The Making of A Film Idol Review

To the dedicated and before having any competition from the likes of Television X, Spice and Babecast, The Adult Channel would offer the occasional unencrypted treat. If you were to hang in there until after the ten-minute freeview, they might reward you with the televised search for Britain's greatest Wet T-shirt Dancer, a show that appeared to tour exactly the same northern nightclubs as did The Hit Man And Her. Without, that is, Michaela Strachan, a man in a spiky white frightwig, much, "Be'ave!" and some of Stock Aitken and Waterman's offcuts but with beer, leering men and women in T-shirts having buckets of water poured over them. It was a wonderfully tacky affair that must have cost all of £5.68 to produce and other than the memories of the naked breasts, clearly left a germ of an idea with self-styled film producer Clinton Montague, which he would later employ in the casting of The Guv'nor.

Indeed, it's probably those exact same clubs that Montague tours for The Guv'nor, a film adapted from a book based on the life of East End hardman Lenny McLean. As he bills it, he's offering 86 roles to 80,000 hopefuls, hiring unknowns to star in roles that could be the making of them. Or, as has subsequently happened, to frequently look very silly in a documentary about this search for a film idol, not least those who believe themselves born for a part no matter that said part is a cockney gangster with a hard-as-nails reputation and the hopefuls are five-foot-five, appear to be suffering from some kind of muscle-wasting disease and can no more speak with a cockney accent than they can Mandarin. It's hardly a winning idea, not least when the search for a star seems to involve them arriving at a nightclub, handing out flyers to those that are there and hoping that they return the next day to audition for the roles in the film. Of course, as Patrick Barber of, who's one of the partners in the venture, works out late in the tour, surely everyone who was in the club on the Saturday night will be too hungover the next afternoon to bother getting up to audition in a film. Which might explain how the producer of the film, Clinton Montague, finds himself of a Sunday afternoon standing in nightclubs that stink of tobacco, stale beer and the lingering smell of aggression welcoming a trickle of ambitious children, ex-boxers and housewives to find those who'll play Lenny McLean, his children and Bill The Shoe Shop Owner.

Of course, it doesn't work out as Clinton and Patrick might hope. Nightclubs remain closed on Sundays, leaving Clinton to explain to the very-much-less-than-80,000-hopefuls why they can't audition for The Guv'nor. Patrick goes missing as does the money that Clinton had promised everyone was in the bank and with some of the crew walking and the remainder sharing rooms in Travelodges, The Making Of A Film Idol documents a sorry tale of ambition that has nothing approaching the means to realise it. That, however, is only a small part of the story. Narrating the film from a script by Gemma Grey is Richard E Grant and by Grey' acerbic tone and careful selection of available footage, what Falcon Film Productions have released is a marvelously funny film that clearly had a wealth of embarrassing moments to choose in its compiling of a ninety-eight minute film. Be it the conflict between Clinton and Patrick - the latter keeps his silence until the very end when he happily describes Clinton as a wanker - the long line of hopefuls who can no more act than they can raise the dead or the hopeless the tour gets into, The Making Of A Film Idol is good fun throughout. And, of course, there are very many women and men who do exactly what you'd expect them to do when a camera is pointed their way, being that they expose either their breasts or their arse.

Happily, Clinton Montague allows all of this to be recorded, even when the irony in a not-very-hard-man making a film about a very-hard-man is revealed with him having to avail of the services of a bouncer when an unhappy boyfriend of a girl he's just frisked approaches him. However, when said boyfriend says, "Take your fuckin' fly team n' fuck off out of this club now!", Clinton goes looking for security. A shame, as other that being very fat, ginger and having less muscle in his body than the average crab, he might have done well in the part of Lenny McLean.

But the star of the film is Nathan Merry, otherwise known as Cream and who bills himself as the country's greatest warm-up man. Early on in the film, you'll think that being a warm-up man involves doing very little than waving your hands a lot, shouting and having very little shame. And you'd be right but it's not until later on in the film that this becomes evident. When checking into his room in a Travelodge, he happily announces that this is where he'll be shagging later. The subtitle that pops up on the screen lets us know the truth of the matter. At an r'n'b night, he talks of being part of the Bad Boy family, of rapping with P Diddy and of recording with Ja Rule and Busta Rhymes and in spite of telling us that he shagged over 100 women on the tour, we only ever see him grapple with intoxicated ones in the nightclubs with a seduction technique that involves pulling down their bikini tops, sticking a bottle of water in between their breasts and spilling it over them in the manner of a cumshot. As a final touch, he up-ends her again and throws some in her crotch. Later, when Patrick shows Cream how to send phone messages to himself, he suddenly begins to receive a lot of texts from Holly Valance and other international models and singers. And all along, taxi driver Pete asks him about these texts with a nod and a wink towards the camera. "He's still a tosser!" is what Pete has to say when he pays off a girl with £20 whose bikini top is ripped open by Cream. He's not wrong either.

There's also much to enjoy with Neil the boom mike operator who in spite of not getting paid, thinking the whole thing a shambles and clearly not liking anybody involved with The Guv'nor sticks around. Obviously, there is too much to laugh at whilst he remains with the enterprise and he never passes up an opportunity to mock the proceedings. And that's largely due to the sneering narration by Grant and writer Grey. Of course, the stars of the film, being the producers, hopefuls and passing punters in nightclubs, happily insert the knife they've been given but the tone of The Making Of A Film Idol gives it a final twist. The best of this is in the film's final scenes when the truth about Cream is revealed, what happened thereafter - look up the IMDB to see if The Guv'nor was ever produced - and how the Clinton and Patrick are no longer talking. There's very little that's surprising except for, apparently, that felt by Patrick Swayze at seeing what Cream now does for a living.


Unfortunately, The Making Of A Film Idol doesn't look or sound all that impressive, being taped onto video and often taking place on the streets outside nightclubs and then in the poorly lit and booming dancefloors and bars within. You'll be straining to hear much of what's said but, then again, so it is if you go to these places. Moreso if you're like me and want for nothing more than a seat, a (quiet) jukebox, a nice pint and a good selection of whiskies. Again, even the quieter auditions the next day aren't handled particularly well with the empty nightclubs not conducive to picking up what's being said between Clinton and his hopefuls but in both cases much fault can be laid at the clubs rather than the filmmakers. Of course, being a documentary that's following around a team of people making a movie who very quickly run out of money, this was never going to be an extravagant enterprise so while you won't be impressed by this if watching it on a big screen, on a smaller box it looks and sounds fine. However, it isn't very much different from hastily-shot job that the BBC, other than in an undercover feature, would probably turn their nose up at. Subtitles would have been good throughout as one tends to miss what's being said and while they're used intermittently in nightclubs and to contradict the nonsense said by Cream, they'd have been better had they been available.


There are no extras on this DVD.

7 out of 10
5 out of 10
5 out of 10
0 out of 10


out of 10

Latest Articles