What was the Omnibus Documentary about?

Shown on Monday 6th November 1995 (BBC1, 50 mins) directed by Kevin Hull and subtitled “A Foundation Course in Art”. The Omnibus programme set out to “tell the story of the creative partnership of Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond, and how they tried to storm into the art world.” The programme began with a (very) brief history of Bill and Jimmy’s music career, from the Timelords to the BRITs, and then concentrated on the burning of the million pounds. Using clips from the “Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid” film (complete with original soundtrack), interviews with both Bill and Jimmy, Gimpo and other associates like Jane Casey, the documentary managed to account the events leading up to and the burning itself, and then went on to look at the aftermath; Bill and Jimmy’s motives for doing it (they gave little away), what they planned to do with the ashes and whether the money burnt was genuine.

They had tried to get several galleries to exhibit the “Nailed to the Wall”, or host the burning, but none would, so they went to Jura and did it there. The programme makers took (“stole” according to Bill, who says he had no knowledge of it at the time) a briefcase containing the remaining ashes from the burning to a number of galleries, to see whether they considered it ‘art’ and what value they would place on it, but most didn’t and hence wouldn’t. It was also taken to a lab where some ‘experts’ examined the ashes, validated the notes and proclaimed them to be the remains of around ukp 80,000 worth of 50-pound notes.

The programme also looked at the beginnings of the film tour, with footage of the In The City showing, Bill and Jimmy in discussion with Jane Casey about projecting it onto the side of the Tate in Liverpool and Gimpo’s reactions to them giving him ownership of the film (“I’ve never been a film director before”). One interesting point is that the film showed Bill and Jimmy being interviewed for Radio 1, and Jimmy rummaging in a bag for the DAT of “The Magnificent”. Bill is clearly heard to say “Make sure it isn’t the DAT with 3 tracks on it”. The nature of these mystery tracks is (as yet) unknown.

List members thought the programme was not really pro-the burning, and perhaps a tad sceptical and biased against it, but was most interesting and informative, nevertheless. Some list members may still have copies lying around.

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