish Sea, where 90 men will have a booze-free celebration, and Nottingham for the service of remembrance at the British Legion headquarters.

Reggae legend Bob Marley Anthem: Bob Marley's One Love
BBC director of television Alan Yentob said: "It may be epic in scale but I promise that there will be plenty of comedy, drama and entertainment as viewers are invited to join the BBC for that where-were-you-moment on a night they will always remember."

The BBC has also announced its official 2000 Today anthem, which will be a new version of the Bob Marley hit, One Love.

A specially re-recorded rendition of the song features the late reggae star's son Ziggy with the Gipsy Kings and the Boys' Choir of Harlem.

The Gipsy Kings will also be playing the song live in Miami and it will be played regularly throughout the broadcast.

  • The BBC was hit by its own millennium bug when it unveiled its millennium and Christmas schedules to journalists at a venue opposite the Millennium Dome.

    Many were stranded on the new Jubilee Line when a signal failure halted the underground line, and when they got there, smoke filled the venue when a small fire broke out. The blaze was quickly put out.

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    See also:
    28 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
    Sir Cliff tops the charts
    24 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
    BBC goes retro for winter
    23 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
    BBC's Christmas crackers
    23 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
    ITV's festive Frost

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