Net­flix & Quill

Issy Samp­son on Al­most Never

The Guardian - The Guide - - Inside -

TThe re­cent Bros doc­u­men­tary, After the Scream­ing Stops, was an in­cred­i­bly em­bar­rass­ing, no-holds-barred look at when pop stars get delu­sional, in­se­cure, caught up in their own “legacy” and way too emo­tional in the dress­ing room be­fore a break­fast TV ap­pear­ance. It’s ba­si­cally the peak of pop fans’ ob­ses­sion with know­ing what their idols are like off­stage and be­hind the scenes. We’ve had tell-all doc­u­men­taries, from Katy Perry’s back­stage break­down over her mar­riage sec­onds be­fore go­ing on­stage in Brazil in Part of Me, to Lady Gaga cry­ing in pain in Five Foot Two. We’ve also had mock­u­men­taries, from Bieber send-up Pop­star: Never Stop Never Stop­ping, to David Wal­liams and Matt Lu­cas’s Rock Pro­file.

In the mid to late 00s, kids’ TV was weirdly ob­sessed with mak­ing pop bands play fic­tional ver­sions of them­selves. Long-for­got­ten boy­band North and South were formed – via an ad­vert on Tele­text – to ap­pear on a CBBC show, No Sweat, based loosely around the band’s lives, paving the way for the com­pletely bonkers Mi­ami 7. Based around S Club 7 work­ing in a US ho­tel (but also fea­tur­ing an episode where they find a time-trav­el­ling boat and meet Elvis), it launched Hannah Spear­ritt’s act­ing ca­reer and killed Jo O’Meara’s. But now that pop stars’ lives play out in se­cond-by-se­cond in­stal­ments on In­sta­gram Sto­ries, does TV ac­tu­ally need a pop band sit­com? The BBC thinks so, so please give a warm wel­come to Al­most Never (Tue, 5pm, CBBC). The show fol­lows the (fic­tional) story of a girl­band and a boy­band pit­ted against each other on a Pop­stars: The Ri­vals-style re­al­ity se­ries, The Spot­light. The girls – Girls Here First – win the show and shoot to fame. The lads – the Won­der­land – lose, One True Voice-style, and are left to go back to school after the evil Simon Cow­ell-like fig­ure (played by Ash­ley Roberts from the Pussy­cat Dolls, con­fus­ingly) fails to sign them.

Look: it’s aimed at 11-year-olds, so it might be hi­lar­i­ous and fresh to them, but we doubt it. Kids are smart, and if some­thing is lazy or de­riv­a­tive they’ll spot it. Girls Here First are ba­si­cally Lit­tle Mix, while the Won­der­land are meant to be One Di­rec­tion (but the re­sult is more Union J). The Harry Styles of the group is lit­er­ally called Harry. Lead singer Nathaniel is clearly meant to be 2010 Zayn Ma­lik, moody hair sweep and ev­ery­thing. Ev­ery mem­ber of the band is as­signed ex­actly one per­son­al­ity trait (hand­some; clever; so stupid he dyes his hair with gravy). The In­be­tween­ers’ Emily Atack is some­how now old enough to be play­ing the mum of a 16-year-old child.

And, oh God, the singing. Episode one has no less than three slightly off-pitch ver­sions of Shawn Men­des’ Stitches, and in episode two the band de­cide to cover some­thing “old school”. After Nathaniel re­solves to “check out my vinyl for some in­spi­ra­tion”, a con­clu­sion is reached: the cover will be the old-school clas­sic Moves Like Jag­ger by Ma­roon 5.

Look, we’re sorry Al­most Never, but it’s a no from us. Please thank us for the op­por­tu­nity and Der­mot O’Leary will give you a big fake hug on the way out as you cry for the cam­era.

‘The band de­cide to cover some­thing “old school” – Moves Like Jag­ger by Ma­roon 5’

Al­most Never again, please: the Won­der­land

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