2 Tone Britain, Channel 4

by | Nov 29, 2004 | All, Reviews

What was it all about?

A chronicle of the 2 Tone record label that was the focus of the late 70s musical movement of the same name.

What to say if you liked it

A worthwhile retrospective of one of the most musically innovative and socially important genres of the last century.

What to say if you didn’t like it

A forlorn dredging of long abandoned musical depths that sought to ascribe it social significance in order to delude viewers it was an epochal movement.

What was good about it?

• The fantastic music of the 2 Tone label, and much of that which was featured were classic Specials tracks like Gangsters, Ghost Town and Too Much Too Young.

• Garry Bushell talking sense, in a rare venture for the grizzled hack into the realms of common decency.

• The historical narrative that offered a glimpse of late-70s Britain in the grip of racial tension with riots in London, which also educated how much of an impact Enoch Powell’s notorious Rivers of Blood speech had contributed to authenticating the dumb tribalism of the racist skinheads.

• Interviews with some of those involved in the music such as Suggs and Pauline Black from The Selecter.

• Mark Lamarr’s narration, which fused his obvious knowledge for 2 Tone with an infectious enthusiasm.

Fine contributions from those affected by the 2 Tone movement such as author Paul Gilroy and film director Gurinder Chadha.

What was bad about it?

• Paul Gilroy was sat in front of a bookcase for his interview in the trend of so many talking heads who do so as if to scream: “I am erudite!”

• While there was plenty of music from the Specials, there was very little from any other band.

• No interviews with the Specials songwriter Jerry Dammers or former singer Terry Hall.

• The 2 Tone tour of Britain was illustrated with grainy black and white film of a coach on the motorway as if to suggest 70s Britain was hardly removed from Victorian life with sewage flooding the streets and a black and white TV in every house with only the Queen rich enough to afford a colour one.

• We didn’t find out what happened to many of the bands following the collapse of 2 Tone after the Specials split.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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