Newsnight examines the legacy of David Bowie, airing again his interview with Jeremy Paxman and speaking to Nile Rodgers, Tom Robinson and Bernard Sumner.
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# I've got scars that can't be seen. #
One of the premier talents of 20th century music
It's only in retrospect that we can properly evaluate his musical
Does he deserve the uncritical adulation he's getting today?
We'll hear from his sometime collaborator Nile Rodgers,
along with Tom Robinson, Bernard Sumner and the curator
of the Bowie exhibition, Victoria Broackes.
And of course we'll hear plenty from the man himself.
Do you think of yourself as Bowie or David Jones,
I don't even know how to pronounce it any more,
Also tonight, there is some other news.
What the public think of tomorrow's doctors' strike.
We'll discuss the results of a Newsnight poll on the subject.
Newsnight hears of problems for the independent
to give evidence to this inquiry because we don't have confidence
in the way that our evidence is going to be handle
We don't believe it's an independent inquiry.
Sometimes on these occasions, the death of a national icon,
people will say "It was as though we knew them personally".
With David Bowie, I'd suggest it is different.
We knew him, but he was not the man next door.
The master of alter ego and adaptation through his career,
he remained elusive and enigmatic to the end.
And yet he was also familiar and ever-present.
There's been a lot of looking back today, but here is Stephen Smith
with his assessment of David Bowie and his career.
Despite all the costume changes, it's striking how unchanging Bowie
Single-minded, his own man, the star we know was remarkably
The nucleus of some of his friends, a 17-year-old David Jones has just
founded the Society for the prevention of cruelty
I think we are all fairly tolerant, but for the last two
years, we have had comments like, darling, can I carry your handbag
But does this surprise you, that you get this kind of comment?
Because we have got really rather long-haired, haven't you?
I was learning about how to play rhythm and blues,
learning how to write, finding everything that I read,
every film that I saw, every bit of theatre,
everything went into my mind as being in influence.
Bowie as his first great alter ego Ziggy
Every persona he put on was like a disguise to help him
slip across the border from pop to something bigger.
They said he was coming round the back. I have been waiting ages to
see him. Who are you so upset? He's smashing.
I thought you were doing an intro. Right. One. I was not a natural
performer. I didn't feel at ease on stage, ever. I felt really
comfortable going on stage as somebody else. And it seemed a
rational decision to keep on doing that. So I got quite be soed with
the idea of creating character after character.
# Fame # Makes man who takes things over
# Fame... # I wanted on to the instigator of new
ideas. I wanted to turn people on to new things and new perspectives.
Nothing you have seen or heard about David Bowie will prepare you for the
impact of his first dramatic performance, in The Man Who Fell to
Earth. This is another dimension of David
Bowie, one of the few true originals of our time.
Five year, that's all. I'll be back. The man who played the part of a pop
star to perfection became a screen actor. For better or worse he was
always David Bowie. He will land on his feet.
# Let's Dance # Put on your red shoes
# And dance the blues # Let's Dance
# To the song they're playing on the radio. #
I think we are out of characters now. I am just into suits and the
suit will change from tour to tour but the bloke inside is generally
much the same. Which is the real David Bowie? The lad from Brixton,
the pop megastar to coin a phrase. I will bring him on. Or the
40-year-old yuppy with the son at private school. I think it is all.
Yuppy? Get out of here! # Golden years #
He might have got rid of his post-war British teeth but not his
accent. Although he seemed to spend the last years of his life in
Manhattan, he was still one of ours. I think I have sold out to be
honest. It is difficult, to keep integrity when you are going for
that... # Little fat man who sold his soul
# # Chubby little loser. #
# Chubby little loser # National joke. #
Not thupy little loser. # Pathetic little fat man
# No-one's laughing # The clown no-one laughs at. #
Do you think of yourself ASBOey or the David Jones from south London.
Less an Les as Bowie. I don't even know how to pronounce it any more, I
have lost track. I have always thought it was Bowie. It is a
Scottish name. But no-one in Scotland pronounces it like that.
The actor manager of his own life his final performance was
# # Look up here
# I'm in heaven # I've got scars that can't be seen.
# I've got drama, can't be stolen. # Every body knows my now. #
His producer said his death was no different from his life. A work of
art. The New York Times wrote
about David Bowie that he understood "Theatricality has more to do
with presence than gimmickry, and that beautifully coordinated
physical movements and well-planned music can reach an audience a lot
quicker than aimless prancing At the time, he was
barely known in the US. The Times was describing how Bowie
stood out favourably among what it called, "tinseled English rock
superstars sprouting Over the next few years,
Bowie obviously stood out more - he established his artistic
reputation over there. And 10 years later came
the album Let's Dance. It turned out to be a huge
commercial success - That was produced by Nile Rodgers,
one of the founders And a little earlier
I spoke to him. I just walked into a nightclub, with
Billy Idol one day and early one morning, about 5am, and we just
happened to notice David was sitting in the corner, all by himself,
sipping on an orange juice. I just boldly walked over and introduced
myself, because I knew that he, he lived in the same building as a lot
of the Young Americans. They were all friends I had gone to high
school with, and so I just started chatting with him, and for some
reason, we instantaneously hooked up, because our conversation went
from the Young Americans and the friend we knew, to jazz musicians
that we idolised. And David Bowie, was he, well to be as creative as
him, you have to have a vision, and you have to stick to it. Was he
difficult, did you argue, what was your personal relationship like? We
didn't argue because I stuck to the vision. Basically what happened is,
before we did, before we wrote a note of music, we went on a, I don't
know, a week long, two week long expedition, journey, if you will, of
music and rock 'n' roll iconography all round the city, round income New
York eNew York City, after that we had a good idea of the album, and
then he said to me, that he wanted me to do what I did best. I thought
that he didn't know what I did best, and I said, well, what do you think
I do best? And his said, in no uncertain terms, no uncertain term,
you make hits. I want you to make a hit. I was perplexed. Like David
Bowie wants a hit? I mean you are coming off the Scary Monsters that
is so unhit like to me in my world, so I was a little dumbfounded,
but... Who was the teacher in this relationship and who was the
student? Were you teaching him how to do hits or he was teaching you
how to be the cool rock guy? We became partner, so it was a sort of
symbiotic relationship, so this is how David made me clear, as to what
the record should sound like. He came to my apartment one day and he
was holding something behind his back. I wasn't really paying
attention to it that much, because he would knock on my door, I would
open the door and he had it behind his back. He said Nile darling, I
want my record to sound like this. And it was a picture of little
Richard addin a red suit, getting into a red Cadillac, and I knew what
he meant. I knew exactly what he meant. I knew that he didn't want a
record that went... Good golly... I knew he didn't want that, I knew
from the way that picture looked, that he wanted something that was
evergreen, that would look like the future even in the year 2050, or
whatever, makes no difference what year it was, it would be, it would
seem plausible that a band, a live band could walk in and just say, we
just made this record today, like today, if you heard Let's Dance
company 2 even though we may not have had the type of things that you
have in current music, but you could still believe that a live rock 'n'
roll band cutlet's dance if you just heard that today. It would be
believable. Let us about that. It is a notable riff, a catch in Let's
Dance. # Let's Dance. #
The first part of the riff, the staccato, that is my riff. The delay
part of it was the engineer, and I just found out from him, only a few
months ago, that that was an accident, that we just happened to
walk in the studio, while he was looking for the different delay
times to put on the different, on various instruments but he had them
all going at the same time. I heard that, coming out of the guitar, and
the t on the different, on various instruments but he had them all
going at the same time. I heard that, coming out of the guitar, and
the horn, and t on the different, on various instruments but he had them
all going at the same time. I heard that, coming out of the guitar, and
the horn, and I was like "That's he same time. I heard that, coming out
of the guitar, and the horn, and I was like "That's amazing," and he he
same time. I heard that, coming out of the guitar, and the horn, and I
was like "That's amazing," and he was like "Cool." Look. David Bowie,
I think, said after this album, this was his best selling album Let's
Dance. He said it was very difficult after that, to produce, it was
difficult to come up with the next thing, really. It wasn't that he
couldn't come up with the next thing, it is just that I think that
he expected people and this is just my guess, that he expected people
wanted him to make another big hit, but he also wanted to do it his way.
And, because if he wanted another one, you would think, he would call
me again and say Hay Nile let's do Let's Dance 2. Instead he did
something completely different and it didn't quite work commercially.
Of all the things the David Bowie did, apart from Let's Dance, what
did you like the most? I really am a fan of his songs, so I loved the
earlier stuff. Let me put this in context so you really get this. The
very first time I ever heard of him, I met this girl in Miami Beach, she
was a photographer at this restaurant but I went to, and she
says, they have a new beach right down the road, and I would like to
spend a night there with you, and I want to play this artist but I love.
So what did I say? Of course! So we went to this beach, took off our
clothes, and she played, Ziggy played guitar... And suffragette
city and all of that stuff. I had this most gorgeous girl, we are
lying on the beach, and David Bowie is jamming away, and it was killing
me. It was one of the most surreal, amazing moments, a hippy kind of
moment, that you could have. Thank you so much for your time.
An anecdote that tells you how musical tastes are born.
David Bowie was born in 1947, in the first wave of the baby boom,
and there's no doubt that the generation of baby boomers
who followed behind him felt his presence particularly
strongly - the Monty Python cohort, people who are now over 50.
But one of the reasons why Bowie's death has been such a big event
worldwide is, of course, that he managed to appeal
From a guest appearance on the Bing Crosby Christmas Special
in 1977, to a cameo appearance in the movie Zoolander,
Spongebob's Atlantis Square Pantis in 2007, Bowie compressed
I am joined now by a panel of baby boomers to discuss his legacy. New
order Frenchman Bernard Sumner in Salford, and here, Victoria Brooks,
who curated the V exhibition on David Bowie and the musician and DJ
Tom Robinson. Good evening to you all. Bernard, let's start with the
musical influence. Obviously there are lots of different influences in
him, but which bits did influence you or didn't? The first time I ever
heard him, I was 13, and I was here in Salford, but in North Salford,
and I was hanging around the streets with a group of my friends, and
someone opened the door to a house, and out came Space Oddity. I was
only 13 and not really into music at that stage, the Latics Aryans was
part of my musical awakening -- but that experience was part of my
musical awakening. To hear something like that coming out of a house
playing on the radio was surreal. Then later on, it was the Glam rock
years, and Ziggy Stardust and all of that, but what really made an
impression on me was Heroes, because the band we started, Joy Division,
started in 1977, and that came out in 1977. The B-sides were
instrumental and had an austere sound that suited and what kind of a
soundtrack to the city we lived in, Manchester, which was
post-industrial chaos. No one had jobs, it seemed to rain all the
time. But that music was a perfect soundtrack to this city. And then of
course you had the other sides of the records, songs like Sound and
Vision, and that, along with Heroes are my two all-time favourite David
Bowie records. So we have heard a bit about the music. Let me bring
the others in for a moment. Looking slightly beyond the music, culture.
The exhibition was obviously more than just David Bowie records
playing. We did have music throughout the show, and I think our
first thought when we first came to be working on a show was that Sound
and Vision had to be at the very heart of the exhibition, and the
artefacts were around that story. But of course what made him so
interesting from our perspective, because we are about art, design and
performance, is that he draws his influences from such a wide range of
places. So he is eclectic. Hugely eclectic across time and genre and
everything you can imagine. And he did act, he did art. Would we be
talking about him as an artist or an actor if he wasn't David Bowie of
Space Oddity? Interesting. We had some very early recordings of
interviews that he gave in the 1960s, and he definitely wasn't
certain about whether he was going to be a singer, but he was going to
be a performer of some kind. He auditioned for various musicals, he
auditioned for Hair, for example, he didn't get in but his girlfriend
did. His other things were great as well, he was highly acclaimed in
something like the Elephant Man. But video was crucial as well as sound
in the exhibition. And let's rob on it one more step. Tom Robinson,
1977, this was androgynous rock, this was quite something. I couldn't
possibly have done that if it hadn't been fit David Bowie before. He and
his music made such an impact on me in my early 20s in 1972 that I just
saw to myself that if I ever had a chance to do the same for other what
he had done for me in terms of changing my life seen, that I had
choices, that it was possible to have a happy life if you were
attracted to the same sex, that message was not there before because
in the 60s, men went to prison if they were gay, so there was not one
role model. David Bowie was the first person who came along and said
it was cool. He was a bit more ahead of his time than you were crediting,
because it was gender bending as well as sexuality. It was the full
panoply, LGBT and beyond. A wide variety of people who felt that they
didn't fit in with the straitjacket of society, even in the supposedly
swinging 60s we still had that. But they suddenly relies did this person
that he was the possibility of a wider world. But it wouldn't have
meant a thing of the music hadn't have been astonishing. So why did
David Bowie stick out among Glam rock artists. There were others,
Marc Boland is the most notable. But he shone above most of the others
who tried it. Because he transitioned through it. Mark Bolan
was good, too, my first record was by him. The David Bowie went on to
do so many other things than Glam rock. Glam Rock was a mixed bag,
there were some bad things in it, but right until he has just died,
you stay the distance and made fantastic records from the day he
started. Not every single one, but he made a lot of brilliant records.
Is there anything after 1990 that sticks out? Obviously his career
wasn't the same after 1990. I liked title The Next Day. It is strange,
because the band I started, Joy Division, we started off
introspective and austere, very intense, and David Bowie was very
open and forward and outward. And we have become like that now, and he
has become like we were when we started out. It is usually the other
way around. Is there only other artist who you could have an
exhibition around in the way you did around David Bowie? What is it take
to be like that? I think there is no other artist like him. There are
other artist we could have an exhibition around because we were
doing -- we would do a different story, but the way that he took
ideas from everything to Dada, surrealism, George Orwell, I don't
think there is an artist who has the breadth of influences and the reach
that he had, because he managed to be a cult performer at the same time
as being massively popular, and I think that is very own usual
position. Tom, it feels like his period was the period where music
was a great shaping force. Yes, it was the great bush telegraph through
which culture was transmitted, because we didn't have an Internet.
Pop songs gave us that kind of information, and even into the
hip-hop era that has been true, but the Internet has changed a lot. Was
it inevitable that he would lead this alternative life up until the
1990s, and then settle down, he lived in New York? It isn't just
that he lived an alternative life. He blazed a trail for other people,
and he went through the mill, and he suffered in his career in America
because of some of his excesses on this side of the pond, never achieve
the stature that he secretly always wanted. And I think he earned the
right down a quiet retirement and to have the last 20 years of his life
where he had his privacy and could do whatever he wanted, and fair play
to him. We have to leave it there, thank you very much indeed.
Before we move on to other things, let's just spend a minute listening
Back in 2000, turn of the millennium, he spoke
This exchange on the internet is particularly interesting.
You don't think that some of the claims being made for it
When the telephone was invented, people made amazing claims for it.
The president at the time, when it was first invented,
He said he foresaw the day in the future when every town
I don't think we've even seen the tip of the iceberg.
I think the potential of what the internet is going to do
to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable.
I think we're actually on the cusp of something
It's just a tool, though, isn't it?
It's simply a different delivery system, though.
Yeah, I'm actually talking about the actual context
and the state of content is going to be so different
to anything we can really envisage at the moment,
where the interplay between the user and the provider will be
so in simpatico, it is going to crush our ideas of what mediums
Jeremy Edwards just playing devils advocate!
And you can watch the full 16 minutes of Jeremy's encounter
with David Bowie on the Newsnight YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Tomorrow, the NHS faces a day of disruption -
Now you know what the junior doctors think of Jeremy Hunt,
but do you know what the public think of the junior doctors?
Well, we've been trying to find an answer to that question,
so we commissioned a poll with Health Service Journal
On the eve of the first doctors' strike in 40 years,
we have stuck a polling thermometer under the tongue of the English
When asked, "Would you support or oppose junior doctors striking
if they still provided emergency care?", 66%
For the first two planned strikes, the doctors say they will still
provide emergency cover, but for the third planned strike say
In these circumstances, support drops to 44%,
but still ahead of those opposed to the action,
The final question we asked was about why the doctors
The politicians are offering their diagnoses.
In today's Telegraph, the Mayor of London,
"It strikes me at least some of these people
are more interested in politics than their patients.
The BMA leadership is in the grip of advanced Corbynitis."
But that attitude wasn't reflected in our sample.
Only 8% thought the strike had a political cause.
64% thought it was about work issues, such as long hours,
So, at the moment, the English public seems to be behind
the doctors, though that of course could shift,
as the impact of the strike becomes clearer.
Joining me to discuss whether to strike or not
is the Conservative MP and head of the Health Select Committee Sarah
Wollaston, and junior doctor Rachel Clarke,
Before we talk about the merits of the strike, the merits of the case
of the junior doctors, scale of one-to-one 00, how much sympathy do
you have with their argument? I o do have a great deal of sympathy but we
need to be careful about the stress on union doctors and the long hours
they work, what has been achieved so far, there has been significant
compromise on some of this, particularly round the issue of
whether we would see a slide back in to the dangerously long hours my
generation of doctors used to work. Having the retention of financial
penalties was important. But you are against the strike. I just don't
feel it is right for junior doctors to go on strike. I imagine it
pleases you that the public, basically in our poll, support the
junior doctor, particularly if you are not damaging emergency cover. It
pleases me, it is no surprise at all. I think the public trust
doctors for a reason. We go into medicine because our one reason is
to look after them. What about on your third strike you are prancing
to withdraw emergency cover, aren't you. There will be emergency cover
from consultants and nurse, but why given what the public think don't
you say make the third strike the same as the other two, where we
don't withdraw emergency cover? I think, I can't answer that from a
BMA perspective. I am just an ordinary grass roots doctor, but
from my perspective, I think that we are clearly striking initially
tomorrow in the safest way we can, so we are making a statement, and we
hope very much that the Government will listen to that statement while
absolutely preserving our patients' safety. There is a period of time
between tomorrow's strike and the all out strike in February, and I
see that period as an opportunity for this Government to finally
recognise that in coming up with a new contract based on an entire new
set of NHS service, so the Conservative party's seven day NHS's
new activity, with no extra money whatsoever, so how is it provided?
This new activity as weekends with no extra doctors? By makes us work
harder. The public are clearly sympathetic to the strike,
basically, and you are sympathetic to the cause, so what is wrong with
the strike? Because first of all I don't think I will achieve anything.
I think it will harm patients and I don't think that is right either for
patients or doctors, I think particularly when they do move, if
that does happen, to withdrawing emergency cover, I think there will
be significantly greater harms for patients and I think that will risk
undermining that very important bond of trust, because as we have heard,
there are the most trusted profission, I think there are grave
dangers that will be undermined. Let me put this to you, we asked the
public whether they thought it was a strike about pay or patient safety.
I think you think it is about patient safety don't you Rachel the
public thought it was about pay, probably. Yes, again that is not a
surprise, the Conservative Party, the Government have been furiously
spinning this, as a pay dispute. And from my perspective that is
categorically not why I am striking tomorrow. My vows as a doctor, I
take very very seriously, and I withdraw my patient care tomorrow,
for one reason, and one reason alone, and that is to protect my
patients. For me, and for all junior doctors the essence of this strike
is not pay, it is safe staffing levels. You believe that? I think
the situation has changed. What it is is about reducing the length of
working time doctors can be forced to work. It is about reducing the
number of consecutive nights they can work, the other thing is greater
safeguard foger doctors who want to report they are being forced to
Bjork hour, the financial penalties are being brought back, so I think
there are been changes. Are you saying they lying when they say it
is not about pay. I used to teach doctors before I went into politics,
I remember in 2007, the huge distress there was round the end
task as it was brought in, the way doctors applied for job, what we
have seen is a kind of, the junior doctors lead a more nomadic
lifestyle, there are many ways they work which are divot for them. In in
many respects I imagine Sarah did ludicrous kind of 90 hour shifts,
you are not doing that now? Sure with the greatest respect, Sarah,
you are now an MP, you haven't been a doctor for some time, and you
certainly haven't been a junior dock for for many years. Can I come back
on that point. I would like to answer the question if I may. I am a
junior doctor on the front line now, I know what is happening now. What I
know now is recruitment and retention of junior doctors is so
bad, that virtually every on call shift I work in my hospital, there
is a gap in the rota t and to put that in terms that the public can
understand, that means instead of carrying my crash bleep for cardiac
arrest, my emergency bleep, where I am responsible for maybe one, 200
patients who might have emergencies through the night. I get given the
bleep of another doctor who isn't there because there is a gap. I am
covering 400. This contract is going to reduce morale, and make reCruise
cruetment and retention worse and hence the safety implications. --
recruitment. To come back on the fact I used to teach doctor,
including foundation two doctors in hospital, you know, and up until
2015, I have a daughter who is a junior doctor currently spending a
year in Australia, but of course it wasn't pay and conditions that
drives many junior doctors to have that year abroad, it subpoena often
other issues to how they can co-ordinate their rotas with their
partners and so on. The argument will continue. Thank you both.
You have not heard much about the Conservative Party's
bullying scandal in recent weeks, partly because the party's inquiry
into what went on and what went wrong is getting underway.
It's meant to be an independent inquiry, run by a top law firm.
For the party to put the scandal behind it,
it needs that inquiry to be credible.
However, Newsnight has learned that not all is going well.
Some important witnesses are reluctant to take part,
sceptical of the outcome, of of their evidence
Nick Hopkins has been speaking to them.
So tragic, the Prime Minister pledged an urgent investigation.
It is not something that any parent should have to go through.
What the Conservative Party must do and what it is doing and what I have
ensured is happening is that there is a proper investigation.
Over the past few days Newsnight has spoken to 14 people who count
themselves as potentially key witnesses in the Tory bullying
And nine of them have told us they will not give evidence.
All of these nine are either former members of staff at CC HQ
They say they were victims of bullying, sexual abuse,
blackmail, but none of them have confidence in this investigation.
This woman is refusing to participate in the inquiry.
She fears witness intimidation, a legal threats.
I am worried that Mark Clarke and his associates will find out
who I am, link my ID with what I have said,
and find out where I live, who I am, where I work.
And that he and his associates will come after me and try to use
force and intimidation to try to get me to retract
In November, Natasha told Newsnight Clarke bullied
The initial letter she and others received from the law firm
inviting her to be a witness did little to dispel her anxiety.
In December, Josh Hitchens discovered a complaint
he had made to the party in 2014 about bullying appeared to have been
Clifford Chance are gathering the evidence, so the witness
transcripts and everything else, they are passing them directly
to the Conservative Party Board, who will make an assessment of them,
edit them and publish a report with them compiled.
There's a lot of people I know, including myself, are unwilling
to give evidence to this inquiry because we don't have confidence
in the way that our evidence is going to be handled
We don't believe it is an independent inquiry.
That very fact there is a perception of lack of independence
and integrity in the process nullifies it, because a lot lot
and integrity in the process nullifies it, because a lot
of people who have crucial bodies of evidence aren't willing
to support that evidence, because they don't believe
And that is the problem for the Tory party.
To draw a line under this issue, to make sure that the situation
never happens again, the inquiry has to be credible.
And to be credible, all the key witnesses need to give evidence.
If they don't, then the clamour of those who say the party failed
in its duty of care to Elliott Johnson will only grow louder.
It is an investigation by a commercial firm
of solicitors who have had links with the Conservative Party
into certain aspects of the Conservative
Party behaviour along the terms of reference decided
It is not an independent investigation.
The inquiry into what happened in the
Conservative Party is according to Clifford Chance of making good
progress, and in a statement tonight, they said witnesses
would be able to insist on confidentiality.
The student vote is really important.
Elliot Johnson's family are conducting their own
inquiry into bullying within the Tory party.
They think it is the only way to get to the truth.
The Tory party says it can't say anything
There is more David Bowie coming up here on BBC Two.
Five years in the Making of an Icon the programme is called.
So we leave you with Ziggy Stardust, performing Five Years
on the Old Grey Whistle Test, 44 years ago in 1972.
# If the black hadn't pulled her off.
# I think she would have killed them.
# Fixed his stare to the wheels of a Cadillac
# A cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest
# And a queer threw up at the sight of that.
# I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour.
# Drinking milkshakes, cold and long.
# Smiling and waving and looking so fine.
# Don't think you knew you were in my song
Rtners and so on. The argument will continue. Thank you both.
After the spring-like mild weather we saw,
Newsnight examines the legacy of David Bowie, airing again his interview with Jeremy Paxman and speaking to Nile Rodgers, Tom Robinson and Bernard Sumner. Plus junior doctors and the Tory bullying row.