A totem of 1990s TV was re-erected tonight (12 June). The beer and Britpop-fuelled TFI Friday was a beacon of barely controlled chaos that ran from 1996 to 2000, a dream conjured up by Chris Evans and Danny Baker over at least several pints that changed the entire format of primetime entertainment shows, cemented Evans’ status as the flame-haired master of ceremonies of pre-millennial TV and then pretty much broke him too in a festival of hubris when he thought he could wag a day off from his Radio 1 Breakfast Show to devote more time to his telly work.
All this and the geezer out of Reef – lank-haired 70s rock revivalists who made their name and unimpeachable credibility by soundtracking a Sony MiniDisc advert – roaring throatily about “your letters!” Along the way, there was also Shaun Ryder swearing his nut off even when the prospect of a smart pair of Patrick Cox shoes was dangled in front of him, Denise Van Outen letting Evans peer down the back of her dress, Producer Will looking suspiciously like the lad at school who actually understood differentiation and a frankly unforeseeable renaissance for Sharleen Spiteri’s Texas. The ’90s, eh? Do we really want to go back?
Well, let’s see. Here are the best bits from tonight’s one-off. Has it done enough to warrant a full-blown return? Cue Ocean Colour Scene!
It’s only Blur
Speaking of ’90s throwbacks… An unexpected airing of ‘Coffee + TV’ was an early highlight of the night, although Evans didn’t seem to realise this was always Graham Coxon’s song, reckoning he was “taking over on vocals because Damon has a sore throat.” Coxon himself was keeping things in the 1996 spirit by borrowing Liam Gallagher’s old hair for the night, while Alex James was rivalling Producer Will in the ‘not aging a day’ stakes, although there’s a vague whiff of cheese around the margins.
Who are you? Well, Liam Gallagher and Roger Daltrey
A rock’n’roll meeting of minds, this. Or a rock’n’roll meeting of totally shot vocal cords, at the very least. Taking to the stage to perform a fantastically chaotic ‘My Generation’ was an almost unimaginable collection of stars. Liam Gallagher, Roger Daltrey, Zac Starkey and Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie were a great start but who was that sheee-ining under the lights? Only rock’s greatest hair-averse rhythm guitarist, Bonehead. The Oasis reunion is underway. A bit.
In a skit to prove Evans’ undimmed pulling power, the show cockily wheeled out Ricky Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Rita Ora, Nick Grimshaw and, er, Kirstie Allsopp for 10-second interviews before they all joined Years & Years on stage to dance like your aunt at a wedding to ‘Shine’. Fair play to Years & Years as well, who sustained the 1990s vibe by coming as Candy Flip.
Shaun Ryder sticking to a script
Back in the day, whether he was swearing about loafers or honking naughty words over ‘Pretty Vacant’ with Black Grape, Shaun Ryder was TFI Friday’s, if not Channel 4’s, favourite pantomime villain. But in 2015, he’s being good, and he hasn’t aged a… Oh. Anyway, in a brief interview, the reformed Ryder not only kept it clean but even managed to pull off a link. “You must have done some bad things, Chris,” he says with the seasoned, natural poise of a man who’s never seen an autocue in his life, before a seamless segue into 90s Evans ruining some poor kid’s life.
Running over by miles
It wouldn’t be TFI Friday if they didn’t get themselves into an unholy (and suspiciously deliberate) mess and run over by 20 minutes now, would it? You can’t help thinking they’d have kept it a bit tighter if Evans hadn’t spent half an hour talking to an almost supernaturally boring Lewis Hamilton, or didn’t keep cutting to adverts to push a TFI Friday album seemingly designed purely to give Shed Seven their first royalties since 2003, but that’s all part of the fun, isn’t it?