- Brian Donaldson
- 14 October 2020
True-ish stories of famous people meeting other famous people
It would be a continuing shame if the only thing people remember about Sky Arts' Urban Myths series is the cancelled episode in which Joseph Fiennes portrayed Michael Jackson. These 'true-ish' stories about famous people encountering other famous people or having a revelatory experience or rubbing up against the general public, have been enormously entertaining.
All of which to say, none of the four instalments that make up this new selection are likely to make it into anyone's Urban Myths Best Of line-up. As enjoyable as it is to see Robbie Coltrane being Orson Welles (though his caledonia burr means he can never quite nail the veteran director's luxuriant vocals), David Haig Baroque-ing up as George Frideric Handel, and Katherine Ryan playing her comedy icon Joan Rivers, their episodes fail to leave that much of an impression. Perhaps the Game of Thrones alumni John Bradley and Mark Addy playing the young and not-so-young Les Dawson borders on memorable, aided by that episode's writer Steve Pemberton shuffling on for a cameo as the northern comic's literary hero Jean Paul-Sartre.
While often putting famous people in unusual situations (a stranded Public Enemy being driven to a gig by a fan, and Diana disguising herself as male to hang out in gay clubs), the main recurring theme across Urban Myths' landscape has been the moment when a career-changing or life-altering drama occurs. So in the Hendrix and Handel episode, both conclude that it's time to be true to themselves (for Hendrix this means not duetting with Lulu nor constantly agreeing to perform 'Hey Joe') while Les Dawson drops his plans to become an author and instead concentrate on double-entendres and deliberately off-key piano playing.
Sky Arts, Wednesdays, 10pm; all episodes available on NOW TV.