How In On The Joke Are Bros? An Investigation

This evening, Matt and Luke Goss will return to BBC Four for a one-off A Night In With... show.

The entertainment world served up plenty of surprising moments in 2018, but none were as glorious as Bros’ return to the spotlight.

Over a year after delighting their most devoted fans with a series of reunion concerts, Matt and Luke Goss shot straight into the entire nation’s consciousness with their documentary After The Screaming Stops.

Matt and Luke Goss
Matt and Luke Goss
Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

Their backstory is an emotional one; a complicated tale of loss and family feuds, as their dizzying spell in the spotlight came to an abrupt end.

The film explores this while documenting their reunion rehearsals and it became an instant hit and pop culture classic – though perhaps not for the reasons the brothers had hoped.

While their tale is an interesting one, it was the to-camera interviews that had viewers rushing to screenshot the film.

It was so funny that many wondered whether the hilarity was intentional. Surely, surely Bros were in on this?

As they prepare to return for a BBC Four A Night In With special, we’re investigating the conundrum that’s been bothering fans (and us) for months - Are Bros in on the joke?

Exhibit A: The Reunion Concert Announcement

While Bros earned themselves a place TV history when the documentary was released (we’ll obviously get to that soon), their resurgence began when the reunion itself was announced in October 2016.

In the days leading up to the big revelation, HuffPost UK Entertainment were among the journalists who received emails teasing “the biggest reunion in pop” and we’ll admit that, at the time, we hoped it would be ABBA.

Nevertheless, on 5 October, it was confirmed – for one night only, Bros (minus Craig Logan) would be back, performing at London’s O2 Arena.

Looking back, the press release which accompanied this news was rather plain and lacking in good lines, the most interesting being Luke stating: “I’m like a big kid right now, I’m pinching myself.” That was as good as it got.

Little did we know, the Goss brothers’ turn of phrase would later make them cultural icons.

Were they in on the joke? There was no joke to be had at this point and the world was still blind to how much of a moment Bros’ return would be.

The brothers did get an early laugh in though, as everyone who responded to the reunion news with “who?????” was put in their place, when they sold out the 20,000-capacity O2 arena in seconds. Bros: 1. Critics: 0.

Exhibit B: After The Screaming Stops

The release of After The Screaming Stops is when the fun started.

Nobody was crying out for a film about Bros’ return, but as usual, the British public did not know what it needed. With Brexit a mess, the pound falling to a record low and drones causing havoc at UK airports, we were desperately lacking some festive joy. Enter Bros, ready to unwittingly bring some light and laughter into our lives.

The documentary was actually released in cinemas before being aired on the BBC just before Christmas 2018 but unfortunately, it took less than £14,000 at the box office. Six weeks later, it aired on BBC Four and that’s when things really kicked off.

The film follows the brothers in the three weeks leading up to the reunion concert, which had taken place over a year before. It truly has everything; rows about setlists, backstage bust-ups and quotes. So many quotes.

Almost every line the brothers utter – always, always with serious looks on their faces – is TV gold.

“The letters H, O, M, E are so important, because they personify the word ‘home’.” Matt said, while showing the crew around his Las Vegas pad. It’s a line you think can’t be topped, until gems including: “One of my songs is called We’re All Kings, which is about a man sweeping the road. He’s one of my kings, because I’m thankful I don’t have to sweep the road.”

Determined not to let Matt have all the fun, Luke’s comments include, “Rome wasn’t built in a day… but we don’t have the time Rome had”, which we’re still scratching our heads over all these months later.

The critics loved it. “[They]’re] giving us Spinal Tap by way of Smash Hits, yet the duo are ultimately lovable, and the film makes you poignantly aware of how testing their lives have been,” wrote The Times, while The Poke summed it up best with: “[it’s] part Partridge, part Brent, but mostly just a real-life Spinal Tap and it’s brilliant”.

Were they in on the joke? This is when debate around this question began taking place:

Did Bros really lack the self awareness to see how funny they were being? Was Matt really being deadly serious when he said “the best toy we had growing up was a dart. No dart board, just a dart”? HuffPost UK has concluded that the answer to both of these questions is yes.

At this point, there were only two possibilities. Bros were either a) Absolutely not in on the joke, or b) Oscar-worthy actors. They may be Bafta-nominated, but the Academy hasn’t come calling now, has it?

Exhibit C: Luke Goss Responds

Having earned a(nother) place in the pop culture history books, Luke sat down with The Times’ weekend magazine for a solo interview about Bros’ new wave of popularity, a lot of which centred on the fact people had laughed as the brothers earnestly recalled their story.

Released in January 2018, the piece quoted Luke as saying “people will always take the piss” and declaring: “If that’s their contribution to the universe then I pity them.

“I’m kinda sick of being ridiculed. I focus on the good people out there.”

Were they in on the joke? No, we thought. This seemed a pretty big sense of humour failure, but then…

Exhibit D: Luke Responds To The Times’ Interview

Luke’s quotes were soon picked up by other outlets and as his words were circulated online, the drummer clarified his comments on Twitter.

“I’m over the moon with the reaction of the documentary,” he insisted. “Those guys love an angle lol. Anyway... thank you all for being so vocal and supportive about our #film sending #love as always.”

Matt also shared his thoughts, writing: “We are absolutely grateful and ecstatic about the response to our movie,” he wrote. “Thanks everyone.”

Were they in on the joke? This, HuffPost UK has concluded, seems to have been a turning point for the brothers, at which they began to realise the nature of their fresh popularity.

Viewers laughed a lot while watching the documentary, but laughing with people is a lot more fun than laughing at them. If Bros had prevented people from doing the latter, their time back in the spotlight could have been in jeopardy. Embracing the hilarity of When The Screaming Stops has been key.

Exhibit E: Bros At The Brit Awards

The lads enjoyed a well-earned night out at the 2019 event and, in a move that proved just how popular they are again, host Jack Whitehall sat between them for a mid-ceremony chat.

Naturally Jack – whose “best bits” amount to just the three minutes above... – went straight in with a line about Matt’s comments on conkers, quipping: “How important is it that we get the message out there to young people that they shouldn’t wear protection?”

Were they in on the joke? This moment was a real test. Jack (obviously in on the joke because he was making it) posed the question perfectly and Matt’s response reveals just how much he “got” what was going on.

As you can see at around the two-minute mark in the video, the fact Jack was taking the mickey out him appeared to pass Matt by, though he did understand what he was implying and replied: “Are you sure you’re talking conkers?”

It was a slightly cringeworthy moment, to be honest and there’s only one possible verdict. Were they aware of the joke? Yes. In on it, though? Nope.

Exhibit F: A Night In With Bros

Bros at the Baftas
Bros at the Baftas
SOPA Images via Getty Images

Their triumphant return to performing may have been 24 years in the making, but deciding to make another BBC programme has thankfully taken a lot less time.

Seven months after the documentary got the nation talking, the brothers will be back on BBC Four for a special A Night In With Bros programme.

The show has been teased as a “biographical evening as they look back and discuss some of their most memorable moments”, in between performances of “very special songs”.

But that isn’t all that’s on offer. Luke will also lift the lid on his film career, having appeared in films including Hellboy and, in a move that can only have been inspired by the to-camera pieces in After The Screaming Stops, Matt will host his very own talk show, with guests inexplicably including Mo Farah and Frank Bruno.

Are they in on the joke? At this point, yes. Whether or not they remain in the public eye is hinging on whether the brothers take themselves too seriously or not. The eclectic nature of the night in proves the lads are embracing the nature of their popularity and the chat show section in particular is surely going to be an early (or late?) Christmas gift for people on Twitter. Honestly, we can’t wait.

A Night In With Bros airs on BBC Four at 10pm.


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