A new documentary about the late music icon’s final years reveals that David Bowie was unaware he was dying when he was recording his final album Blackstar.

The album was recorded early in 2015 and is widely regarded as an artistic parting gift to his millions of fans as it was released just days before his death last January.

The documentary, David Bowie: The Last Five Years, will air on BBC 2 this Saturday, a day before what would have been the late star's 70th birthday and just under a year since his untimely passing.

According to The Guardian newspaper, in the documentary it is claimed by director Johan Renck, who filmed the video for the Blackstar song Lazarus, that Bowie only discovered his cancer had become terminal when he was in the middle of filming the clip in November 2015.

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"David said: 'I just want to make it a simple performance video,'" Renck recalls. "I immediately said: 'The song is called Lazarus, you should be in the bed'. To me it had to do with the biblical aspect of it . . . it had nothing to do with him being ill."

Renck added: "I found out later that, the week we were shooting, it was when he was told it was over, they were ending treatments and that his illness had won."

Following his death a year ago, producer and long-time Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti, seemed to suggest that Bowie knew for much longer that he was dying.

In a statement at the time, he said that the late singer "made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be".