Hope and glory
‘lt’s gonna be a cross between Bad ilews and Spinal Tap. llah, it’s not,’ says the bass player. ‘We weren’t making any direct allusions to films like that,’ says the producer, ‘but if you deal with a subject like a rock ’n’ roll band you can’t escape the primary desires that Spinal Tap tunes into - fame, fortune, girls, drugs, sex.’
Bockumentary? Shlockumentary. Behind-the-scenes, fly-on-the-wali expose of the grimness and grief behind the music biz’s apparent glamour and glory are magic fun. They reveal the unenviable lot of the struggling band, the half-glimpsed chances, the half-arsed talents, the halfway-to-paradise beacon of light that is a 10-minute meeting with Polymer records’ junior talent scout backstage at the Dog & Scrote after playing bottom of the bill to three punters, two of whom are on the wrong side of the bar. This is better than Top Of The Pops. flock and roll is, after all, ludicrous. And hard as hell.
‘We’ve had all these big opportunities before but they’ve always, always fallen through,’ recalls a ponderous Milo O’Connor. Miio’s ‘indie-rock’ band FMB (Fuck My Boots
— punx not dead!), along with 18-year- old singer-songwriter Leona llaess (daughter of celebrated ‘deep green’ philosopher Arne liaess and step- daughter of Diana Ross!) are the sublects of The Next Big Thing. This twelve-part documentary series shadows the two unsigned acts for six months, filming their every move — gigging, rehearsing, sleeping, drinking, meeting, greeting, sweating - as they try to achieve fame and fortune without stubbing their toes on the rockbiz’s unforgiving doorstep. ‘We wanted the struggles of a genuine band,’ says producer Eric liarwood, ‘the passion involved and the exhilaration of wanting to get somewhere.’ lie and director Josh lialil first met working on iletwork 7 six years ago, but, ‘We wanted to get away from the fast, glib presentation of something like that.’ Last weekend the pair were filming Leona’s manager presenting her latest demo to EMI and FMB playing Camden Underworld with the NME and East/West records in attendance. The slog goes on. (Craig McLean) The Next Big Thing starts on Channel 4 on Sunday 25 at 5.30pm.
More, Much, Muir.
Five years ago Designer Fashion was synonymous with wearing your bank balance on your sleeve. inevitably though, label-spotting quickly became as crass as train-spotting and in these recessionary times the only labels worn with pride are bargain or nearly new and the fashion is for the style- free.
Yet Jean Muir, she of blanched complexion, blood-red bob and extortionate label, ranks as one of Britain’s most successful designers. A demure diva of classic clothes. ilot fashion. She walks on a different catwalk entirely from the one regularly stampeded by the High Street stores.
in a three-part documentary, producer/director Jeff liuniop followed a Jean Muir collection from inspiration through creation to completion, showing not only the mechanics of designer-clothes production but also evoking a striking portrait of Jean.
‘She’s completely extraordinary, she’s got an amazing voice, an amazing character, she’s very strong- minded, sometimes frighteningly so, she’s very intimidating. Even though she’s quite small, she can terrify people, frustrate them, make them laugh. I suppose that’s what sustains the three films, the force of her character.’
The success of The Look, which took a wry look at the haute couture Industry, reflected the continuing fascination we have for the way we appear. ilunlop, whose work has tended to focus on the visual arts,
Give me Muir, Muir. Muir. . .
stresses that this documentary is very different. ‘There’s a lot of time spent on getting inside of how things are made and why things are made the way they are. There’s quite a lot of very detailed looking at the construction and choice of colour and fabric.’
As well as an over-the-shouider viewpoint, the programme also includes comments from Muir’s more famous clients and friends. Joanna Lumley, whom Muir found working in a shop and then invited to modelfor her, hence setting Lumley on the road to stardom, and artist Bridget Riley both offer their praise.
And for those frothing at the mouth but unable to afford a Jean Muir number, an exclusive pattern for the home dress-maker will be offered at the end of the series. ‘You even get a label,’ enthuses Dunlop. ‘lt’s a bit like buying a Jaguar in kit form.’ (Beatrice Colin).
Very Jean Muir is on Channel 4 on Sunday 25 April at 8pm.
V TV REVIEW
You know you've hit the summer TV doldrurns when the highlight of your week is singing along to the revived ‘I could do with a 0‘ tea jingle. This year we‘ve arrived rather early at the silly season. and the ‘giorious summer of sport’ hasn‘t yet arrived to fill the yawning spaces between the bottom-of- the-budget-barrel new series. which for the most part are as appealing as Ron Dixon’s sexual magnetism. It's around this time of year when those video-shop franchises look ever-more tempting. Channel 4's !Viva Cabaret! is a rare speck of colour amongst the monochrome tedium. Remember The Monte (‘ur/o Show. an outrageously camp slab of variety stuck on in the
‘The Tom Jones who appears here is definitively the post- modern Tom rather than the Voice of The Valleys who used to set up Anne Summers parties at the end of every
early hours to persuade the unwary nocturnal viewer to turn off the set and stop making unreasonable demands on the National Grid? Well. .’\"1'v'u ('uhun'r.’ is nothing like that. ()r only a little bit. The Tom Jones who appears here is definitively the post—modern Tom rather than the Voice of The Valleys who used to set up Anne Summers parties at the end of every gig. The mature. demure. polo-necked Tom offers ‘interpretations‘ of hip standards like “Take Me To The River' or ‘I (‘an't Stand Up For Falling Down‘ and easily outclasses lippy Yank upstart Sandra Bernhard on a duet that was closer to duel. His links were hopeless. but he‘s a Chap and no mistake.
Otherwise .’l’iv'u ('uburel.’ offered an intriguing mix of the comic and the bizarre. including a half-decent illusionist. and the reliably distasteful Doug Anthony All Stars. It probably deserves a better slot than the midweek. summer season late-night graveyard.
The success of imported American comedies like Roseanne and (‘lzwrs has caused a great deal of fren/ied
toupec-tearing amongst 1.7K sitcom producers over the years. What‘s the secret they’ve cried. eventually coming up with the ingenious idea that it's because the Yanks can afford. due to economics of scale. to employ whole squads of writers rather than one dishev'clled bloke in a garrel.
It's a persuasive explanation but not entirely true. There‘s a fundamental difference of approach in the best American comedies that British writers could learn from. The secret is establishing very strong characters early on. rather than packing the scripts with gags in a vacuum. If you communicate the failings. foibles and obsessions of your cast from the outset. you’ve shifted the comic territory so the audience are playing on your patch. lines needn't be intrinsically comic anymore. they (list have to be in character.
The (in/den (ﬁr/s ran for seven years on this secret ingredient alone. Rose was stupid. with a penchant for telling pointless tales about her Midwest hometown St Olaf. Blanche was a menopausal nympho happy to jump on anything with a pulse and plenty besides. while Sophia vv as a foul- mouthed Sicilian vv ith a fondness for veiled threats and bodily function gags.
Their fourth accomplice. Dorothy. married Leslie Nielsen (somebody had to) at the end of the series. so our three heroines find themselves the not-so- I proud owners of the Golden Palace ((‘hanncl 4). a run-down hotel with an even more run-down Mexican chef.
The question is. can the magic of the 3 original series survive the change of scenery '.’ On first viewing it certainly can. In | fact the sparky interchanges of the three! principals are as sharp as ever. and the ' widening out of the setting could even prove to be an advantage. The (iolden (iirls were wont to get a tad sentimentali around the cheesecakeladen kitchen table on occasion. The new format looks set to dispel such indulgence. and maintain the pleasantly high filth level of its predecessor. and keep the v ievvers guessing vvho vv ill get to lay Blanche first. ('huey the Mexican. the smouldering pool—cleaner or the
streetvv ise manager? (Tom lappini I
The List 23 April (v May 73