It was the old soldiers who made the programme. No matter how much fun it is to hear famous people say lovely things about our Vera Lynn on the occasion of her 100th birthday (Wow!), it was the men who fought in WWII, and who are still with us, like Vera, who started the waterworks, both on me and on themselves.
Hearing Vera discuss the past with her daughter was almost like hearing any mother and daughter pair hark back in time. And that’s good in itself, as it proves how normal she still manages to be. Dame and the forces’ sweetheart she may be, but deep down Vera Lynn comes across like that aunt from east London I never had.
The music specialists had much nice to say, as did those famous people dug up to talk. Odd in a way to have Paul McCartney sit there as though he personally remembered listening to Vera on the radio during the war. Maybe he did.
But as I said, the old soldiers, reminiscing about hearing Vera live somewhere in Burma, or on the radio, and crying at the memories; that’s what made this programme. Telling their own stories, and singing along to We’ll Meet Again, before finally wishing their star a happy 100th. There’s not many of them left.
(Photo © BBC)
There’s a reason I don’t often watch ‘entertainment’ on ITV. Films and the odd series; yes. But music and other stuff; very rarely. I suffered a bout of hopefulness on Saturday afternoon, so decided to watch the Audience with Neil Diamond yesterday evening. I used to like Neil quite a bit. Seeing as I actually bought a number of singles and LPs back at the beginning of time, when I was young and poor, should be an indication that I really did like him.
So, it could be nice to hear him sing on television, couldn’t it? Even if it was a repeat. But nine songs in one hour! Plus an awful lot of awful advertisements for corn, non-smelly toilets and ice cream. And a really tasteless watch.
I cringed. But I stayed. Mainly out of curiosity, because I wanted to see quite how bad it could get. So, they invite celebrities to sit in the audience. Eastenders and such like, and the fact that Judi Dench was there is an indication of the importance of Neil Diamond. Germaine Greer smiled in a strained sort of way. Tim Rice even allowed himself to be one of the questioners. The questions were vaguely interesting. But I’d rather have had them in a chat show.
How do you get a roomful of celebrities to come and fake standing ovations and impromptu cheering and clapping and things? And how do you get your performer to put up with it? I’d prefer to think of Neil as someone who doesn’t take the fawning for granted. Maybe they all get to meet at a party afterwards, for mutual fame admiration?
Nine songs. Some were disappointing, but perhaps only because I didn’t know them. I felt that Neil’s great voice had gone, though it re-appeared briefly in Cracklin’ Rosie, and in Sweet Caroline. But that’s only two songs.