A Brief History of Failure

A Brief History of Failure

Series 1



John Otway was my best friend’s dustman when we were at secondary school and then he momentarily hit the big time with the song Really Free, which immediately promoted her to the coolest girl in the class.

Otway’s taste for the big time did not last long. In fact, in 2012 he released his debut film — Otway the Movie: the Story of Rock ’n’ Roll’s Greatest Failure.

Hence his guest appearance in American satirist Joe Queenan’s latest episode of A Brief History of . . . Other contributors include Slits member Viv Albertine who questions why, having spent so many years as a rather poorly stay-at-home mum, she is always proclaimed as an “icon”.

Queenan himself rails against failure, but accepts that as an American he just does not get the British reverence for “heroic failure”. Has he never seen Blackadder? 


American satirist Joe Queenan returns to explore two more abstract concepts. He begins with `failure', railing against what he calls `the romance of defeat'. He shares his thoughts on a number of historic losses, from Braveheart in Scotland through to the suppression of the Cathars in Europe, and the Confederacy's dissolution during the American Civil War.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Joe Queenan
Producer Miles Warde