We in the U.K. can be unbelievably scathing of the BBC. Auntie Beeb is accused of Ageism, political bias and a host of other crimes.
Every now and again something comes along to remind you of the corporations worth. On Tuesday evening the BBC screened a documentary film titled: The Ecstasy Of Wilko Johnson.
Wilko, as any fan knows, was the guitarist and frontman of 70’s alt-rock band Dr Feelgood and since that band split he has forged a solo career. Back in 2013 Wilko was diagnosed with an inoperable and aggressive form of pancreatic cancer.
Johnson was given months to live. Julian Temple, a BBC filmmaker was moved by Wilko’s story and arranged to document Johnson’s journey through cancer. The film was incredibly moving and beautifully put together. Wilko’s cancer was dealt with sympathetically but above all what shone through was Johnson’s stoicism.
Johnson explains how, having been handed a death sentence, he had never felt so alive. As fans will know Wilko went on a farewell tour. A tour that was supposed to signal the ultimate farewell. Wilko wanted to get back on the road and mused that “if cancer is going to kill me it’s not going to bore me.”
Believing that his end was near Johnson went into the studio with Roger Daltry and recorded the album Wilko, Over And Out the album title in itself an indication that Wilko knew that the end was nigh.
The most optimistic life expectations came and went and then something wonderful happened. A photographer who was also a doctor photographed Wilko at a gig and thought that he looked far too well given his illness and prognosis. As a result he contacted colleagues at Adenbrooks hospital who eventually concluded that an operation to remove the tumour. Wilko underwent the surgery and has since made an almost complete recovery.
The BBC have created a wonderful piece of work. A piece of work that had me close to tears and yet which is incredibly uplifting. The show is available on the BBC iPlayer for the next four weeks I urge you not to miss it.
Since then I have managed to catch Wilko in concert on three occasions. Check out my photographs if you want to see images of a man who is relishing every extra second he has been given. Keep on rocking Wilko Johnson.