Forever Young: How Rock'n'Roll Grew Up, BBC4
Rev, BBC2

They were hoping to live fast and die young, but at least they can cash in on the golden age of rock'n'roll

Don't mention the "O" word. As the array of rock'n'roll relics lined up to give great quote in BBC4's Forever Young, one word remained strangely absent from their lips. They spoke of dignity. They spoke of maturity. They spoke of growing into their own material. They spoke of survival.

Motörhead's Lemmy mentioned it once, but he got away with it because, talking about his own ability to live fast and live on, he described himself, at 64, as "almost old".

Yet age was at the very heart of this documentary, which set out to show how rock'n'roll – that supposedly passing fad of the late 1950s and early 1960s – had, largely thanks to the Beatles, outgrown its own roots to morph from a rites-of-passage act of rebellion to the defining cultural phenomenon of the late 20th century.

But before we get all "Pseuds Corner", there was one other subject that no one – again apart from Lemmy, who admitted that he dyes his black – seemed prepared to talk about at any length: and that was the importance of retaining a full head of hair. Because what Robert Wyatt, John Paul Jones, Peter Noone, Bruce Welch, Rick Wakeman and Joe Brown all had in common was an uncommonly good thatch. And, given that nearly seven in 10 men will suffer male pattern baldness by the time they are 60, this lot bucked the stats to such a degree that either there is a discreet transplanter somewhere making a small fortune, or there is some undiscovered connection between sex, drugs, rock'n'roll and free-flowing locks. (Forever Young's one follically challenged participant, Richard Thompson, is never seen without a beret.)

Forever Young restrained itself for precisely three minutes before it gave in and mentioned those unforgettable words in the Who's "My Generation". Were it possible to go back in time, perhaps Pete Townshend would force his 20-year-old self to amend the lyric to "I hope I die before I go bald", but the line stands and he has had to live with that decision every time he has plugged in his Stratocaster since.

"What happens," narrator Cherie Lunghi asked as her opening gambit, "when rock'n'roll's youthful rebelliousness is delivered wrapped in wrinkles?" Mick Jagger, interviewed in the aftermath of punk rock for a Rolling Stones "comeback" tour in 1981, told us, "I think I could do this kind of physical show for about another five years," before Rosie Boycott came on to point out the strange disconnect between Jagger's body and face as he, at 66, still slinks his hips along to "Let's Spend the Night Together".

Iggy Pop, a strange person to ask about such matters, not because he doesn't have the requisite wrinkles but because the programme had promised to explore "Britain's rock'n'roll generation", gracefully admitted that though he can still perform his youthful material, he doesn't have the "animal energy to write a great rock'n'roll song any more" before complaining about aching knees. Alison Moyet went one step further, saying that while she wrote her best songs in her youth, the passing years have taught her how to deliver that material without resorting to silly dance movements. And surely, if the programme-makers could buck the Brit law for Iggy, Deborah Harry (65) would have been a more relevant and "rock'n'roll" exhibit than Moyet (49).

The dignity side of things was mostly left to Rick Wakeman – who pointed out that stars of his vintage were, these days, familiar with the sight of three generations of the same family enjoying "legacy" rock shows together – and Robert Wyatt, who touchingly confessed: "I had to live this long to get every third or fourth song on every third or fourth record I made spot-on." Conclusion? What age shall not wither, it can – as Wyatt's eclectic and entirely age-appropriate oeuvre demonstrates – invest with infinite variety.

Which is not a Shakespeare quote you can apply to TV vicars. As the lovably hapless Tom Hollander shone his way though the comedic murk of Rev, it was hard to escape the feeling that this gentle sitcom was merely The Vicar of Dibley in reverse. Where that show had Dawn French playing an inner-city cleric transposed to a country setting, this new series saw a rural reverend trying to make the best of his east London posting.

Aimed, perhaps, at those who loved Dibley but found Father Ted too sweary, Hollander had the good grace to remove his dog collar before uttering the "F" word and the show, for all its try-hard 21st-century references and excellent supporting cast, came across as old-fashioned as Derek Nimmo's All Gas and Gaiters. A programme, it must be noted, that hit screens in the same year that John Lennon declared the Beatles "more popular than Jesus".

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea