Survivor faithful to her art

It would be hard to create a fictional character more fantastic than Marianne Faithfull.

She was - perhaps still is - strikingly and enchantingly beautiful.

Her father, she says, was a military man and gentleman spy, an idealist who wanted to change the world, who started a commune in Oxfordshire.

Her mother's maiden name was Eva Von Sacher-Masoch, a dancer in Berlin until the Nazis began their march.

Sent to a convent school, where the nuns interpreted her beauty as badness, she tried hard to be virtuous and good.

But in London she was discovered by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Oldham, and virtuous and good took second place to dating Mick Jagger, pop stardom, heroin addiction, homelessness and many other less-than-virtuous behaviours.

All these things are terrific by themselves.

But what makes Marianne Faithfull truly great was her ability not only to survive, but to take her life - her anger, misery and frustration - and turn it into a work of art through her music.

She, and others, tell her story on Rock Royalty, Marianne Faithfull: Dreaming my Dreams tomorrow on the Documentary Channel.

It's cool.

We learn that when she was young and rich, one of her interests was buying clothes.

"That was before she discovered heroin," former husband John Dunbar says.

Keith Richards chips in with his views, whisky in hand.

Faithfull's music provides the background to this excellent documentary, and the innocence of her voice transforms into rawness and hurt as As Tears Go By becomes Sister Morphine, then Broken English.

Watch this if you have Sky.

Once you have, tune in the following week at 9.30pm and watch the second in the series, this time on Joni Mitchell.

The following two programmes feature Carla Bruni, who married French President Nicholas Sarkozy, and is also terrifically glamorous, and Barry White.

For people with a love of culture, one upcoming series looks like it will be head and shoulders above the rest this year.

Off the Ropes is the latest incarnation of New Zealand pro-wrestling and it is bound to be absolutely terrific.

Never will I forget the Dunedin Town Hall in the 1970s and the huge hits of Big Bad John's boys, Tojo Ono, Waldo von Erich and Abdullah the Butcher, when On the Mat came to town.

They were dead evil and threatened little old ladies in the crowd.

It was so cool.

Off the Ropes was filmed in Wellington, will be screened some time later this year on Prime, and features wrestlers with less exciting names than their 1970s peers.

Time will tell if H-Flame and Shane "The Technician" Whitehead can re-light the flame of Kiwi wrestling.


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