Take That: the videos

A brief history of the fab five in the music videos that made them. Teenage crush: unlocked.

It feels like only yesterday that we were painstakingly removing Take That posters from a Smash Hits or Just17 centrefold…

Now, over three decades later, Take That are one of the biggest boy bands of all time, with a shedload of career-defining music videos under their collective (and once upon a time, very midriff-exposing) belts.

From the hip-thrusting early years to their latter overcoated ruggedness, we take a nostalgic look back at the Eras of Take That, as defined by their greatest ever videos…

‘Do What You Like’ (1991)  

Take That - Do What You Like (Official Video)

Baby-faced and covered in what looks to be your Nan’s trifle, Take That’s first ever pop video has become something of a cult classic. Filmed on a budget and featuring the lads dry-humping like a pack of randy puppies, the crowning jewel is the devil-may-care use of jelly to (bafflingly) up the sex factor. Other notes of brilliance: Gary Barlow’s cosmic bleach-up, Mark Owens twirling his hands for twenty-five minutes, and Howard Donald walking into shot with a broom across his shoulders like some cheeky Victorian chimney sweep.

‘Could It Be Magic’ (1992) 

Take That - Could It Be Magic

With Robbie on lead vocals, everyone knew this take on the Barry Manilow classic would have to have a sh*t hot video. Cue: Take That embracing their James Dean Era, complete with leather jackets, hotrod cars and various bits of mechanic detritus for them to dance provocatively in/on/around. More importantly, this video is just a stone-cold classic bit of 90s pop with a nod to the other artists who also happened to be rocking this revamped 50s look (Chris Isaak, George Michael, etc) around that time.

‘Pray’ (1993) 

Take That - Pray (Official Video)

Robed women communicating via mirror signals. Linen shirts flapping in the breeze. Artfully placed driftwood. Some sensual interpretive dance. Yes, ‘Pray’ had it all. Big hits meant bigger video budgets for Take That and, arguably, it was this video that propelled them into a more mature era – one with sepia tones and crashing waves. Plus, it had that synchronised ‘Pray’ power move that no 90s teen will ever forget. If you know, you know. If you know, do it at your desk while reading this. Yep, we see you.

‘Relight My Fire (1993) 

Take That - Relight My Fire (Official Video) ft. Lulu

From Robbie’s outrageously oversized animal-print hat (Jamiroquai, eat your heart out) to Mark’s iconic cropped tee, this was Take That operating at peak 90s fashion power, and lordy lordy, these looks were elite. (Disclaimer: this 43-year-old writer still thinks about Howard Donald in that Breton stripe…) Visually stunning yet brimming with tongue-in-cheek campiness – why not chuck in Lulu in for good measure? – and you’ve got one of the greatest pop videos this country has ever produced, fact.

‘Babe (1993) 

Take That - Babe (Official Video)

The Tim Burton Era: Snow. Furry hat. Illicit child. Lost out to Mr Blobby for Christmas No.1. Mark Owen was robbed. 

‘Back For Good (1995) 

Take That - Back for Good (Official Video)

Ahhh, the sexy rain era. Way before Rihanna was singing “ella ella”, the need for sexy rain was a classic 90s video trope, and ‘Back For Good’ is a perfect example of this. Throw in some furry coats (the beginnings of what was to become another of TT’s signature eras), The Matrix-style sunglasses and Jason Orange playing the guitar in muted black and white tones, and voila: a fine video to accompany what is arguably the band’s best song.

‘Patience (2006) 

Take That - Patience (Official Video)

The video for TT’s reunion single ‘Patience’ is a masterclass of reinvention, while still paying homage to their boy band past. This is Take That but older, wiser, with tousled hair and overnight shadows. And of course, the long coats. Like Austen-esque love interests, the fab (now) foursome were pin-ups for those of us who no longer shopped in Miss Selfridge. And what a comeback song this was.

‘The Flood (2010) 

Take That - The Flood (Official Video)

Robbie is back, and yes, now we’re sculling. The first single from the band’s sixth album, Progress (and the first time Robbie had sung with the band in over a decade), tapped into the idea that Take That were now a reunited team of five with a race to win against the young whippersnappers trying to steal their crown. Proof that the OGs are indeed the best, this video brought TT into an era where experience overcomes youthful swagger. 

‘Happy Now (2011) 

Take That / Fake That - Happy Now - The Video

The Fake That era, where comedians Alan Carr, James Corden, John Bishop, David Walliams and Catherine Tate impersonate the lads throughout their various career video milestones, this video premiered on the Red Nose Day 2011 telethon and ushered TT into a space where they could poke fun at themselves while still smashing out a great song. John Bishop also makes a damn fine Robbie Williams. 

Take That begin their 2024 UK tour in April. Find tickets here.

Photo credit: Aliaksandr Litviniuk / Getty