Tuesday 24 April 2018

Four old guys charm as the band plays on


I'm Not in Love: The Story of 10cc (BBC4) was an unexpected pleasure for someone like me who's never really rated this 1970s band.

Their only great song was the one referenced in the film's title, but the four guys - two of them now in their seventies - were such agreeable and interesting company as they reflected on the band's career that the profile was absorbing.

As for that famous hit, Eric Stewart first tried it out with Graham Gouldman in a bossa nova style, which didn't impress their other two more adventurous colleagues - Lol Creme feeling "underwhelmed" and Kevin Godley confessing "I didn't get it".

It was Godley who suggested a "tsunami of voices" as chorus, which led to the techno-minded Stewart overdubbing their singing of "aaah" 624 times and, on an inspired whim, roping in their secretary Cathy to whisper "be quiet, big boys don't cry".

But despite the global fame that ensued, they never thought of themselves as rock stars.

"We didn't really have a frontman", Godley recalled. "We weren't showmen".

Maybe not, though in this film they were certainly engaging chroniclers of their musical lives together.

The three-part Capital (BBC1), based on John Lanchester's state-of-the-nation novel, fizzled out at the end, though the plight of the illegal African refugee as she faced deportation to her inimical homeland wasn't shirked.

But the viewer was asked to feel kindly towards the banker's ghastly wife, who up to the close had been played with such heartless glee by Rachael Stirling that it was impossible to accept her as a suddenly more accommodating person. And there was something too easily sentimental and stereotypical - indeed benignly racist - about the happy-clappy treatment of the Pakistani family who ran the corner shop and for whom there were hugs all round.

The end of Fargo (Channel 4) looms and I hope it holds its nerve. Certainly, this week's episode continued to startle with its blend of very black comedy and sudden eruptions of violence.

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