Let me entertain you: 5 British artists who should follow Robbie Williams and land their own biopic

British pop music is full of artists that are inspiring and with tragic stories to tell

Singer Robbie Williams's life story will be told on screen. Shutterstock
Singer Robbie Williams's life story will be told on screen. Shutterstock

Robbie Williams is the next British pop star to be immortalised in film.

The singer’s colourful life will be explored on the big screen in a biopic that will be directed by The Greatest Showman's Michael Gracey.

Named after the 2000 hit ballad, Better Man will trace Williams's rise to the top of the charts as both a solo artist and member of Take That.

More details have yet to be revealed, including who will take on the star role, but writers certainly have plenty of material to work with as Williams's career included everything from a recovery from substance abuse to a well publicised feud with British rock band Oasis, and a passion for UFOs to a stint living in a haunted mansion in Switzerland.

The news of this new film also demonstrates a growing appetite for biopics on British artists.

Better Man is set to join 2018’s Queen-centred Bohemian Rhapsody (which landed Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury) and the 2019 Elton John tale Rocketman, which also went on to be a box office hit.

And if they're looking for more material, filmmakers have plenty of potential subjects, as the UK pop landscape is full of artists who are inspiring and complicated, often with tragic stories to tell.

Here are five other names whose stories deserve to be told with a dramatised biopic.

1. Amy Winehouse

While we all know how this tragic story ends, Winehouse's demise should make for a fairly bleak but important film.

It could explore her childhood growing up in a musical family (her uncles were jazz musicians, while her grandmother was a saxophonist), as well as her being expelled from an arts school for various reasons, including piercing her nose, and eventually finding her true calling on stage as one of the best singers of her generation.

A dramatisation of Winehouse's sorry story promises to be soulful in many ways.

2. Eric Clapton

Where to start dissecting the life of the guitar hero?

Clapton's six-decade career is so rich and detailed he would need a mini-series, not a film.

For one thing, the man found wild success as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream, as well as a solo artist. He also experienced the crushing blows of substance abuse and the tragic death of a young son.

Then, of course, are his former controversial political views, which resulted in an infamous 1976 UK concert where he made racially charged anti-immigration remarks.

This would be a story about a man and his guitar and a changing Britain. A Clapton film is a potential winner.

3. Dusty Springfield

Hope, pain, failure and redemption – the late British singer’s career had it all.

Books have been written about how Springfield’s success was trailed by deep-seated insecurities encompassing everything from her looks and undeniable talent to the fact she was a white woman from England who loved to sing songs in the African-American genres of blues and Motown.

Factor in her substance abuse and bipolar disorder, as well as the heartwarming career resurgence in the late 1980s, and you have the recipe for a fascinating and powerful film.

4. Kano

With grime firmly part of the UK’s music mainstream, it’s time for a film digging into its social, political and creative roots.

While it would be tempting for producers to explore that through the eyes of current genre poster-boy Stormzy, a richer representation would be in the form of veteran artist Kano.

The rapper and Top Boy actor’s career spans 20 years, beginning from his time with the seminal Nasty (Natural Artistic Sounds Touching You) Crew and performing in pirate radio shows to scoring hits, modelling and acting gigs as the genre emerged from the underground.

More than the great music on offer, the film has the potential of a strong supporting cast of characters, including fellow artists Dizzee Rascal and Stormzy.

5. East 17

Formed in the gritty East London town of Walthamstow 30 years ago, the East 17 story is interesting, as it speaks as much about the pop music of the day as it does about social class.

These rough-around-the-edges lads, with tattoos and shaved heads, were not meant to be pop stars.

Then again, that was the point. With their barrelling raps and sturdy (read: not smooth) singing, they were a welcome counterpoint to the well-manicured boy-next-door looks and pristine sounds of Take That.

Their six-year rivalry with Robbie Williams's band remains the stuff of British pop music legend.

Take That may have won the eventual war, but East 17 took the initial battle with a dozen top 10 hits scored between 1992 and 1998, before burning out and performing in the nostalgia circuit, which includes the odd gig in Bur Dubai.

With their 1992 hit House of Love, you also have a banger of a movie title.

Updated: March 7, 2021 01:49 PM

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