The Story Of The Noughties – Growing Young Review

January 5, 2010 by  
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5NoughtiesHISTORY OF NOW: THE STORY OF THE NOUGHTIES – GROWING YOUNG Tuesday 5th January, BBC2, 9pm ALERT ME

At the end of every year, there are retrospective shows – The Best Singles Of The Decade, Most Shocking Moments of 2009, The Decade’s Best Tea Cosies…

Most of these are total wastes of time, which you can watch while half-heartedly slumped on the sofa, bemoaning your Christmas excesses and yuletide extravagances.

They’re usually full of talking head commentary which is designed to bulk out the show while saying nothing more insightful than “remember that, that was wicked?. And they’re usually populated by people whose opinion you couldn’t give a toss about anyway (Paul Ross inevitably).

The Story Of The Noughties is an entirely different kettle of retrospective fish. It’s narrated by the cheery voice of Robert Webb (a bit distracting because in your mind’s ear you associate him with Peep Show and you keep expecting him to say something inappropriate).

It has a plethora of celebrity talking heads but ones who have brains in their heads (Will Self, Andrew Marr) but also university professors and experts in their fields. This puts it leagues above the kind of dribbling “oh yeah, remember when Kylie got her bum out? That was mental? guff that you usually get.

Part one examines the Noughties as the decade when Britain was significantly split by age, where generation gaps have widened more than ever before. “Everybody wanted to be young, but the only people that could afford the lifestyle of the young were the old.?

Apparently most of the expenditure on toys was no longer for children but actually for adults. It was the decade of video gaming and gadgetry, of iPods and Micro Scooters. Even politicians were trying to get in on the act; whether it was David Cameron bragging about his iPod playlist or Gordon Brown professing a love of the Arctic Monkeys – they all wanted to seem young.

In some ways this is no surprise. Men are just overgrown boys, endlessly fascinated by things that go whizz and secretly hoping that one day we’ll be James Bond. But the Noughties was the decade when this became acceptable, where being a perpetual teenager (or Kidult, to use the nauseating buzzword) was the norm.

If men were busy with their Xboxes, women were undergoing a cultural riptide of “Middle Youth?, where older women were desperate to look young, more so than ever, fuelled by the rise of botox.

There’s also the revelation that Britain is physically dividing by age – more retirement villages, the old moving to the suburbs, the young colonising London and city centres. And with this came the demonization of youth – Alcopops, ASBOs, the media’s creation of so called “feral youths? and hoodies.

It’s a fascinating and in depth programme which makes you think about the decade in a whole new way – in far too many ways to discuss here – insights which make you see genuine cultural trends and recognise them in your everyday life. And there’s no Paul Ross in sight.