London, Nov. 3: The underpants may be artistic licence, but the Jagger swagger is not, as Tony Blair’s early ambitions to be a rock star are detailed in a documentary.
The Prime Minister is portrayed as a Mick Jagger wannabe, strutting his stuff in skin-tight satin trousers to the sounds: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.
Based on interviews with people close to Blair as a young man, the one-hour film tells the story of his thwarted journey to rock stardom. Channel 4 is calling it a “comedy” documentary, showing how politics’ gain turned out to be pop music’s appalling loss.
The programme begins during Blair’s final term at Fettes, the public school in Edinburgh, and ends with his first year at Oxford, where he became the lead singer of the band Ugly Rumours.
It was at Fettes that Blair, with his big, lippy smile, began to model himself on Jagger. The film portrays him as a fame-obsessed student who had no interest in politics but forever craved the limelight.
One satirical reconstruction shows the long-haired future politician, played by Christian Brassington, opening his three-quarter length sheepskin coat to reveal his 1970s-style Y-fronts. It is not clear if such an episode ever occurred.
“The underpants may be a touch of artistic licence,” said a Channel 4 spokesman. “But it is well-known that Tony Blair would imitate Mick Jagger.”
Programme makers have spoken to school friends, teachers and even some former groupies. The film will feature previously unseen photos of Blair, though none which show him in brown Y-fronts.
Danny Cohen, head of documentaries at Channel 4, said: “Tony Blair Rock Star uncovers a hidden but hugely revealing chapter in the Blair story, and provides rich ground for a gentle ribbing of the PM’s teenage ambitions.”
A lot of the things that motivated him then, even though his big passion was not politics at this point, were being centre stage and the centre of attention, performing.
“There is a quote from Blair which we show at the end of the comedy which is about three or four years old where he wonders whether it might have worked out.”
The programme is being hailed as one of the highlights of the channel’s winter season, along with a separate show exploring the perils and privileges of life as the Prime Minister’s spouse.
In the film, based on her book The Goldfish Bowl, Cherie Blair meets all her living predecessors. Filming takes place in her barristers’ chambers, and at 10 and 11 Downing Street, while she and the Prime Minister are filmed together on foreign trips to China and India.
Hamish Mykura, the commissioning editor, said: “It looks at how life is lived above the shop and the difficulty of waking up and finding briefing advisers at the end of the bed briefing your husband.
“It shows the odd blurring of lines between public and private space, of walking out of a kitchen and finding yourself in a public room.”