What to say if you liked it
At a time when the only successful boyband around is made up of bland Daniel O’Donnell androids, this was a welcome reminder of how fun and memorable adolescent pop can be.
What to say if you disliked it
“What do you call an old dog with five dicks? Take That and Lulu”.
What was good about it?
• Unlike so many other tribute programmes to bands and artists of the past, this had all of the most significant people involved. It was great to see Robbie Williams feel comfortable enough to talk about his boyband – and troubled – past and the programme was all the better for it. Nice of Lulu to help out too.
• The utterly kitsch, and rather painful, footage of Gary Barlow as a child singing his own Christmas composition on TV with Phillip Schofield. A stark warning of his awful solo career to come.
• The hilarious fashion and hair styles from the Take That era. The 1980s has always been thought of as the decade that taste forgot but seeing the barnet of Gary Barlow (Rutger Hauer in Bladerunner) and the group’s bondage outfits again made us remember the early 1990s were just as criminal in the style stakes.
• It was refreshing to see how camp and sexually playful the boys were with both their female and gay audience – an element seriously missing from today’s boy groups which explains why so many of them are highly undifferentiated. Could you really imagine McFly putting on lipstick or having jelly put up their bottoms in a music video? Of course not and you probably wouldn’t want to either (unless it was Danny).
• The programme didn’t shy away from showing the slow self-destruction of wayward member Robbie: the footage of him drunk on tour wasn’t amusing, it was actually upsetting.
What was bad about it?
• As fun and disposable as Take That’s discography is, most of the songs haven’t stood the test of time well and aren’t classic tracks. Obvious exceptions are Back For Good (arguably one of the finest pop songs of the 1990s) and Pray but most sounded dated to us in their production (Promises and Do What U Like in particular). It was also disappointing to remember how many were cover versions.
• The programme didn’t address the rumours that have continued to surround the boys regarding their sexuality. Our curiosity wasn’t helped when Howard admitted they all had wanking competitions together on the tour bus (Robbie came first by the way).
• Ex-manager and panto villain Nigel Martin-Smith. We’ve tried to give him the benefit of the doubt regarding his relationship with Robbie and management skills but his constant “Vera Duckworth on testosterone” expression scares us.
• The fact that Howard Donald has a picture of himself looking miserable hanging in his flat (which was in shot throughout his interview).
• When Robbie failed to show at the group’s reunion, we couldn’t help but sense Butlin’s isn’t far away for the remaining members. Sniff.
• Overall, the programme didn’t really go very far in explaining why the band was so successful in the first place and why we should care about them. We could have done with more about how they filled a very necessary gap in the music market and went on to influence the next stage of pop (never mind The Spice Girls being marketing gurus, Take That brought out their own dolls years before).