Saturday Night Fever – The Ultimate Disco Movie – 19 December 2020 – 19/12/2020 – Saturday – BBC Four

John Travolta and Barry Gibb star in Saturday Night Fever – The Ultimate Disco Movie, with Bruno Tonioli. This documentary celebrates the 40th anniversary of the 1977 blockbuster dance movie, and sees Strictly Come Dancing’s Bruno, who was a young dancer in New York in 1977, walk us through the steps that made the movie legendary. He also revisit the streets of New York where the film was shot and looks back at the success of a film that gave everyone disco fever.

Travolta, Gibb and other members of the cast and crew give gripping accounts of supreme success against a backdrop of setbacks and unexpected twists and turns. Bruno unpacks the skill, athleticism and dedication of Travolta, whose incandescent performance prompted a disco dance craze. We also hear about the potent influence of impresario Robert Stigwood, whose faith in Travolta, and a group who had hit a glitch in their career – The BeeGees, proved visionary.

With clips from the original movie, as well as astonishing access to those involved and rarely seen on-location archive, this programme retells the nail-biting evolution of a groundbreaking US film that originated in the work of a British journalist, saw a director fired, suffered mafia threats, filmed guerrilla style on the streets of Brooklyn, had a newcomer cast, benefited from disco hits written in a weekend and delivered a white suit and a performance from the man who wore it that have gone down in history.

Other interviewees include actors Karen Lynn Gorney, Donna Pesco, Joseph Cali and Paul Pape, producer Kevin McCormick, former head of RSO records Bill Oakes, writer Nik Cohn, director John Badham, dance instructor Denney Terrio, costume designer Patricia von Brandenstein and location manager Lloyd Kaufman.

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