Some top notch telly last night. After Mastermind on BBC Two came BBC Four’s Britpop Night, interrupted briefly for The Smoking Room on BBC Three and rounded off by the premiere of the new Franz Ferdinand video on Channel 4.
The Britpop Story was interesting and full of nice clips (although some were lifted from Britpop Now which followed). However, having defined Britpop as pretty much Blur-like music, it seemed odd that Oasis could fit under the same banner when they agreed that their music had different forms and themes. The likes of Menswear and Sleeper really have very little in common with Oasis bar some guitars and a drumkit.
The real disappointment of the otherwise very good Britpop Story was the end. We hit 1997 and John Harris pretty much said “Then Labour swept to power and Diana died and that was the end of Britpop” – followed by a clip of Oasis performing Lyla, the intervening eight years completely ignored. Having carefully charted the rise of Britpop and its influences, there was no real discussion about its decline.
I watched half an hour of Britpop Now which brought back plenty of happy memories and was full of top tunes, as well as Echobelly. TOTP2-style captions also filled us in on the post-Britpop lives of the bands – more of which on the BBC News site.
Needless to say, The Smoking Room was as understatedly brilliant as ever. After that, I switched back to BBC Four and Live Forever. Supposedly about Britpop, the title hints correctly that this documentary was dominated by Oasis. Noel is entertaining and on the mark: he understandably derides Be Here Now but can’t fathom why anyone would have (What’s the Story) Morning Glory but not own Definitely Maybe. (For the record, I do – but only because the former was a present.) There are some revealing interviews with Damon Albarn and Jarvis Cocker, but whereas the night’s other two programmes covered a breadth of Britpop, this is too focussed on Oasis to tell the wider story.
Having only heard it once, I’m not yet humming the new Franz Ferdinand single, Do You Want To, but the video was amusing – the band prancing about in front of spoof modern art. I was a bit concerned that in the video Alex Kapranos resembled Nicol Stephen but I’ll blame that rather odd comparison on tiredness…