Thursday 8 November 2007

Melly's last days

Katie Buchanan's elegant, witty and moving tribute to George Melly, following him and his long-suffering wife Diana through the great entertainer's last days, was a model of good television. Broadcast on BBC 4 - and therefore around again soon - it was particularly moving to see him taken by ambulance to have a last moment with his fans at London's 100 Club where he began his singing career. I first saw Melly, who died in July, on stage at a post-midnight gig in the 1982 Cork Jazz Festival, and saw him perhaps a dozen times since, including at the 100 Club and at his celebrated New Year gigs at Ronnie Scott's. It was sobering to see the great man laid so low as he battled a form of dementia and lung cancer, refusing treatment and trying to live it up in his last months, but there was a life-affirming spirit at work too as he sought to keep singing the blues - albeit with increasing difficulty - to the end. Don't miss this programme when it is repeated.

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