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“It puts people at their ease somehow,” reflects the presenter and renowned jazz pianist .
Describing the “magical moments” that regularly take place inside the confines of its four walls, the intimate conversations that ensue before cameras begin rolling are among the most priceless for Holland.
With the new series of Later… with Jools Holland once again returning to North London’s Alexandra Palace Theatre, it’s mention of the show’s former home, at BBC Television Centre, that sees the pre-show memories come rolling back.
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“It was like a cross between a 1960s hotel, a KGB interrogation room and a showbiz dressing room,” recalls Holland, his smile almost audible.
“It had an upright piano, a little desk, there was sort of 60s furniture – and a kettle, so you could have people round and have a cup of tea.
“It was amazing some of the things would happen there; people wandering in and out – and the piano was what enabled it. That gave them the confidence the show was going to be alright.”
Regularly framed behind the instantly recognisable silhouette of a black Yamaha grand piano, it’s a work of art Holland, 64, describes as the “unsung star of the show”.
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“It’s as much part of it as I am,” admits the multi-platinum selling artist.
Entering its 60th series and marking 30 years since Later…with Jools Holland first graced our screens, fans can now look forward to three months of musical celebrations. It is a series which has already featured the likes of Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys, south London native Loyle Carner, and Rotherham-born pop phenomenon Self Esteem.
With celebrations culminating in the 30th Annual Hootenanny, it is Jools’ 30th Birthday Bash, a one-off live recorded special at London’s Eventim Apollo, that is undoubtedly the highlight.
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Mirroring the 25th Anniversary event which took place at London’s Royal Albert Hall, the televised special will bring together a host of artists from across the musical spectrum. “Keeping all the musicians in the room at the same time is quite difficult,” laughs Holland, who describes his battle to stop them “wandering off”.
It conjures a merry image as he describes how the musicians are arranged in a circle and present throughou t all performances. “I think ours is the only place where the worlds collide,” he says, of the format.
“John Lydon with Bruce Johnston, Sheryl Crow and PJ Harvey – there’s just people that you wouldn’t ever normally put together.” Jools’ 30th Birthday Bash broadcasts on BBC Two on Saturday. He will perform his anniversary show at Sheffield City Hall tomorrow and heads to York and Leeds in December.
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