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A cynical dose of Noughties nostalgia

We're not even a full week into 2010 and already television is ladling out dollops of stir-and-serve nostalgia, laced with a shot of cynicism, for the decade we've just left behind.

The Story of the Noughties was the first of three programmes (the others follow tomorrow and Friday) labouring under the portentous banner title The History of Now.

Presumably, this faintly sniffy touch is designed to set it apart from the usual clips-and-talking-heads shows, which became a tedious staple of television in the Noughties. But guess what: The Story of the Noughties turned out to be -- that's right -- a clips-and-talking-heads show!

It was a superior one, though, positioned somewhere between a serious sociological examination of what went on over the past 10 years and an episode of Grumpy Old Men.

Will Self cast his sardonic eye over the decade, while the delightfully irritable Andrew Marr fulminated about Tony Blair's pet project, the London Dome: "It's third-rate, it's trivial, it's got no ambition, it teaches us nothing."

Actually, the Dome did teach people something: if you build it, they will come. They, of course, were the "kidults", the generation of middle-aged people who, seeing their disposable income boosted by the property boom, started dressing like their kids, talking like their kids (yeah?), listening to the music their kids listened to and generally acting like they were younger than they were.

When the Dome was transformed into the O2 Arena and began hosting acts including Prince and the briefly reformed Led Zeppelin, the kidults -- cash bulging from the pockets of their skinny jeans -- poured in.

The Story of the Noughties tended, much like the decade itself, to be a bit all over the place, racing with alarming speed through topics such as Botox, iPods, social networking, computer games, mini-scooters, the grown-up obsession with the infantile Harry Potter books, and the rise and demonisation of the hoodie. But then things happened fast in the Noughties.

For those of us who remember the punk years as clearly as the property porn years, The Culture Show's special on John Lydon was a delight. The man who a hysterical newspaper columnist once described as "the greatest threat to British youth since Hitler" is 53 now and planning to take his former band Public Image Ltd back on the road.

Interviewer Andrew Graham-Dixon, a Lydon fan who recalled driving his girlfriend out of the room when he put on PIL's album (he was playing it at the wrong speed), seemed genuinely surprised by his subject's love of Shakespeare, Dickens and Mozart's Requiem, as well as touched by his love for his late parents.

Come on, Andrew, you didn't think Johnny Rotten was for real, did you?


The Story of the Noughties ***

The Culture Show: John Lydon ****