Astley's Way (2001)

TV Movie   |  Documentary

This film is a documentary about the life and times of composer Edwin Astley. It includes still shots of Edwin Astley and his family and live music from the Jools Holland Rhythm And Blues ... See full summary »

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3 April 2011 | johngammon56
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This short film on Edwin Astley was shown late night on BBC2 in 2001, the "minority" terrestrial BBC television channel, and to my knowledge was never shown again. A pity, because this is exactly the kind of documentary the BBC excels in - well researched, informative and presented not by someone who is on TV because they're a friend of the producer or someone wrote a review of their Edinburgh comedy show in the Guardian or a barking mad "TV natural" academic, but by someone who knows what he is talking about - that is, a fellow musician. Perhaps because Jools Holland is obviously a fan, he manages to get the interviewees to talk about the subject in a candid and informative way. Edwin Astley is an unsung hero of popular music, and it was good to hear that his innovative themes and incidental music were noticed by other people in the 1960s and 1970s. I don't consider myself musically inclined, but I used to enjoy Astley's music very much watching TV as a child. Holland tops the programme off with an excellent and exciting version of one of Astley's best themes, High Wire (the theme from Danger Man), which seems to include a new middle 8 that's entirely fitting. One of my only two criticisms of the programme is that this performance should have closed with Astley's original ending to this piece, which I always found unusual and attractive, instead of the standard rock ending Holland uses with this tune on his own CD. The other small cavil I have is that it should have been made clear that the composition of the original Saint theme was always credited to the author of the original novels, Leslie Charteris, though clearly Astley put a distinctive stamp on the tune. I hope the BBC sees fit to show this first class programme again soon.

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