MY LIFE AS A ROLLING STONE
Full disclosure: I am a Rolling Stones obsessive. I was born in 1967 (not, thankfully, in a crossfire hurricane, although the weather in South Wales can be quite challenging), the year that they released Ruby Tuesday and Let’s Spend The Night Together.
I grew up listening to their records; one of my earliest memories is of my dad bringing home a copy of Let It Bleed (1969) and being obsessed with the cake on the cover – cake has also been a lifelong obsession. Their music was the soundtrack to my mad childhood, from the toxic masculinity of Sticky Fingers to the full on brilliance of Some Girls.
So this BBC four-parter, available on iPlayer, was always going to be required viewing. Released to coincide with their recent concerts in Hyde Park – one of which took place at the same time as Sir Paul McCartney’s performance at Glastonbury, the great yin and yang of British pop music there in one single night – it explores the band’s four core members through surprisingly candid interviews with the remaining three (Charlie Watts having sadly passed away last year).
Despite all the madness, all the drug busts and girlfriends, Mick Jagger ran the Rolling Stones like a business, writes Sarah Vine
Of course, Mick is the most fascinating, for the simple reason that he is Mick, the eternal manipulator. Quite how someone as middle-class as this grammar school boy from Kent managed to carve out a successful career as His Satanic Majesty remains one of the great paradoxes of rock’n’roll.
Sarah Vine (pictured) says that the new documentary is a thoroughly enjoyable few hours in the company of the ‘greatest rock’n’roll band ever’
But as he himself says, the Jagger you see on stage is a performance, a persona based on careful observation of what works and what doesn’t. He talks about studying camera angles for TV performances in the early days, figuring out what worked and what didn’t.
Despite all the madness, all the drug busts and girlfriends, he ran the Rolling Stones like a business, realising that if the band was to succeed, someone had to be in charge, and that was him.
The same is emphatically not true of Keith Richards, who is chaos personified. The opposite of ruthless Jagger, Keef is a shy, warm-hearted dude who just wants to ‘turn people on’ and have a laugh, man.
As vulnerable – emotionally – as Mick is resilient, the pair (the Glimmer Twins, as they call themselves) are like two halves of a whole, which probably explains the chemistry between them. You sense in Keith the true soul of a tortured artist, which probably explains his long struggle with drugs, not to mention his extraordinary talent as a guitarist.
The chapter on Charlie is inevitably rather wistful, and tinged with sadness; as for Ronnie Wood, he seems to revel in his role as Keith’s court jester. He nearly killed himself trying to keep up with Keith’s drug intake, but seems cheerful enough about it.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable few hours in the company of the greatest rock’n’roll band ever, together with some wonderful footage and, of course, one or two cracking tunes.
JUDI DENCH: OUR NATIONAL TREASURE
FRIDAY, CHANNEL 5
Sarah Vine enjoys the new tribute to Dame Judi Dench (pictured), from the eight minutes as Queen Elizabeth I that won her an Oscar to her much loved TV appearances in As Time Goes By and A Fine Romance
If you want an antidote to all the doom and gloom, look no further than this tribute to one of our greatest living performers: Dame Judi Dench.
A superb line-up of tremendous old luvvies jostle to sing her praises, from her friend and fellow actor Dame Penelope Wilton to Simon Callow (who narrates), Richard Eyre, Gyles Brandreth and, erm, rapper Lethal Bizzle.
It’s all here: the eight minutes as Queen Elizabeth I that won her an Oscar, the star turns as M in James Bond, her extraordinary performance alongside Billy Connolly in Mrs Brown, as well as her muchloved TV appearances in As Time Goes By and A Fine Romance (alongside her late husband, Michael Williams).
Pure, unadulterated loveliness from start to finish. If you missed it, make sure you catch up on My5.
BRIGHTON’S BABY-FACED BOYS IN BLUE
TUESDAY, CHANNEL 4
It’s a cliché, of course, that policemen get younger every year, but in the case of the stars of Channel 4’s new fly-on-the wall documentary Night Coppers, it’s so true it’s actually a bit frightening.
It’s not easy to write about your husband. I bit through several pencils
The Duchess of Cornwall on Camilla’s Country Life, Wednesday, ITV
The show follows the fortunes of Will, 22, his partner Matt, 19, and their various colleagues in blue as they tackle the waifs and strays of after-hours Brighton, party capital of the south coast. Will and Matt are straight-up adorable, two fresh-faced cherubs at loose in a Hogarthian hell-hole.
Will is the grown-up (ha!), Matt the baby. Bless him, he did all his training in lockdown on Zoom, not exactly ideal preparation for the fleshpots of Kemptown.
With actorly good looks (he reminds me a bit of Matt Smith), he wears a permanent expression of astonishment, mixed with slight horror. Will is more self-assured: at one point he confidently stops a middle-aged lady in her electric G-Wiz for driving erratically, on suspicion of drink-driving.
As they wait for a breathalyser, it transpires she’s a newly retired inspector in the Sensitive Intelligence Unit. Needless to say she passes the test. Poor boy.
The police have had such a difficult time lately, it’s easy to forget the vast majority of men and women in the force are good people. This show, with its lively editing and light touch, is a wonderful reminder of that, as well as a real insight into what they have to put up with.
Abuse, foul language, violence – all met with patience, generosity of spirit and humour.