This weekend, BBC Two will premiere David Bowie: The Last Five Years, a new documentary that focuses on Bowie’s albums The Next Day and Blackstar as well as the musical Lazarus. Throughout the film, a host of Bowie’s collaborators and friends discuss his Reality tour in 2003, his surprise comeback ten years later, and the final works leading to his death in January 2016.
Highlights include artist Jonathan Barnbrook discussing the process by which he and Bowie came up with the striking cover design for The Next Day. Barnbrook shares the photograph that inspired Bowie to look back at iconic images of himself and reveals a series of discarded cover ideas (one of which features the star logo that would later appear on Blackstar) and alternate album titles (including Where Are We Now? and Love Is Lost).
The film also offers detailed interviews with Bowie’s Blackstar collaborators, including Maria Schneider (who worked on the original version of “Sue (A Season of Crime)” on 2014’s Nothing Has Changed compilation) and Donny McCaslin, whose band performed on Blackstar. Johan Renck, director of Bowie’s final videos, discusses the making of the clips and shares Bowie’s original sketch that inspired his “Button Eyes” character. Robert Fox, producer of Lazarus, reflects on the collaborative process that led to the musical—whose roots date back to a 1984-inspired project Bowie failed to get off the ground in the mid-’70s—and reveals that Bowie had discussed making a sequel with him shortly after attending the Lazarus premiere.
The documentary also features a number of isolated tracks from Bowie’s last two albums, including vocal takes from “Where Are We Now?,” “Blackstar,” and “Lazarus.” In one particularly surreal clip at the end of the documentary, producer Tony Visconti plays a bit of studio banter in which Bowie utters the words, “Little mouse fart.” Visconti quips, “Here’s a little space oddity,” before playing the clip and then erupting into laughter. The Last Five Years airs Saturday, January 7, at 9 p.m. GMT on BBC Two.
Revisit David Bowie’s “Lazarus” video: