UK, C4 (Hat Trick Productions), Satire, colour, 1999
Starring: Frank Harper, James Corden, Lee Williams
Nigel Gacey is a cockney wideboy who made a fortune in the 1980s by dealing in the stolen eggs of rare-birds. Now, in the 1990s, he has turned his hand to another get-rich-quick scheme - the invention and marketing of a boy-band.
Having found a singer-songwriter, Gareth, who has the prerequisite stature ('fat boy writes the music'), Gacey advertises in The Stage for wannabe pop stars and soon assembles the other members of the band - Scott (the cute one), Little Nicky (the even more cute one) and Jason (the other one). Scott is, in fact, the upper-class Giles Hornchurch, but Gacey forces him to change his name to the more boy-band-friendly Scott Le Tissier. Before they have even decided what to call themselves, they sign up with a record company and its executive Katie May picks the moniker Boyz Unlimited from a list of marketable band names.
At first, everything seems to go swimmingly but cracks soon appear. To his dismay, Gareth realises they are not going to use his songs but record cover versions. Nicky, 15, is unveiled as a rampant womaniser - his ex-headmistress Jean Allen, who supervises his on-the-road education, is carrying his baby. Jason is pursued by thugs seeking repayment of a £20,000 debt. Scott's parents are so unhappy with the Boyz Unlimited arrangement that his father goes on hunger strike. And Gacey's violent past is never far from the surface - his patience is sorely tested as the boys screw up most of the opportunities put their way. Worse, their fierce rivals, Boyz Limited, a band manufactured just before them, seem to be going from strength to strength.
This was a cynical and savage attack on the manufactured pop band culture of the 1990s. On the surface it could be seen as a one-joke wonder but Osman and his team managed to squeeze a good deal out of the slim premise. A minor hit.
Researched and written by Mark Lewisohn.
Number of episodes: 6
Length: 30 mins