Spice Girls: How Girl Power Changed Britain review – fabulous and intimate

The story of the girl band that conquered the world gets a 2021 twist in this brilliant docuseries that goes way beyond ‘zig-a-zig-ah’ nostalgia

The team behind 2019’s outstanding documentary series Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain has turned its gaze back to the 1990s with Spice Girls: How Girl Power Changed Britain (Channel 4). It has put together a fabulously entertaining look at the girl band that conquered the world, placing their story in the cultural context of its own time, while putting it through its paces from a 2021 perspective.

There are archive news clips, rarely seen home-video footage and interviews with those on the inside (though not the group themselves), which makes this feel intimate and close. It begins with an open audition for the film Tank Girl, in 1994, attended by the journalist and broadcaster Miranda Sawyer. Sawyer recalls two other young women in attendance: Geri Halliwell and Victoria Adams. Three months later, at another audition for a nascent pop group, their lives would change for good.

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It whizzes through the origin story. We see them interviewed on The Big Breakfast, where they talk about how they were friends from the audition circuit who decided to move in together and form a band (a massaging of the truth, designed to make them seem more “authentic” in an age where that still mattered). That feels quaint in itself. Chris Herbert, who had the idea for a girl band who were “more street and cred” than Take That, decided they should live together. It might have been his biggest mistake. Footage from the house shows that their chemistry and charisma were instant, and they seem largely untameable and practically unmanageable. Before they even signed a record deal, they ditched Herbert and did a runner in Geri’s car.

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