Each programme is presented by a leading name from the world of musical theatre beginning with Siân Phillips who hosts 'Stories with Songs' tonight at 10:00 pm.
Future presenters include Whoopi Goldberg, Sheila Hancock, Daniel Evans, Julia McKenzie, Bill Kenwright and Michael Ball.
Today, the musical is a global entertainment form, but even though you can now experience many of the same shows in the theatre districts of the major capitals in the world, for most of us it's still associated with the place where it was born – Broadway: the road that runs the full length of Manhattan and especially that part between 42nd and 53rd Streets that is known as The Great White Way...
Whilst the musical is a genre of theatre, when you look at individual shows you find that they're a mass of other genres: there are comedies, dramas and histories, and shows that address social, political and even religious ideas.
But whatever the subject matter, one thing is certain, to be a good musical, you need a good story or 'book'. This opening documentary asks, if the book is so important why are there so few musicals that have an original story as opposed to being adapted from some other medium?
The series is produced by my good friend Malcolm Prince and among its contributors will be Stephen Sondheim, Patti Lupone, Arlene Phillips, Maury Yeston, John Barrowman, Elaine Stritch, Maria Friedman, Sandy Wilson, Victor Spinetti, Ruthie Henshall, Don Black, Tim Rice, Donna McKechnie, Gillian Lynne, Elaine Paige, Richard Stilgoe, Paul Nicholas, Marvin Hamlisch, Liz Robertson, Joel Grey, Thomas Schumacher, Michael Grandage, Cameron Mackintosh and Bobby Lopez.
Among the shows featured in this first programme are The Boy Friend, Chess, Starlight Express, Sunday in the Park with George and A Chorus Line...
Following transmission, the shows can be heard again for seven days via the BBC iPlayer.