H Side Story, Channel 4

by | Mar 6, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

The loveable one from Steps, H, bravely swallows his pride and goes back to school at the Royal Academy of Music in order to better himself and his undoubted talents. A shame more so-called stars can’t do the same thing.

What to say if you didn’t like it

Just when you thought that Steps had been safely discarded in the big refuse dump marked ‘1990s’ (along with Oasis, Tarantino and David Schwimmer) Ian ‘H’ Watkins crawls back out to inflict his faux-chirpiness on us all with a ‘documentary series’ (read: extended advertisement) about him learning to sing properly.

What was good about it?

• H’s moments of honesty: “I was seen as the knob… the joker of the group.” Yep. And being seen as the ‘knob’ when you’re in a band with Lisa Scott-Lee is some achievement.

• The narration was refreshingly unafraid to utilise some subtle irony: “His unique brand of music has affected millions of people’s lives, a man so renowned that he is known by only one letter, a man called… H.”

• Lisa Scott-Lee, in the manner of all girls under the age of 14, referring to H (Aitch) as “Haitch”, was hilarious.

• H explaining that he loves art and mentions the paintings that he’d produced recently. “There’s no significance,” he muttered, “I just love doing it.” At which point the camera revealed the artwork: three canvases, all jet black, just above his bed. So, no significance other than your own private world of self-loathing and depression, then H?

• Channel 4 surprisingly didn’t insist to the Royal Academy of Music that 25 of the 30 people on H’s course be eliminated by a weekly phone-in vote during the course of the series.

• We’re not sure whether it was touching or slightly freaky when H poured his mountains of photos of himself with more famous stars out for the camera to see. Still, at least if this series fails he can hawk them on eBay.

• If you had never heard of Steps or H this could actually seem like an amusing mockumentary.

What was bad about it?

• H swearing all the time, which meant a lot of bleeps and blurring of his mouth. A couple of occasions would be ok, but it was tiring and annoying after a while.

• The rest of Steps, except Lee, were all there giving their opinion on the break-up (again). We really have seen enough of Faye Tozer (filmed in a recording studio, naturally) to last the rest of our lives.

• Claire Sweeney getting herself on TV for a fleeting second to say goodbye to H as he left Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

• H wandering through the Royal Academy, followed by the camera crew, offering little titbits of information and advice about locker keys to all the students he saw, which became a little nauseating.

• It will be interesting to see whether the rest of the series focuses only on H, or also on his 29 fellow students. There’s probably a good documentary to be made out of people attending the Royal Academy of Music, but weeks and weeks of H’s worrying, floppy hair and constant anxiety about his career will get very wearing, very quickly.

• “If I fail this, I’ll never work again,” claimed H. If that was true, surely he wouldn’t allow a camera crew to follow him to therefore advertise his possible failure to the whole country? Better to be honest and acknowledge that if he fails, this documentary should at least allow him to compete with Jeff Brazier for various daytime TV presenting gigs.

• H’s patronising jokes about students being poor and about how he’s bought “No Frills” beans despite obviously being very wealthy.

• The information that Steps are the most successful touring band in the UK ever, selling more tickets than The Beatles etc. This horrific fact sent us into a bout of deep depression that forced us to go and paint three canvases entirely black and hang them just above our bed.

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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