Still crazee now

Noddy Holder was a Seventies icon. This week, he stars in a sitcom set in the decade that taste forgot

The PR interrupts our interview to plead with Noddy Holder to wear one of those tartan scarves made popular by the Bay City Rollers for a photo shoot. He politely declines, perhaps fearing a Seventies overdose.

I know how he feels. Just a couple of weeks after Days Like These, ITV is launching The Grimleys, another sitcom set in the decade taste forgot, a world in which every wardrobe contains nothing but platform shoes, tank tops and zip-up cardies.

Written by Jed Mercurio (Cardiac Arrest), this new six-part comedy centres on Gordon Grimley (played by James Bradshaw), an Adrian Mole-ish schoolboy from Dudley who is struggling to escape the mind-numbing factory job planned for him by his couch-potato father (Nigel Planer). The official "school spanner", he is remorselessly bullied by his meat-headed PE teacher (Brian Conley) whose idea of careers advice is to hang Gordon from the gym apparatus with the sign "No future" round his neck. Gordon's only inspiration comes from the glamorous English teacher whom he worships (Amanda Holden), and a good-hearted music teacher with a penchant for lime-green floral shirts, Neville Holder (Noddy Holder).

Still sporting the trademark shock of strawberry-blond hair, Holder is delighted with the newfound interest in all things Seventies. "Throughout the Eighties people slagged the Seventies off. They said that the fashions and the music were no good. But when we got to the Nineties, people started to see it in the light it was meant to be - fun. The Seventies were very tongue-in-cheek. The music was an antidote to the politics of the time, which was all strikes and power cuts. In times of strife, people turn to showbiz."

But aren't sophisticated Nineties viewers just taking the mick out of the decade? "That doesn't bother me," says Holder, now 52. "I look back on the Seventies with fondness. It was larger than life. You look at old Top of the Pops and see all the bands laughing. Now all the pop stars are trying to be so hip and cool. In the Seventies, people did enjoy themselves. We went on telly and had a good time.

"You can't take rock'n'roll seriously; if you do, you're missing the point," he says. "The first rock'n'roll star who inspired me was Little Richard, and he never took himself seriously. I always wanted to be mad as a hatter for ever. I think I've achieved that."

Mercurio is adamant that he is not exploiting Seventies nostalgia. He claims that he can make serious points through the retro setting. "One of the advantages of locating the series in the past is that we can bring hindsight to bear," he says. "The audience knows things the characters don't. For example, in the 1970s, we believed that Britain would be involved in the space programme and that Dudley would have its own space station. The biggest sci-fi series then was Space 1999 - our year. Then it did not seem unreasonable to image that we'd have a moonbase in 1999. You can immediately see that the characters' aspirations won't be realised. They want to be winners, but you know they are never going to be.

"The Grimleys shows that the Seventies was a decade when hope was juxtaposed with failure," he continues. "Fashion and music provides texture for the series, but we're tapping into something more fundamental - all the characters want something they can't get. A lot of the series is about people not achieving their goals."

For Holder's character, that means an unfulfilled desire to become a rock star. In the poignant finale to the second episode of The Grimleys, Gordon reflects that "for some grown-ups, the brightest future is already in the past". Mr Holder then performs an acoustic version of the Slade hit, "Cum On Feel the Noize". It is the ultimate Nineties tribute to the Seventies: Noddy Holder Unplugged.

The Grimleys is on ITV at 10.30pm on Monday

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor