Robbie Williams reveals his ‘Reel Stories’

Saturday: Robbie Williams: Reel Stories - (BBC2, 8.45pm)
Robbie Williams and Dermot O'LearyRobbie Williams and Dermot O'Leary
Robbie Williams and Dermot O'Leary

Last month, Robbie Williams released his new album, XXV, to mark 25 years as a solo artist.

However, he’s been in the public eye for much longer than that – he technically had his first solo hit in 1996 and had already enjoyed four years of chart success with Take That.

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In fact, to quote the title of his debut album, he’s lived his Life Thru a Lens. That has undoubtedly had its downsides, as he’s been the subject of intense media scrutiny during his career.

In a recent interview with Good Morning Britain, he admitted that despite being the era when he defied expectations by becomes a chart-topping solo artist, he struggled during the late 1990s. He said: “When I felt the most melancholy [was] 1995 to 2000, where I rode that train into hedonism. I lost everything, myself, my world, my life, my friends, my family, my hope.”

Luckily, it seems the star is in a much better place now – he’s said that he embraces being called a showbiz veteran as it means he’s still here – so hopefully he’s ready to look back on his career in Robbie Williams: Reel Stories.

For anyone unfamiliar with the occasional series, which has previously featured Dave Grohl, Noel Gallagher, Kylie Minogue, Sting and Rod Stewart, it finds Dermot O’Leary sitting down with a musician to watch an array of clips from across their career. And with Robbie, there should be plenty of footage to choose from.

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Dermot certainly thinks he’s the perfect subject for Reel Stories, saying: “I’ve known Robbie for a very long time, and always loved his company, but I’ve never properly interviewed him.

“He is, of course, an incredible performer, but he’s also one of our finest songwriters, responsible for generational anthems. He’s the most honest, candid, wise and funny man, who’s come through some tough times to become the national treasure he is today. I hope you enjoy his story.”

It’s a tale that begins even before the boyband days with a young Robbie on stage in Oliver!

Dermot then takes the star through his then momentous decision to quit Take That, some of his many solo triumphs, including his appearance at Glastonbury and his Knebworth concert, and his reunion with his former bandmates for a 2011 tour.

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When BBC2 initially announced they were devoting an evening to Robbie, one of the highlights was intended to be his set at Radio 2’s live event in Leeds. However, the concert was cancelled following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

There is still a chance to see him on stage though thanks to Robbie Williams: One Night at the Palladium, which finds him music taken from his album Swings Both Ways, with a little help from special guests Lily Allen, Rufus Wainwright and Muppet stars Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.

The evening then concludes with a TOTP2 special featuring some of his most memorable appearances.