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The Enigma of Nic Jones: Return of Britain’s Lost Folk Hero

Fri Sep 27, 10-11pm, BBC4

Kentish acoustic legend Nic Jones is one of the greats of British folk, a unique interpreter of traditional song whose warm, intricate picking style remains massively influential. This documentary, affectionately narrated by Cerys Matthews, tracks Jones from his successful solo career, through the car accident which took him out of the music game for three long, painful decades, to his triumphant return to live performance last year.

There’s much to enjoy here: the photography’s gorgeous, the talking-head interviews with everyone from Martin Carthy to Jones’s likeable, self-effacing son Joe are heartfelt and enlightening, and the comeback footage – particularly a version of Randy Newman’s ‘Texas Girl at the Funeral of her Father’ – is tentative but often deeply moving.

Unfortunately, a misguided attempt to bring matters up to date by inviting on a bunch of contemporary, Jones-inspired folk singers – insipid, silky-voiced nonentities the lot of them – falls horribly flat, while the late appearance of a school choir is just plain creepy. Should’ve stuck to the story, Cerys.

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