Saturday, October 01, 2005

Bach With Bite

They say the truth is stranger than fiction (so presumably 'they' haven't read Harry Potter), but why bother making a film based on a true story when you can take a bit of fiction and use it as the basis for truth? Some producers at Channel 4 clearly enjoyed last year's movie 'School of Rock' in which Jack Black attempted to form a rock band from a bunch of straight-laced schoolkids, so with a bit of word-rearrangement to avoid copyright problems, we now have 'Rock School', a reality show which is a bit like watching a remake of the movie.

Taking the Jack Black role in last night's opening episode was Gene Simmons of Kiss, who arrived in a limousine with a couple of page 3 girls, stating that "my job is to create little rock gods". Personally I can't hear the words "Little Rock gods" without thinking of Bill & Hillary Clinton, but Gene seemed to mean something else by that. Which is why he headed not for Arkansas, but for that hotbed of rock... um... West Sussex. Or, more precisely, Christ's Hospital. Which is a bit like Hell's Kitchen, only cleaner.

As Peter Southern, headmaster of the Christ's Hospital School, said, "We have been described as the best kept secret of English education". So what better way to keep a secret than to volunteer for a national TV show. Despite being proud of their conservative dress, well-mannered students, and habit of marching to lunch in yellow socks, our Pete was only too happy to help out the kids' education by hiring an American who claims to have bedded over 4000 women. Which, as one 13 year old girl helpfully pointed out, "is one a night for sixteen years". They're clearly teaching them maths at that school.

Gene's aim was to take ten of the school's most musically gifted pupils and turn them into a support act for Motorhead. Which sounds fair enough. Let's face it, it may not be part of the National Curriculum now, but it'll probably be on the syllabus for GCSE Media Studies within the year. The kids in question included the likes of Fiona, who was clearly impressed to meet Mr Simmons, stating "I've no idea who he is at all" (so it's not just Jasmine Lennard who has that problem), and Dudley, a French Horn virtuoso who also admits to playing with his organ quite a lot. But didn't we all at that age.

EmperorAnd then there was Josh, who according to classmate Jesse "isn't the most popular person in our school". Which is surprising seeing as he's ginger and speaks Elvish. Josh likes love songs and classical music, and claims that "most of rock n roll is gibberish". Which he subsequently proved by murdering the Kiss classic 'God Gave Rock n Roll to You'. Frankly even I thought that was gibberish.

Anyhoo, having screamed at the kids for half an hour in dark glasses, Gene took them off to the music room and set them to work playing The Kinks. And frankly he found a few to iron out. Unfortunately knowledge of the violin doesn't translate quite as well to the electric guitar as Gene had hoped, so he quickly abandoned the hands-on approach, and reverted to Plan B: choosing their rock names. Apparently Sting and The Edge weren't born with those titles (who'd have thought it), so a quick brainstorming session later, and the children had been transformed. Josh became 'Emperor', Kwame 'Mr Cool', and Jesse changed her name to Bagpuss. Not sure she'd quite grasped the rock n roll concept there, but she did look a bit like a saggy old cloth cat, so you can't complain.

Having been named (and in Jesse's case, shamed) the class were auditioned for the role of lead singer, a task they took to with gusto - Camilla singing an ancient hymn, Rodney performing 'Amazing Grace', and Josh doing 'Jerusalem' in the style of a man telling off a dog.

Remarkably however, Gene managed to spot some rock n roll potential amongst the Christian hymn-singing, and duly named Josh - sorry, I mean Emperor - as the band's new vocalist. He couldn't actually sing in tune, or in time, or remember the lyrics, and he did seem to strut around the stage like he was having some kind of stroke, but frankly it didn't matter. In the words of the old Kit-Kat advert, he can't sing, he can't dance, and he looks dreadful. He should go a long way.