Finally. A four-part documentary about that shy, withdrawn flower David Beckham. What on earth has been going on in his life since fame, football, Posh Spice and multi-million pound deals made him one of the highest paid celebrities in the world, with 82 million followers on Instagram and a tattoo artist on fast dial?
Please someone reveal the enigma of this squeaky-voiced striker, the former Manchester United and England all-star whose journey from Chingford to Ker-ching-ford is legendary, every second of his drama documented in a blog or a report or a TV appearance somewhere.
You may be sneering about it, but on Beckham (Netflix) interesting new information seeps out from under the sidelines almost immediately.
Looking back on the very first days at Old Trafford we learn that David would spend, spend, spend his footballer’s wages every week, while more astute team-mates, such as his future best man Gary Neville, were busy ‘saving for a rainy day’ and had already done that. invested in a pension scheme. Meanwhile, David bought clothes and Rolex watches, flashy cars and fountain pens.
“Who the fuck buys a pen?” bellows former Manchester United star Roy Keane, with his usual tact and charm. And as always, it’s hard to argue with Roy and his down-to-earth, down-to-earth approach to life.
David Beckham and wife Victoria Beckham with their children, from left to right, Brooklyn, Cruz, Harper and Romeo
Beckham’s parents were avid Manchester United fans, who often traveled the 200 miles from London to Old Trafford to attend home games
David Beckham has been married to Victoria since 1999
This Beckham documentary series is produced by Fisher Stevens, who also conducts the interviews, and was recommended to David by Leonardo Di Caprio, who may tell us everything we need to know.
Fisher promises insights and access, but how much will the Beckhams and their inner circle really give away, considering David’s own production company, Studio 99, co-produced the project?
Plus, you don’t become one of the richest stars in the world without controlling your image until the last bee falls into the honeypot, which is not a euphemism but what actually happens in the opening scenes of episode one.
Wearing his gold monogrammed beekeeping suit (snort), David ventures into the grounds of his luxury barn complex in the Cotswolds to collect honey from the beehives he installed during lockdown.
When he turns on the honey tap, a drunken bee falls into his pot. In another world, in another scenario, some bad football players have gone to court for less. There is nothing here but organic health.
“Oh God, really?” Beckham says, gently reprimanding the fallen bee.
Fisher manages to debunk that David’s other hobby is ‘Lego’, and he wants to name his treasure ‘Golden Bees’, but wife Victoria is in favor of ‘DB’s Sticky Stuff’. Is that sweet or nauseating, revealing or disgusting? You tell me.
The first two episodes of Beckham available in preview for journalists reveal nothing about the controversial issues that continue to swirl around David and his family, such as the rumors about his affairs at the time, his controversial decision to become the face of the World Cup. in Qatar in 2022 – despite the country’s human rights abuses – or the £66 million debt hanging over Victoria’s enigmatic fashion empire.
Not to mention his reported hissy fit over his continued lack of a knighthood or even the recent wedding planner banter over eldest son Brooklyn’s wedding to billionaire daughter Nicola Peltz. Maybe this will all come in episodes three and four? Don’t hold your breath. What we do learn is that if football is a game of two halves, so is David Beckham’s life. His existence as a footballer, celebrity, husband, father and man is divided by what happened on the pitch during England’s 1998 World Cup match against Argentina.
In a moment of madness, the England striker lashed out with his boot at an Argentinian defender who, to be fair, had committed a pretty spectacular foul on him.
David was shown the red card, his disgrace compounded by the fact that England lost the match on penalties.
But that was just the beginning. The reaction that followed was inflammatory. While it is already difficult to distinguish between a football fan with a grudge and a homicidal maniac, this incident has taken the bitter fans’ lust for revenge to a new level of hostility.
David Beckham is now co-owner of Major League Soccer team Inter Miami
The Beckhams moved to LA in 2007, when David Beckham signed to play for LA Galaxy
David Beckham has become a fashion icon, seen here with daughter Harper Beckham in Paris for Paris Fashion Week
For months – if not years – afterwards, Beckham was vilified from the terraces and on the streets. Someone hung his likeness on a lamppost.
The hatred turned towards his family, with fans chanting abuse about Posh Spice at every match they attended.
Today, sitting in the front room of their £31million mansion in Holland Park, with her hair in a bun, Victoria tells Fisher she found it ’embarrassing’ and ‘hurtful’.
But these revelations are not new. I remember her great friend Elton John telling her not to worry about it because they gave him the same abuse during Watford FC games.
What’s interesting is how David regularly clashes with the male figures of authority in his life: his father; Alex Ferguson; England team manager Glenn Hoddle – while the spoiled women in his life are always ready to defend him. His mother, Sandra, believes his father, Ted, was too harsh on him and also blames Hoddle for throwing her dear son ‘under the bus’.
His wife, Victoria, said he was ‘clinically depressed’ after the World Cup incident, but how could she know? Only a doctor, psychiatrist or mental health specialist can diagnose clinical depression, but at the time mental health was uncharted territory and David Beckham had to tackle it himself.
Here he is portrayed as a victim who had the inner strength and character to get through it on his own, without help from anyone else. While there is no doubt that this is essentially true, there is little recognition that there is also a price to be paid for the cars and the clothes and the pens and the glory and the incredible paychecks that come with being an international footballer .
The least of which is maintaining discipline on the football field. Everyone talks about how terrible it was, but no one says the unspeakable: that it was David’s fault and that it was all his own fault.
Despite the luxury of hindsight and the time that everyone involved has to reflect on what happened, there is a staggering lack of insight from all major parties.
Just before the biggest match of his life, Victoria calls him from the US, where she was on tour with the Spice Girls, to tell him she is pregnant with their first child.
Fisher asks her if she thought that would help him. “I don’t really know,” she shrugs.
You can’t help but sympathize with Alex Ferguson’s doubts that Victoria would stop David from focusing on his football.
“After that they just blamed him,” his mother said.
“It was a huge game for me,” David remembers.
He says this at home in the Cotswolds, wrapped in cashmere, as handsome as ever, and exuding a kind of wry, five-layered softness that must surely belie the strength he possessed to get through it.
“I made a mistake,” he says. Then he talks about the first time he got paid for a Brylcreem ad and a big, golden smile spreads across his face like honey.