Rocking to the Blair Beat

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Byline: PETE CLARK

Tony Blair Rock Star Channel 4 ARE THERE no limits to the talents of the Prime Minister? I realise that this is a question not much aired in this country in 2006 - and if heard at all, only in the most sarcastic of contexts - but it is nevertheless one that has to be asked after watching Tony Blair Rock Star.

We must, of course, allow for the fact that the title is a complete and utter fib. It might as well have been called Tony Blair Rockets To Stardom In 45 Minutes for all the truth inherent in the billing.

Nevertheless, this dramatised documentary produced proof that the young Tony Blair was a boy worthy of our sympathetic consideration, not to mention qualified admiration.

At Fettes, the expensive school where his character was formed, Blair was regarded as the coolest boy in the place. As any of you who have ever been to school will have to admit - and the ladies must feel free to engage their considerable powers of empathy - that is no mean feat.

I can't imagine that John Major was ever in that position, nor Edward Heath, come to that.

Margaret Thatcher might have been, but that would have been a reign of fear.

Tony used butter or margarine to smooth his hair down, so that it could secretly be longer than the regulations permitted. He wore the uniform in a somewhat cavalier fashion, a button undone here, a trouser rule flouted there.

As a measure of his renegade status, Tony thought nothing of returning to his room in the early hours through the window. Pity he'd bunked off to an Elton John concert, but you can't expect taste as well as attitude.

When girls were finally admitted to Fettes, there was young Blair offering a squiring hand.

According to the schoolboy thespians of the time, he was the best actor of his generation.

Best of all, he got a great big walloping from the cane in his final year, an event unknown except in the case of the naughtiest boys.

Tony Blair, in short, is a man who has been at the top all his life. No wonder he grins like a wheel of cheese.

Tony Blair Rock Star chose a strange way to tell its story. His contemporaries queued up to pay tribute to his gifts and there were also some notable dissenters upon whom the Blair charm failed to work its magic.

Running alongside this considered commentary was a dramatisation of the life of young Tony as it might have been. This involved much posturing in mirrors and squeezing into skin-tight, lace-up loon pants. …