Brian May interview: BBC The One Show 1 Aug 2023 [TRANSCRIPT]


Sir Brian was guest of Alex Jones and Alex James on this evening’s The One Show, on BBC One TV, talking about new book “Bennu 3-D: Anatomy of an Asteroid”. Also covered in this delightful chat, the Star Fleet project, and Brian’s exhibition of “Queen In 3-D”. 

A lovely interview. Enjoy !

Brian May: BBC “The One Show” talking Bennu 3-D, Queen In 3-D and Star Fleet 01/08/2023


HOSTS ALEX JONES AND ALEX JAMES:  [Alex] One of our guests here in the studio is also celebrating because, not satisfied with making a guitar out of a fireplace, yeah, Queen legend Sir Brian May has been helping NASA to save the world. Find out how in just a bit.

Now then, not satisfied with being voted the Greatest Guitarist of All Time, Sir Brian May has also been lending his photography skills to NASA as they prepare to learn more about an asteroid that’s heading for Earth. And here to tell us more is the man himself,  Sir Brian May !!Hhow are you?

BRIAN MAY: Thank you.

Nice to see you. But I feel   like we need to start at the beginning. That’d be mild panic as well. There’s an asteroid and [it’s] called Bennu. It’s called Bennu.

BRIAN: It’s not actually heading towards us at this minute now, but it’s in an in an orbit, which is very similar to the Earth’s orbit – okay – and the two orbits intersect at certain points. So there’s a possibility of a collision – right – and the next time it comes really close is 2135, which is not that far away. And it will come between us and the Moon, which is really damn close, if you think . This thing is about half a kilometre across. But no danger, we pretty much know that that’s going to happen. The thing is, what happens then is we don’t know for sure how the orbit’s been affected by that. So come the year 2182. It’s another close encounter. And we don’t know for sure if it will hit us or not. It’s a low probability like naught point naught point 5%. But that’s not that’s not a zero possibility. Luckily, we have time to think about it and to take precautions if we…

…need … as you say, it’s not that far away.

BRIAN: It’s 1000s of years away. But no, it’s our children’s children’s who’ll have to deal with this possibly.

One of the things that people may not know about you, Brian, is that you’ve got a huge passion for 3-D photography. And it was actually that, that helped NASA land a spacecraft on the asteroid just like, how did these photos help?

BRIAN: Yeah, I feel very privileged because it’s like a boyhood dream. You know, if you can be part of a NASA mission to an asteroid like this, which you can see in 3-D. If you’re able to free view, you can see that in 3-D right now. Well, the data comes back from all these missions, their unmanned missions, but they have wonderful camera equipment. And it comes back in mono because they’re not equipped. They don’t have stereo cameras on board. But me and my collaborator, Claudia Mansoni, grab, we go through all these archives, finding two pictures, which will work together as a stereo pair. You need two viewpoints, like when I’m looking at you now, I see you in 3-D, because I can see with this eye [in] that direction. With this eye find that… Our brains put these two different views of the Universe together, every second of our lives to make this wonderful 3-D image that we have around us. And if you don’t like that, everything looks pretty flat.

… to try it. Yeah, yeah….

BRIAN: So what happened was we just off the cuff did some stereo images,Dante Lauretta has images. Dante Lauretta is the boss of the OSIRIS REx mission, which visited Bennu, took – it was a seven year mission. So we sent him some 3- pictures of his own asteroid. And he was amazed. And he said,”This is going to change my whole perspective. This gives me like literally another dimension”. And he said, ”Our team is actually in a bit of a flurry at the moment, because this asteroid is not what we thought it was going to be. We thought it was going to be solid. And we could land our spacecraft on it, take a sample and take off.” Turns out it’s not solid, it’s what’s called a rubble pile. It’s like a ball pit. So if you land on it, you’re probably going to sink into it. And he said, “You know, you have to find a place which is level and we don’t want to lose the space rocket, we don’t want it to sink in either.” So he said that what we were giving into EMS in terms of 3-D images was making it much more easy for them to make a decision. So it kind of got serious because he said, “Look, I need to see these things in stereo, the way I see this stuff that you’re sending me.” So he gave us a load of coordinates, I think 50 different sites and said, “Can you give us 3-D images of all these sites?” Now that’s a big job, so a lot of work but I was kind of ready and it’s a passion you know, so we kept sending in these things. And gradually they whittled down the possible landing sites which are all in the in the bottom of little craters. They’re not craters on the Moon – they’re little depressions as you can see, if you look at the object. Eventually we chose a site together. And I said to Dante at one point, “Does this mean it’s my fault if it goes wrong?” It isn’t, you know. I helped to choose the site. I wasn’t the only factor, but we contributed 3-D, And from this moment on, he’s a convert. He loves 3-D and everything he does it’s gonna be 3-D.

It’s incredible. The work you’ve done. You downplay? Yes. And you’re saving us all. Yes.

All those photos are in your new book as well. Brian? 3-D I have to say over the years, you’ve taken pictures a little bit closer to home as well. Haven’t you – your own life with Queen and they’re currently on display at the Proud Galleries in London, the exhibition there. Sorry. Talk us through why you love this one so much.

This particular one, yeah.

BRIAN: You know, I guess I love it because it’s intimate. And you know, if you had a photographer there, Freddie would be self-conscious. And it would be posing whatever, like he was so good at doing. But this you know, we’re in a limo we’re excited to be in New York, in a limo, we kids really. And we kind of enjoying the scenery, enjoying a drink as we get driven around in a limo, which was a big deal in that. He’s not conscious that I’m taking pictures the whole time. And that’s brilliant. So you seem so relaxed. And that’s the Freddie I remember. He was relaxed and funny. On stage, very much not relaxing much, giving everything and making that connection. He’s a wonderful guy. He really was. So I treasure these pictures, 3-D and when it looks nice in mono, like here, but if you see it in 3-D in the book that when – it’s another book “Queen In 3-D , you’ll go, “Oh, wow. I didn’t realise this could be done”,  because it’s like, you could touch him. Like you could talk to him. Yes, but I love this one. I’m an evangelist for 3-D. I suppose. You think everybody should enjoy this stuff?

Brian May you’ve got a lot going on. I mean, you’ve also rereleased an album that your son inspired, haven’t you? So tell us about that. Then from 1983.

BRIAN:  [Oh] my little boy, as he was in those days, Jimmy and I used to get up on a Saturday morning and watch Star Fleet, which is a Japanese science fiction series where they get up and save the world and their rockets and whatever it is a very early transformer they – their little rockets formed together to make this huge Dai X robot, which punches out the enemy. You know, it’s lovely stuff for kids and it had a theme tune –  Star Fleet thing. And I thought, well, I could do something with that. And Jimmy said, “I’m tired. You got to play that”, you know. So came the day I was in LA, taking a holiday from Queen because we kind of got on each other’s nerves at some point, and I made some phone calls. One was to Edward Van Halen, who was really I think was the most, well, he was the most exciting up and coming guitarist at that point. You know, he’s now known as one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived with beyond a doubt. I called him and said, “You want to come down and play some…” said we went “yeah, come down”. And Alan Gratzer from REO Speedwagon, also a very successful group in the US, a couple of other guys who I love. Phil Chen, who’s a lovely bass player – he’s gone as well. He’s gone … and Fred Mandel, keyboard player, and we all went in the studio and played this thing – a kind of really, an album 1983 we’ve just run out.

Really, yes. Brian’s book, “Bennu 3-D: A natomy of an Asteroid” is out now and the re-release of the 1983 album Star Fleet session is out now too.

Thank you to all of our guests and we’ll see you tomorrow. Good night.