The BBC documentary ‘Roxy Music – A Musical History’ achieved something quite remarkable. The remarkable thing was this: it made a tragic, middle-aged Roxy fan boy like me turn off after about ten minutes. Had I kept watching, I’m afraid I might have ended up breaking something in our living room.
Some folk in TV land must think that a definitive template for quality has been established by programmes like ‘The nation’s 100 favourite telly adverts’ or ‘The greatest-ever soap villains’, wherein a bunch of well-worn video clips are assembled for the purpose of showcasing the ‘witty’ and ‘off-the-cuff’ observations of C-list celebrities. You can tell from their eyes that, generally speaking, these TV talking heads don’t know (or care) much about the subject matter; they’re just reacting to clips they’ve been shown five minutes before.
One of the reasons that online content is often more interesting than TV content is that the folk who make the online stuff usually care (sometimes to the point of insanity) about their subject matter. A talking head on TV, by contrast, only really cares about being a talking head on TV. Such a person will dream of the money shot, the moment they’ll coin a phrase so cute, pithy and resonant that they’ll be hired to do a whole bunch more talking head stuff on shows like ‘Britain’s Weirdest Game Show Contestants.’
I generally avoid this kind of programme, but felt that I could not pass up the chance to watch an hour devoted to one of my favourite bands. Alas, merely 600 seconds into the show, having absorbed a series of blows, all of which sign-posted the grim direction of travel, I had to reach for the remote and terminate my participation with extreme prejudice. Maybe I should have watched the whole thing before writing this review, but those 600 seconds contained quite enough inanity for me to get the gist, featuring as it did some world-class superficiality from Sadie Frost, Shaun Ryder, Alan McGee, Sian Pattenden and Emma Dabiri (no … me neither).
The commentary seemed neither apposite nor insightful, but what made it worse was that some of it was used DURING THE SONGS, the director clearly having interpreted each of the instrumental passages as an opportunity to insert analysis like this:
"Bryan Ferry wore glitter on his eyes.”
"The instruments all had a part to play in the Roxy sound.”
To anyone interested in finding out about a fantastic band, my advice would be to avoid this programme. Instead, do yourself a favour and check out some old clips on youtube. At least that way, you won’t have to encounter a phenomenon which surely deserves a collective noun, preferably something pejorative and judgemental to reflect its pestilential vapidity.
How about a jabbering of TV talking heads? That sounds about right.
There ... I’ve done something useful with the time I could have spent shouting at the television.