What we're watching on TV
- Credit: Miya Mizuno/FX
Pistol, Streaming now on Star channel on Disney+
John Lydon (Jonny Rotten) has made no bones about his distaste for Danny Boyle’s Sex Pistols biopic, telling press it stands against everything the band was about.
The singer, who once lived in Norwich, and today occupies a quiet life in America caring for his wife (who has dementia) challenged Boyle’s use of Sex Pistols music in the series, but ultimately lost in court, something he says has almost financially ruined him.
It’s a shame the former front man isn’t on board with Boyle and series creator/writer Craig Pierce’s vision, because it is absolutely glorious.
Riotous, frenetic, filthy, heartfelt...hilarious, Pistol’s (based on band founder Steve Jones’ memoire Lonely Boy) energy is boundless, capturing the rising punk/anti-establishment movement that swept London in the mid-70s in astonishing detail.
And that’s before we even get to the phenomenal soundtrack, the grimy, smoky photography, the way the cast are inset into actual 70s film footage in some street scenes, and the use of 70s special effects.
A cynic may think Lydon, as the face of the Pistols, wasn’t happy with Steve Jones being the centre of attention in the series. But this really is Jones’ (played by Toby Wallace) show.
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A tale of a downtrodden, lonely, unloved child who had to pick at the scraps of life to find something even close to meaningful.
In episode one (The Cloak of Invisibility) we learn Jones, who opens the series stealing equipment from a gig hall, before fleeing with fellow band member Paul Cook (Jacob Slater), has felt unseen his whole life. As a ‘nobody’, a ‘lost boy’ he’s been able to slip in and out of society, taking whatever he wants and needs, largely without being detected.
Being alone is a state of mind Jones will never lose grasp of, telling Paul, after freezing on stage at their first proper gig: “I’m funny, I screw a lot of birds and act tough, but up there I’ve got nowhere left to hide. It makes me remember what a total waste of space I am.”
Boyle and Pierce paint a tender, often gut-wrenching picture of a lovable rogue, who desperately wants to be someone, but can scarcely bare the spotlight as he’s so damaged.
Writer and director portray the Sex Pistols’ (who amazingly came up with the name Swankers initially) early days as chaotic. The boys racing across fuming wasteland, hanging out in sordid Soho back streets, struggling to write songs.
And then Jones tumbles into the revolutionary Sex shop on King’s Road, run by would-be world changers Vivienne Westwood (Talulah Riley) and bon viveur and music manager Malcolm McLaren (the superb Thomas Brodie-Sangster), with a young Chrissie Hynde (Sydney Chandler) at the till.
The couple are looking for a group to shake up the industry and ‘stick one’ to the institution, and thieving Steve Jones, with his fistful of dreams, fragile sensibilities, and distrust of the law, could just be the ticket to spread their message.
Pure telly gold. The last thing to capture me like this was Russell T Davies’ It’s A Sin. Watch it.
Money For Nothing series 12, BBC One, weekdays, 2.15pm and streaming on BBC iPlayer
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, so the saying goes. And upcycling show Money For Nothing shows that cash really can be made from that trash.
Each episode of this stalwart of the BBC’s daytime schedule is oh-so-satisfyingly formulaic.
Lead presenter Sarah Moore and her co-stars Jacqui Joseph and JJ Chalmers take it in turns to spend the day at the recycling centre.
They’re given special permission to look for three items destined for the skip that could be given a new lease of life and sold on for a profit.
It may be a cheery amuse bouche for Pointless, but its jingly jangly theme tune belies its more serious environmental message – that we should be more mindful about the environmental impact of our throwaway culture.
It often transpires that there’s a poignant reason why people are at the recycling centre – that the house of a departed loved one is being cleared out and they simply don’t have the space to keep everything.
And it shows that in the past items were really built to last, some having been passed down through several generations.
The presenters choose one item to work on themselves, then the other two are sent to their team of talented artisans for hire around the country – artist-blacksmiths, furniture upholsterers, woodworkers and more.
You’d think that armchairs with broken springs popping out, woodworm infested chests of drawers and rusty old gates would be beyond salvation – but no challenge is too big for them to take one.
Once the makers have worked their magic the transformed items are put up for sale and any profit, minus the cost of materials and labour, is given back to the original owner.
And (spoiler alert) some of the profits in the latest series have been eye-opening – it really does make you think twice about that Sunday afternoon trip to the tip.
In episode one, Sarah rescued a bag of dressmaking fabric from someone’s car boot, which she turned into hair scrunchies.
I know that 90s fashion is having a moment, but I almost spat out a mouthful of tea when it was revealed that they’d made more than £400 profit.
And how JJ had the patience to turn a bag of wood offcuts into 1,000 plant labels I’ll never know – but it paid off handsomely.
Their owner was absolutely thrilled when he was presented with more than £800 and promptly declared he’d be treating himself to some new power tools.
Even the series' deadpan narrator, comedian Arthur Smith, sounded excited.
If you’ll excuse me now, I’ve got to go and dust off my sewing machine – I've got a side hustle to set up.
Girl5Eva, Series 1-2 available now on Now TV/Sky Go
“We’re gonna be famous 5eva, ‘cause 4eva is too short.”
If you watch this show, those lyrics (from the titles) will become an earworm you can’t shake, no matter how you try.
Girls5Eva has been pasted all over my Now TV box recently and I’d never heard of it, so thought I’d give it a crack.
Which was a pretty darn good decision...because it’s awesome. And it should be. Writing credits go to creator Meredith Scardino (of award-winning Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fame), and two of her exec producers are the can-do-no-wrong Tina Fey, and Robert Carlock.
In essence, there’s a tonne of funny people working behind the scenes.
Girls5Eva blatantly takes the mick out of the 90s/early noughties bubblegum pop era, during which this faux band thrived with the aforementioned hit.
Unfortunately pop is fickle, and their second release, about a plane crashing, dropped the day before 9/11 sent the group into a nosedive, leading Dawn (Sara Barielles) to work at her brother’s Italian restaurant, Gloria (Paula Pell) to become a dentist, Summer (Busy Philipps) to live a fantasy life with C-list celebrity husband Kev (Andrew Rannells), and Wickie (Renee Elise Goldsberry) to pretend she’s an ‘it’ girl...when she’s really working at an airport.
When, in 2021, rapper Lil Stinker (yes, the writing crew had a blast with this show) uses a sample of Girls5Eva’s one and only hit, the girls (sorry, women) wonder....’could we do this again?’.
There are so many gems in Girls5Eva, which is ram-packed with wit, super-clever writing (listen to the lyrics of the songs), and also observations on what it’s like to be an aging woman.
You could watch each episode a few times and always find something new to chuckle about.