Midlands role in shaping global music phenomenon 2 Tone to be celebrated with BBC event

– The Beat featuring Ranking Jnr to headline the one-off BBC Radio WM Celebrates 2 Tone in Birmingham event

– Horace Panter (The Specials), Pauline Black (The Selecter) and Mark Almond (costume designer, This Town) amongst live interview guests

– Broadcaster and journalist Adrian Goldberg will host the evening of music and conversation, which takes place at Birmingham’s historic O2 Institute 3

BBC Radio WM Celebrates 2 Tone in Birmingham

1900 Thursday 2 May 2024

O2 Institute 3 Birmingham 

Tickets via BBC Shows and Tours 


The UK Midlands’ role as the crucible of global music phenomenon 2 Tone will be celebrated at a special BBC live event at historic Birmingham venue The O2 Institute.

Featuring a headline set from The Beat featuring Ranking Jnr, as well as ‘In Conversation With’ style interviews with special guests from the worlds of music and television, BBC Radio WM Celebrates 2 Tone in Birmingham helps to mark the broadcast of Steven Knight’s new BBC One drama This Town.

The one-off event, hosted by broadcaster and journalist Adrian Goldberg, will see Horace Panter (The Specials) and Pauline Black (The Selecter) each share their experiences and memories of 2 Tone, and Mark Almond (costume designer, This Town) talking about his work on the hotly anticipated BBC prime time programme written by Knight, the creator of Peaky Blinders.

2 Tone famously emerged out of Coventry’s music scene in the late 1970s, as bands including The Specials and The Selecter borrowed from the dancefloor-friendly ska and reggae music of Jamaica, smashed together with a messy and loud punk-rock culture erupting in UK cities.

Brummie six-piece The Beat emerged as an authentic and energetic sonic representation of the working class in late 1970s Great Britain and between the three Midlands bands, London acts Madness and The Bodysnatchers, producers including Roger Lomas and Elvis Costello, and the artistic direction of The Specials’ Jerry Dammers 2 Tone went on to storm national charts, teenager’s bedrooms and record shops across the globe.

Lucky ticket holders for BBC Radio WM Celebrates 2 Tone in Birmingham will also be treated to a live performance from BBC Introducing West Midlands stars Lobster as well as classic ska and reggae DJ sets from Mazzy Snape (The Night Owl, Birmingham International Ska Festival).

Tickets for the event will be allocated via a ballot through BBC Shows and Tours, with performances and conversations from the night filmed and recorded for broadcast at a later date.

This Town is the latest drama from Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight. This Town tells the story of an extended family and a group of young people who are drawn into an explosive and thrilling music scene which evolved from the multicultural grassroots of Coventry and Birmingham in the late Seventies and early Eighties.

Acclaimed producer Dan Carey and Brit and Mercury nominated musician, novelist and poet Kae Tempest, have written the songs performed by the band in the series. Steven Knight’s latest drama, which premiered on BBC One on Sunday 31 March, captures how creative genius can emerge from turbulent surroundings.

Chris Pegg, Acting Executive Editor of BBC Radio WM, said: “The West Midlands has always had a strong heritage when it comes to music.

“Steven Knight’s  new drama focuses on music from the early 80s in the West Midlands, so we wanted to celebrate that with a night of 2 Tone, where we could relive this music phenomenon that captured the world with guests and music from both past and present.”

In popular music history, there have been few successful father-son duos such as that of The Beat’s Ranking Roger and Ranking Jnr.

Fans across the world watched on as Roger – one of the UK’s best-loved frontmen – performed the band’s global hits with a young Ranking Jnr by his side, earning his stripes.

When Roger’s life was cut tragically short by illness in 2019, by then the duo had spent countless years touring, writing and recording together.

Today, Ranking Jnr follows in his father’s footsteps as the lead singer of the seminal ska-pop outfit behind Mirror In The Bathroom, Too Nice To Talk To, and Hands Off…She’s Mine’ and brings his own distinctive and individual style and sound to the stage.

Channelling this outstanding musical DNA and celebrating the band’s important legacy, The Beat featuring Ranking Jnr is now recognised for a brilliant new sound, loved by fans of all generations.

The venue for the event, O2 Institute is one of Digbeth’s most historic nightlife establishments – established in 1908.

The building, formerly the Digbeth Institute, The Sanctuary, HMV Institute and now managed as the O2 Institute by the Academy Music Group, the venue has hosted tens of thousands of performances over the years, including performances by The Specials and The Beat during the 2 Tone phenomenon in 1979.

As a cornerstone of the Birmingham music ecosystem, the O2 Institute with its 1,500, 600, and 250 capacity rooms, has played an important role in helping to launch the careers of emerging artists, bands and DJs from Birmingham, the Midlands, and nationally.

BBC Radio WM Celebrates 2 Tone in Birmingham is at 1900 on Thursday 2 May 2024 at O2 Institute 3 Birmingham. 

Tickets are available via the BBC Shows and Tours ballot application only. Visit www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours for more information or to apply.