At first glance, there is nothing particularly “Christmas-y” about the one-off special with the British ‘national treasure’, Elton John. You might have expected the BBC would have saved such an exclusive interview for a prime-time slot in the Christmas/New Year TV schedule, as 72-year-old Elton, donning a flamboyant Christmas jumper, sits in a fireside armchair and reminisces about his rockstar past.
Rather, the programme opens with Norton cruising along the sunny Côte d’Azur in an open-top Rolls-Royce as we are transported to the megastar’s lavish home in the south of France.
But, don’t be fooled by the lack of festivity. It’s no coincidence that the documentary was aired on 28th November – the night before Black Friday. A perfect opportunity for Elton to plug his tell-all autobiography ‘Me’ released last month.
Elton’s private life has certainly never been a mystery. His drug-fueled rockstar lifestyle in his wildest years and close relationships with highly influential famous faces – especially Princess Diana – have made tabloid headlines since he shot to fame in the 70s. Elton’s career was also recently documented in his biographical film ‘Rockman’, a huge box office hit back in May.
So, is there anything new for us still to learn about Elton John?
As far as the interview goes, there is nothing much revelatory said. Elton is noticeably reticent in his responses – most likely being cautious not to give away too much content of his book.
In an exclusive interview with @grahnort, @eltonofficial opens up about his childhood, stardom and battles with addiction.#EltonJohn: Uncensored | 9pm | @BBCOne & @BBCiPlayer.
👉 https://t.co/zx09WlCDg1 pic.twitter.com/JHzlA6tgpX
— BBC (@BBC) November 28, 2019
Yet, I can’t help but wonder if it is also Norton’s all too friendly interview technique which is at fault.
There is an awkward discrepancy between Norton’s giggly, overexcited manner and Elton’s unexpressive and passionless responses. At times, it seems as though Elton has retold his stories so many times before that he now reminisces without much genuine emotion. For such a well-practised interviewer, it is sorely disappointing how Norton seems hesitant to ask any pressing or daring questions. It is also particularly frustrating how, when Elton begins to recall how he came-out to his mum, Norton is more interested to know about Elton’s stage outfits and changes the subject entirely. Noticeably, nothing much is said either of Elton John’s success in composing scores for musical theatre – especially surprising after the recent success of the live-action version of The Lion King over the summer period.
Overall, the documentary is anticlimactic and, after half an hour, more than a little tedious. Perhaps this would have been more effective as a 30-min podcast on BBC Sounds. Or maybe Elton should have just shelled out for an advert to promote his book on one of the commercial T.V. channels.
Featured Image: Chris Yacoubian/BBC