Olivia Newton-john - In Her Own Words

Episodes

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0120170515

Olivia Newton-John looks back on fifty years in show business.

012017051520180606 (R2)

Olivia Newton-John remembers returning to England in 1966.

Four-time grammy winner Olivia Newton-John offers her own story, in her own words.

In these two programmes, four-time grammy winner Olivia Newton-John offers her own story, in her own words. From her early childhood in England, the daughter of a Jewish emigre and an MI5 officer, to her teenage rise to fame on Australian Television, her formative experiences as a young singer performing in London in the mid sixties, to selling 100 million records and becoming one of the best-selling artists of all time.

Episode One.

Going back to her teenage years, Olivia remembers returning to England in 1966. "I had won a talent contest In Australia when I was 15 on a rock and roll show. And the prize was a trip to London. I was at school and my mother wanted me to go to RADA, that was her dream."Homesick, Olivia pined for her boyfriend back in Melbourne and her burgeoning career on Australian television.

She reflects on her first taste of success in swinging London, performing as a double act with her friend Pat Carroll. Life on the road was fun and they were backing singers for Sir Cliff Richard, Frank Ifield, The Seekers and The Shadows - but there were also some hilarious incidents:"One night we were booked into Raymond's Revue bar and so we went to sing there, us in our pink mini skirts with flowers all over them. And we got up on the stage and behind us was a woman swimming around topless in a fish tank. And we didn't really understand what was going on. We looked out into the audience and there was just a few tables with guys in raincoats. We did our show and Mr Raymond came up and paid us off, cash, and said thank you but this isn't going to work. And we were mortified because we didn't really get it, where we had been!"

After being picked out by Harry Saltzman to appear in a wacky sixties musical film 'Toomorrow', Olivia recalls scoring her first major hit with a cover of Bob Dylan's 'If Not For You' in 1971 and finding fame on The Cliff Richard Show. Co-produced by The Shadows' guitarist, Bruce Welch (her then fiance) and Australian musician John Farrar, she had a string of country-tinged hits with Banks of The Ohio, Take Me Home (Country Roads) and If You Love Me Let Me Know, plus classic ballads Sam and I Honestly Love You.

But she remembers the surprising backlash from Nashville purists when her records began to dominate the American Country charts, winning a string of music awards including the Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1973. "There was a controversy when I won because I was an Australian, I recorded these songs in England, it was written by an Englishman. It was totally out of the box. And they weren't very happy because they had their own thing and I understand. But Dolly Parton stood up for me, Loretta Lynn did and Stella Parton wrote a really sweet song."

Olivia recalls representing the UK at the 1974 Eurovision song contest - which was dominated by ABBA's Waterloo. And of course, she describes the thrill of landing the part of Sandy in Grease... after which her career went stratospheric.

012017051520180606 (R2)

Olivia Newton-John tells the story of her 50-year career in entertainment.

Four-time grammy winner Olivia Newton-John offers her own story, in her own words.

In these two programmes, four-time grammy winner Olivia Newton-John offers her own story, in her own words. From her early childhood in England, the daughter of a Jewish émigré and an MI5 officer, to her teenage rise to fame on Australian Television, her formative experiences as a young singer performing in London in the mid sixties, to selling 100 million records and becoming one of the best-selling artists of all time.

Episode One.

Going back to her teenage years, Olivia remembers returning to England in 1966. " I had won a talent contest In Australia when I was 15 on a rock and roll show. And the prize was a trip to London. I was at school and my mother wanted me to go to RADA, that was her dream." Homesick, Olivia pined for her boyfriend back in Melbourne and her burgeoning career on Australian television.

She reflects on her first taste of success in swinging London, performing as a double act with her friend Pat Carroll. Life on the road was fun and they were backing singers for Sir Cliff Richard, Frank Ifield, The Seekers and The Shadows - but there were also some hilarious incidents: "One night we were booked into Raymond's Revue bar and so we went to sing there, us in our pink mini skirts with flowers all over them. And we got up on the stage and behind us was a woman swimming around topless in a fish tank. And we didn't really understand what was going on. We looked out into the audience and there was just a few tables with guys in raincoats. We did our show and Mr Raymond came up and paid us off, cash, and said thank you but this isn't going to work. And we were mortified because we didn't really get it, where we had been!"

After being picked out by Harry Saltzman to appear in a wacky sixties musical film 'Toomorrow', Olivia recalls scoring her first major hit with a cover of Bob Dylan's 'If Not For You' in 1971 and finding fame on The Cliff Richard Show. Co-produced by The Shadows' guitarist, Bruce Welch (her then fiancé) and Australian musician John Farrar, she had a string of country-tinged hits with Banks of The Ohio, Take Me Home (Country Roads) and If You Love Me Let Me Know, plus classic ballads Sam and I honestly Love You.

But she he remembers the surprising backlash from Nashville purists when her records began to dominate the American Country charts, winning a string of music awards including the Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1973. "There was a controversy when I won because I was an Australian, I recorded these songs in England, it was written by an Englishman. It was totally out of the box. And they weren't very happy because they had their own thing and I understand. But Dolly Parton stood up for me, Loretta Lynn did and Stella Parton wrote a really sweet song."

Olivia recalls representing the UK at the 1974 Eurovision song contest - which was dominated by ABBA's Waterloo. And of course, she describes the thrill of landing the part of Sandy in Grease...after which her career went stratospheric.

0220170522

Four-time Grammy winner Olivia Newton-John concludes her own story, in her own words.

022017052220180613 (R2)

Olivia Newton-John reflects on the success of Grease.

Four-time grammy winner Olivia Newton-John offers her own story, in her own words.

In these two programmes, four-time grammy winner Olivia Newton-John offers her own story, in her own words. From her early childhood in England, the daughter of a Jewish émigré and an MI5 officer, to her teenage rise to fame on Australian Television, her formative experiences as a young singer performing in London in the mid sixties, to selling 100 million records and becoming one of the best-selling artists of all time.

Episode Two.

Olivia Newton John, surely one of the most likeable people in the music business, continues her first-hand account of fifty years as a singer, actor and campaigner. Reflecting on the success of Grease - now the most successful movie musical of all time - she puts it down to the combination of fantastic music (both the original music and new music by John Farrar and Barry Gibb) in addition to her chemistry with John Travolta and the rest of the cast "we did have an amazing amount of fun and that translates".

Her next musical was Xanadu - a film that was famously plagued with script issues and a director who didn't like music. But nevertheless it gave her the opportunity to work with Hollywood legend Gene Kelly: "When I was told I was going to do a dance with Gene Kelly, I almost had a heart attack. We spent three weeks in rehearsal with him, I was the original dancing with the stars, I got to dance with Gene Kelly. It was very exciting and very terrifying. But my father came when we were filming that day when I was dancing to make it even more terrifying."

Olivia's father was a professor of languages who had worked at Bletchley park during World War Two and was part of the team that cracked the enigma code. Whilst her maternal grandfather, Max Born, was a Nobel prize winning scientist and close friend of Einstein.

Performing in black leather as the raunchy 'Sandy 2' at the end of Grease, was a liberating experience. She recalls her reservations about releasing the song Physical because of the obvious innuendos and her decision to make an accompanying music video about exercising - to detract from the suggestive lyrics. Olivia also recalls writing environmental songs inspired by her deep love of animals.

Having survived breast cancer, she established the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness research centre in Australia - which was partially funded by a sponsored walk along the Great Wall of China, aided by celebrity friends including Sir Cliff Richard and Joan Rivers. Australia is her heart-home and she describes performing at the opening of the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 as a career highlight: 'that's one of the moments that stands out, to be in Australia representing my country in front of all those Olympic hopefuls.'

Olivia also has a heartwarming story to tell - and it's the subject of her new Album LIV/ON recorded with Amy Sky and Beth Nielsen-Chapman. Intended as a message of hope, inspiration and renewal, especially to people facing sadness, illness or bereavement in their lives. It's Olivia's fulsome expression of what matters in life, far removed from the fame and glitter.