Steps Reunion was undoubtedly a pop highlight of 2011, bringing back our favourite 90s/00s quintet and forcing them to kiss and make-up after a split that was so much messier than any of us ever really realised.
It was a hit with fans, it was a hit with critics, and it was also a hit in the ratings. So it’s unsurprising that SkyLiving are striking while the iron’s hot and giving us a second dosage; following Lisa, H, Claire, Lee and Faye as they prepare to hit the road on their Ultimate Tour.
Is it just as magical as last time? Not really. The truth is that the way the last series ended – the fivesome being jubilant at the warm reception to their return – was such a neat conclusion and a such a fitting re-introduction to Planet Steps that it seems a shame to go through the drama and tensions all over again. Lisa is in Dubai and missing some of the tour rehearsals! Claire’s writing a secret autobiography! The spouses aren’t entirely sure what any of them are thinking! Obviously it was far from healthy putting a glossy sheen on all the hidden friction ten years ago, but letting us in on every petty squabble is hardly endearing. Why create villains and show everyone at their most stressed if you want us as fans to fall in love with them again?
And why – good God why – did we need to see a poor 5 ft 2 dancer in floods of tears at the realisation she wasn’t tall enough? And why did we then need to see her struggle with the choreography? In all genuine seriousness, why was that included? To make her look like a dick? To make us point and laugh? To humiliate her? If there was a good intention behind that particular scene, it was completely missed.
But it’s not all bad. When it pulled its focus off the in-fighting, Steps: On The Road Again really hit its stride. Following Faye around her home-town was a lovely insight, seeing the band (minus Lisa) introduced to their set design was exciting, and any time Claire made a joke it was hilarious. But there were times when it was worth questioning why exactly any of them were even touring again when they all seemed so bloody miserable about it – and whilst the blame for that probably falls in the lap of editors and producers rather than the band themselves, it was the latter who came off looking the worse for it. And as a long-term fan, I for one was unimpressed.