18 May 2014 by Ceri Radford
Perspectives: Freddie Mercury Saved My Life with Alfie Boe, ITV, review:
‘an interesting reflection on raw talent versus technical virtuosity’
A fascinating insight into how the Queen frontman became a gay icon and an unparalleled live performer, says Ceri Radford
3 out of 5 stars
Perspectives: Freddie Mercury Saved My Life with Alfie Boe (ITV) is a suitably melodramatic title for a film about the most flamboyant lead singer of all time. The twist in ITV’s Perspectives strand is that an artist’s career is considered from the point of view of a fellow artist; in this case, the so-called “bad boy of opera” Alfie Boe, who found inspiration in Mercury when he was struggling with his own classical training.
Boe interviewed everyone from Mercury’s elderly mother to friends, including the costume designer Zhandra Rhodes and Bob Geldof, to get a sense of how Farrokh Bulsara, a shy schoolboy from Zanzibar, went on to become an unparalleled live performer and gay icon. The answer? Innate musical ability, rage and an outsider complex.
There was the odd glint of humour in the contrast between footage of Mercury, an oiled, anarchic mass of libido, and Boe, neatly enunciating his syllables in front of what looked like a convention of Good Housekeeping readers. It was a shame, though, that the footage of Boe performing Mercury’s rock-opera crossover, Barcelona, was cut short. This felt like the most significant intersection between the two singers, but we only saw a few seconds of it – barely more time than was dedicated to Boe fluffing his hair in the mirror beforehand. Still, the programme was an interesting reflection on the importance of raw talent versus technical virtuosity, as well as a nod towards that most enduring of artistic qualities – vanity.