The Take That reunion was one of the cruellest occurences in pop music history. Because it worked so spectacularly it had the unfortunate side effect of making every other boy band think they too might have a second shot. 5ive got back together, even though there were only 4our of them, but then had to announce "with deep regret that their comeback is no more", which was something of a pop first. Last night Channel 4 showed their film of the no less abortive reunion of East 17.
This had the makings of quite a good Mike Leigh film. They all still lived in Walthamstow. One of them worked as a roofer to support his young family. Tony Mortimer, who had written their hits, lived in a half timbered executive home and had money in the bank. He's been through depression, anorexia and spirituality. My old colleague Alex Kadis popped up to vouch for what a difficult time he'd been through. Brian Harvey, who had hogged the limelight in their glory days, lived with his gran and bounced off the walls like a man who would never be able to settle into normal life again.
There was a reunion show, which went quite well. There was a skin-crawling meeting at the record company to listen to "the new songs" (though Warners were clearly only interested in putting some topping on a Greatest Hits). There was a new manager making optimistic noises intercut with an old manager warning it would never work. The final expression of musical and personal differences came in the form of a punch-up which took place off-camera. And at the end the three members who needed the money were playing discos in Essex with their backing tracks on an iPod while the one who fancied himself as the Brian Wilson of the group was sitting in his gazebo staring into the space where the ocean ought to be.