BBC Radio 2 marks the 50th anniversary of a momentous meeting between Elvis Presley and the young pretenders of pop The Beatles.
Starring Tom Hughes as John Lennon, this drama is inspired by a secret meeting that took place in Elvis's Bel Air mansion on August 27 1965. That night is probably the most seismic meeting in music. No cameras, no recording equipment - and only those who were there really know what happened. When Elvis Met The Beatles recreates that evening, bringing alive the story when they met exactly 50 years ago, inviting listeners to be a fly on the wall.
Written by Jeff Young, the drama puts music at the heart of their meeting. Listeners will hear how music broke the ice between the two parties, discover what songs were played on Elvis' Jukebox and who sang what in a mythical jam session. This wasn't just the meeting of the two biggest music names in history - it was passing of the baton from the King of Rock 'n' Roll to the upstarts from Liverpool.
Tom Hughes, star of recently acclaimed BBC Two drama The Game, plays John Lennon, alongside Kevin Mains as Elvis Presley (he previously played Paul McCartney in ITV's Cilla and Elvis in the West End production of Million Dollar Quartet).
Tom says: "It's said that you shouldn't meet your heroes, I'm not sure that's true. John Lennon is a hero of mine. I'll never have the chance to meet him, so playing him is the next best thing. I was delighted to be asked and I just hope that in some way I've done this great man justice."
Other cast include Tom Dunlea as Ringo (All Is By My Side, and he played the same Beatle in Cilla), Shaun Mason (Luther, Good Cop) as Paul McCartney, Michael Hawkins as George Harrison (a role he also played in Cilla), Daniel Lapaine (Zero Dark Thirty, Muriel's Wedding) as Brian Epstein, and Colin Stinton (The Bourne Ultimatum, Foyle's War) playing Colonel Tom Parker. Music is from leading Elvis tribute act, Pete Storm, and members of Imagine The Beatles, with Paul McCartney sung by Rob Simpson, John Lennon by Geoff Raggett and George Harrison by Adj Buffone.
The drama is by Liverpool-based screenwriter and playwright, Jeff Young, one of the BBC's most experienced radio dramatists with over 25 radio plays broadcast in the last 20 years, plus a major stage adaptation of The Who's Quadrophenia which toured the UK in 2009.Jeff Young says: "I was a big Beatles fan when I was younger, but for this project, initially, I knew very little about the Elvis and Beatles meeting. Then as I began researching the story, the strangeness of the meeting and the psychological dimensions, the dramatic opportunities became obvious. The larger than life characters involved, including Brian Epstein and Colonel Tom Parker, all set against a backdrop of corrupt American politics and the disastrous war in Vietnam, made for a strange and compelling narrative."The piece that has emerged is a kind of fake documentary. Elvis's life was an American Tragedy and the seeds of it are sown here in this meeting between the King and the pretenders to the throne. The Beatles were so young, bewildered and overwhelmed by their rapid rise to fame. In writing this drama I went back my old Beatles records and I became a Beatles fan, all over again.".