Against all the odds, Steps survived their Ultimate Reunion Tour. They celebrate the last night of the tour in South Yorkshire. “Sheffield. We’re here because of you. It’s because of you that we have a number one album, that we’ve played to 20 arenas!” screams H. He’s probably giving them a little too much credit. They had at least a couple of hundred at that Bournemouth gig. Not to mention the fifteen fans who airport-stalked them in Belfast. To celebrate, Claire cooks a lasagne and chocolate bread & butter pudding for the entire crew. The highlight of this is undoubtedly the shot of Claire ramming a chunk of bread into her mouth while a member of the production team’s hand surreptitiously removes a tub of “Cock flavoured seasoning” out of shot.
Other than this incidental comedy, the final episode is entirely a ‘will they, won’t they?’ about Steps continuing as a band. It’s a mess of the words future, lucky, opportunities and family commitment spoken over and over again. Everyone is not on the same page. Faye thinks there’s life in the old girl yet, while Lisa thinks this tour has been all about closure. Lee tips the balance firmly into the Lisa camp by proclaiming: “If somebody turns around at the end of the tour and says “see you guys” I probably won’t be friends with them ever again”. That’d certainly be reason enough for me.
Jamie ‘voiceover’ Theakston has sat through six weeks of this shit and is in full piss-ripping mode by this point, as he smirks, “All around them, businesses are flocking to associate themselves with brand Steps”. This leads to a horrible Apprentice-worthy pitch for the Steps perfume. “Call it Number One, because we had a number one album and a top selling tour.” No, don’t. Apparently Britney’s fragrances have done phenomenally well (these smell of H flying first class with Spears & entourage that time) and there have been some spectacular flops, like Katona (which smells of Atomic Kitten supporting the Steptacular Tour, Glasgow 2000). Nonetheless, Lisa likes the pretty bottles. And Faye hopes that this, and stuff like the amazing tour bus, have given the other Steps a taste for the high life they can never walk away from.
The rest of the episode is dedicated to the theme of nothing ever happening on the Steps tour, ever. Lisa says it feels a bit like Groundhog Day. Just like she said last week. And then they use the same return shot after two separate advert breaks. Steps have to decide if they want to continue, but they’re not sure. Lee just wants to give back to the fans, like the philanthropist he is. H is busy tweeting a message which starts “It’s been a rollercoaster…” and thne descends into some garbled noise which is clearly way over 140 characters. He’s probably never even been on Twitter. Lisa stays silent, as ever, except to occasionally mutter “Duuuuuubai”. Claire quite rightly points out that they “don’t have a Gary Barlow in the band who’s going to write a Patience”. Indeed, though she has a reputation for being the chubby one, Claire possesses nothing in the way of song-writing talent.
Faye Step is actually the nicest person in the world. She even gets choked up at some framed old piece of tat the tour promoters give them all, on the last night, at the point where American stars probably get given a car. But Faye’s had enough. And at their final sitting around a table serious chat, she necks a glass of wine and starts dishing out her orders. She’s totally up for doing new stuff. If they don’t do that, it’ll slowly fizzle out, which is not what we want for Steps. Better to shoot it dead, in the face, right now. She stares unblinking around the table, forcing them all to say yes or no.
Everyone gives a tentative yes. Except Claire, who huffs “I just don’t know!” until the end credits roll. Cliff-hanger! Did Claire say yes? Or did Faye finally crack, and start swinging a baseball bat right there at the dinner table?
Maybe the answer was given at the end of Steps: The Ultimate Tour Concert Special, which Sky Living screened immediately after this final episode? But I was at Prince’s O2 residency the night he pulled Elton John from the audience for a couple of songs. I refuse to sully that memory by watching Lee Latchford-Evans cross the same stage. I’m sure it’ll be on Wikipedia.