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8 February 2006
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Jarvis Cocker from Pulp

Documentaries & Arts:
The Story of...
Pulp's Common People


Tue 14 Feb at 23:00 on BBC Four
Wed 15 Feb at 03:10 on BBC Four

After the dust settled on the 90s Britpop phenomenon, one song stood head and shoulders above all others penned at the time...

That song was Common People, and it was written by Sheffield anti-popstar Jarvis Cocker.

The Story of Common People takes a forensic look at the seminal track, and attempts to shed light on its inspiration, its lyrics, and the man who wrote them.

What was it about that girl from Greece "with a thirst for knowledge" and that place (St. Martin's Art College in London) that irritated Jarvis so much? Is the song a reflection of Jarvis's own experiences of people who thought that "poor is cool", or a more general critique of 90s Britain? What really inspired Pulp's straight-talking frontman to write it?

It's a song that doesn't hide its contempt for class tourists, but the lyrics also have an elusive quality. A panel of experts attempt to decipher them, exploring issues of class and identity. But it is only when the story is placed in its context of a dead-end Britain, where people "dance and drink and screw because there's nothing else to do", that it begins to make sense.


Jarvis Cocker
Sadie Frost reminisces about pushing Jarvis around in a trolley for the garish video, and Vic Reeves talks about the infamous "Jarvis & Jacko" incident at the Brits in 1996, which made Jarvis a star overnight.

Pulp fans may also be surprised when producer Chris Thomas deconstructs the master recording and suggests the song was partly inspired by ELO's Mr. Blue Sky!

The band are reunited and take a journey back in time to their old rehearsal rooms above a pottery shop, where they reminisce about the song's success and what the track means to them now.

Bringing the story right up to date, Franz Ferdinand and The Kaiser Chiefs talk about the influence of the track on their sound.

Finally, Jarvis talks about the future for Pulp and how the band's biggest hit affected him personally.


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