82. Romantic

Tapehead no 82

“How were the eighties for you ?” purrs Peter York at the start of Peter York’s Eighties. “Fun, love, and money all the way ?”

As his fondness for talking about something as shallow and pointless as the eighties suggest, Peter York seems to have had some sort of intelligence bypass for this, the stupidest of programmes about the most stupid of decades.

“I had the most absurd Eighties job possible,” he boasts, sounding unerringly like a bad David Frost impersonator.

Well, he said it.

Here, strangely – sadly – York comes over equally absurdly: smugly pontificating some half-though-out connection between the two sets of eighties “pioneers” (clandestine right-wing Tory think tanks and the “posers ” of club-land like Rusty Egan).

From the inclusion of Chris Tame of the Libertarian Alliance, we can presumably conclude that libertarianism included the freedom to wear ruffle and sing like Tony Hadley.

York’s (tenuous) link is that both sides were the same class, with the same dislike of class.

“You’re living on a council estate, you don’t really want to sing about a  council estate,” Gary declares sagely, which probably goes to explain the difference is sales between Gary Kemp’s solo albums and, say, Ice Cube’s.

Everyone in the scene is still telling each other how great they all were, with Robert Elms justifying their pointless posing as “a refusal that life had to be grotty” – as if you could only do this be wearing plus-fours.

Luckily, York stabs Elms in the back by including legendary footage of Elms on stage announcing, “Listen to the portrait of the dance of perfection: The Spandau Ballet” – one of the great comedy moments of the decade.

York patronises Marilyn, fawns to Steve Strange, and even implies that Bowie plagiarised them – despite them all prancing round in Young Americans haircuts and Station To Station sailor suits.

Ultimately, the whole scene produced nothing of enduring significance. Those of us not featured in this programme will thank York for reminding us jus how pointless this crowd were, and for coming up with some fresh ammunition.

Like the Spandau crowd, Paul Verhoeven ignores any criticisms of his films by suggesting they were too just far ahead of their time or too “real.”

Omnibus looks at Verhoeven’s extraordinary career – from a Dutch kids’ series to Basic Instinct and the preposterous Showgirls.

Hs parents wanted him to be a professor of mathematics (which I felt was a good idea) before his early, sexually explicit, films like Turkish Delight established his notoriety. His film Spetters even inspired an anti-Spetters Association.

What he wanted to make was science fiction, musicals – |Films you couldn’t make in Holland. Even thrillers don’t work in Holland, because life is so non-dramatic.”

When he was offered Robocop (which he describes as “an American Christ”), he turned it down, but was asked to “re-read it and look at the sub-text.”

This means, “get your wife to read it”. The moral being that behind every sick man there is always a good woman.

Verhoeven’s wife Martine has a lot to answer for.

The subject of Traces Of Guilt is like a mix of one of Verhoeven’s sickos and a Peter Yorkie Bar TV smoothie.

A Stranger Murder looks at the case of Jack Unterweger – “reformed” Austrian prisoner/poet and “the worlds’ first international serial killer.”

Unterweger was suspected of strangling prostitutes in Austria, Czechoslovakia and LA, though the case contained no physical evidence, no motive or alibi.

With a combination of naff reconstructions and a disquieting sense of creepy coincidence, the programme contrasts new FBI methods on “stranger” cases, with the old-school police work of a retire detective.

A former LA Vice cop explains: “Most of the street girls are friendly.” (Boy, are they friendly.)

All the victims bore the signs of Unterweger’s individual “crime signature”, but an idea of how he continued for so long can be found in hapless Viennese detective Ernst Geiger, whose accent would put Elmer Fudd to shame.

Besides talking about “ser-wee-al-killers” and “st-wang-lers”, he surmises: “at this time, Jack was in poison.”

In retrospect, as malapropisms go, this tune out to be a fairly fitting mistake.


Peter York’s Eighties: 9.30pm, Sat, BBC2

Omnibus: 10.35pm, Sun, BBC1

Traces of Guilt: 9pm, Thu, BBC2