Last Night’s TV – Queens Of British Pop

dusty springfield

What a lovely bit of nostalgia this BBC show was! It was a real trip down memory lane, and for those of us who are old enough for that lane to be quite a long one, this was a real treat that featured archive footage from the likes of Suzi Quatro – who I used to long to be when I was a kid – and Marianne Faithfull – who always scared me when I was a kid for some reason!

It didn’t take itself too seriously either, despite the blurb for the show which made it sound as if it was going to be a serious discussion of how women have altered the face of music and societal attitudes through their music… as it turned out, it was just a montage of clips and interviews but it was very nice to see some – now very – old faces again!

Last night’s was the first of two parts – the concluding part is on next week – celebrating 12 female singers and icons who’ve influenced British pop music from the Sixties to the present day and narrator Liza Tarbuck took us viewers back to the early Sixties for interviews with Sandie Shaw, and as I mentioned Marianne Faithfull and Suzi Quatro as well as Siouxsie Sioux.

There were also contributions from friends and fans of these iconic ladies, including some big name stars such as Sir Tom Jones, Lulu, Burt Bacharach, John Lydon, Martha Reeves, Nancy Sinatra, Mark Radcliffe, Henry Winkler, Marc Almond, Peter Gabriel, Claire Grogan, Jarvis Cocker, Kiki Dee and somewhat randomly, Nigel Havers!

I suppose though unless you actually know who these women are – and are therefore of a certain age – this film wouldn’t have enlightened you very much about the artistes featured, but again, who cares? I really enjoyed seeing the ludicrous haircuts, massive beehives, horrendously tiny skirts and frighteningly big wedge platforms.

But as fun as it was, I have three criticisms of it, the first being that the contributions and interviews seemed somewhat rushed and heavily ‘clipped’ but I suppose if you’re going to have that many interviewees, a bit of squashing-in is inevitable.

The second is that although Lulu made an appearance as an interviewee, she wasn’t included in the show as a British music icon herself, nor was Cilla Black anywhere to be seen, which I found odd given that both women played a huge part in the Sixties music scene.

And I suppose if I were to be really pedantic, my third criticism is that I might ask why Suzi Quatro was included, given she’s American but that said, there’s no doubt she made a huge impact on British music in her day so I think we could let Aunty Beeb off with allowing an American feature in a show that was about British music legends.

However, back to what was fun about it was undoubtedly the archive stuff. Watching Dusty Springfield in an old bread advert which required her to jab a loaf on the end of a stick into people’s homes was hilarious.

And it was nice to hear John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten being actually pleasant about someone for a change when he talked about how much he loved Kate Bush’s music… I wasn’t aware he was capable of pleasantries.

So if you missed it, I’d highly recommend catching up with it on BBC iPlayer – if you’re of a certain age that is! You can also see various snippets from the show here

Next week’s final part takes viewers from the early Eighties to the present day, looking at the impact made by the likes of Annie Lennox, Alison Moyet, Kylie Minogue, Geri Halliwell, Amy Winehouse and Leona Lewis.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.