Before he “made his name” with the award winning and much lauded Skins in 2007, Scottish TV producer and writer Bryan Elsley was the mastermind behind a much forgotten six part serial released in 1998; The Young Person’s Guide to Becoming a Rock Star. With it being Nineties November at TNC, this show ticks all the boxes for a 90’s nostalgia-fest.
Presenting a satirical take on the mass commercialisation of the 90’s music industry, it follows Scottish band Jocks-Wa-Hey as they attempt to hit the big time in the cutthroat music industry while overcoming multiple obstacles along the way, including an ever increasing “debt-o-meter”.
Narrated and presented from the perspective of lead singer Jez McAllister, the six half hour episodes deal with different steps along the path to becoming a rock star. With a rag-tag band comprising of bass player Pyscho, who is as timid as a mouse; drummer Wullie “Bigot” MacBoyne; ball-busting Joe Nardone as the aggressive lead guitarist; and level headed Fiona Johnstone on keys, who also happens to be Jez’s welfare officer.
The serial is littered with cameos from iconic musicians and 90’s celebrities, such as Noel Gallagher, Chrissie Hynde, Jay Kay, Denise Van Outen, Sara Cox and even Keith Chegwin and Timmy Mallet, while original Marillion front man, Fish, and Keith Allan play roles. It is also notable for an early appearance by now Hollywood “A” lister Gerard Butler as Marty Claymore, the lead singer of the fictitious band “Bonk, Bon, Bonk”.
A witty script littered with parody and satire, the great strength of The Young Person’s Guide to Becoming a Rock Star is it never takes itself seriously, resulting in an engaging and fun adventure that in all likelihood probably contains more accurate observations about the music industry than fantasies. Add to that a fantastic soundtrack, vibrant styling and solid performances from the ensemble cast and it was rightly well received upon it release.
It’s only failing is it bore fruit to yet another horrific American remake of an iconic British TV show in 2002, cancelled after only five of a planned 13 episodes had aired.
Despite coming up on 200years old, the show still looks as fresh and relevant, and still works as a piece of satire on the music industry. It provides a perfect snapshot of the 90’s heyday with every aspect of the show being ingrained with the DNA of the decade.
With genuine laugh out loud moments, its arguably one of Scotland’s most under-appreciated gifts to the world. While it may not translate as well overseas, broad Scots accents and the like, it is still an enjoyable serial that in today’s binge-obsessed world is not only a walk in the park, but a treat.
If you have never seen it, I can’t recommend it enough. And if you have, its most definitely worth a second (or third, or fourth, or tenth) viewing!
I will leave you with a little taste…