sat 20/07/2024

Arena: Alone with Chrissie Hynde, BBC Four | reviews, news & interviews

Arena: Alone with Chrissie Hynde, BBC Four

Arena: Alone with Chrissie Hynde, BBC Four

Reclusive rock'n'roller doesn't give much away

Chrissie remains tight-lipped

Despite having been a rock star since the late Seventies, Chrissie Hynde seems to be an introverted, elusive sort of person. If this Arena profile was anything to go by, she lives as a virtual recluse, positively revelling in solitariness. Like the film, her last album was called Alone.

“I spend all my time alone,” we saw her telling Sandra Bernhard, evidently a close friend. “I have nothing else to do. It’s my choice, I like it.” Well good for her, and it does mean she has plenty of time to pursue her recently-found passion for painting (which she’s pretty good at, too). But it didn’t really offer much in the way of raw meat for a TV documentary.

The non-meat-eating Hynde likes to commune with the swans

Almost at the end of the film, as she was strolling down a New York sidewalk, once again with Bernhard, we overheard her saying she’d told the documentary crew they could follow her around and film her doing everyday stuff, but she didn’t want them digging around and interviewing people about her past. Perhaps she'd rather we bought her autobiography instead.

Thus, we bypassed her progress through punk and post-punk London, when she hung around with the Clash and the Sex Pistols and worked for a while at the Malcolm McLaren / Vivienne Westwood shop, Sex. She wrote for the NME and had a fling with the “elegantly wasted” Nick Kent. Later, she had a relationship with Ray Davies and married Jim Kerr, and had a daughter with each of them. With The Pretenders, she racked up a very healthy score of hit singles and albums on both sides of the Atlantic.

We got virtually none of that, though. Instead we saw Hynde chatting to the camera in her apartment in Paris, then doing a bit of clothes shopping and having her portrait drawn by a rogueish street artist. Then we were back in her flat in London, where she showed us her paintings and then went for a walk round Regents Park. The non-meat-eating Hynde likes to commune with the swans. There was even a trip to Bhaktivedanta Manor in Watford, which was donated to the Hare Krishna movement by George Harrison, and where the Vishnu-following Hynde likes to go for a spot of quiet contemplation.

Luckily, proceedings were pepped up at regular intervals by extracts from a specially-recorded gig by Hynde and The Pretenders, including new songs alongside oldies like “Tattooed Love Boys” and “Hymn to Her”. On a trip to her local pub, the Boogaloo, she hopped up onstage and sung “Thumbelina” with a band called Mother’s Little Helper.

The nearest director Nicola Roberts came to nudging Hynde into some true confessions was a trip back to her home town of Akron, Ohio. She revisited the drab shopping mall where she did various mundane jobs, and showed us the suburban family home where she grew up. It wasn’t flash, but it was a perfectly agreeable detached house with trees and a garden. By the end of the film, I felt I’d been watching an hour-long shaggy dog story.

By the end of the film, I felt I’d been watching an hour-long shaggy dog story


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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