Britain has a long-standing love affair with eccentrics, and we are seemingly unable to resist the kooky charms of peculiar people. But before there was Noel Fielding, Matt Lucas and Grayson Perry, there was Ivor Cutler, the Scottish poet-cum-singer-cum-character who revelled in the ridiculous. And after the year we’ve had, we at Must TV think we’re well overdue a bit of enjoyable nonsense.
It really doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard of Ivor Cutler before – this Sky Arts show is an hour-long celebration of the silly, of being unapologetically yourself, even if people might think you’re a bit bonkers. Despite being a love letter from super-fan KT to Ivor, the documentary isn’t all sunshine and rainbows – on her journey, KT chats with the artist’s son, Dan, who tells how having a famously funky dad isn’t all that. We can also see that Cutler struggled with episodes of depression, and seemingly felt un-loved by his mother. But despite these darker additions it remains an overwhelmingly positive watch. Ultimately, it reminds us all that it’s very ok to be a bit barmy.
James Jackson in The Times said the programme was “a more universal film than it sounded,” and that watching it “may have reminded some viewers of a feeling they had forgotten since their freer student years — to embrace your individuality in its quirks and not be a boring conformist.” The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan also enjoyed this homage to Cutler, commenting that Tunstall “is there to serve us as much Ivor Cutler as she can,” but “leaves you to draw your own conclusions.”
First shown October 2020.