I have just got round to finishing my viewing of "Bernard Manning - From Beyond the Grave". A bit late, I know. This was Manning's own televisual obituary - presented by him.
I started with a reasonable view of Manning based on testimonies from the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson. I ended with a poor view of the man. Yes, he worked a lot for and gave a lot to charity, we were told. Yes, it seemed he was cherished by his friends and family. The message he recorded to be shown to attendees at his funeral was eloquent and touching. But he was a racist and his language about other races was disgusting. He had a rant during the film about being British and that other races born in Britain aren't British, adding the charming adjoinder: "just because a dog is born in a stable does not make it a horse".
He was very successful, though (although his career plummeted in the nineties). You have to ask questions about audiences who supported him over the years. I am pleased to say I wasn't one of them. I turned the telly over as soon as he came on.
It is strange that when Billy Connolly effs and blinds it seems funny. When Manning did it, it just seemed coarse.
The film was remarkable. Unnerving, I would say. If anyone ever thinks again that it is a good idea to show on television the recently deceased body of a 77 year old man who had diabetes, angina and was recovering from a stroke then my advice to them would be: don't.
Manning had a propensity to sit around dressed only in his underpants. Fair enough. But his propensity to allow camera crews to film him in such a state was unedifying.
It is very unusual for someone to present their own obituary. I see that Manning also wrote obituaries of himself for the tabloids. Why? Noone else does it. Doesn't it speak volumes that he felt he had to present his own version of his life?