“Men screaming – not singing, screaming!” Watch the chaotic time extreme metal antagonists Cradle Of Filth took a Christian mum on tour

Cradle Of Filth in 2000
(Image credit: Mick Hutson/Redferns)

Unsurprisingly, you didn’t get much black metal on UK television back in the 90s. There was no Mayhem on Top Of The Pops, no Impaled Nazarene bantering with Chris Evans, and certainly no Emperor on Frank Skinner’s sofa. In fact, save for a couple of news reports about church-burnings, the only exposure a mainstream audience got to black metal was on an infamous 1998 episode of BBC show Living With The Enemy, starring none other than Cradle Of Filth

The premise of Living… was simple: take two individuals with polarising views and stick them together. Other episodes featured a UK aristocrat sharing his mansion with a Marxist class warrior, or a vegan activist going to live on a farm. But the most well-remembered show featured concerned Christian mother Janet Robinson, disgusted by her son Luke’s love of black metal, heading out on tour with Dani Filth’s devilish consortium.

The episode set Janet up as a pearl-clutching fusspot immediately. “He calls that music! I don’t call that music, I call it noise!” she moans by way of introduction. She adds, “Men screaming – not singing, screaming!”, before pulling out a school picture of her son, sat next to her in full corpse paint, fondly remembering him as “a nice young man”.

Interspersed between shots of Janet berating Luke for the way he looks, his taste in music and the posters up on his wall (“That one’s got blood in his mouth! That can’t be healthy!”) are interviews with Cradle, who are clearly playing up to their part as arch provocateurs. They happily bring up their controversial “Jesus Is A Cunt” t-shirt, as Dani claims he “honestly doesn’t give fuck” what people think of them.

The next half an hour is quite the riot. Janet and her equally conservative daughter Lynne head to Paris and end up crying at a Cradle Of Filth signing session. They go to Belgium and have a cup of tea with then-guitarist Stuart Anstis and keyboardist Les Smith, with Stuart brilliantly telling a frothy-mouthed Lynne that any child “fucking stupid” enough to believe what Cradle say deserve everything they get. Mum and daughter watch three songs at a gig before hot-tailing it out of the venue, then they get stood up by Dani in Amsterdam. When the frontman eventually turns up, he unapologetically tells them – in relation to that classic, blasphemous t-shirt – that Cradle Of Filth “aren’t above anything”.

Eventually, there is some sort of happy ending, with superfan Luke turning up at a pair of the band’s shows in Ireland and, with them embracing her son so warmly, Janet finally realising that Cradle Of Filth are actually standup fellas. Dani even expresses concern that the programme showing them in such a normal light might actually hurt the band’s image, while Janet gets home and says she can now see the funny side. She laughs that she herself might even “don a black wig and go all theatrical”.

In the aftermath of the show, Cradle Of Filth seemed to be somewhat ashamed of the fact that they were involved.

“At the time it was fine, just another thing that we were doing, ’cos the band had just suddenly broken big and we were doing all kinds of weird things,” Dani told Metal Hammer in 2007, before going on to admit that he was too embarrassed to watch the show himself.

“I never actually watched that programme. I just couldn’t bear to. I was in the other room and heard all this laughing – my friends and my girlfriend were really chortling.”

But Dani needn’t have worried about taking part or the effect that it would have on their image. In the years that followed, he and Cradle became some of the most infamous names in extreme metal, particularly to those from outside of the genre. If you asked any “normal” person to name a black metal band around the turn of the millennium, chances are they’d have said Cradle Of Filth. 

Within a few years, Dani was appearing on Never Mind The Buzzcocks (another primetime BBC staple), Cradle were signed to a major label and their vocalist’s place as a pop culture icon was secured. Not bad for a bloke whose job was “screaming, not singing”. 

As for Janet? Well, we don’t know, but hopefully she did slap on that black wig and reminisce about her time on tour with a legendary black metal outfit at least once.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.