I managed to skip over the Robbie William’s Netflix documentary on the first day. As I was born in 1979, Robbie was just a few years older than me as I grew up and part of the furniture of my life. I’d boast that I’d once secured a kiss from him in Take That’s early touring days. I owned every Robbie solo album and still resonate with the lyrics. I didn’t cry when he left Take That, I partied, as I was excited to see what he’d do next and wherever life took him I seemed to relate even more, especially his battles with mental health.
This is why I tried to skip the documentary, as for me, and maybe for you too, this look back into the past doesn’t only shine a big glaring intrusive light on Robbie’s journey but reminds us of our hop, skip and stumble through the naughty 90’s and normie noughties too. I was looking for a bit of escapism after a manic day at work and I wasn’t sure Robbie’s documentary would fit that description. Then the trailer began to roll automatically and, of course, I was hooked. I swallowed it whole, in one go, something I’d not done since 1998.
Watch It -NOW! Then Come Back
I won’t bore you with a minute by minute recollection of the show, you need to watch it, make your own mind up, then come back and tell me what you thought, what you felt, what you want Robbie (and Ayda) to know. I do, however, challenge you to find anything wrong with the show, with Robbie, with his integrity, honesty, his life laid bare. He’s an icon, almost a legend, and he deserves to be called sir. He puts the Brit in British, he’s the sprinkles on our McFlurry, the poppadom to our curry. This is why it hurt so much to see how damaging the negative media was for him at the time. From our glass houses we assumed that the attacks on Robbie’s weight, appearance, talent were taken as nothing more than cruel British ribbing, I know in my mind I didn’t think that Robbie would take the disgusting tabloids to heart. He seemed so sure of himself, so cocky, nearing on arrogance but with a cheeky smile that won hearts, that still wins hearts. It angers me that the British media had such an influence over his life when we, his fans, ignored the gutter press. Each damning article just brought us closer to our friend, made Robbie more relatable, more like us. As the tabloids tried to change our minds, to make us hate Robbie, we found more aspects to love. We could all empathise with a little weight gain in our twenties, the inner and outer rebellion as we came to terms with how shit life could be, as we tried to decide where to go next, what path we wanted to take. Some of us could also empathise with the complete self destruction, the need for oblivion, the worry that you’re only as good as the drugs you’re taking, the pressure to be constantly entertaining. Constantly grateful for the life that’s been dealt despite being treated to a morbid spectacle of a myriad of masks falling from once trusted faces revealing the cruel intentions beneath. It’s a bitter pill to crush and snort and one that warps the mind until you meet a person who emits nothing but light, in Robbie’s case, Ayda, I’ve yet to find mine! Until I do I’ll just keep pouring out the angst in song lyrics just hope you never me me sing!
What’s Missing From Robbie’s Documentary?
I loved the style of this documentary, a behind the scenes look into Robbie and Ayda’s gorgeously styled home and garden with comfort and wonder at the core, a little peek at beautiful, witty Teddy, and a relaxed atmosphere throughout. It’s clear Robbie has exorcised many demons and I’m sure he could have dragged many through the mud but he’s grown above all of that. What I did find odd was the absence of extended family members, mum, dad, aunties, siblings. Although I’ve been a fan for 30 years I’ve never been obsessive and so never pried into his private life but other documentaries of stars seem to bring these in as working class talking heads to give their perspective from a ordinary person point of view but somehow we still feasted on the full Robbie personality, warts and all. It does leave me wondering if his family betrayed him or tried to steal the limelight but it is none of my business so my musings will stop there.
A Label Doesn’t Make a Man
As a person that’s struggled with mental health over the years I was also curious about Robbie’s diagnosis. He mentions depression and anxiety however the depression seems clinical, Cyclothymic almost. Labels are scattered like grass seed these days but I wonder if anyone has ever thrown ADHD or bipolar his way and tried to make it stick?
Ayda Williams is the Best Friend Every Woman Wants
We already know that Ayda has saved Robbie’s life but this documentary sets their soulmate compatibility in stone. Ayda is wise, but humble, gorgeous but self deprecating, funny and warm much like the great Robster himself. As she says, she fell in love with Rob first before she fell in love with Robbie. For us fans I think we fell in love with Robbie and now we’re falling in love with Rob.