This year marks the 50th anniversary of Queen, one of Britain’s best-loved rock bands. But 2021 also sadly marks 30 years since Freddie Mercury died. Now in a new interview, Brian May has shared his thoughts on if the Queen singer would still be performing with the band today had he lived.
Dan Walker, 43, appeared to not be a fan of BBC Breakfast co-host Louise Minchin’s bright yellow jumper, as he hilariously said it resembled that of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. The former Football Focus presenter shared a snap of him and the marathon runner on the sofa together, before making the unlikely comparison in view of his 710,700 followers.
Louise beamed in her bold knit as she posed for a selfie with Dan.
He then savagely posted the photo alongside a picture of Freddie performing in one of his eccentric outfits, which also included a yellow jacket with silver buckles.
Underneath the 43-year-old TV host typed: “Who wore it better? #BBCBreakfast.”
In response, fans took to the comment section to give their opinion over the “weird” comparison.
Freddie Mercury sings Love of My Life at Wembley in 1986
Freddie released his solo album Mr Bad Guy on April 29, 1985 and instantly made his cats world famous. The front cover showed the Queen star looking moodily magnificent in mirrored sunglasses. He had famously been living and recording in Munich, throwing himself into the hardcore gay leather and party scene. And yet, in typical Freddie fashion, the back cover credits are dedicated to his beloved cats.
On the album sleevenotes Freddie first mentions his Queen bandmates Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor. He thanks Mary Austin and his then boyfriend Winnie Kirchberger, as well as German actress and friend Barbara Valentin.
But the final lines have gone down in rock history: “This album is dedicated to my cat Jerry – also Tom, Oscar and Tiffany, and all the cat lovers across the universe – screw everybody else!”
Just as famous is one of Freddie’snotoriously outrageous commenst about who he would leave his vast fortune to – said at a time when he couldn’t know that he would die tragically young.
He said: “There have only been two individuals who have given back as much love to me as I gave to them: Mary, with whom I had a long affair, and our cat, Jerry. My bond with Mary seems to grow and grow.”
“If I go first, I’m going to leave everything to her. Nobody else gets a penny, except my cats.”
Jerry along with (naturally) Tom were the first two cats that Freddie and Mary shared when they were together from 1970 to 1976.
During that time Freddie started the lifelong habit of calling home when he was on tour just to speak to his cats. Whoever was home had to hold the cats up to the speakers and would often squeeze them so they made a sound the Queen star could hear.
After they split up, Mary gave Freddie Tiffany, a beautiful blue thoroughbred, the only pedigree he would own.
Freddie himself preferred to rescue cats and kittens from animal shelters like the Blue Cross.
Freddie eventually owned ten cats and six of them were with him at home at One Garden Lodge in his final days – Delilah, Goliath, Lily, Miko, Oscar and Romeo.
The cats lived a pampered life, fed freshly prepared fish and chicken every days, and each had their own Christmas stocking every year filled with treats and toys.
The last-ever pictures of Freddie in his garden, taken by his partner Jim Huttton three months before his death, shows ginger tom Oscar by his side. It was a beautiful August day and Jim was photographing flowers when Freddie surprised him. The star’s health had been fading but he had dressed himself in a smart outfit and tidied his hair.
Jim later said: “He posed while I took four pictures, and he managed a smile for each. He was so pale and drawn that he knew he didn’t look his best, but it didn’t matter a bit; of all the pictures I have of Freddie, those are the ones I love most.”
The final picture of the star, taken by friend and PA Peter Freestone just weeks before the end, show him in bed with dark Miko and tabby Delilah.
Peter said: Delilah was the one, you actually see him looking at her. She was his favourite, She was the queen. It’s sad because where you see him sitting, that’s where he died. So it was the beginning of the end.”
Peter revealed Delilah was the notorious diva of the house: “She was a..hmmm.. I think the word is spoiled. She got everything she wanted. It wasn’t in fact a Chippendale suite she peed on. In the dining room, one wall was windows, floor to ceiling, and he had these amazing racing green satin curtains that wood cover the whole wall and a series of golden arches along the bottom where Delilah had been. She was allowed.. He would do anything for all of his cats.”
Freddie also wrote the song Delilah for her, althought it was those curtains and not the Chippendale furniture mentioned in the lyrics that she had peed on.
Peter Freestone said of Delilah: “He wouldn’t do anything without her.”
The star spent hours painting her and, in his final days when he couldn’t leave his bed and drifted in and out of consciousness, “one of his final actions was stroking her fur.”
Freddie died on Novermber 24, 1991. There were some major surprises in his will, with Jim in particular, unhappy and writing later in his autobiography Mercury and Me that he had been promised the house.
In the end, Freddie did not leave any of his fortune directly to cats.
In the final will and testament dated September 17, 1991, Mary received One Garden Lodge and the adjoining property, plus the star’s current fortune and half of his future earnings from Queen. The other half was split between Freddie’s parents and sister. Jim, Peter and Joe Fanelli (the star’s former boyfriend and live-in chef) each received £500,000 (£1.1million in today’s money).
Since Freddie entrusted his most personal wishes to Mary, including the secret burial of his ashes, it is safe to assue he asked her to look after the six cats when she moved into One Garden Lodge. Although, in the end, there were only five.
Peter later said of Oscar: “He ruled the roost. Until when Fred died, he just left. He left the house. He didn’t want to stay there anymore.”
On April 20, 1992, the world was still mourning (and celebrating) Freddie Mercury at the star-studded memorial concert at Wembley Stadium. George Michael was one of the undeniable highlights of the night as his beautiful and emotive voice soared over Queen’s Somebody To Love. Nobody knew at the time that the British singer’s heart was breaking twice that night, and just how much the words of that song meant to him. SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH THAT ICONIC PERFORMANCE
Even George himself later admitted that it became the best-known performance of his life as he poured all of his artistry and emotion into what he called “the proudest, proudest moment for me of my career.”
In 1992 he was a global superstar and heartthrob, but his sexuality was still a secret. He had finally found love, but it was going to be cruelly snatched away from him.
George sang Somebody To Love that night to Anselmo Feleppa. Out of the 72,000 people and millions watching on TV, only the two of them knew that they were in a loving relationship – and that Anselmo had just found out he had AIDS.
In the 2016 documentary Freedom, which he made just before his own untimely death, George opened up about everything he was dealing with on stage.
He said: “I went out there knowing I had to honor Freddie Mercury and I had to pray for Anselmo.
“The performance most well known in my career was sung to my lover who was dying. I just wanted to die inside.
“I was so overwhelmed by singing the songs of this man I had worshipped as a child, who had passed away in the same manner my first living partner was going to experience.”
George and Anselmo’s romance had seemed like a fairytale at first. Their eyes met in January 25, 1991 when the British star took to the stage at Rock in Rio to sing Careless Whisper and spotted the handsome Brazilian in the crowd.
George said: “I was happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. Fame, money all the things you know. Everything else just kind of paled by comparison. To finally at 27-years-old, be waking up in bed with someone who loves you, you know, and Anselmo was absolutely that.”
But Anselmo started feeling ill later in the year and then tested positive for HIV just before Christmas, in the days when it was still almost always a death sentence.
And so, at the Freddie Mercury concert as millions mourned a man who had died from AIDS, George alone knew as he sang the words, “Can anybody find me someone to love?”, that he had already found that person but they, too, were going to die exactly like Freddie.
George later said hwo Anselmo changed his life: “He broke down my Victorian restraint and really showed me how to live, how to relax, how to enjoy life… He was the first person I had ever loved, and I discovered he loved me too.”
Anselmo died from a brain hemorrhage less than a year later, in March 1993. The man who showed George it was possible to love and be loved also inspired one of the star’s most iconic songs, Jesus To A Child.
George was already a worldwide star and recognised as a great vocalist in 1992, but nobody knew at the time what had inspired his extraordinary performance at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness.
Even so, Taylor later said he was “magnificent” that night while May called him “staggering.”
May said afterward: “I would have to say it was a thrill to work with George Michael. Without any kind of falseness, he was one of the great surprises to most people of the evening, I know. It wasn’t a surprise to me because I knew he could do it. I knew he had that in him.
“In addition to the great delicacy which he has — the great control, great dynamics — he has enormous power. And from the moment he stepped into the rehearsal room and was doing Somebody to Love, we went, ‘Whoa.'”
And then, when George stepped on stage and sang directly to Anselmo, a piece of music history was made.
It was half a century ago this year that John Deacon joined Freddie Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor as Queen’s bassist, completing the iconic band’s final line-up. Like many classic rock groups from that era, it’s now their turn to celebrate a 50th anniversary aka Queen’s Golden Jubilee. In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Brian admits that while he’s pleased with the band’s achievements, it’s somewhat bittersweet without Freddie Mercury.
Brian said: “Well I’m proud. Of course, we’re proud of what we’ve done and we’re still around.
“We just kind of didn’t want to harp on it. We just thought, ‘Let’s just celebrate the fact that we’re still creative.’
“I think it also…because Freddie’s not here it changes our feelings a little bit. There’s always going to be that little bit of…reticence in a sense.
Of course, not only does 2021 mark Queen’s 50th anniversary, but also 30 years since Freddie’s death in 1991.
READ MORE: Freddie Mercury: Man who was 12 when interviewing star shares memories
Just a few years later John retired from music entirely, but Brian and Roger have kept Queen’s show on the road with great gusto – alongside their collaborative singer Adam Lambert.
Brian continued: “I’m very proud of what we do now with Adam.
“It’s been incredible, the sort of…the re-birth and response we’ve had around the world.
“And it’s great that we can own our own legacy, own our own material and keep it alive rather than it being a museum piece or fossil.”
But afterwards, the Queen guitarist and drummer decided: “Actually I don’t think we want to do that, we just want to get out and play.”
May said: “We want to celebrate being alive and being live.That would be the greatest thing to celebrate.
“I don’t really care how long it’s been to be honest. I’m just grateful that we’re here.”
Queen and Adam Lambert are set to resume touring in summer 2022, as the pandemic has seen the band forced to postpone their UK and European shows twice.
May told us last month: “It’s galling because all those dates are held, all those tickets are sold.
“People are sitting there with their tickets gallantly holding on to them, which is a great compliment to us that people don’t want to trade their tickets back.”
“They’re looking for that day as we are. We’re just holding on for that day. The day when it’s going to be alright and it is going to be alright somehow, as the song says.”
The Queen legend was referring to his new single with Kerry Ellis that he was promoting called Panic Attack 2021 (It’s Gonna Be All Right), which is out now.
Queen the Greatest episode 4 has landed on the band’s official YouTube channel charting highlights from the last 50 years. And this week’s mini-documentary has taken a look back at Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon’s time in Finland back in November 1974. During their European tour, the band were interviewed by a 12-year-old Finnish boy who is now all grown up and has shared his story.
In 1974, Queen had established themselves as a headlining act in the UK with three studio albums and success in the singles charts.
Now they were firmly setting their sights on performing abroad, thanks to the success of Sheer Heart Attack single Killer Queen.
That November, the band arrived in Finland during their first proper European tour, where they held a press conference ahead of their debut Helsinki show.
Juha Kakkuri was that 12-year-old boy who had attended the event alongside the usual journalists and presenters of TV and Radio.
READ MORE: Freddie Mercury’s Killer Queen: Brian May says he had ‘reservations’
Juha had heard Brighton Rock the day before and decided to get Queen’s autographs.
The 12-year-old boy called up the band’s record company and was invited to the press conference, so he took along a small tape recorder thinking that was the right thing to do.
In the new Queen the Greatest video, Juha shares his memories and you can even hear his interview recordings with the band.
The Finnish man remembered: “The interesting thing is that the first band member I interviewed was Freddie.”
Juha hadn’t heard of Queen until the day before, so despite being asked about what he thought of their albums he remembered the band being very polite to him.
While speaking with Roger, the drummer said: “I play drums and do a lot of singing as well.
Asked if he has to be strong to play the instrument, he replied: “Yes, you have to be very fit.”
The 12-year-old boy even asked Brian what his favourite candy was, to which the Queen guitarist replied, “Well yeah I like most of it really. What do I like best? I like black magic chocolates and chocolate penguins.”
While speaking with John, Juha asked what he liked about Finland so far with the bassist saying how he’d bought a new pair of shoes.
He said: “[They’re] mainly for when I get back to England when it’s very cold in the winter, these will keep me warm. They wear these don’t they, a lot of the kids?
Sadly Queen never performed in Finland with Freddie again, however, the fan base continued to grow in size and enthusiasm.
And that’s exactly what Brian and Roger experienced when they returned to Helsinki with Adam Lambert in 2016.
Freddie Mercury: Freddie Mack opens up on their relationship
Everybody knows about Freddie’s love for Mary Austin, which lasted long after they split up in 1976. He even became godfather to one of her sons, Richard. But the Queen star also formed a powerful lifelong bond with another family who gave him a safe haven and a place where he could just “be himself.” Away from the spotlight and costumes, Freddie was a doting, sweet and thoughtful “uncle” to three young boys (and godfather to the youngest) who had him wrapped around their little fingers, prepared to do anything to make them happy. SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THE WONDERFUL PROOF
Freddie discovered Munich in 1979 when Queen recorded their eighth album The Game at the German city’s famous Musicland studios, owned by disco legend Giorgio Moroder.
The producer was Reinhold Mack, who also worked on the Flash Gordon soundtrack with them the following year. He also produced Queen albums Hot Space, A Kind of Magic, and The Works, as well as Freddie’s solo album Mr Nice Guy.
Freddie was based in Munich for the next six years, a reprieve from the relentless press and public attention in the UK. He certainly enjoyed the hedonistic German gay scene and threw his lavish Black and White drag ball birthday party there in 1985 as one last hurrah. But the city also gave him the chance to enjoy real family life as well.
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Freddie Mercury and the family of Queen producer Reinhold Mack (Image: GETTY)
Freddie Mercury’: Queen recorded It’s A Hard Life in Munich (Image: GETTY)
Reinhold already had two sons and the third, John ‘Freddie’ Mack, was born during the recording of 1982’s Hot Space album.
The record was taking so long, Reinhold’s wife famously bet the band they would all have to become godfathers if the baby came first. Freddie and John Deacon honoured the bet.
When she gave birth, Freddie emptied a flower shop to fill her hospital room with blooms and remained devoted to the family for the rest of his life.
Reinhold said: “He would swim in the pool and play table tennis with the kids. He was really good at table tennis. Many times they went shopping with him.”
On movie nights Freddie curled up on the couch (Amadeus was a favourite film) with hot cocoa and told them, “Oh, this is actually like a real family.”
Freddie Mercury’s 39th birthday party in Munich (Image: GETTY)
The star even liked to check up on the boys’ progress at school, calling for reports and to ask if they were eating properly.
His godson Freddie Mack spoke to the BBC for the new documentary Freddie Mercury: A Life in Ten Pictures.
He said: “Freddie was there quite a bit during my childhood. He was around our house a lot. Even when he was in London he would fly over… It was a place where he could retreat and be himself and be comfortable.”
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Freddie Mercury: The other members of Queen hated the It’s Hard Life video – Can you tell? (Image: GETTY)
Sent to boarding school in India at eight, Freddie had a loving but slightly distant relationship with his own parents and sister Kash.
Friend David Wigg said: “He never ever became close to his parents. I remember him saying to me, ‘You know, my parents never cuddled me.'”
Throughout his life, he built his own family of friends around him but in Germany the star found great comfort, affection and peace with the Macks.
Freddie Mack added: “We were the surrogate family. We gave him that glimpse of domestic family life, free of having to perform. Even to this day, we talk of Uncle Freddie every time we sit down.”
One brilliant day, in particular, was the perfect example of how devoted Freddie was to the children’s happiness.
Freddie Mercury’s relationship with parents discussed by David Wigg
Freddie was notorious his whole life for his love of giving presents. His godson has very happy memories of giant teddy bears and rocking horses or going to Harrods in London and being told choose anything he wanted.
When Freddie asked Julian Mack what he wanted for his 12th birthday he demanded the star come to his party in his outfit from the It’s A Hard Life video.
Brian May and Roger Taylor have openly called it their least favourite video, due to the ludicrously OTT costumes. Freddie, of course, loved his own – a bright salmon pink bodysuit covered in giant eyes with huge feathers for a tail and a massive wig.
But would he wear it to a suburban home for a children’s party where nobody else was dressed up?
Freddie Mercury at Julian Mack’s birthday party (Image: INSTA)
Freddie Mercury with godson Freddie Mack (Image: INSTA)
Anyone who knew Freddie knows the answer – but not because he loved costumes and showing off.
Indeed, Reinhold said: “He didn’t come to the door in the costume. I heard him changing in my bedroom muttering, ‘I can do this on stage. I can do this at this party…'”
The children were thrilled but now Freddie had set a dangerous precedent…
Freddie Mack said: “When Gaga came over I was actually disappointed a lot of the times because I was expecting those costumes and crowds cheering and he would always say, ‘Sorry, darling, I’m actually quite boring. This is me, this is it.”
Freddie Mercury loved the leather scene in Munich (Image: GETTY)
Freddie Mercury life and death dates (Image: GETTY)
Thoughtful and protective to the end, Freddie wanted the family shielded from his illness and decline.
Freddie Mack said: “I knew he was ill, he kind of put up a safety barrier, not for him but for us as a family. He wanted to basically preserve the memories we had and not see him go through this transformation.”
So, how does he remember the star?: “Ein stolzer godfather – a proud godfather.”
Freddie would have loved that.
FREDDIE MERCURY: A LIFE IN TEN PICTURES IS AVAILABLE ON BBC IPLAYER
A new documentary Freddie Mercury: A Life In Ten Pictures delves into the private life of the man behind the myth. His art school girlfriend Rose talked about how they met, how they bonded over nude art and how the Queen star’s struggles with his burgeoning sexuality eventually drove them apart.
Rose said: “He was very charismatic without having to say anything. He was very shy because of his teeth so he didn’t smile alot. He was a bit of a fish out of water who couldn’t easily fit. I was intrigued by the people who didn’t fit in rather than the people who did.
“He wasn’t very confident on stage but he was very loud. He just went for it completely and I thought that was amazingly impressive. He wanted to manifest himself in his own way and he went for it.”
READ MORE: Freddie Mercury’s girlfriend Mary Austin at 70 – Their love in his words
She took him to the V&A for a college art projects.
Rose said: “We went to see a ballet exhibition. He was fascinated by that. That was the start of us becoming a couple.
“We discovered the photographer Edward Muybridge and the images were men wresting in the nude and the images were something that meant a great deal to him.
“The images became something we talked about.”
But it all changed on a fateful trip to the cinema.
Rose said: “Until we went to see the Ken Russell film and the part that intrigued him was Oliver Reed and Alan Bates wrestling…”
It was the end of the relationship, although it wasn’t what Freddie wanted at the time.
Rose said: “I thought, ‘what is going on? I don’t love this guy. I’m infatuated with him because he is such an interesting person but I don’t love him because I don’t identify with him.’
“But he was devastated, He hadn’t seen it coming at all. I think he was an exceedingly tortured man keeping that quiet as it were. The only thing he had was his voice. Him and his voice were best friends.”
Despite Freddie’s inner struggles, Rose previously confirmed they had a physical relationship.
In 2019 she said: “I think I was Freddie’s first girlfriend. We had a physical relationship and he was a very ardent lover.
“He was charismatic, dressed outrageously – sometimes in shorts, no top and a fur coat – and was determined to make it as a singer. He was a clown, so much fun to be around.
“Freddie was also the only truly fearless person I ever met.”
FREDDIE MERCURY: LIFE IN TEN PICTURES IS AVAILABLE ON BBC IPLAYER
Queen perform Bohemian Rhapsody at Live Aid in 1985
A new documentary tonight on BBC2 shows ten iconic pictures of Freddie, from his birth to his final days and includes new interviews, including with his “first-ever” girlfriend Rose. It is fitting that the last image shows him in bed with the tortoiseshell mistress of his house, Delilah. Although there were six cats living at One Garden Lodge in Freddie’s final days, Delilah had always been the most pampered and indulged because she brought the singer so much joy throughout his life and comfort at the end. Stroking her was one of the very last things he was still able to do.
Freddie’s partner Jim Hutton described in the memoir Freddie And Me the special place the cats had in the star’s heart.
He wrote: “Freddie treated the cats like his own children. He would constantly fuss over them, and if any of them came to any harm when Freddie was away, heaven help us.
“During the day, the cats had the run of the house and grounds, and at night, one of us would round them up and bring them inside.”
Jim took the last known photographs of Freddie, days before his death, in his garden – with one of the cats, of course, by his side.
READ MORE: The Beatles song that secretly featured Rolling Stones member on sax
Freddie Mercury loved his cats deeply (Image: GETTY)
Freddie Mercury last ever picture in his garden with cat Oscar (Image: INSTA )
Freddie Mercury with his cat Oscar (Image: FREDDIE MERCURY CLUB)
The ginger Tom prowling next to Freddie was Oscar.
The star’s live-in PA and friend Peter Freestone said: “Oscar was the first cat at Garden Lodge. He was a big ginger Tom. He ruled the roost.
“Until when Fred died, he just left. He left the house. He didn’t want to stay there anymore. He found another owner.
“Freddie used to say, ‘You own dogs, cats own you.’ I think that was one of the reasons he loved cats. Freddie liked their temperament.”
Inside the house, however, Delilah was “the princess” who Freddie always turned to, right up to the very end.
Jim said: “One of his final actions was stroking her fur.”
Freddie Mercury with Jim Hutton and one of his cats (Image: PH)
Peter Freestone said of Delilah, who arrived at the house with black cat Goliath: “Freddie wouldn’t do anything without her.
Peter added: “She was a..hmmm.. I think the word is spoiled. She got everything she wanted. On the last tour, I was at home. Every two or three days he would ring and he would want to talk to a cat. You pick her up, put her under your arm, put the speaker down by her mouth and squeeze (to make her miaow). And then he could say he had spoken to Delilah and he was really happy.”
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Jacky Smith of the Queen fan club said Delilah “was just kind of funny. She was a bit of a bully to the others, but was always first on his lap, first for food.”
Over the years Freddie had ten cats: Dorothy, Tiffany, Tom, Jerry, Delilah, Goliath, Lily, Miko, Oscar and Romeo, the last six of whom outlived their owner.
He shared Tom and Jerry with Mary, who also later gave him Tiffany, the only thoroughbred cat he ever had. The others were rescued from shelters “To save their lives.”
Freddie commissioned artist Ann Ortman to paint all his cats over the years, but only one famously had a song named after and written for her.
Freddie Mercury cat waistcoat: These Are The Days of our Lives video (Image: PH )
The song Delilah starts off sounding like it is for a lover until the infamous lines: “You make me so very happy, When you cuddle up and go to sleep beside me.
“And then you make me slightly mad, When you pee all over my Chippendale suite.”
Peter put the record straight about the song: “In the dining room, one wall was windows, floor to ceiling, and he had these amazing racing green satin curtains that would cover the whole wall and (there was) a series of golden arches along the bottom where Delilah had peed.
“She was allowed. He would do anything for all of his cats. He just loved cats.”
Queen Innuendo album; Freddie with cats (Image: PH )
In fact, Freddie dedicated his solo album, Mr Bad Guy, as follows: “To my catJerry — also Tom, Oscar and Tiffany, and all the cat lovers across the universe—screw everybody else.”
In the artwork for the album Innuendo, the Queen frontman is depicted with three cats wrapped around his head and neck.
And for his final video shoot for the These Are the Days of Our Lives, he wore his favourite waistcoat, a 1990 Christmas gift which was screen-printed with his cats.
Freddie Mercury life and death (Image: GETTY )
Freddie once said: “There have only been two individuals who have given back as much love to me as I gave to them: Mary, with whom I had a long affair, and our cat, Jerry.”
Eventually, in later years, Freddie also had a loving relationship with Joe Fanelli (who also lived at Garden Lodge until the end) and then Jim Hutton.
The Queen singer also provocatively proclaimed: “If I go first, I’m going to leave everything to her (Mary). Nobody else gets a penny, except my cats.”
In the end he left Mary his house, fortune and half his future Queen earnings. The other half went to his parents and sister, with £500,000 bequeathed to Jim, Joe and Peter.
The cats remained at Garden Lodge (except Oscar) and Delilah was often spotted up on the garden wall.
IN TEN PICTURES: FREDDIE MERCURY, IS ON BBC 2 TONIGHT AT 9PM