Abba: Behind the Blonde, Channel 4

by | May 24, 2005 | All, Reviews

Highlights

1 – Featuring crippling phobias, near-death experiences, heartbreak and a relationship with a stalker, this was certainly the stuff of great drama let alone a documentary (Geri Halliwell and Five please take note).

2 – The grim reality of fame and life under the spotlight was expertly conveyed and consequently Agnetha’s decision to retreat from this world and isolate herself heightened our sympathy for her.

3 – The programme contained Agnetha’s first TV interview in 17 years which added credibility and it was great to hear her side of the story rather than just a series of talking heads.

4 – The brilliantly awful footage from Abba’s heyday: highlights included Eurovision’s conductor dressed as Napoleon for the performance of Waterloo and Agnetha’s solo material which sounded like a bizarre mix of Toyah Willcox and Olivia Newton-John.

5 – Gert The Stalker wasn’t shy in giving us the details of his unsettling obsession with the singer, which made for riveting, if disturbing, television: his house for example had been decorated “in a Swedish style” with Agnetha’s face present on clocks, pillows and various other household furniture. All of which made her decision to begin a relationship with him even more fascinating.

6 – Footage of the Swedish Progressive Music movement, a risible art group whose purpose was to protest against Abba and ‘happy’ pop songs as well as look like a miserable Chas and Dave. The Scandinavian equivalent of Oasis, if you like.

7 – Alexander Bard, Swedish producer and Svengali, saying “great big Swedish butt”. Twice.

Lowlights

1 – Undeniably intriguing, the documentary also felt unnecessarily lurid at times, especially as it kept coming back to Agnetha’s stalker throughout as if the relationship was the central part of her contemporary life.

2 – The clumsy suspense music and creepy sound effects used whenever Gert appeared on screen.

3 – The obligatory “I was Agnetha’s teacher” talking head. As common as Paul Ross in this type of programme and as informative (i.e. not very).

4 – Despite giving us an exclusive interview with the star, there wasn’t much of it.

5 – Ultimately, Agnetha’s reservations about fame, her phobias and reasons for shunning the limelight were rational and reasonable. Consequently, the idea of her being a mysterious, odd recluse became tired. The unfortunate result of this programme however is that it will do nothing to curb the singer’s distrust of the media.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

24/05/2005

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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