The Weekend's TV: I'm in a Rock 'n' Roll Band, Sat, BBC2
Modern Masters, Sun, BBC1
Eyewitness, Sun, BBC2

Watch out – the egos have landed

You've got to be a knobhead to be a lead singer," said one of the contributors to I'm in a Rock 'n' Roll Band, the first of a six-part series that promises to anatomise the individual components of popular music's elite fighting unit.

Had it been a drummer or a roadie who said that you might have dismissed it as sour grapes, but since it was Shaun Ryder, the lead singer of Happy Mondays, it was clear that he spoke with some personal authority. And though the programme that followed never entirely pinned down the psychology of the rock frontman it did suggest that Ryder's anatomical metaphor conveyed an essential truth. The lead singer gets most the attention and most of the pleasure. The line was also confirmed in a different way by a coarsely solipsistic remark from Kelly Jones of Stereophonics: "If women don't want to fuck you and men don't want to be you, then I don't see the point in being in a band." He certainly seemed to fit Shaun Ryder's bill.

It isn't a natural role for the shy, even if some charismatic lead singers have been painfully shy off stage, such as Ian Curtis of Joy Division and Kurt Cobain, offered up here as examples of the transformative power of stage performance. And it brings with it the occupational hazard that you will succumb to LSD, not the drug on which Jim Morrison sealed his reputation as a Dionysiac god during a notorious performance at the Whisky a Go Go nightclub, but Lead Singer's Disease, a condition in which the sufferer becomes convinced that the band is there for them instead of them being there for the band. You can easily see how it might happen. If the Silver Lady on a Rolls-Royce had self-awareness you'd probably find it quite difficult to convince her that she was just a glorified ornament, rather than the only reason the car existed at all.

It all meandered a bit – in an enjoyable enough way – touching on the rivalry between lead singers and lead guitarists here, exploring the mysteries of crowd control there. But I wasn't sure that it discriminated quite clearly enough between performers who bully you into noticing them, and those who would draw your eyes even if they were standing in the shadows. At one point, Noddy Holder proudly recalled the prop that ensured that audiences would never go away from a Slade gig uncertain about who was the frontman: "A top hat with mirrors," he said, "that was my own invention." But if you turn yourself into a human glitter ball, or set fire to your head (as Arthur Brown did) or arrive with a large python round your neck (as Alice Cooper still does) it's surely possible to doubt that natural charisma has played much part in your magnetism.

Art programmes need their frontmen too and the BBC appear to believe that Alastair Sooke has the right blend of sex appeal and self-assurance to get the job done. They've given him the telly equivalent of a first-record deal anyway, with a four-part series Modern Masters, which borrows its title, though not its intellectual approach, from a famous Fontana series of monographs. Sooke tends more towards the Blue Peter end of the spectrum than the academic thesis, enlivening his beginner's guide to Andy Warhol with various exercises in aesthetic suck it and see. He had a go at the blotted-line technique with which Warhol first made his name as a New York commercial illustrator, was made over as a Warhol clone by one of Gok Wan's sidekicks and visited Gerard Malanga, Warhol's print-maker, to produce his own pastiche Warhol self-portrait. He also had a big CSI evidence board, on which he slowly accumulated a lot of pointy arrows and scrapbook images as if he was building his way to a prosecutable case. But in the end, the rhetorical questions ("What is it about Andy's images that makes them so popular today?") outnumbered the answers, though it offered a straightforward guide to the essentials of Warhol's art and a more implicit one to the reasons for his continuing appeal, which is that an allusion to Warhol will dignify an interest in virtually anything, however lowbrow. You're not just gawping at Big Brother, you're celebrating a Warholesque confluence of democratic fame and banality. It was left to the actor Dennis Hopper to deliver the money quote, when he told Sooke that "Duchamp said the artist of the future will be a person who points his finger". What remains ambiguous about Warhol – enhanced by the studied naivety of many of his pronouncements – was whether he was pointing a finger of blame or just going "Gee... look at that!"

Eyewitness, a fascinating series about the deep unreliability of human certainty, concluded with a study of cognitive interviewing, a method that essentially puts up crime tape around a witnesses' memories to stop a lot of well-meaning policemen mashing them out of recognition with their size-10 boots. Curiously, after presenting the case history of a woman who'd experienced at first hand how dangerous inner conviction can be (she had, without malice, been responsible for an innocent man spending 10 years in jail), it left you with another anecdote, about a witness who'd successfully identified a violent art thief. "I knew I was a 100 per cent that it was him," she said. I'd have felt happier if she'd said 96 per cent.

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
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.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders