The Kemps

Rating 6.2
Streamer BBC iPlayer
Seasons 1
Episodes 1 x 60 mins

Sometimes a piece of telly comes along that leaves viewers pretty dumbfounded. And not necessarily in a good way. This week’s confuser is a “rockumentary” or maybe more accurately a “mock-rockumentary” about ageing popsters Martin and Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet, and no one’s quite sure what to make of it. But, amid the genre-bending, it sure is entertaining.

2018’s fly-on-the-wall documentary Bros: After the Screaming Stops was an unexpected hit for the BBC and now their attention has turned to Martin and Gary Kemp. The difference is that this time, the old rockers are in on the joke. For Stuart Jeffries  in The Guardian that’s the bit that doesn’t quite work: “The problem with the Kemps here was that, unlike the Goss bros, they had the last laugh. Too much celebrity culture is like this. One yearns for a simpler time when, as in the Bros documentary, hubristic doughnuts make idiots of themselves unwittingly.” But he does acknowledge “There were droll moments nonetheless.”

In the Evening Standard Alistair McKay is as unsure how successful this formula is. The Kemps “really are Eighties pop stars who did a bit of acting, and are now playing at being themselves, albeit with the ridicule turned up to 11.” He notes, “Pop-pickers who have been paying attention for several decades will note that this is the sort of nonsense that used to appear in Smash Hits. Then, as now, it was designed to puncture the pomposity of pop.” 

Anita Singh in The Telegraph however enjoyed herself. “They have produced a delicious spoof, sending up themselves, the celebrity world, and the sorts of films that involve… taking an artiste back to their childhood home to gaze at the spot where their outside lavatory once stood.” She thinks that “Crucially, the Kemps are actors with great comic timing, so could pull this off… It was so much fun that I could happily watch a whole series of it.”

First shown July 2020.

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