Tv Review: The Kemps: All True

the kemps all true indexRhys Thomas is the man behind some of my favourite comedy of the last couple of years, including the annual mockery of the previous 365 days that is “A Year in the Life of a Year”, while he also created the fake rock star Brian Pern who has starred in a number of BBC tv series. All of which makes him the perfect individual to produce this hour long scripted mockumentary that tells the tale of Martin and Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet fame, one which is an inspired mixture of the history of the two brothers and what they’re supposedly getting up to today.

It’s a programme which is packed with some insightful satire of this sort of documentary, including beautifully knowing lines like “This is the very first time they’ve been back to their childhood home since their last documentary three years ago”, while there was also a slightly storyline as the boys are allegedly also putting together an album of their favourite artists covering their old songs, including Sia, Coldplay, George Capaldi and Peter Capaldi, which they hope will thrust them back in to the public eye once again.

If this isn’t right up there with the very best comedy the year has to offer us I’d be amazed, and it’d suggest that the second half of 2020 is somehow going to be miraculously packed with hilarious series as both Martin and Gary were more than happy to send themselves up in a number of sublimely ridiculous ways. Like Brian Pern and A Year In The Life Of A Year it contains a mixture of talking head interviews, sketches and archive footage, some of which had been manipulated or the context changed to make it extremely funny, Thomas is an old hand at doing this now and absolutely superb at it too.

Due to the above that meant seeing a very young Gary and Martin in the Doctor Who episode “Menopause of the Autons” (“They treated us like cunts really”), and though Gary actually appeared in a Children’s Film Foundation film (they were the Pixar of its day, don’t you know) called Hide and Seek it wasn’t one where Ken Russell inserted a sod load of nudity. And once again while Piers Morgan did interview Martin it didn’t lead to a question about how he has five kidneys while Gary only has one, and footage from Martin’s time on Eastenders now contained some truly gory scenes indeed, with each and every part leading to much laughter.

Despite loving the above it was the snippets from their supposed actual lives which were the funniest part of the show however, from the idea that Martin married pop stars Pepsi and Shirlie at the same time to a great recurring gag about Gary’s impeccable memory. Also pretty damn stunning was a cast reading of Martin’s movie The Hardest British Bastards In The Galaxy featuring Christopher Eccleston, Daniel Mays (who’s doing Turner and Hooch at The National apparently) and Alan Ford, as were appearances from Sia (Lucy Montgomery) and the majestic Tony Way as Rag’n’Bone Man (who has various washing detergent on his rider), plus we also got to hear about Martin robbing a Woolworths pick and mix with a sawn off shotgun, while Ross Kemp (not that one) amused throughout too, and that’s only a small sample of the hilarious moments found within the show.

This really was delightfully ridiculous and gloriously funny material, both of the Kemps were on fantastic form and Thomas assembled a superb supporting cast too, all of whom made this exceptional material consistently hilarious. My only complaint is that it wasn’t half an hour longer and released at the cinema as then it would all but certainly have been the funniest film of the year and made hundreds of millions, and we might have got Martin’s shared gangster cinematic universe after all.


Alex Finch.
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If you’re based in the UK you can watch The Kemps: All True on BBC iPlayer right now.

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