Who The F*** Is Pete Doherty, BBC3

by | Jun 26, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

A stark, truthful sketch of the most poetic soul drawing breath in God’s wide and wonderful universe.

What to say if you didn’t like it

A pitifully partial portrait of one of the most cumbersome, crass and crap celebrities currently infesting the tabloids with their tiresome deeds of staged pandemonium.

What was good about it?

• Paul Morley brought his neutral insight to bear on Doherty, although he seemed thoroughly seduced by his talent and effect on the nation’s youth.

• Despite the best efforts of this supposedly championing documentary to stifle it, Doherty did come across as being genuinely talented. While his Babyshambles output is patchy, the songs from the first Libertines album such as Time For Heroes still sound as fantastic today as they did when it was released. And his acoustic rendition for the closing credits was also quite wonderful.

What was bad about it?

• The toadying commentary. Apparently, Doherty is “arguably one of the most important and influential figures in contemporary music”, which isn’t reprehensible in itself. What it reprehensible, is for the next hour the narrative didn’t seek to “argue” the point, but seemed satisfied to dogmatically deify Doherty with the arbitrary appellation.

• The documentary sought to distance Doherty from the superficial tabloid bad boy, and expose his “genius” to the world, but instead this aspiration was crippled almost immediately when his friend Wolfman claimed Doherty was: “Everything Robbie Williams wants to be but isn’t.” And if there is a more apt antecedent to Doherty’s kingship of tabloid bad behaviour it’s Williams, thus Wolfman branded Doherty as little more than “authentic” tabloid pigswill.

• The English Dictionary seemed to have gone on strike and refused to have any of its member words uttered from the mouths of Doherty’s most ardent idolaters, and those words which did break the semantic picket line only did seep from their mouths in a barely audible slovenly and sullen whisper.

• During one interview, Doherty had a tantrum and started kicking the camera and recording gear, yet no context was ever given for his behaviour or any cause of the puerility. Doherty himself was rambling incoherently, while filmmaker Roger Pomphrey remained mute on the issue in the voiceover.

• Morley aside, there was very little in the way of offering an opposing or perspective exterior opinion to the biased views given by Doherty and his friends. In the section, on Doherty’s supposed victimisation of the press, there was no tabloid journalist explaining why Doherty was such a fascination for them and was filled with Morley and others concocting fantastical, sympathetic theories why he had become such a target.

• During one of Doherty’s senseless monologues, he sought to justify his drug intake by claiming that he’d rather be a “crackhead” than a “bully or a racist” as though every single person must fall into one of these categories and that by being a “crackhead” it prohibits him from being either a bully or racist.

• One way in which Doherty was promoted, was to suggest that his drug-taking didn’t inspire others to indulge in his unclean habit to indicate he was being conspired against by a vindictive press. This was the easy way out to cast him as a victim.

• Doherty’s friend Rob Chev: “Genius. It’s the price you pay, the self-doubt, the torment.” As if suggesting that Doherty’s troubles are clear evidence of “genius”, or at the very least a pre-cursor of “genius”, rather than the impressive-but-well-short-of classic catalogue of music he has so far composed.

• The universal malcontent over Doherty’s demonising by the tabloid press, while remaining amusingly ignorant that without such demonising this documentary would never have been commissioned as there would have been too small a number of people interested in “who the f*** Pete Doherty” was. And besides, the real reason

he has so much tabloid attention is his relationship with the High Priestess of Cultural Non-Entities Kate Moss.

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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