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09/07/2020 14:24:42  

The BBC has today announced that despite coronavirus, the corporation will push ahead with taxing those aged over 75 for owning an unlicenced TV. The measure had been delayed by two months due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Now more than three million households will be asked to start paying the £157.50 fee from 1 August, […]
09/07/2020 12:22:04  

More than three million households will be asked to start paying the £157.50 fee from 1 August.
05/07/2020 23:24:33  

Gary and Martin Kemp gleefully send themselves up in this one-off mockumentary – though it’s never as funny when celebrities are in on the joke

“Don’t stitch us up to look like a pair of knobs,” Martin Kemp orders the producer at the start of this mockumentary (BBC Two). “You’re not filming this, are you?” Of course not, lies the producer.

Since Christmas 2018, when the BBC’s fly-on-the-wall documentary Bros: After the Screaming Stops was an unexpected hit, the hunt has been on for another couple of – no offence – has-been siblings to do up like kippers.

Surely there must be another pair of fraternally challenged, guileless rubes out there who, like the 80s pop idols Matt and Luke Goss, are vain and dim enough to let the cameras poke around their embarrassing lifestyles and explore their – no offence – jejune world views? Kate and her sister Pippa Middleton, say. Luke and Chris Hemsworth benching each other naked while deconstructing Norse myths?

Presumably the Hemsworths and Middletons were not available. Hence the Kemps, and a PR-friendly mockumentary, rather than a documentary in which they wouldn’t be in on the gag.

Younger readers may not have heard of Martin and Gary Kemp. In the 70s, Gary, with his brother, formed the post-punk preeners Spandau Ballet, whose name evoked the prison where Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, was jailed and whose Top of the Pops outfits distracted us from noticing what Margaret Thatcher was doing to Britain.

They sported blow-dried mullets, guitars strapped so high they risked rubbing their nipples red raw, white singlets, over-the-shoulder tartan car rugs cinched at the waist and military-style plus fours. Only because the Kemps were gorgeous could they get away with looking so daft – they were men’s belated answer to Marilyn Monroe in a potato sack.

Martin was in EastEnders, too, and the pair played the Kray twins in the 1990 biopic of the East End gangsters.

Fast-forward nearly four decades and they have let in the cameras to capture the making of an album of the band’s hits covered by 21st-century stars. But that is only one of the creatively null projects that these fading celebs are responsible for in their dotage. They have also set up a retirement facility for old rockers called Now That’s What I Call a Rest Home, which, sadly, has been overrun by voles. Gary talks only about his woeful painting and his charity work.

The problem with the Kemps here was that, unlike the Goss bros, they had the last laugh. Too much celebrity culture is like this. One yearns for a simpler time when, as in the Bros documentary, hubristic doughnuts make idiots of themselves unwittingly. I don’t want celebrities gamely spoofing themselves – I want them destroy themselves on telly without realising it.

When the Kemps feuded, their rows were scripted by others and, doubtless, copy-approved by the brothers. “Lose my number,” snapped Gary after one faux falling out over creative direction. “Which one – your mobile, work or landline?” snarled Martin. “Work and mobile. I don’t use my landline.” “Fine!” shouted Martin sarcastically before flouncing out.

There were droll moments nonetheless. Gary and his ostensible wife, a kind of evil Linda McCartney played by Anna Maxwell Martin, were tackled on the Today programme by Nick Robinson over their range of vegan ready meals called Wodge, whose secret ingredient looked and tasted like meat. Why? Because it was.

Then there was Martin’s new movie project, provisionally titled The Hardest British Bastards of the Galaxy and, fingers crossed, so unremittingly butch and fatuously violent as to make Layer Cake seem like Steel Magnolias. Its premise was that Al Capone had – somehow – come back to life and was putting together a team from different historical eras to rob the crown jewels. The storyline, written by Martin, may have been fatuous tripe, but that didn’t stop Avengers: Age of Ultron being made.

By the end of the programme, the Kemps had cleared their debts – caused by cryptocurrency losses – with a £2m gig for a dictator’s birthday. The dictator’s new bride gave a creditable impersonation of the former Spandau frontman Tony Hadley singing that classic line from their hit True: “Listening to Marvin all night long / This is the sound of my soul.” Which, it turned out, isn’t about Lee Marvin, but someone called Marvin Gaye. Martin and Gary strummed obligingly from the sidelines, looking uncomfortable about implicitly endorsing her spouse’s woeful human rights record.

Who will launder their image with self-satire next? It is obvious. When the BBC makes Lockdown: The Road to Barnard Castle, Dominic Cummings must play, script and direct himself. Not only would the BBC save on Benedict Cumberbatch’s pay, it would gain a priceless ally in safeguarding the licence fee.

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