Someone, somewhere had a thought. They mused that, the television viewing public of Great Britain would like to see the teenage years of a famous person. Someone who was there in the thick of the action. Someone with real stories to tell. Insightful, yet wistful. Passionate, yet balanced.
Sadly, everyone who was a mover and shaker in the ’80s was busy or dead, so they went to Alan Davies to host Teenage Revolution (Channel 4, Thursday, 9 September, 9pm) because he’s reasonably charming and seems like he’s a nice chap (when he’s not biting tramps).
But is charming enough to keep our interest for the length of three shows? On the strength of this opening bow, absolutely not.
In this first show, subtitled The Rebel from Suburbia, we all got to live in Alan’s dreary world.
He grew up in somewhere really boring called Loughton and was raised by a boring man who did boring accountancy. Not a sniff of diddling people’s accounts or anything. Just some bloke who crunched numbers.
He lived in a boring house and Davies’ joked that we “can see the powerful sense of social exclusion and deprivation I was fighting against.” Just because you poke fun at it, doesn’t make it less tedious. Then we visited his spectacularly boring private school and with him, peered through a window at a teacher who was teaching something or other. We didn’t find out because Alan never went through the door. We just hung around in a corridor, listlessly.
Then, we saw that The Teenage Alan Davies liked all the same things as every other teenager in Britain at that time. Basically, Alan Davies used up our valuable time to tell us that he liked football, Barry Sheene and winding up shopkeepers.
Amazing eh? He was just short of showing us the faint traces of a scar on his knee where he once fell over and got a scab once.
Of course, this kind of whimsy isn’t wholly unpleasant and doesn’t really need to serve a function if it’s distracting enough. However, this show trundled on and continually told us nothing… nothing about the tumultuous ’80s, nothing about the place we were and ultimately, very little about Alan Davies.
The whole programme felt like a bored day-off work when you’ve got nothing to do and you pad around looking for things to occupy yourself, so you find yourself sitting on a park bench and remembering the things you used to get up to.
Remember climbing that tree? That was a good old tree wasn’t it? The council said they were going to cut it down once. They didn’t though. What a nice old tree. What’s that? There’s civil unrest going on behind me?
Alan’s aimless amble saw him waiting for hours to meet Paul Weller. That in itself is a hopeless waste of everyone’s time… but wait we did until the pay off happened… which was a 2 second glimpse of an old man with a stupid haircut writing his name on an old LP.
Still, at least Alan talked to some people who really knew how grim the ’80s were when he talked to a former skinhead. Sadly, all we found out about the skinhead was that he got into a few fights and his dad would probably vote for the BNP.
This show wasn’t exactly offensive… but really, it wasn’t worth tuning in for save for a couple of sweet moments which mildly diverted the attention from sticking the kettle on. Really though, we saw nothing of the world in the ’80s. The show could’ve been retitled The Man Who Saw Things In A Newspaper And Remembers Them Vaguely.
The key phrase of the show was uttered by Davies when he said: “Perhaps I wasn’t so badly off in my boring, middle-class family in my boring, middle-class house after all.”
Next week – Alan remembers hearing about some rioting on the radio and thinking about how nasty it must be.