We have grown used to documentaries where old men talk about the heyday of rock with a solemnity once reserved for memories of the Salonika campaign. The Ballad of Mott the Hoople (BBC4) was no different: this show was exuberant, sad and – occasionally – as funny as This Is Spinal Tap.
There is something reliably comic about the names of minor bands in any rock'n'roll family tree. The members of Mott the Hoople came principally from two Herefordshire groups, the Buddies and the Soulents. They were the musical clay from which the band was moulded by the notorious Guy Stevens of Island Records, whose choicier utterances were spelled out in captions. "There are only two Phil Spectors in the world," he once said, "and I'm one of them."
In true rock style, the singer was dismissed immediately: Stan Tippins was relegated to management.