Steps are embarking on an epic reunion tour. This comprises weeks of rehearsals, twenty sell-out shows and 170,000 fans. A TV series chronicling this journey over six episodes seems realistic enough. But as week four unfolds and the band commences its first arena performance in over a decade, there is clearly a problem. Nothing exciting is ever going to happen on the Steps reunion tour. Ever.
The morning after, the Steps hold one of their classic sitting-around-a-table chats to debrief manager Stephen. They agree that last night’s performance was nothing short of passable. Faye feels like they’ve not been vocally prepared for this tour. She’s angry about it, but does admit that it’s Steps’ fault as much as anyone’s. Lisa is not so magnanimous, sticking her palm in Stephen’s face and spitting out: “We’ve been bogged down with the choreography and we didn’t realise we’d be doing so much”. That’s right. They thought someone else would be doing all the singing for them. Later, Claire & H reminisce about simpler times when their shows were only 90 minutes long and they could just mime through it. It’s almost as if they want their (made up, to compensate for being beaten by Belle & Sebastian the previous year) Biggest Selling Live Act BRIT award revoking.
Manager Stephen keeps saying “I don’t want to worry you, but…” and then telling stories about how the crew don’t know how to work the sound desk. Later, a backing dancer loses her costume and H runs down some stairs and goes right instead of left at the bottom. Unfortunately, none of these problems amount to anything other than very mild peril. Next, Faye & Claire’s (respective) kids are brought onto the tour bus to try and elicit some drama. However, Lee, who hates kids, just sits in his little self-titled “kiddy-free zone” playing on his phone. (No doubt texting his girlfriend to tell her how much he hates kids.) Even the kids all get along, and do the appropriate amounts of sharing with a sticker book. It’s really dull.
A few days into the tour and finally disaster strikes: the trucks containing their monster stage set almost miss the ferry to Liverpool. At least that’s what we’re told. The footage is ambiguous at best. And HGV meets boat doesn’t immediately bring to mind a high speed chase adventure. The sets arrive, but they usually take EIGHT hours to build, and they don’t manage to start until 2pm, just SIX hours before the show. Tension mounts as the crew are forced to do the unthinkable, and work through their lunch. “Against all odds, they’ve pulled it off.” Even voiceover Theakston sounds bored by this point.
Just when it couldn’t get any more exciting, the tour wagon rolls into Manchester and the scene of the crime – the MEN Arena, where H & Claire resigned and ended the band 11 years ago. On the tour bus, the band has separated into two different camps to reflect – a situation which occurred entirely naturally, without any Sky Living producer intervention. Faye tells a really sad story about how whenever fans would speak to her after the split, they’d accuse her of ruining their Christmas. It’s obvious from the way she tells it that this only happened once, and that the ”fan” was her mum, and that she ruined Christmas with something far more pressing than the Steps break up. Like forgetting to buy ice. Or cheese footballs.
The band traipses to the very same dressing room where it happened, for the ultimate showdown. “It looks exactly the same,” warbles Lisa, close to tears as usual (though that may be due to her ridiculously large false eyelashes). H concurs that the room has the same sofas. Suddenly Faye barges in screaming “THE TABLE’S NOT THERE!” and all hell breaks loose. That’s their thing! How can they have an emotional sitting-around-a-table chat in a room with no table? Nonetheless, once they’ve calmed down, the wronged parties do an admirable job of blathering the same old lines about lack of commitment, never fully regaining trust, and other bitterness. Claire stands in the corridor and interviews to camera that she’d do the same thing again in a flash. We’ve heard these mind-numbing revelations so many times by this point that my ears start ringing. I stare, transfixed by Lisa’s giant eyelashes, willing something to happen. Nothing happens.