Madness, of course, are well on their way to becoming British National Treasures, ever since they sang ‘Our House’ from the roof of Buck House to mark the Queen’s Jubilee last summer. Their outdoor performance as part of the BBC’s ‘Goodbye to Television Centre‘ programming, outdoors in sleet and near-freezing temperatures, will only speed this process. (Television Centre, where I worked briefly in the ’80s, has been sold off as the BBC moves much of its programme production to Salford in the north of England).
I like Madness, without being a huge fan, but there is something quintessentially British about them – by which I mean modern British, with their social roots in inner-city multi-cultural London and their musical roots in ska. And outdoors, on Friday night, in the blustery wet cold, they worked their socks off, gave the well-wrapped audience a thoroughly good time, paid dues (to the dying Wilko Johnson, who joined them on stage), and made this member of the television audience wish I had been out there in the cold on the forecourt of Television Centre.
Fortunately, there is already a whole load of clips on YouTube, which the BBC, also a national treasure, is not rushing to block. Just saying.