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The Independent Culture
When Elton John came out of the closet, it was probably because he wanted to make room for more clothes. He is very attached to his garments, so much so that when he goes on holiday he takes them all with him - suits that would fill a Bond Street fashion store, rack upon rack of shirts ordered by colour and fabric, six large drawers full of glasses, and enough shoes to equip a rather garish battalion of soldiers. Oh, and two tiaras, just in case - an item of beachwear which provided half of the title for David Furnish's engaging film Tantrums and Tiaras (Sun ITV). Furnish happens to be Elton John's lover - so he can fairly be said to enjoy the highest possible level of rock-star clearance - access all areas - a liberty which also allowed him to pursue the star into the private spaces of bedroom and backstage caravan.

This isn't any longer as unusual as it would once have been - from Madonna to ordinary Joes with a camcorder, the revelation of intimate detail has become something of a growth industry - but there is still a certain frisson in sidling behind the facade of celebrity performance. You're not going to catch Elton letting his hair down, of course, given that it's cost him so much to get it up there in the first place. But you did see him in some almighty sulks: stamp- ing his feet because a bag of clothes hadn't turned up for a video shoot and hurling his tennis racket into the netting while on holiday in the South of France. When you or I lose our temper we might, I suppose, call a cab in a melodramatic tizzy. Elton rings for a plane ("I'm never coming here again"), though he sensibly arranges it for the following day so that he has time to change his mind.

Despite those scenes, and despite his rather sullen resistance to the idea that he might compromise his own desires ("I am always going to do what I want to do"), he came across as very likeable: unevasive about his past errors and generous about his responsibilities. Perhaps it is relatively easy to be charming if you are surrounded by people whose chief employment is to keep you happy, but not every star manages it, and the fact that the bad behaviour had stayed in the final cut argued for a sensible honesty on his part. He also appears able to laugh at himself (an indispensable virtue, I would have thought, if you wear pink ostrich-feather jump-suits). He was, for instance, raucously delighted by the practised insults of his entourage ("Do you think Elton's music will always sell?" Furnish asked Rob, his personal assistant. "No," said Rob flatly, winning a happy chortle from the star, who had just finished gravely asserting the exact opposite). Furnish's film, mildly dragged down by the encounter-group tone of his questions, was picked up again by a couple of tartly edited sequences. In one, Elton and his cronies ran a camp commentary on the Oscar guests' arrival, and in another, he stripped a Versace shop bare in minutes - a portly locust with a platinum credit card.

On Saturday night, Dancing in the Street, BBC2's extended history of rock'n'roll, gave itself over to the sound of soul. It is difficult to criticise this series - the music is wonderful, the archive captivating, and the interviews often fascinating. Wilson Pickett's recollection of arriving to record in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and realising with real shock that there were blacks out there picking cotton, told you all you needed to know about the separation of northern Motown from its rootsier southern counterpart. But something is missing. You get one clue as to what it might be from the series' fatal attraction for location shots, as dull and dutiful as a civic postcard. Downtown Memphis, night-time Detroit, the backwoods of Alabama all appear on screen as though they might tell you something about the music made in them. Perhaps the fact that all the thrills come from the soundtrack and not the images is simply a proper deference to the raw material - but it feels like a concert at which nobody's dancing.

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