Brian Pern: a Tribute – obituaries aren’t meant to be hilarious but trust us, this one is

Mark Braxton profiles BBC4's farewell to the Thotch frontman


The contribution to pop of Thotch frontman and Segway enthusiast Brian Pern simply can’t be measured. At all. Here friends and musicians profile the man who “invented world music”, and “the first person to use Plasticine in videos”, whose recent death shocked the industry – conspiracy theories are still rife.


As Rhys Thomas’s film shows, Pern’s career wasn’t all high living and huge album sales (in Antwerp). For reasons not appreciated by guitarist Pat Quid and pianist Tony Pebblé, Pern quit Thotch at the peak of their powers, and initially he struggled with his solo career. Plus there was the Mollusc Awareness Week, and the ill-advised acting role (“He has to be the worst actor we ever had in Doctor Who,” says Peter Davison).

Among those paying tribute to the Land of the Crab and Spirit Level singer are a jaw-dropping scattering of A-listers, Pern’s ex-wives, his dentist, his producer Luke Dunmore and his tenacious manager John (“Yentob can f*** off”) Farrow. And Phil Collins.

The programme includes an insightful last interview with Pern, the reason for his hatred of Wombles and his contentious collaboration with Madness. It’s followed by a compilation of his BBC appearances.

Obituaries aren’t meant to be hilarious, of course. Trust me, this one is.


Brian Pern: a Tribute airs tonight at 10pm on BBC4