Poor old Tony Mortimer. If last night’s East 17 – The Reunion (Channel 4) is anything to go by, he appears to have completely lost the plot.
Hot on the heels of the recent Take That reunion, and in an entirely unrelated move, Mortimer claimed in the programme to have been told by his medium (!!!) that East17 should reform. Not only that, Tony was seen actively hawking the newly-reformed unit around the devil-may-care risk takers employed by the various Major Labels of That London.
Take That’s reunion (initially scoffed at by all and sundry) yielded Gary Barlow, Little Mark Owen, Howard and Jason a sell-out UK tour, a number one album, 2 hit singles (including the ELO-tastic “Shine”) and a place back at the big lads’ table of Pop. Barlow has spent the months since striding around his Cheshire mansion giggling maniacally. Good for him.
Back in Essex, it seemed all Tony had to do was to get Brian Harvey, along with bandmates Terry and John, to toe the line for a few months and a similar renaissance would surely come to pass.
As you’ll no doubt remember from your history lessons at school, East 17 were an inexplicably popular group in the early-mid 1990s and had 12 (Twelve!) UK chart hits. With their proto-Max Power look and ‘street’ attitude they played the role of bad boy Stones to Take That’s cutesy Beatles, before both were eventually banished from Pop! by Girl Power, Cool Britannia and New Labour. Personally speaking, their place in the pop canon was firmly secured by the most unintentionally hilarious video of all time – the promo for their 1993 Xmas number one single “Stay (Another Day)”.
Anyway, getting Terry and John to toe the reformation line would surely be a doddle for our Tony. John (the only one to come out of the programme with any dignity, it should be said) had gamely returned to his day job as a roofer and merely saw the whole thing as an additional way of paying the mortgage. Meanwhile, monosyllabic Terry had returned to his previous occupation of hanging around shopping centres, spitting in the street and scaring elderly folk with his dangerous dog. Terry is in his mid-thirties.
Terry and John would be putty in Tony’s hand. The problem, of course, would be the ridiculous Brian Harvey.
See, Tony was the only talented member of a band so bad it almost defies belief. He wrote the tunes and pulled the strings yet it was Harvey who became the star. This rankled at the time, and clearly rankles still.
Mortimer has spent the intervening years “investing in property”, collecting his royalties and generally keeping his head down at his Essex mansion. Harvey, on the other hand, has never been far from the headlines and is every inch the epitome of the modern celebrity divvy.
He punches photographers outside nightclubs, appears in “My Drug Hell” exposés in the News of the World, cavorts with his semi-famous former model girlfriend and, naturally, has appeared on Reality TV. Hell, Brian even made the headlines in 2005 when he somehow contrived to achieve the impossible; getting himself run over by a car that he was actually driving at the time of the accident.
Still, East 17 were a very popular group and, as Take That have proved, there is clearly a market for this sort of thing. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, just about everything…and quickly.
All had started so well for the reformation project, too. The lads were getting on, rehearsals were peachy and when Tony bank-rolled a one-off London show it completely sold out and was well received. So far, so proof-of-concept.
Next, Tony set up a meeting with Warner Bros and a record deal was in the offing. At this stage it was all looking really good and the gang was riding again!
Then we heard the inevitable news that Brian had managed to scupper everything. Brian showed up over an hour late for the label meeting and Tony did what everyone else in the country would love to do and punched Harvey on the nose. All bets were off, Brian resigned, Tony resigned. End of reunion.
The programme finished with a forlorn looking Tony playing pool on his own and stubbornly stating that they couldn’t do it without him and that they would do it his way in the end. He looked lost.
Meanwhile, in a God-forsaken Essex nightclub Brian, with Terry and John in tow, mimed along to their hits (played on Brian’s iPod) to a crowd of baying women ripped to the tits on alcopops. For this they received £300 and considered it a result.
Pop is fickle, innit