As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s been ( yet another ) busy work weekend. Still, I would hate you to think that your Dave is all work and no play at all. I broke off for a couple of hours at 7pm last night to watch my latest guilty pleasure, The Voice. As it happens I’m watching tonight’s as I type this. Still, as I say, I was watching it last night, and one of the voices was Deneice Pearson. If you’re not old enough to remember, Deneice Pearson was one of five siblings who formed the mid-late 80s soft R&B combo Five Star . Don’t worry – I’m not about to go off on one about how good/bad/indifferent they were. I know it’s all a matter of opinion. If you disliked them, well and good, likewise if you liked them. No, I’m afraid that when I saw her, the thing it brought immediately to mind was watching Going Live with my 4 year old daughter, when Five Star were being interviewed, and taking calls from viewers, when one mischievous little imp rang in to ask them “Why are you so . . . . (LAM is a family show, so I won’t write the actual words which followed – but they rhymed with ducking bap). I even remember the name of the boy who made the call, because we were asked once in a quiz – How did Elliot Fletcher cause controversy on children’s TV show Going Live in 1990 ? ( or 89 – it was one or the other )
Which in turn brought to mind the famous Bill Grundy interview. This happened in 1976 – I distinctly remember that I was 12 years old. I may be wrong, but I think you could only see it at the time if you lived in the Thames TV franchise area. Well, I did. Basically the Today show was a teatime chat and current affairs-y sort of thing – not a million miles removed from BBC’s One Show, come to think of it, although a little earlier in the evening. The group Queen were due to be guests, but dropped out at short notice, and some bright spark had the idea of getting the Sex Pistols on in their place. After a fairly tame start to the interview , Steve Jones let go with the F word, and John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) the S word, which seemed to wind up Bill Grundy, who got him to repeat it. Distance lends enchantment to the view , but I remember sitting with my grandmother ( honestly ) watching this , open mouthed, desperately wanting to laugh, but not daring to, hoping that she wouldn’t switch it over. I couls ee she was disgusted, but to be fair to her the only comment she made was after Steve Jones called Bill Grundy a f@*!ing rotter, when she looked me in the eye and said "Do people still use the word 'rotter' , now, then ? " My initial impression was that Bill Grundy was actually egging them on. I guess that I wasn’t the only one who saw it this way either. An interview like this wouldn’t pass without comment even now in these permissive times. Back in 1976 there was a huge rumpus. I’ve read about it since, and I don’t know that the late Bill Grundy’s career ever really recovered. To be fair, he did become the answer to a hardy perennial quiz question , about whose career was wrecked when he interviewed the Sex Pistols on the Today programme etc. etc.
It’s funny the things that make a big impression on you at the time, isn’t it ? I mean yes, at the time I doctored a couple of safety pins so I could clip them to my ear and make it look like they were actually going through it ( they weren’t ) but at the time I much preferred the safe Scandinavian europop of Abba to their own offerings – although I wouldn’t have said so. I had enough of the Michael ripped out of me at the time as it was, without going out of my way to sit up and beg for it. True to form, I only really started to ‘get’ it with punk just as that first great explosion was dying away. Still, I watched the Bill Grundy clip on Youtube last night again, and experienced a suprising glow as I did so. Surprising ? Well, it’s just that I never quite expected to look back on them with the same kind of nostalgia that my parents looked back on Elvis and his contemporaries.
Once again – I’m ready for my zimmer frame, Mr. Demille.