TV preview: When Corden Met Barlow

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There’s a theory that at some point in recent years James Corden and Gary Barlow signed a deal which ensured they would dominate British TV screens for a chunk of the Noughties, and beyond.

Given the former’s work on Gavin & Stacey, not to mention his success on stage, there’s perhaps little wonder.

As for Gary, well he’s more ubiquitous than Deirdre Barlow these days, with assorted excellent shows, whether raising money for Comic Relief, visiting the troops in Afghanistan or welcoming in the New Year in a dazzling BBC One extravaganza.

We didn’t really need another show paying tribute to the multi-award winning singer/songwriter, although with an online campaign attempting to get one of his old singles to number one, there is an added degree of topicality.

So settle back ‘GBArmy’ and Cordenites and enjoy their version of The Trip.

No impressions of Ronnie Corbett alas, but we do follow Gary’s long career, from how it began; the Take That phenomenon; the wilderness years, and the darker times which inspired his lyrics.

After a lengthy intro, in which James loads up Gary’s Range Rover with random items of baggage, they talk about stag dos and the fact that Barlow has chosen now to make a documentary like this to “close the door on a pretty rubbish time”.

Of course given the fact he’s just performed at a sold out arena tour around the UK, it’s easy to forget that a decade ago there seemed like little chance of that being possible.

In 2004, Take That were history, Barlow’s debut album wasn’t the success many had hoped for, and it looked like his days under the spotlight had come and gone.

However, in recent years he’s staged a Lazarus-like comeback, scoring a string of chart smashes as the reformed Take That rekindled the interest of their fans, and won over a new generation of followers.

Their hugely successful gigs, either as a four piece or with original group member Robbie Williams, wowed the masses, while Barlow’s aforementioned solo shows left his thousands of fans hoarse with delight.

In this show, he and James visit key places in Gary’s career, including the Working Men’s Club where Barlow learned his craft with 600 or so performances. “I’ve always felt older, and I’ve always felt, whether I was in the band or whatever situation I was in, I was the responsible one,” Gary tells James.

First stop is the studio where Barlow and his band rehearse for the gigs while a starstruck Corden looks on.

Then there’s a trip down memory lane as we are treated to clips and photos from Gary’s formative years; his impressive rendition of The Way You Make Me Feel, complete with stage kick is priceless.

Later, they visit the nightclub where Take That first auditioned, and there are laughs as Gary surprises one of his own fans on their wedding day.

Among the contributors are Elton John, Robbie, Gary’s mother and members of the Press and music industry.

WHEN CORDEN MET BARLOW, BBC1, MONDAY 9pm

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