James Blunt's documentary on Netflix is honest and hugely funny so why did he become a national hate figure?

James Blunt and Sofia Blunt attend the premiere screening of James Blunt: One Brit Wonder at Picturehouse Central in London
James Blunt with his wife Sofia, who features in One Brit Wonder (Image credit: Getty Images)

James Blunt says he's never had a good review, well he's getting one now for his documentary James Blunt: One Brit Wonder which has just hit Netflix

The 90-minute doc follows his 2022 tour, while frequently switching back in time to tell his back story. It's honest, funny, and at times moving as the self-deprecating pop star remembers how he suddenly became a national hate figure. Recalling quite how unpopular he got is the one point in the film where Blunt looks a bit lost for words and genuinely hurt.

James Blunt performs at Royal Albert Hall on April 09, 2024

James Blunt performing at London's Royal Albert Hall in 2024 (Image credit: Getty Images)

And who can blame him? OK, his 2004 smash hit song 'You're Beautiful' might not be to everyone's taste, but the reaction to it from the press and some pop stars looks cruel looking back. Blunt comments: "It felt like I was just back at school and being bullied, but being bullied by a nation." Is being a posh singer who went to Harrow so bad?

Comedians mocked him, fellow musicians shunned him and the tabloids had a field day exposing his private life. Indeed one of the funniest moments of the documentary is his stoic father flicking through the press cuttings scrapbook he lovingly kept on his son. Getting to some lurid tabloid tales, he says: "Quite a lot of sleazy stories in those early days... which are better forgotten."

James Blunt: One Brit Wonder (Official Trailer) - YouTube James Blunt: One Brit Wonder (Official Trailer) - YouTube
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Blunt had his musical dream, achieving incredible success with his debut album 'Back to Bedlam', only to find his dream quickly turning into a nightmare. It’s worth noting just how popular his first album was. It sold over three million copies in the UK, which made it the bestselling album of the 2000s. He also had global success, including in the US.

One of the great advantages of the documentary is all the really early footage of Blunt. Indeed, there's so much it's like James knew someone would make a documentary of his life! Some of the most interesting is the footage of his pre-pop star days in the army. He jokes that to escape a wet training course in Wales he volunteered to go to Kosovo in 1999 as part of a NATO peacekeeping force at the height of the Kosovo War. James recalls a gripping race against the Russians to secure a key airport which might have led to World War Three. He also talks about the terrible things he saw and how he coped. His army experiences proved useful later in life in reminding him however bad the backlash got things could be a lot worse.

James Blunt in 2005

James Blunt in 2005 (Image credit: Getty Images)

We also see footage of James in his second show in 2004 at Ipswich football stadium supporting Elton John. To the audience, James quips: "I know you haven't come here to see me, but my grandmother's here. So Granny, this song is called 'High', it’s about sex and drugs." One Ipswich lad who was there paying attention was a young Ed Sheeran and in the doc, the self-confessed "big fan" speaks about how much of an influence James has been.

Ultimately, James dealt with the constant Twitter trolling by fighting back with jokes. And gosh it's worked. Suddenly people saw another side to James. Maybe he wasn’t the posh drip they imagined to be.

James Blunt: One Brit Wonder is on Netflix now.

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!