‘Better Man’: eight classic stories the Robbie Williams biopic should include

From first class sharts to UFO-hunting with Jon Ronson

To quote Brenda from Bristol – a frequently-memed woman interviewed shortly after the UK’s 2017 snap election was announced – ”you’re joking, not another one!” From Madonna’s forthcoming self-directed effort to recent box offices successes like the Queen movie Bohemian Rhapsody, screens are awash with musical biopics. The latest addition to the form: a Robbie Williams film by The Greatest Showman director Michael Gracey.

Tentatively titled Better Man – a song from his 2000 album ‘Sing When You’re Winning’ – the film will look at Robbie Williams’ rapid rise to fame, first with Take That, and then as a hugely successful solo artist. Here are a few slightly more niche Robbie moments we’d like to see included.

When he serenaded his wife during labour

Taking the leading mantra of ‘Let Me Entertain You’ far too literally, Robbie once serenaded his wife Ayda Field as she gave birth to their second child. Possibly the strangest surprise gig of all time. “Babe can you stop singing Frozen,” Ayda growls at one point with admirable levels of patience – elsewhere, the “concert” featured a rendition of his own song ‘Candy’ with matching choreography, and a costume change (Robbie was worried his wife’s waters would break onto his fancy dressing gown, god forbid). That’s one way to try and boost morale…

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Who should play him… Saturday Night Fever-era John Travolta

All rise for Reverend Robbie

Long before Fleabag’s ‘Hot Priest’ captured the lustful minds of the nation, Robbie Williams was a man of the cloth. At first, it was quite confusing when Rob was spotted wandering around a New York hotel wearing a vicar’s dog-collar in 2012 (“I’m training to be a priest,” he told onlookers) but it turns out he was being – kind of – serious. After signing up online to become a minister of Los Angeles’ Universal Ministries, he ordained his best mate’s wedding.

Who should play him… Fleabag‘s Andrew Scott, obviously

The near-death experience

Every biopic worth its salt needs a dramatic arc, and really, what could be more perilous than accidentally giving yourself a mercury overdose by eating too much fish? “I literally won the mercury award,” Robbie quipped after a doctor informed him that his twice-daily fish suppers were causing potentially fatal poisoning. Quite understandably, he went vegan shortly afterwards.

Who should play him… Fellow seafood enthusiast Rick Stein

The two-finger silencer

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Another dicey moment in the life and times of Robbie Williams – this mid-air disaster of horrifying proportions. During flights, the singer sometimes grapples with gas – he’s only human, after all – and has developed his own method for muffling any audible farts. “I have a sort of “two-finger silencer” where I just pull the cheek,” he cheerfully revealed on Alfie Deyes’ The Secret’s Out podcast. Unfortunately Robbie’s ‘silent assassin’ method isn’t foolproof, and once resulted in the singer accidentally following through and subsequently shitting on his own hand. Apologies if you’re eating your lunch.

Who should play him… Pierce Brosnan as James Bond as Robbie Williams

Maureen the fake undercover cleaner

So risqué all evidence was later erased by the BBC, Robbie Williams once told Graham Norton a bizarre story about an encounter in a rented castle. “There was a lady at the bottom of the bed… and she’d got this headset on, with Sellotape on, and a lead that went down to a cassette player,” he said – at the time, he assumed that she was a cleaner, but in hindsight, she was probably listening to his music. One thing led to another, and look, there’s no way to word this poetically – she wanked him off. Later it emerged that the castle didn’t employ any cleaners at all, and in fact a woman named Maureen had been bragging about her famous conquest down the pub for years

Who should play him… Daniel Radcliffe – the only fellow guest on the Graham Norton show who didn’t wince with disgust.

The chequered acting career

“I am really interested in acting and hope to go to drama school,” a baby-faced Robbie Williams once told Stoke-on-Trent regional paper The Sentinel – when he was 14, the star played pickpocketing expert the Artful Dodger in a local production of Oliver! Though joining boyband Take That ended up distracting young Robbie from his theatrical aspirations, he’s had a few cracks since. A year after leaving Take That, Robbie and his flat cap made a 1995 cameo in EastEnders – starring as an extra using the cafe’s payphone. An Oscar-winning moment.

Who should play him… Robbie Williams, playing himself

The Oasis feud

It’s a sad fact that most celebrity ‘beef’ is actually quite dull – a string of vague digs in interviews, unfollowing on social media, and occasional name-calling. A notable exception to this rule is Robbie’s tiff with Oasis. Initially, relations between Robbie and the Gallagher brothers were rosy – Robbie joined Oasis onstage at Glastonbury in 1995 before accompanying them on a well-storied night out on Worthy Farm. But soon, the blossoming friendship soured with Robbie challenging Liam to a fight at the 2000 BRIT Awards – and after selling out three nights at Knebworth, he sent Noel Gallagher (with a paltry two Knebworth shows to his name) a pair of tap-dancing shoes. They’ve since made up, but it beats most other rivalries for entertainment value.

Who should play him… Liam Gallagher

The UFO-hunting phase

Forget about the biopic for a second – who wouldn’t want to watch a full-length feature film following Robbie Williams’ career as a UFO hunter instead? After playing a run of 59 stadium shows in 2006, Robbie disappeared from the public eye, grew an impressive beard and later headed to Nevada with the journalist Jon Ronson to look for evidence of extraterrestrial life. He also bought a house in a crop-circle hotspot once, and claims to have seen a UFO. While completely sober, no less.

Who should play him… X Files legend Gillian Anderson

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