Major recording stars earned just pounds 250 for their efforts. The
country and western star, Tammy Wynette, drove 500 miles from Nashville
with her tour entourage just to take part.
’Perfect day’, the BBC’s stunning corporate communication showing the
range of music on offer to viewers and listeners, could never have been
made without that kind of consideration. The four-minute film starts
with Lou Reed singing the first line of his ballad, Perfect Day, then
handing over to musical giants ranging from David Bowie and Bono, to the
opera singer, Lesley Garrett, and the BBC Young Musician of the Year,
The ad, created by Ian Ducker and Will Farquhar at Leagas Delaney,
produced by Steve Kelynack at the BBC and directed by Gregory Rood, was
filmed at the rate of three or four stars a day, and took more than a
year from inception to finish.
The brief was to show the diverse range of music offered by the BBC
across every TV and radio channel. The team plumped for Perfect Day,
recorded by Reed in 1973, because it had acquired a new popularity when
featured on the soundtrack for Trainspotting.
The formal garden in the film symbolises people’s dreams and
It was built at Shepperton studios, the skies were filmed in Richmond
Park and the special effects completed at The Mill.
A ’wish-list’ of musical styles was drawn up by everyone involved in the
project, including the heads of BBC TV and radio.
Before the artists turned up (at studios in London, New York and
Atlanta), the creative team tried to work out who would sing which line,
but there had to be some flexibility. Bowie ended up singing just a
couple of lines, others did more. Bono was so excited about the project
he sang the whole track and left muttering about making a B-side.
Keeping down expense was a priority, so the stars were filmed on a 16mm
camera. As many performers could give only half an hour, the camera
remained fixed throughout the shoot.
’Perfect day’ was completed at The Mill over a three-month period when
the final decisions were taken about which artist to use for which
lines. There remains a massive library of out-takes, including complete
versions by Reed and Bono. The musical directors, Music Sculptors, made
sure that the final soundtrack was harmonious.
Inevitably, there were compromises. Radio 3, for example, wanted more
classical music in the film. Ducker says: ’Everyone had their own
favourites. The difficulty was that on one hand you had a visual agenda,
but musically it might not sound right. You also needed contrasts. It
was like a house of cards, as soon as you took one person out the whole