TV: Brian Pern: A Tribute, BBC4

As if the world has not been rocked enough by superstar deaths in the last twelve months it now transpires that another legend was lost. Brian Pern, lead singer of Thotch and passionate campaigner for mollusc safety, recently passed away following a tragic Segway accident. 

The BBC pays tribute to Pern in this documentary by Rhys Thomas OBE (self-proclaimed) in which stars from the world of music, current affairs and gardening line-up to sing his praises. I’ve a sneaking suspicion that some of the footage of unlikely Thotch fans might have been borrowed from other shows, but maybe it wasn't. Lest, we forget, Pern was a pivotal figure in the history of music – and politics. According to this documentary Tony Blair was in an embryonic Thotch line-up.

Or at least he would have been if Pern had existed. This, is, of course, a spoof documentary, brilliantly bringing us right up to date with Simon Day’s alter ego, part-Peter Gabriel with a little bit of Brian May in the mix too (and some Bowie too). For music buffs the clever, close-to-the-truth references will add extra laughs, but this will be hilarious for anyone who has ever chanced upon a quickly cobbled together programme about a dead celebrity. 

Thotch’s ageing lynchpins Tony Pebble (Nigel Havers) and Pat Quid (Paul Whitehouse) are also on hand to bicker about who was the last one to see Brian alive as they prepare for a benefit gig in aid of Segway Awareness at the Royal Albert Hall. And manager John Farrow (Michael Kitchen) gives Rhys Thomas OBE a reluctant interview having just given his best quotes to Scorcese, who is making a major Pern package for Netflix. 

Lucy Montgomery and Jane Asher play a couple of Pern’s wives, Christopher Eccleston reprises his turn as Pern’s gobby Mancunian producer, John Thomson plays his superfan and among the celebrities taking part who may - or may not – have been true Thotch fans are Phil Collins and David Baddiel (billed as Danny Dyer). The highlight is probably Peter Davison recalling Pern’s feeble acting on Dr Who. If the clip of him repeatedly telling the Doctor to drop his sonic screwdriver doesn’t make you rush out and buy the Thotch back catalogue nothing will.

Brian Pern: A Tribute is on catch-up here.

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