Regrettable Television: This Is Your Life, Gary Glitter

December 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

2012 will likely be remembered as the year that the late Jimmy Savile, a man who spent much of his life dressed uncannily like a shell-suited paedophile, was outed as just that.

As the news broke back in October, Sir Jimmy’s showbiz pals quickly denied ever really having known him. Suddenly, celebrities were unanimously agreeing that they’d always found him a bit strange—with his flesh-coloured raisin face and hair only a 1970s prog-rock band could love.

Meanwhile, on the set of This Morning, a flustered Michael Aspel insisted that he’d never hosted an episode of This Is Your Life honouring the cigar-smoking TV presenter.

“It was done,? he eventually conceded, as if him merely hosting such a show might be incriminating. “But I don’t think I did it.?

Well, Michael did do it. And what’s more, a quick Google search reveals that he also hosted an episode celebrating the once illustrious career of Paul Gadd, better known as Gary Glitter.

Originally broadcast in 1992, it exists now as startling documentation of just how popular the singer was before his arrest in ’97, and includes testimonials from Noddy Holder, 1985’s Paul Young and Tessa Dahl, daughter of Roald Dahl.

In one particularly unsettlingly moment from show, Tessa explains how she briefly lived with Gadd, during which time her sister would apparently pack the house full of schoolgirls, all of them desperate to “gaze at Glitter?.

It seems hard to believe given that Gary looks like a pirate Fred West, his vileness magnified with hindsight. Of course, the fact that he raises his index finger to his mouth when these presumably blind schoolgirls are mentioned doesn’t help matters either.

And if hearing him speak isn’t bad enough, we’re also subjected to a few musical performances, like his bafflingly incorrect rendition of Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes?—the words to which Glitter believes are: “One for the money, two for the money, three for the money.?

Afterwards, Gadd shares with us the story of the time he narrowly avoided being shot by Gene Vincent, who believed that Gadd had been messing around with his girlfriend. Once again, the incident surely raises the question: was the woman visually impaired or just very dim?

To put things in perspective: she decided not to stick with a rock and roll legend, but instead to neck on with the unconventionally tangoed face of Gary Glitter.

The mind boggles.

“Now all the rock and roll is on stage, not off stage,? Gary says, perhaps trying to avoid having to talk about his notorious money troubles.

They were down to owning a ten-bedroom house, he explains, and heating his outdoor swimming pool to sixty degrees in the winter. Aspel seems to suggest that Gary was eventually able to sort his life by doing a demeaning ad for Heinz lentil soup, which was probably the most publicly shameful thing Gary had done at the time.

At least it was until his final number of the show: a demonically shouty rendition of “I’m The Leader Of The Gang (I Am!)?. It’s somehow a suitable end to such a compellingly disconcerting programme: a terrifying snapshot of the man who, by his own admission, put the bang in gang. It’s enough to make you shudder.

However, it’s still not the strangest bit of television to be uploaded to YouTube. That achievement surely goes to this clip of Corey Feldman and Howard Stern from the same year. Evidentially, 1992 must have been a very odd time for telly.