Although you could argue the world doesn’t really need yet another documentary about The Beatles, the new six-part series McCartney 3, 2, 1 delivers a fresh angle on the band’s many achievements.
Taking the form of a three-hour geek-out between Paul and music producer Rick Rubin, the Disney+ series breaks apart about three dozen of his songs to their elemental forms and in doing so unlocks memories about their creation.
With Rubin manning the control desk and isolating certain parts of the songs – a bass track, a backing vocal, a guitar lick – McCartney seems to come alive, remembering the tiniest details about the songs.
Sometimes the look on his face suggests he can’t quite believe he helped make it.
McCartney has been interviewed so many times over the years, so there’s always going to be a feeling of deja vu about some of his stories. His anecdotes have been told and retold so many times that maybe even he can’t remember where the truth stops and the myth begins.
But what’s good about this set-up is how the music seems to draw out the distant memories, untainted by a lifetime of interviews.
During a dissection of While My Guitar Gently Weeps Little, Rubin points out the almost grungy-sounding bass layered under the jangly exterior and McCartney seems genuinely surprised that they came up with that.
The series is full of moments like that, when a song you’ve heard a million times before throws up something new and you can’t believe you’ve never noticed it before.
This warm-hearted celebration of music and creativity is probably best summed up by McCartney’s favourite quote from Mozart: “I write the notes that like each other.”
Back to school
If you’ve been missing Channel 4’s excellent fly-on-the-wall documentaries about schools (like Educating Yorkshire) the new series Sixteen: Class of 2021 captures some of that magic – but this time with a dose of Covid.
Not only were the cameras focused on the classrooms and corridors of Link Academy in Dudley they were also given to the Year 11 pupils so they could record what life was like during that incredibly disruptive year.
As with the Educating series, it’s frequently astonishing how open and honest the youngsters are in front of the cameras.
Maybe the producers cherry-pick the best, but all were a credit to their school and families.
TV pioneer finally gets her due
Watching Ruby Wax reminisce about her old TV series in When Ruby Met (BBC2) reminded me just how similar her style is to Louis Theroux’s.
I wonder if she bristles that Theroux took the baton of a format she pioneered back in the 90s and kind of left her in the dust? It’s a real shame, because there should have been space on television for both of them.
What this highlights show really rammed home was how good Ruby was at relaxing her guests.
With the exception of Donald Trump – who took against her almost the instant their eyes met – she had an unerring knack of charming the celebrities into submission (and in Carrie Fisher’s case, becoming one of her best friends in the process).
A fascinating look at late-night television
Even though the big stars of American late-night television aren’t exactly household names on these shores, there’s much to enjoy in The Story Of Late Night (Sky Documentaries).
This week’s episode lifted the lid on Johnny Carson’s three-decade reign at the Tonight Show and was filled with the kind of juicy gossip and behind the scenes tidbits that can only be made public when most of the main players are dead.
Film of the week: Pig (Available to rent or buy online)
Nicolas Cage has made so many bonkers films, that you could easily be forgiven for thinking that Pig is going to be weirdness for weirdness sake – particularly when you hear the premise.
Cage plays Rob Feld, a recluse living in the woods outside Portland who makes a living foraging for truffles with his beloved pig.
When the pig is kidnapped during a late-night raid on his cabin, Cage ventures into the city to find it and becomes sucked into the criminal underworld as well as the even more cutthroat world of restauranteurs.
What’s remarkable about Pig – one of the best films of the year – is how it doesn’t degenerate into a John Wick-style revenge film.
There’s an element of that at the start, but soon it’s forgotten about and transforms into an unexpectedly moving drama about ambition and loss.