Category Archives: TV documentary

2001 ➤ Blitz Kids nail the rites for a Tuesday night out

Blitz Kids, New Romantics, Spandau Ballet, pop music, fashion

Before the phrase New Romantics had been invented: Blitz Kids queue for Spandau Ballet’s second pivotal concert at the Scala Cinema in May 1980

20 & 40
YEARS
ON

❚ BBC4 REMINDED UK AUDIENCES this week how entertaining were many of the Blitz Kids who set the New Romantics ball rolling 40 years ago. When the documentary The New Romantics: A Fine Romance was made in 2001, these talking heads were of course 20 years younger than they are today and full of fizz.

However BBC Manchester fell for some faulty memories that had gelled into mythological “truths” to create several laugh-out-loud howlers in the voice-over script as the price of believing odd Blitz Kid fantasies. Another irritation, amid much classic vintage footage, was the repeated montaging of film footage irrelevant to the Blitz club-night run by gender-bending Steve Strange and electro-deejay Rusty Egan, mainly because no more than about 11 minutes of live footage inside the Tuesday-night Blitz exist, and only one of which was used in this doc. That’s history for you. Set in video.

At least we can enjoy the many gnomic quips tossed out by the stars of 1980’s clubworld during the 48-minutes of A Fine Romance…

St Martin’s designer Fiona Dealey on the New Romantic credo: “Dressing for the Blitz was REAL THEATRE. It wasn’t just another uniform.”

Blitz Kid Stephen Linard’s trade secret: “Make-up was the big thing: make-up and Elnett. We used to get our make-up DONE FOR NOTHING down at Selfridges at half-past five and the girls there would do a makeover on you.”

Steve Strange on the term New Romantics: “I’d rather call it THE CULT WITH NO NAME, because the papers can never put one finger on it.”

Rusty Egan on gender confusion at the Blitz: “By the end of the night you’d hope to go home with someone – same sex, opposite sex, NO SEX AT ALL, you were never quite sure.”

Spandau manager Steve Dagger on their music: “Over the period 78-79 in the rehearsal studio the band gradually changed from a rock-pop sound to a modern SYNTHESISED TYPE DANCE SOUND.”

Duran’s Nick Rhodes on first seeing Spandau Ballet live in Birmingham in 1980: “We saw them play at the Botanical Gardens and when we left we were smiling. We just said: WHAT’S THAT ABOUT?”

New Romantics, Duran Duran, pop music, frilly shirts, Top of the Pops

Happy even to work “New Romantic” into their lyrics: frilly Duran Duran’s debut on Top of the Pops in March 1981

“Boy” George O’Dowd: “Duran Duran brought the FRILLY SHIRT through to the masses.”

Gary Kemp on shooting Spandau Ballet’s video for Chant No 1 at the Beat Route club in 1981: “That was our LAST HOORAH – Spandau being part of this movement.”

Spandau manager Steve Dagger on the early 80s: “There was this COLOURFUL BANG which revitalised pop culture and fashion and London as a swinging city.”

Robert Elms on the clubbing revolution initiated by the Blitz Kids: “It introduced one-off nightclubs, warehouse parties, the deejay as the centre of attention, clubs where they tell you you can’t come in UNLESS YOU LOOK RIGHT. None of that had existed before.”

George O’Dowd speaking as an old Boy: “Strange and Egan were the gruesome twosome of the time – the HINGE AND BRACKET of New Romanticism.”

➢ View A Fine Romance (BBC Manchester 2001,
last shown 2015, on iPlayer now for another month)

➢ Says one observer: “If you stepped out and didn’t get
abuse, you hadn’t done it right” – Daily Mail review, 2001

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
How real did 1980 feel? Ex-Blitz Kids give verdicts on the TV play about Boy George, Worried About the Boy in 2010

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2020 ➤ Vocalist Hadley hammers final nail into the coffin of Spandau Ballet

Tony Hadley , Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, Rhys Thomas, BBC2, Spandau Ballet, mockumentary,

From last night’s Sun Online

Tony Hadley, Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, Rhys Thomas, BBC2, Spandau Ballet, mockumentary,

In The Kemps spoof TV doc: this portrait was supposedly painted by Gary Kemp (BBC)

❚ ANOTHER SUN EXCLUSIVE WENT ONLINE simultaneously with last night’s TV “mockumentary” about the Kemp brothers of Spandau Ballet, The Kemps: All True. It saw brothers Martin and Gary mock themselves and featured a portrait supposedly painted by Gary Kemp of Hadley with red eyes, red horns and fangs. Their former singer who reported quitting three years ago declared that he’d rather watch Broadchurch than their TV show. The Sun Online reports Hadley as saying:

Tony Hadley , singer, pop music,

Big Tone: “I’m done.” (Photo: Rex)

I wasn’t approached and would not have anything to do with it. I’m done. They want me back for good but it ain’t going to happen. I’d rather be happy on my own than be in that band again. If they want another lead singer, that’s their choice. But if you want to hear those songs sung by the original singer then you can only really see one bloke – and that’s me.

The Sun reports Hadley’s reaction to the Kemps using their hit Gold last month for a cheesy TV advert for the washing powder Bold. It saw Gold’s lyrics changed to “Bold”:

It’s embarrassing. I posted a social media disclaimer saying, ‘This was nothing to do with me’. Gary wrote Gold. It’s anthemic. When I sing it live, the audience sing back. To change the title is just weird. I thought it was in bad taste.

➢ View The Kemps: All True at BBC iPlayer

➢ Previewed at Shapers of the 80s:
2020, Knife-edge TV doc shows Kemp tongues firmly in their cheeks

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
2017, Tony Hadley pulls the plug on Spandau Ballet – but the band will rise from the dead

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2020 ➤ Steve Dagger recalls Spandau Ballet’s fifth gig and why it detonated their lift-off

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A picture from the archive: sharply styled Spandau Ballet in 1980 playing the dramatically lit Scala cinema concert that eventually brought the record companies scrambling to sign them. (Photograph © by Steve Brown, processed by Shapersofhe80s)

40
YEARS
ON

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Spandau Ballet’s performance at the trendy Scala cinema on 13 May 1980, their manager Steve Dagger recalls how the event propelled his unsigned band towards the charts and to stardom. Prompted by the waves the band had been making, this – only their fifth live concert – was recorded by London Weekend Television and provided lift-off for the band’s ambitions.

Their first shows were always mounted in secrecy and in novel venues such as the Blitz Club in Covent Garden, which was rapidly becoming the focus for the hippest young people in London who had yet to become known as the New Romantics. The story of those sensational early days is extracted here with Steve’s permission from the full version on the band’s website.

Spandau Ballet, 20th Century Box, Scala cinema, pop music

Spandau at the Scala cinema, May 1980: bass-player Martin Kemp surveys the wild dancing by the audience of Blitz Kids captured for TV by 20th Century Box

Steve Dagger writes:

❏ 40 YEARS AGO, on a warm London May evening, at the Scala Cinema, which was then situated on the rather nondescript Tottenham Street, in the heart of what is now Fitzrovia, Spandau Ballet and its previously underground sub-sect of youth culture emerged blinking into the daylight.

Steve Dagger, Spandau Ballet, live concert, pop music

Spandau manager Steve Dagger on the road with the band in 1980

Before the show, the crowd, previously not seen en-masse outside of a nightclub, spilled over the pavement clutching drinks from the nearby pub and eying each other up as they arrived, each dressed in their own highly personalised version of the heightened street fashion/plundering of the history of style/Fritz Lang vision of the future that was going to be dubbed “New Romantic” or “Blitz Kids”. All the stylistic cards were being thrown up in the air in a post-modern reset to prepare for a new decade. The event had been advertised by our version of social media, word of mouth, as were all our early shows.

It had the atmosphere of a bizarre red carpet event before a film premiere. There was a TV crew filming and interviewing the arrivals. There were photographers recording the scene. Spandau Ballet were to play live and the performance and the audience were being filmed by LWT for a Janet Street-Porter documentary as part of a TV series called 20th Century Box. The audience was joined by various journalists, photographers and media people, including Radio 1 DJ and TV presenter Peter Powell, numerous record company execs including impresario Bryan Morrison. It was a potent mix which we could have only dreamed of six months earlier before our Spandau Ballet rebirth and was entirely consistent with our title of “The Next Big Thing” and the hottest unsigned band in the country and the new decade.

Since their first performance as Spandau Ballet at the Blitz five months earlier, the band’s career trajectory had been such that it seemed to have been fired out of some powerful pop culture cannon. A lot had happened! We had exploded from a standing start like Usain Bolt.

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Spandau at the Scala: Blitz Kids arrive in high style to watch the band perform in an auditorium for the first time, captured by 20th Century Box

At that first Blitz show in December 1979, Chris Blackwell, legendary founder and owner of Island Records – the world’s coolest record company – had approached me offering to sign the band “on the spot”. It was a hugely seductive and exciting opportunity but there was a deal to be done.

Accompanied by our newly appointed lawyer, Brian Carr, the band and I went to meet Chris at the Island HQ in London, a large relaxed converted villa on St Peter’s Square in Hammersmith. Posters and gold and platinum discs of Bob Marley, Roxy Music, Stevie Winwood and Grace Jones greeted us. Chris showed us around. He was charming and smart. It all seemed so right. For a while. He introduced us to Nick Stewart, an A&R man who was to be our point person. He had the demeanour of an army officer. I think he was a friend of Chris’s from public school. He listened to our ideas about the band – it seemed very hard to explain the band’s ethos to him. Chris was not a UK resident at the time and had a limited time in the country each year. We would be dealing with Nick day-to-day. Not good. Then they showed us the terms of the deal they were proposing.

We retired for lunch at a local Chinese restaurant with Brian to consider it. I suppose it was an OK deal for a new band, but both Brian and I thought we could do better. We went back to Island HQ after lunch and after a short discussion about the terms, on a pre-arranged cue from Brian, we turned down the deal and ended the meeting abruptly and walked out. It was spectacular! Their jaws dropped. It showed huge confidence on our part. It was a bold effective tactic. It did mean however that we were very shortly in Hammersmith Broadway, on foot, without a record contract.

Although there was a vigorous discussion about the wisdom of this move with the band and myself later that evening, so powerful was our newly acquired self-confidence everyone soon settled down. Shortly afterward Chis left town for Paris or Jamaica and although we kept in contact and he maintained interest, we didn’t sign to them. We were soon to be distracted by other suitors and opportunities.

Spandau Ballet, 20th Century Box, Scala cinema, pop music

Spandau at the Scala: the moment the band began playing, the audience filled the aisles with their dancing, captured by 20th Century Box

Meanwhile, our progress continued apace. Days after the visit to Island the band played their second show as Spandau Ballet at Mayhem Studios Battersea at a multi-media event party organised by a number of our friends and now collaborators from the Blitz. It was in effect the first Warehouse Party Brand that would morph eventually into the ubiquitous rave format. There were art-house and porn films projected onto the ceiling, DJs, alcohol, drugs, Spandau Ballet and hundreds and hundreds of people crammed into a relatively small space. The combined word of mouth powers of Chris Sullivan, Graham Ball, Robert Elms and Graham Smith reached every hip club person in London. Blitz Kids, Soul Boys and Rockabillies. All soon to merge together into “Club Culture”. It was rammed.

Hundreds couldn’t get in. It was bloody chaos. The band performed and were well received, but most people that were there couldn’t see them, it was so crowded. But that wasn’t the point. The value to us was that we were for the second time in as many weeks performing at the epicentre of hipness in the new London. Even if you hadn’t seen the band or even couldn’t get in, everyone knew that Spandau Ballet had played there. It was most certainly an event.

On New Year’s Eve as the 80s started, I remember feeling utterly satisfied with the band’s progress in the last month. We were right in the sweet spot of being the coolest band in the hippest scene in London. The decade seemed to be opening up before us. Great, but what next? . . . / Continued at Spandauballet.com

Spandau Ballet, 20th Century Box, Scala cinema, pop music

Spandau at the Scala: their audience of dancing Blitz Kids confirmed their status as the hottest unsigned band in the land, captured by 20th Century Box

ELSEWHERE AT SHAPERS OF THE 80S:

➢ A selective timeline for the unprecedented rise and rise
of Spandau Ballet

➢ Spooky or what? The amazing revelation that two bands went by the name of Spandau Ballet

➢ Private worlds of the new young setting the town ablaze

➢ Just don’t call us New Romantics, say the stars of the Blitz

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2020 ➤ Knife-edge TV doc shows Kemp tongues firmly in their cheeks

Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, Polly Vernon, BBC2, documentary,

Is it a mockumentary? Spandau brothers reveal all to a Times Magazine journalist. (Photo: Mark Harrison)

WE’VE SEEN A COUPLE OF GOSSIP ITEMS about the Kemp Brothers from Eighties supergroup Spandau Ballet making an oddball TV documentary, but now comes a cover story on a colour supplement no less, to spill more beans about it. Polly Vernon makes a neat job of interviewing the Angel bros, now aged 58 and 60, in Saturday’s Times Magazine, teasing out their lifelong sibling rivalries, keeping them on their toes as much as they return the challenge, songwriter Gary “less inclined toward affability”, she reports, and bass-player Martin “as gentle and affable as he is handsome”. Oh, by the way, did Polly mention he was handsome…? Here are some vital facts about the film satirically titled The Kemps: All True in an extract from her article…

POLLY VERNON WRITES: We have met so that Gary and Martin might promote the 60-minute film made for the BBC in which they play themselves – except, not really – going about their everyday lives (except, not at all). It’s a confusing proposition; part scripted, part improv, part biopic, part nonsense fabrication. Half-truths about the Kemps’ actual characters, histories, relationships and physical attributes meld with overblown fantasies about multiple kidneys and long-lost half-brothers called Ross Kemp.

Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, Rhys Thomas, BBC2, documentary,

UPDATE: Exclusive preview of new album cover (BBC)

By definition, All True has none of the honesty of 2018’s Bros documentary, that heart-breaking, cringe-inducing, nostalgia-triggering film that documented Matt and Luke Goss’s real attempts to navigate their fraught sibling relationship, on which I’d assumed All True was based. (Gary is keen I know it definitely isn’t – All True was written before Bros: After the Screaming Stops was released – and he, Gary, hasn’t even seen that film. Martin has, mind. “It’s brilliant. That’s who they are, you know? I know them really well, and that’s who they are.”)

Furthermore, I can’t even really tell to which genre All True belongs. What are we calling it, I ask. A mockumentary?
“Hmmmm,” says Gary.
“Yes. That’s what it is,” says Martin, who is rapidly proving as gentle and affable as he is handsome.
“Oh, I’m not sure… Is it?” asks Gary, more interested in being perfectly, completely understood. “I don’t know. What else could you call a mockumentary?”
Uh, a comedy?
“Yeah, a comedy,” says Gary.
(“A comedy. Yeah!” says Martin.)
To be fair, despite it defying reason and categorisation, All True is very funny. Not all of it lands, nor is it precisely as Gary Kemp says he intended: “Like Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. Like the Steve Coogan-Rob Brydon thing [The Trip], you know.”

Some of it even ventures into comic genius territory… All True was conceived by director, writer and comedian Rhys Thomas (of Star Stories, The Fast Show and Nathan Barley). Thomas had worked with Martin Kemp, so when he approached Martin and Gary with a script for a show depicting a preposterous version of the brothers that, at the same time, wasn’t entirely removed from the truth, they said they’d do it. It seemed fun, they tell me – an opportunity to play with the world’s perceptions of them.
“French and Saunders do Gary and Martin Kemp,” says Martin.
“Our traits, but highlighted,” says Gary.
“Us, but on steroids!” says Martin… / Continued at Times Online

➢ “Top of the Pops was like Tinder” – Polly Vernon interviews Spandau’s Kemp brothers in The Times Magazine

Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, Rhys Thomas, BBC2, documentary,

JUNE UPDATE: Preview of Gary Kemp’s latest work as a portrait painter (BBC)

➢ UPDATE: All True transmission now set for
5 July on BBC2 (“Contains adult humour”)

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35 years since Band Aid’s monster Christmas single and the 80s ceased to swing

Band Aid , Do They Know It’s Christmas?

The Band Aid band, Nov 25, 1984: most of the pop stars who performed, plus artist Peter Blake who created the record sleeve for Do They Know It’s Christmas?

◼︎ TODAY WAS THE DAY IN 1984 THEY RECORDED the song that became, for 13 years, the biggest selling UK single of all time. Do They Know It’s Christmas was released four days later, stayed at No 1 for five weeks, sold over three million copies and raised significant funds for famine relief in Africa. The project lead naturally the next year to Live Aid, the biggest globally televised rock concerts ever, viewed by two billion people in 60 countries, who coughed up still more dollars…/ Continued inside

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
How Geldof and Ure rounded up the unlikeliest megagroup
to record the biggest selling single of its era

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