‘All I have are happy memories,’ says Paul O’Grady doggedly, after an old mucker from his Birkenhead manor observes that ‘not all the women had just mascara darkening their eyes on a Monday’. Lily might be savage, but there’s no room in O’Grady’s rosy trip down memory lane for much more than pride, community and a clean front step.
This is a shame, because he’s well placed as someone who inevitably stood apart from his background by virtue of his sexuality to offer real insight into what defining yourself as working class meant. Still, it’s understandable: deprived of being the engine of industry, the working class wanted to see themselves as the engine of popular culture, so O’Grady oversees a rather odd parade of icons of yesteryear (Cilla, Twiggy, Ken Dodd) to reminisce about when commoners started to shape society. Only Reggie Yates has anything interesting to say, but by the time he shows up, it’s all gone a bit off the boil. Pity.