The Things That Shaped Our Year: The Rise And Fall Of The Spice Girls

From the death of Diana to the birth of Dolly, and from the rise of Bridget Jones to the fall of the Spice Girls - our writers choose the 10 people and events which made 1997 so special
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The Independent Culture
I'm Sure I'll get round to seeing Spiceworld, the Spice Girls movie (yes, all right, I'm sure I'll get round to seeing it three or four times), but I can't help thinking it'll be a disappointment. How can it not be, compared with what has happened to its five protagonists in real life this year? In the advance publicity for the film, the Girls bubbled with pride when name-checking their guest stars, but - and I mean no disrespect to Richard Briers and Michael Barrymore - the real Spice supporting cast includes Prince Charles and Nelson Mandela. In Spiceworld, their moment of triumph is a concert at the Albert Hall. All well and good, but it hardly matches the night in February when they were the toast of the Brit Awards just as their debut single was topping the American chart.

If the real Spice Girls story were a fictional film, it would be received as an outrageous pop-industry satire. Think of the set pieces: the Girls in sexy black designer outfits, standing next to Vera Lynn on Remembrance Day - surely, a comment on the nature of modern celebrity. Or the Girls at Cannes in May, dressed up in Jackie O headscarves, zooming along in a speedboat, paparazzi in their wake, as they promote a film they haven't even made yet. The height of postmodernism - the critics would love it.

In one scene, we could have someone in a supermarket, browsing through all the Spice records and Spice books, then we'd pan along the shelves, and they'd be piled high with Spice crisps, Spice lollies, Spice cameras and Spice deodorant. Or maybe we could do a montage of magazine covers, each one adorned with the Girls' gurning faces. One teeny-pop star on the cover of a super-trendy scene-zine like i-D? Another on the cover of Tatler? It would be condemned for being too far-fetched.

To keep the film going, we'd have to pump up the drama in Act Two. So: the horrendous over-exposure makes the public Spice-sick, the second album doesn't sell as well as the first, the Girls get booed at their concerts, they fire their manager, and all the pundits predict their break- up. Then comes the ultimate indignity: they're further down the bill than Celine Dion at the Royal Variety Performance. Truly a Faustian showbiz fable for the millennium.

Our movie has just a couple of snags. First, the soundtrack needs a few more decent songs. And second, we haven't quite worked out the ending. A feel-good return to glory, maybe? Or a poignant slide into obscurity? Either way, it'll be the most entertaining, incredible, fast-moving and hilarious pop blockbuster since ... well, since the one about Oasis.