‘Everest of dentistry’: Shane MacGowan gets new teeth in TV special
Shane MacGowan: A Wreck Reborn documents procedure which could affect Pogues stars rasping singing voice
An hour-long documentary about a person getting dental work might seem an odd idea for a Christmas TV special, but then these arent just anyones teeth: theyre the infamous gnashers of Pogues singer Shane MacGowan.
The 57-year-old is the star of Shane MacGowan: A Wreck Reborn, which chronicles the transformation of the singers mouth from a graveyard of long-departed fangs to a showcase for 28 gleaming new dentures on a titanium frame.
The documentary will air on Sunday night on Sky Arts. Starring alongside the Fairytale of New York singer is Darragh Mulrooney, an Irish dental surgeon who gamely took on a job he described as being as big as it gets.
Interviewed by the Independent in advance of the programme, Mulrooney agreed that the task was the Everest of dentistry, adding: There was a whole team required to get to the summit.
Even as a young man, MacGowan first gained renown with the Pogues in the 1980s, his teeth were the source of considerable awe and concern, his open singing mouth revealing an incomplete and irregular set.
Years of alcohol and drug abuse took a further toll and MacGowans last natural tooth disappeared about seven years ago. In 2009 he had a set of dentures made, but described them as a botch.
Advance photos of the new work show a row of even white teeth broken up only by a single gold tooth the singer insisted on getting.
The nine-hour procedure took place at the instigation of MacGowans girlfriend, Victoria Clarke. Mulrooney said he had to consider not just appearance but the potential effect on MacGowans distinctive rasping singing voice.
Shane recorded most of his great works when he had some teeth to work with, he said. The question on everyones lips is how it will affect his voice. The tongue is a finely attuned muscle and it makes precise movements. Weve effectively retuned his instrument and that will be an ongoing process.
The new teeth have, however, already expanded his diet. The dentist added: There was a moving moment when someone gave Shane an apple to eat something he hadnt done in 20 years.