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Entertainment BBC to air documentary capturing the last years of Queen legend Freddie Mercury on 30th anniversary of his death

17:55  28 october  2021
17:55  28 october  2021 Source:   walesonline.co.uk

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On November 24, 1991, pop icon and lead singer of '70s rock band Queen Freddie Mercury died from complications of AIDS.

With the 30th anniversary of his death approaching, BBC Two have announced that they will be broadcasting the biographical documentary 'Freddie Mercury: The Final Act' in his honour and memory.

The 90-minute movie captures the last years of the musical legend and documents the journey between Freddie's last concert and the tribute concert the year after his passing.

It begins in 1986, the year of Queen's unmissable Magic tour, which famously reached its undisputed climax at Knebworth Stadium in Hertfordshire and when Freddie finally proved to the world that he was one of the greatest musical performers of all time.

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It was only five years after the success that the rock sensation died at the age of 45 at his home in Kensington.

The production will feature never-before-seen interviews with his fellow band members, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, who, along with Queen’s manager Jim Beach, organised the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, which was attended by over 700,000 of Freddie's fans.

The trio reached out to a handful of fellow leading musical artists, including Elton John, David Bowie and Annie Lennox and dedicated the entire event to the memory of their dear companion.

Other artists who performed at the legendary gig, including Gary Cherone (Extreme), Roger Daltrey (The Who), Joe Elliott (Def Leppard), Lisa Stansfield and Paul Young all have their say in the documentary about the influence that Mercury had on their lives and careers.

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Queen performing in the USA. © Mirrorpix Queen performing in the USA.

The spectacular four-hour music event not only commemorated Freddie's incredible life, but also brought HIV/AIDS explicitly into the spotlight and raised awareness.

In an era where HIV/AIDS was prematurely ending the lives of millions and intensifying homophobia worldwide, the message about the disease that the group put out during one of the biggest concerts in history, was finally heard and recognised by billions of viewers worldwide.

The upcoming film also hears from those who saw the impact of the disease first-hand, including numerous doctors and medical professionals, AIDS survivors and human rights activist Peter Tatchell.

Speaking in the documentary, Brian May, who was amongst only a handful of people that knew about Freddie's private battle with AIDS, explains: "Freddie opened up his heart and gave it everything he had.

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"He was a musician through and through and through. He lived for his music. He loved his music, and he was proud of himself as a musician above everything else."

Queen in 1976. © PA Wire Queen in 1976.

Discussing the stigma surrounding the disease during the period of the '80s and '90s, Roger Taylor also reveals: "We were very angry and we had to stick up for our friend - our best friend.

"I became fixated with the idea of giving him a hell of a send-off."

The upcoming film will also hear from some of Freddie's closest friends and family, including his younger sister Kashmira Bulsara and companions Anita Dobson and David Wigg, as well as his personal assistant Peter Freestone.

Speaking about the project, director of the 'docu-movie' James Rogan explained: "Making Freddie Mercury: The Final Act has been an extraordinary journey into the final chapter of one of rock music's greatest icons.

"Working with Queen and getting to see behind-the-scenes of some of their greatest performances and the legendary Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert was a rare privilege.

"Equally important was speaking to the people who had lived through the eye of the storm of the global pandemic of HIV/AIDS, with all its resonances with COVID today.

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Freddie Mercury and Queen performing at the NEC in Birmingham in 1980. © Mirrorpix Freddie Mercury and Queen performing at the NEC in Birmingham in 1980.

"Freddie's death and the tribute that Queen organised for him helped to change global awareness of this terrible disease at a critical time."

The upcoming film is truly a tale of companionship, compassion and comedy, whilst also shedding a light on Freddie's very real battle against the many prejudices of an unforgiving time.

It also emphasises his relentless joy and celebration in life, something which not only consolidated his reputation as the greatest rock performer of his time, but which also hugely contributed to a shift in social attitudes towards sexuality, health and acceptance.

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