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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 March 2007, 06:15 GMT 07:15 UK
From Crazy Love to Chasing Cars
Ash's Tim Wheeler is one of many NI musicians to make it big worldwide.

Anybody asked what Northern Ireland has ever done for us can at least always reel off a list of musicians who have made it big on the international stage.

From the Undertones in the 1970s through to Snow Patrol, and not forgetting the legendary Van Morrison, for a small place it has punched above its weight.

So Hard to Beat is a timely new two-part BBC Northern Ireland documentary charting the development of rock and pop music from these shores over the past five decades.

The documentary has an exclusive contribution from the often reclusive Morrison, who gives his first television interview in years.

Van Morrison
Any writers or poets that are from here, they do keep coming back in their imagination because it's like a source
Van Morrison
Written and narrated by local music journalist Stuart Bailie, he talks to other stars such as Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody and Ash singer Tim Wheeler.

A wealth of rare archive footage is supported by interviews with guitar legends Henry McCullough, Gary Moore and Eric Bell, Mickey Bradley and Damian O'Neill from the Undertones, David Holmes, Terri Hooley and Brian Kennedy.

The series begins in the 1960s against the backdrop of the start of the Troubles, as Morrison and his band Them first hit the big time while Portstewart's own Henry McCullough plays Woodstock.

It concludes in the present day with acts such as Snow Patrol and Duke Special hitting the big time.

Morrison says Northern Ireland is still an inspiration in his work.

"Any writers or poets that are from here, they do keep coming back in their imagination because it's like a source," he says.

"They still have a sense of place."

Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody says he is excited by the amount of great new bands emerging.

Most of them share a deal of pride to have come from here and most of them are happy to be part of a musical chain letter - passing on ideas, experience and inspiration
Stuart Bailie
"I have a massive fondness for the music that comes out of here," he says.

Tim Wheeler from Ash says: "I think Northern Ireland produces a lot of melodic music - there's a great sense of melody."

Among the rare archive footage featured in the documentary are clips of Van Morrison with Them and with The Chieftans.

Researchers have also unearthed tapes of Thin Lizzy, The Undertones, Rory Gallagher and Taste, as well as early Snow Patrol and Ash.

Stuart Bailie says: "The story really hurtles along, from Baby Please Don't Go to Chasing Cars.

"Most of them share a deal of pride to have come from here and most of them are happy to be part of a musical chain letter - passing on ideas, experience and inspiration.

"This is where we're from, and documenting this history has been really great for the heart."

So Hard to Beat is on BBC ONE NI on Tuesday at 2235 BST and Wednesday at 2240 BST.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Watch a sneak preview of the show



SEE ALSO
'Wilde' party in Oscar town
21 Feb 07 |  Northern Ireland
City gets dedicated music centre
05 Feb 07 |  Northern Ireland
Band 'feels force is with them'
15 Apr 05 |  Northern Ireland
Thin Lizzy's Lynott back in town
20 Aug 05 |  Northern Ireland
Horslips find imitation flatters
25 Aug 06 |  Northern Ireland
The legacy of punk
20 Jan 04 |  Magazine
Divine Comedy: A grand goodbye
22 Nov 01 |  Northern Ireland



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