Director: Rhys Thomas
Screenplay: Simon Day and Rhys Thomas
Starring: Simon Day, Michael Kitchen, Nigel Havers, Paul Whitehouse
Duration: 250 min
BBFC Certification: 15
Brian Pern needs no introduction, as frontman of innovative and seminal progressive rock group, Thotch, and later as a solo artist, he has been entertaining millions of fans across the globe for 45 years. He created world music, was the first person to use plasticine in a music video and the first rock star with a leaked sex tape that no one wanted to watch.
Except none of the above is true. Brian is the creation of Rhys Thomas and Simon Day (who also plays Pern) and stars in one of the funniest comedies the BBC has produced in years. In fact, Brian and Thotch are thinly veiled caricatures of Peter Gabriel and Genesis. He performs on stage dressed as a flower, employs bone flute players and even begs Kate Bush to go out with him via a Swap Shop phone in.
Series 1 is titled The Life of Rock with Brian Pern and sees him taking us through the history of rock music, including his days with Thotch. As with all rockumentaries, there are plenty of celebrity talking heads including Queen’s Roger Taylor, Jools Holland, Rick Wakeman and Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer in character as folk singers Mulligan and O’Hare. Even Noel Edmunds gets in on the act, telling an hilarious story of how he flew Phil Collins from Wembley to Philadelphia so he could play on both the UK and US stages of Live Aid. Brian’s ex-bandmates in Thotch are played by Paul Whitehouse as the pompous Pat Quid, and Nigel Havers as uber-randy Tony Pebble (pronounced Peb-lay). Havers plays against type, so much so that he even utters the C word!
Series 2, Brian Pern: A Life In Rock sees him and his estranged bandmates try to bring their story to the West End with the jukebox musical, Stowe Boys. Directed by Kathy Burke, who is “doing it for the money”, the show stars Jack Whitehall as Tony Pebble and Martin Freeman as Brian, who refuses to shave off his beard as he’s filming a BBC Chas N Dave biopic (he’s playing both of them). Other highlights include Brian staging a production of his first unheard solo album, a musical version of Day Of The Triffids.
Finally, the third series (and hopefully not the last) is 45 Years Of Prog and Roll, seeing Brian attend a Thotch fan-cruise and lose his long time manager, John Farrow (played with foul mouthed glee by Michael Kitchen).
Brian Pern is pure comedy gold, especially for efficiandos of 70s rock music. Now am I the only one who wants Thotch to release an album for real?
Dazzler Media is distributing Brian Pern: The Complete Series 1 – 3 on DVD and Blu-Ray. I reviewed the DVD and the set of extras on the discs include:
Highlights from the BBC Web Series
Bonus and deleted scenes
Brian Pern at the BBC – An Exclusive Episode