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Sinead Ryan: Do they know it's Paula at all? as Bob gets a tribute film

THE actress playing her doesn't look much like the late Paula Yates. And as for the guy playing Bob -- well, all he has to do is get the scruffy look and you-know-who's your uncle.

But that's beside the point really in talking about the biopic that's being made about our homegrown hero. Finally.

Many of us know what it's like to watch some injustice, or terrible news on television and wish we could do something about it. Well Bob Geldof did and turned a fund-raising gig into the greatest global event in the world.

Twenty five years ago this week Geldof was the inspiration behind LiveAid, which most people consider the greatest gathering of bands ever.

It fed some of the world and made everyone stand in awe of this foul-mouthed, unkempt Irishman who wasn't an awfully good singer, but wanted to be.

So many rock biopics are made only where the subject has led a tragic, or terrible, drink and drugs-induced life.

How rarely is a film made where the hero is just that, and still living too? Quite modestly at that.

Well, BBC's When Harvey Met Bob will be on our screens later this year (the Harvey is Harvey Goldsmith, who was the collaborator for the concert). It documents the now infamous moment he came home and saw Paula Yates cradling their baby and crying while watching Michael Buerk's news report from the Eritrean refugee camps in 1984, up to the staging of a massive, synchronised worldwide concert which would end up raising €150m for Africa, and is still paying out royalties.

Bob didn't need to party in the White House to do it; or rub shoulders with Presidents and leaders; he considered schmoozing a waste of time.

He didn't need his picture taken with famous people to enhance his reputation. He just did the equivalent of banging on doors and relieving people of their money.

He also wasn't one of those ultra-wealthy pop stars who wanted our money to pay for something they could simply write a cheque for -- if they felt that strongly about it. Live Aid's initial goal was to raise a modest one million pounds -- a figure most self respecting pop stars wouldn't get out of bed for. Bob oozed no guff, no trappings of fame and prosperity. But he had buckets of chutzpah.

He made you feel guilty for owning a nice pair of shoes and already looked as if he had given all his money away and was reduced to begging. So we gave.

It's beyond time someone (other than Britain's Queen) recognised Bob Geldof's LiveAid, or at least reminded us how hard it must have been for a not-well-known Irish singer in a declining band to gather the greatest, most pompous, pampered and famous singers in the world together and get them to play, for free.


For years it seemed official Ireland was slightly embarrassed by its hairy, rude ambassador. Instead of embracing him as our own, the powers-that-be almost seemed relieved he didn't live here any more.

Bob was the antithesis of sobriety, straight up, suited success that we wanted our country to reflect. Mind you, we took the kudos when they came.

Domhnall Gleeson (Brendan's son) gets the unenviable task of playing Geldof, which must be a bit weird when your subject is still hale and hearty. Antonia Campbell Hughes plays the tragic Paula Yates whose own life is the more usual film-making fodder. It's being shot in Dublin at present and will be shown on BBC2 later in the year. One wonders why nobody thought of it before.