Wednesday, 10 May 2017

678 Play at Home

First  viewed : 21  August  1984

Play  at  Home  was  another  Channel  Four  music  programme  which  invited  successful  bands  to  make  a  documentary  about  themselves, showing  how  they  went  about  their  business. No  disrespect  to  the  other  bands  involved  but  the  outstanding  draw was  the  second  programme  which  featured  New  Order, part  of  the  ongoing  thaw  in  their  public  presentation,  having  spent  the  four  years  since  the  tragic  demise  of  Joy  Division  eschewing  the  usual  media  channels, whether  through  a  desire  to  preserve  the  JD  mystique  or simply  to  avoid  answering endless  questions  about  the  suicide  of  Ian  Curtis.

The  programme  offered  a  first  opportunity  to  see  and  hear  the  four  musicians  talking  about  their  music  and  half-delivered  on  the  promise. It  did  feature  interviews  with  Bernie, Steve, Hooky  and  Gillian  except  they  were  asking  the  questions  of  the guys  behind   Factory  Records, the  real  subject  of  the  documentary. Joy  Division  aren't  mentioned  once  in  the  programme.

Poor  Gillian  Gilbert  drew  the  short  straw with  a  visit  to  chez  Wilson  where  she  had  to  climb  inside  the  bath  to  interview  the  great  man  in  his  birthday  suit. He  had  the  decency  to  cover  his  vitals   until  making  a  point  about  capitalism  when  he  needed  both  hands  to  gesticulate  and  all  was  revealed ,including  possibly  the  reason  Mrs  Wilson,ahem  "played  away " with  Howard  Devoto. Gilbert, a  reticent  personality  at  the  best  of  times, looked  nervous  and  embarrassed  throughout  as  well  she  might. She  later  had  a  more  comfortable  encounter  in  the  gym  with  Factory's  female  employees  Cath  Carroll  and  Liz  Naylor  ( and  looked  pretty  good  in  hot  pants ).

Steve  Morris  didn't  fare  much  better, being  saddled  with  an  off-his-face  Martin  Hannett  whose  entire  contribution to  the  programme  could  be  summarised  in  four  words : I  am  a  smackhead.

Peter  Hook  got  the  best  claim  for  posterity  with  a  very  rare  interview  with  the  elusive  Alan  Erasmus , posing  the  questions  while  giving  him  a  ride  on  his  motorbike  on  the  latter's  farm. Erasmus's  answers  left  you  absolutely  none  the  wiser  as  to  the  enduring  mystery  of  what  exactly  he  brought  to  the  party.  

Obviously  a  lot  of  water  has  passed  under  the  bridge  since  it  was  made  and  it's  hard  to  watch  it  now  without  the  weight  of  hindsight. Apart  from  Happy  Mondays'  antics , the  reasons  for  Factory's  eventual  demise  are  clear  enough  already  in  the  cavalier  attitude  to  contracts  and  economics. The  shortcomings  of  the  Hacienda  as  a  club  are  mercilessly  exposed  with  Factory's  own  people  lining  up  to  stick  the  boot  in, a  remarkable  bit  of  television.

I  must  admit  I  can't  recall  anything  about  the  other  programmes  in  the  series  which  featured  Big  Country  and  Level  42  amongst  others.



  1. I seem to remember Blackpool's version of Mark E Smith, Larry Cassidy of Section 25, asking Wilson "where's the money, Tony?" during the Hac scene.

    As for Erasmus, I imagine his initial equity to the party was them using his digs (pretty much round the corner from where I type this) as a HQ! Didn't this show also have a self-interview with the equally publicity-shy Rob Gretton?

    The XTC "Play at Home" was enjoyable, at least to this firm fan of their music.

  2. Thanks DC I wasn't sure who that guy was.
    That's correct re Gretton.