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Topic: Mick on the perils of nostalgia Return to archive
11th April 2007 09:45 AM
Mel Belli Irish Independent

April 11, 2007 Wednesday


By Lise Hand

In the opening episode of time-travel TV seriesLife on Mars, Noughties copper Sam Tyler finds himself transported back to 1973 and walking a brand new police beat along Memory Lane.

BBC's unexpected hit series may have become part of history when it concluded dramatically last night, but there are plenty of people still left with a Sam Tyler Feeling - that we're all stuck in some sort of ghastly re-run of the past.

It's boom time in showbizland for the nostalgia business. Revisiting bygone days has never been so popular, judging by the avalanche of remakes, re-runs and reunions threatening to engulf our screens and stages in the near future.

The prevailing fondness for nostalgia is nothing new, but even the creators ofLife on Mars were gobsmacked by the success of the show which tracked the adventures of bamboozled modern-day detective Sam Tyler (John Simm), who somehow woke up in 1973 following a near-fatal accident.

But the real star of the two-season series has been DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister), a camel-coated Seventies Man unencumbered by political correctness. His pithy one-liners - "Don't move, you are surrounded by armed bastards!" and "She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot" - have inspired a cult following among viewers.

With over seven million fans immersing themselves weekly in a world of dodgy haircuts and even dodgier attitudes to women, ethnic minorities and proper police procedures, it's no surprise that the BBC is expected to announce a spin-off series. Provisionally titledAshes to Ashes, it will be set in London in 1981 and will feature Glenister back in action as Gene Hunt.

It's no wonder that so many satellite television channels are piling their schedules high with programmes from Way Back When, although some of them appear to be pushing their luck of late.

Nostalgia specialists UKTV Gold are currently busy doing a Jurassic Park on two dinosaurs of the small screen: the channel has just excavated Jimmy Savile's '70s hit show. A new six-part seriesJim'll Fix It Again began last week, with the 80-year-old, cigar-chomping, trackie-wearing Savile revisiting classic 'Fix-Its' and sorting out a few new ones. And hoping presumably to tap into the show's former audience - at its peak it attracted 3,000 letters a day.

More alarmingly, UKTV Gold has also just announced that it's resurrectingThe Generation Game with original host Bruce Forsyth. In its heyday in the '70s, over 16 million viewers tuned in to watch contestants taking on the Conveyor Belt to try and win worthless tat such as fondue sets and cuddly toys.

One person delighted by the show's revival this autumn is 79-year-old fossil Forsyth: "I am so looking forward to bringing back some wonderful memories and highlights ofThe Generation Game. It was always a good game. Good game!" he declared, giving a twirl to one of his still-annoying catchphrases.

But it's not just the movers and shakers of the telly industry who are past masters. Nostalgia is music to the ears of several bands that are surfing on the wistful wave this year.

After two decades of exercising their right to remain silent, The Police have reformed and are lined up to play two dates at Croke Park this year as part of a major - and undoubtedly money-spinning - tour. Ticket sales for the 'Roxanne' tour to mark their 30th anniversary have so far exceeded even the band's expectations.

"I was shocked," claimed guitarist Andy Summers. "I thought we'd do alright on ticket sales but I never expected such a high demand. We were booked to play arenas on many of the dates but we ended up having to upgrade to stadia. It's pretty daunting, I have to admit."

Having notched up five Number One albums before quitting at their peak in 1984, it looks as if everything the trio does is still magic, despite a hiatus of over 20 years and despite Sting remaining insufferable throughout.

In the meantime, Iggy Pop and the Stooges are back on the road 40 years after they first boarded a tour bus, and are garnering rave reviews in America, while hugely profitable reunion tours by grizzled rockers The Eagles and The Who, which both creaked out of the starting blocks last year, are still adding new dates due to demand.

More bizarrely, '80s New Romantics Spandau Ballet have begun to make rumbling noises about reuniting after singer Tony Hadley hinted this week he was ready to climb back into his ruffled shirt. Before the band fell out over a bitter legal battle over royalties, they notched up 23 hit singles in the UK.

Nostalgia is everywhere. For the first time since the 1970s, the fashion shops are awash with maxi-skirts; off-licences are promoting iconic wines of that decade such as a revamped Blue Nun and the Mateus Rose, which has had its first relaunch in 60 years. And in book shops, Tolkien fans are breathlessly awaiting the publication of a 'new' chronicle from the oldest of old times in Middle Earth,The Children of Hurin, which has been completed after Tolkien's death by his son, Christopher.

But nostalgic desire can cause its own problems - a fact acknowledged by Mick Jagger despite the fact that the Rolling Stones have benefited enormously from the public's bottomless appetite for old rock. "People have this obsession," he admitted. "They want you to be like you were in 1969. They want you to, because their youth goes with you."

And nostalgia can also throw a rose-tinted glow over bygone times that really should remain gone. The clobber and the quips and the soundtrack that have helped turnLife on Mars into such a popular nostalgia-fest, was set during an era when Ireland was reeling from the aftershocks of Bloody Sunday and the Arms Crisis, and when there was absolutely nothing to do on Sundays - and for a large number of unemployed citizens, nothing to do from Monday to Friday either.

A little wallow in the past is no harm, as long as no one really believes Life Was Better Back Then.

It wasn't, or as that wise philosopher Will Rogers once observed: "Things ain't what they used to be, and probably never was".
11th April 2007 09:50 AM
luxury1 No, we were just hoping for some of the same guitar work from the earlier years, that's all, Mick.
11th April 2007 12:38 PM
Stray Cat UK If I could go back to1973,I'd jump off my roof like a shot.
1st thing I'd a ferry to Brussels.

sc uk
11th April 2007 12:39 PM
luxury1 wrote:
No, we were just hoping for some of the same guitar work from the earlier years, that's all, Mick.

11th April 2007 02:42 PM
luxury1 wrote:
No, we were just hoping for some of the same guitar work from the earlier years, that's all, Mick.

jagger's comment may apply to a few hardcore, deluded fans -
but i think most of us are painfully aware that we, AND the stones are not young anymore.
that doesn't mean we don't expect them to produce quality work.

11th April 2007 02:44 PM
texile wrote:

jagger's comment may apply to a few hardcore, deluded fans -
but i think most of us are painfully aware that we, AND the stones are not young anymore.
that doesn't mean we don't expect them to produce quality work.
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