British TV, thanks to mainly BBC Four and Sky Arts, have made a stack of great pop and rock music documentaries over the years, and Channel Four entered the fray this week with the George Michael biographical film Freedom. The timing, of course, is touching after the singer-songwriter passed away far too young over Christmas, and this project, put together by him and his manager David Austin, had largely been completed.
What we learnt was something about his frailties and his titanic battle in the nineties to be released from his Sony Music contract, in addition to his first gay relationship.There were great pieces from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Mary J. Blige in addition to a shock and corking contribution from Liam Gallagher, who turned the air double blue! Nothing, though, from George’s Wham partner Andrew Ridgley, which was a shame, and Freedom seemed to be selective in forgetting George’s arrests in California and London; his relationship with Kenny Goss; and how he cheated death in an Austrian hospital.
Those gripes aside, it was still a very moving documentary that, had George been still alive, would have repositioned him in terms of answering the questions about why he valued his privacy. Freedom also did not address why we’ve had no new songs for many years, though David Austin said this week that an album with new material was in the offing. I watched Freedom reflecting on what might still have been from George Michael in the future and wishing that this programme had been made a decade ago to have given him a boost.
Did you see the end of ITV’s Liar coming? I didn’t as nasty Andrew was well and truly dead, and we have a Broadchurch-style “guess the killer” quiz coming for series two, mixed in with flashbacks. I reckon his son did it, but we’ll have to wait a long time to see it, as production does not start for another 14 months!
The Great British Bake Off has been magnificent on Channel Four, and who would have said that over a year ago? Tuesday’s ending when host Sandi Toksvig could not hold back the tears when likeable Liam was voted off showed how much everybody cares.
I loved how the BBC quietly shunted the awful Partners in Rhyme show out of the Saturday schedules without anybody noticing, mainly because nobody was watching it. The bad news is that there are episodes still left to be shown, and my guess is that they will resurface during the daytime as fillers over the Christmas and New Year.
What’s the best new entertainment show that would have worked on a Saturday night but airs first on a Friday instead? It’s Sky One’s Sing: Ultimate A Cappella hosted by Cat Deeley and it runs rings round the rubbish Saturday flops like Pitch Perfect and Cannonball. Gimmick-free, we have great performances dominating the show, and envious BBC and ITV executives must be annoyed that they missed out on this one, plus Deeley (a big name in the US) is a superb presenter.
There must be a private contest going on between Graham Norton and Jonathan Ross as to how many guests they can cram onto their sofas on their shows. Norton had Jane Fonda “squeezing up” last Friday on BBC 1 (no time even for the Big Red Chair), and I so badly wanted to hear more from her, as she was on top form, but only appeared in the last ten minutes. What a waste! Incidentally, I think Ross has been as sharp as a button in his current ITV series and I loved grime artist Stomzy having a game of The Chase with Bradley Walsh and The Governess. Norton and Ross are great at what they do, and long may they continue, but fewer guests does mean better in my book.