Sunday 26 January 2020

Help, A Day In The Life... and now I Feel Fine

Paul McCartney with James Corden on Carpool Karaoke
Paul McCartney with James Corden on Carpool Karaoke

John Masterson

If I have a favourite film it is probably Doctor Zhivago. I can watch it over and over again. I can think of no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than lying on the couch, pressing PLAY, and listening to Lara's Theme setting the mood. That I can spend three hours this way surprises me as usually I am restless once a film goes past 90 minutes. A close second would probably be Three Colours Blue. Again I love the story. I love the music. And I love Juliette Binoche.

I am not big on having a favourite anything. Once I begin to think of a favourite book, piece of music, country, restaurant, etc before long there are five or 10 on the list and I am not about to choose or explain.

Likewise, having a favourite TV programme would be faintly ridiculous. Until last week. James Corden has simply made the best television programme ever. I say that having watched it only on the phone.

It was fun. Corden begins saying the words of the first verse of Help and Paul McCartney hops into the passenger seat. Off they go singing Drive My Car, intercutting each as the driver.

There were things you had never seen before. James Corden has said the idea behind Carpool Karaoke was to have stars sing their hits in an ordinary setting. Paul singing Penny Lane in Penny Lane and pointing out the locations was about as good as it gets.

There actually was an interview. Throughout Paul dropped nuggets about the past.

It had nostalgia with Paul wandering around 20 Forthlin Road, the house where he lived as a teenager and wrote with John. It is now a National Trust property.

It was forward looking. Of course Paul was plugging something. He has a new album, Egypt Station, out in a while. He sang Come On To Me from it which gives hope to 76-year-olds the world over.

It had a heart. James Corden cried. So did I. It had some clowning comedy. Corden dressed up as anything from a mop top to Sgt Pepper. Not to mention Corden telling Paul about his first song. A lifetime of quips has left McCartney with an assortment of gentle put-downs in his repertoire.

There were a lot of smiles as ordinary Liverpudlians realised Paul was in their midst and was ready to play the pose for photos game.

It had surprise. As a sceptic I am always doubtful as to how many people are in on a television surprise. But there were definitely some people who did not expect the curtain to go back in their pub and see Paul and band crash into A Hard Day's Night.

Behind it all there must have been one or more pretty good television minds to think up this structure and make it happen. When you plan a TV show you aim for the best and see how close to that you get. One wonders what things they wanted but didn't get. Maybe very few. Perhaps when Paul came on board he just said "I'm up for it". A producer's dream.

People who don't even like The Beatles have told me they watched this programme several times. There is always someone to spoil the moment. I took the trouble to mention the programme to a Stones fan. "Saw it," I was told. "Great programme... pause... apart from McCartney."

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