From such early outings as Amos Poe and Ivan Král's Blank Generation (1976) and Don Letts's The Punk Rock Movie (1978), documentaries about punk have tended to focus on the boy bands. Until now, The Punk Singer (2013), Sini Anderson's profile of Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna, was the only study attempting to present the grrrl's eye-view against the likes of Julien Temple's The Filth and the Fury (2000) and Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (2007) and Michael Gramaglia and Jim Fields's End of the Century: The Story of The Ramones (2003). But William E. Badgley's Here to Be Heard: The Story of The Slits goes some way to redressing the balance by completing a project that had been initiated by Ariane `Ari Up' Forster and abandoned following her death from cancer in 2010. 

Following a deluge of gushing off-screen voices, we follow Tessa Pollitt home to see the scrapbook she kept during her time as bassist with The Slits. She recalls the pre-punk scene at The Roxy in London, where DJ Don Letts used to play reggae and Pollitt met the likes of Viv Albertine and Spaniard Paloma `Palmolive' Romero, who were in a band called The Flowers of Romance, with Sid Vicious and Keith Levene. Pollitt and Albertine were late replacements for Kate Korris and Suzy Gutsy and Gina Birth of The Raincoats recalls seeing their first gig at the Harlesden Coliseum in 1977. 

A former member of The Castrators, Tessa was 17 at the time, while the German-born Ari Up was only 14. But Albertine insists that she had the raw power of Johnny Rotten and seemed all the more iconoclastic because she was a girl in a world run by middle-class, middle-aged white males. Indeed, The News of the World was so stunned by The Slits (whose name they considered too obscene to print) that it claimed they made `the Sex Pistols look like choir boys'. A former lover of Joe Strummer when he was a hippie known as Woody, Palmolive had been the driving force in forming the group, with Korris and Ari joining first and Pollitt being added when Ari and Gutsy fell out. Korris was also quickly replaced by Albertine and turned down the chance to manage the band. 

Letts took up the challenge and got them on the White Riot tour, with The Clash and The Buzzcocks. We see footage of them rehearsing `Number One Enemy' and Albertine, Palmolive and Pollitt agree that the men on the bus were intimidated by them and lacked their stamina and sense of fun. However, in acting out so blatantly, The Slits earned themselves a reputation of being confrontational feminists and Pollitt reads clippings and interviews from her scrapbook that suggest that the music press were delighted with them, but didn't quite know how to go about reporting them. A clip follows of them playing `Let's Do the Split' at The Vortex 

Journalist Vivian Goldman and academic Helen Reddington extol the band for breaking taboos about dress, hair, language and attitude and shattered the myth that little girls existed to be seen and not heard. As they hadn't been manufactured by a male manager, they could be unreconstructed and do whatever they liked and those who didn't understand could do one. Pollitt shows a cutting of her wearing a pair of jeans that Ari had been stabbed in by a male fan and she recalls that these were violent times when women were not taken seriously. She reads an interview in which her bandmates had proclaimed themselves to be normal girls who wanted to show that you didn't need to conform to society-approved standards of beauty and talent in order to make music and make a mark. 

Footage follows of a live performance of `So Tough', as Albertine recalls how they went through 13 managers during their heyday. She also notes how they decided not to follow the commercial route that the Pistols had taken under Malcolm McLaren and she credits this to Ari's German mother, Nora Forster, who would marry Johnny Rotten. As Pollitt explains, she was the daughter of a German publishing tycoon who had left home to work in the music industry and had collaborated with the likes of Cream, Yes and Jimi Hendrix. Ari had grown up around these people (so she wasn't really the `normal' working-class girl the band liked to project) and Pollitt and Albertine briefly mention the influence of reggae on their style. But no one stops to analyse their music or their impact on young girls across Britain. We are left to take their word that they changed things without being shown much tangible evidence. 

Pollitt recalls the scene in The Punk Rock Movie in which her bandmates criticised her for not rehearsing enough and she realised she had to knuckle down to keep her place in the group. But, while they were tight knit and always watched each other's backs, there were tensions and, around the release of their debut album, Cut (1979), Palmolive was replaced with 
Peter `Budgie' Clark of The Spitfire Boys. She spent a short time with The Raincoats before going to India to find God. 

Meanwhile, The Slits signed to Island Records and were assigned dub producer Dennis Bovell to record their first LP. As we hear `Typical Girls', we see the provocative topless cover and Budgie jokes about how different it would have looked if he hadn't left to join Siouxsie and the Banshees before the photo shoot. Home movie footage of the trio skinny-dipping in the sea is complemented by Goldman asserting that they were trailblazers defying the male-dominated system. Similarly, Albertine and Letts note that they ceased to be a punk band and started introducing diverse elements into their music. But, once again, notwithstanding passing interjections by producer Adrian Sherwood and musician Steve Beresford, nobody goes into analytical depth to explain how and why this was such a radical departure.

Clips follow of The Slits doing the old Paragon numbers `Man Next Door' and `I've Got to Get Away' with Neneh Cherry, as she recalls being thrilled by their blend of punk and reggae. However, Island dropped them after Cut and some were concerned that the inclusion of Budgie, Beresford and Bruce Smith diluted their feminist message. But new manager Christine Robertson says they were proving that men and women could work together on an equal footing and start a new form of tribalism for a better world. 

In 1980, they recorded a new album, Return of the Giant Slits, which embraced so many musical styles that the media had no idea how to approach it. However, it convinced Tanju Boerue to manage Ari Up's solo career and The Slits split. Albertine complains that people wanted to pigeonhole them and refused to accept that they might want to explore their own projects and Pollitt confirms that they felt the time was right to go their separate ways after Ari had twin sons. Pollitt had a daughter of her own before she battled heroin addiction, while Palmolive got married and raised a family before becoming a Spanish teacher in Cape Cod. 

After 15 years, however, Ari bumped into Pollitt and they decided to reform the band. Despite Albertine declining the invitation, they found guitarists Dr No, Michelle Hill and Adele Wilson, drummer Anna Schulte and backing vocalist Hollie Cook and relaunched themselves with a gig at Selfridges in 2005. Amusingly, we see footage of them playing `Shoplifting' and Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook proclaims that The Slits never got the credit they deserved for being such an influential band. Ari's friend Jeni Cook says she needed to make music again and remind people what they had achieved. 

As we hear `Kill Them With Love' on the soundtrack, the surviving bandmates recall the bonding experience of touring America in a van with new manager Jennifer Shagawat, who was also filming a documentary that Ari was directing with a mix of staged and ad hoc scenes. She kept joking on the trip that she needed to squeeze in lots of things because she didn't have much time and it was only in retrospect that Shagawat realised that she probably already knew she was dying. 

They recorded the Trapped Animal album in Los Angeles and we hear a snippets of `Lazy Slam' and `Hated By Many, Loved By a Few', as the surviving Slits praise Ari for encouraging them to express their ideas and contribute songs to the mix. However, the last tour of Europe proved to be an unhappy experience, as Ari suffered from mood swings and she kept picking on Pollitt and Schulte. Pollitt informed Ari that the others needed a break and she never spoke to her again, as the 48 year-old Ari chose not to see her bandmates when Forster called to tell them she only had a few days left. 

As Pollitt, Albertine and the born-again Paloma McLardy describe where they are now in their lives, another chorus of disembodied voices attempts to sum up the legacy left by The Slits. Some claim they provided the impetus for the Riot Grrrl movement, others for Madonna. All agree, however, that they told young women to be themselves and refuse to accept the limitations that the chauvinist world was trying to impose on them. Obviously, this is a tremendously positive message. But it's difficult to determine the band's enduring effect from this primarily insider account, which becomes more hyperbolically hagiographical as it goes on. There are a few voices from outside the charmed circle, but they are content to enthuse rather than assess. Consequently, there is no critical or socio-historical subtext to the gaggle of press quotes and anecdotes. Moreover, there's too little balance, with the contributions around the same period of Siouxsie Sioux. Poly Styrene and Chrissie Hynde (who appears in the footage) being unfairly downplayed.

It's also a pity that Badgley couldn't persuade either Nora Forster or John Lydon to participate, as they could have provided a markedly different version of Ari Up's final years, as she battled breast cancer. Similarly, by devoting so much time to the reunion and her sad demise, he sidelines the erudite Albertine, who had embarked upon a new career as a film-maker and was in the process of making a musical comeback of her own when Ari came calling. Nevertheless, Pollitt makes a genial guide through the pages of her scrapbook and it's good to see The Slits finally being accorded their rightful place in the history of British punk - although there is no room for them in this week's final offering.

The trick to being a good documentarist is to be in the right place at the right time and German music journalist Christine Franz appears to have the knack if her debut outing, Bunch of Kunst, is anything to go by. When she first approached manager Steve Underwood about exploring the cult success of Sleaford Mods, she clearly hoped to get a few choice quotes from lyricist Jason Williamson and beat-master Andrew Fearn and capture some Spinal Tap-like moments on the road. But, as the project progresses, the Nottingham duo - who describe themselves as a `spit-and-sawdust aggro act' - begin to acquire a bigger following, as trendy rock critics latch on to them and they start to play venues across Europe that might swamp any other baseball-capped chap with a laptop and his fizzingly fuming frontman. 

In many ways, Sleaford Mods are a raucous variation on Soft Cell and Pet Shop Boys. Their punkish brand of rage rock seems deceptively raw and simplistic. But it combines a driving power with a savage wit that taps into the frustration felt by those who believe they have been disenfranchised by a system designed to perpetuate the fat-catocracy. Embracing swearing as a literate and legitimate mode of expression, Williamson goes beyond the likes of John Cooper Clarke, Ian Dury and Half Man Half Biscuit by peppering his lyrics with expletives and, in the process, hits funny bones and raw nerves with equal acuity. Fans of New Direction and Paloma Faith may not approve. But anyone with a sense of justice and/or humour can only be impressed. 

When Franz first encounters the fortysomething trio in January 2015, Williamson and Fearn seem content to let Underwood do most of the talking. A bus driver who gave up the day job to ferry the combo to pubs in the East Midlands (and a little bit beyond), Underwood is justifiably proud of the distance Sleaford Mods have come since Williamson first teamed with Nottingham studio engineer Simon Parfrement in 2007. He took a backseat after Williamson persuaded Fearn to quit DJing in 2012 and balance his laptop on a couple of beer crates and shuffle stiffly in the background, while he launches a hip-hoppy stream of furious consciousness at the paying public.  

Few record collections will contain albums like Austerity Dogs (2013), Divide and Exit (2014) and Key Markets (2015). But Geoff Barrow of Portishead, Steve Ignorant of Crass and Neil Barnes of Leftfield count themselves as fans alongside Iggy Pop, who used a slot on BBC 6 Music to declare Sleaford Mods `the world's greatest rock`n'roll band'. But, even though Underwood denies that they are particularly zeitgeisty, Williamson's insights into modern Britain do strike a chord with the young(ish), white, working-class males who identify with tracks like `Tied Up in Notz' more than any of the manufactured pop being produced by the mainstream music industry. 

After enduring jobs in chicken packing factories and benefits offices, Williamson (or Elvis, as Underwood calls him) decided to commit to music, although dad Brian, wife Claire and mates Neil and John Paul all admit to being surprised that he stuck to his guns and turned from holding up the mirror to himself to confronting society at large. He sees no point in writing love songs and the punters seem to appreciate his honesty, as they chant along cathartically to `Jobseeker' and `Fizzy' on a UK tour that sees Williamson, Fearn and Underwood doing the hard miles in a small family car. Yet, while he tackles topics like zero hours contracts, managerial arrogance, recessional cuts and slipping through the cracks, Williamson is uncomfortable with the `Voice of the People' tag and is even uneasy at appearing on a local BBC TV arts programme. 

It almost comes as a relief, therefore, when they go to the continent in April 2015 and Williamson enjoys the novelty of performing `Tied Up in Notz' to a German cimbalom. On stage, he riffs on Johnny Rotten, Ian Dury and Ian Curtis as he grips the mike and scowls his lyrics. But there are also times when the duo come across like Jeremy and Super Hans in Peep Show, as they seem a bit bemused by their burgeoning reputation. However, they are confident they are old enough to take whatever gets thrown at them, whether it's a video shoot in Skegness, a BBC request to tone down their lyrics or the arrival of a big red tour bus with 14 bunks on the upper deck. They even hold their own at Glastonbury and on Later..With Jools Holland before selling out Nottingham's fabled Rock City and supporting The Libertines at the O2 in London.

Nevertheless, while Fearn chills on his houseboat, Williamson starts getting nervous before gigs and the heavily pregnant Claire (who knows all about his moods and keeps his feet firmly on the ground) has to calm him down before they raise the roof with `Tweet, Tweet, Tweet'. Moreover, the pressure also increases on Underwood, who is still willing to sticker 12-inch covers, but can see the sense of letting someone like Geoff Travis at Rough Trade organise this kind of thing for him. Williamson agrees that this smacks of common sense rather than sell-out, as it will allow more people to hear the new album, English Tapas, than ever before.  

Closing on Iggy Pop reading the lyrics of `You're Brave' before attending a gig in Helsinki, this is a lively and grounded profile that makes one wonder how it differs from Paul Sng and Nathan Hannawin's Sleaford Mods: Invisible Britain (2015), which followed the pair around some of the country's more deprived areas in the run-up to the 2015 General Election. Photographed with a grungy handheld feel by Daniel Waldhecker and capably assembled by Oliver Werner, the footage chimes in with the band's DIY ethos. But Franz doesn't always avoid rockumentary cliché and, while she coaxes Williamson, Fearn and Underwood into opening up about how they fit into the contemporary scene, the only clues she gets to their views on the misplaced ire and complacent mediocrity of Brexit Britain come from the incendiary lyrics.

Having arrived in cinemas to provide a little Olympic solace to those who had been burning the midnight oil watching the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, James Erskine's The Ice King joins Craig Gillespie's biopic, I, Tonya, in revealing that agony behind the ecstasy of excelling at a brutally demanding sport like figure skating. John Curry was the first British man to win Olympic gold in this discipline, although Madge Syers and Jeannette Altwegg had triumphed in 1908 and 1952 respectively. Yet, rather than being able to build on his success, Curry found it difficult to make the transition from competition to icecapade, especially as he was experiencing so much torment in his private life. The odds were certainly stacked against him. But, as he did in Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist (2014), Erskine suggests that Curry may well have been his own worst enemy. 

Over a credit sequence shot of a silhouetted figure gliding on the ice, John Curry recalls how he was allowed to take up figure skating by his conservative Brummie parents because it was a sport and much less camp than dancing. Yet, while he relished the challenge of competing, he was determined to meld athleticism and artistry in his bid to become the best skater in the world. 

One of the first women directors in American television sport, Meg Streeter Lauck got to know Curry when he arrived in New York in 1971 to room with her mother, Nancy. She recalls him claiming in a letter that England had betrayed him and she explains how he was still struggling to deal with the fact that his engineer father, Joseph, had prevented his wife, Rita, from enrolling their son in ballet classes. On the ice, however, he had quickly realised that he could skate to music and fulfil his dancing ambitions. 

We see Curry performing to Adolphe Adam's `Le Corsaire' and photos of him amassing a fine collection of cups. But he found it tough to accept that the techniques that had made him so successful as a juvenile were frowned upon in adult competition and a clip from a BBC Man Alive documentary on homosexuality (which was still illegal in 1960s Britain) gives a clue as to why. Nevertheless, Curry fell in love with Swiss skater Heinz Wirz, who remembers being swept away on seeing him compete in Prague in 1966. Wirz moved to Britain to train with Curry and they wrote every day they were apart. However, they drifted apart after Curry's father committed suicide and he was forced to take a job in a supermarket between training sessions at the Richmond Ice Rink. 

Inspired by Canadian legend Donald Jackson, Curry reworked his routine to George Bizet's `Habanera' and persuaded Ed Moser to sponsor him in Colorado under the tutelage of coach, Carlo Fassi. However, Fassi's widow, Christa, recalls how reluctant he was to work with Curry, who had a reputation for perfectionism and prickliness. But, driven by his desire to bring skating to the masses, Curry conquered a tricky routine to win silver at the European championships in 1974. He appeared on Blue Peter and Michael Parkinson's chat show, where he complained about the corruption of Iron Curtain judges and the fact that Soviet rivals like Vladimir Kovalev lacked musicality and grace. His stratagem paid off two years later, when a Czech judge broke ranks and Curry took European gold with his interpretation of Ludwig Minkus's `Don Quixote'.

Now engaging in scream therapy to help cope with his nerves, Curry carried the flag at the Innsbruck Olympics of 1976, as well as the hopes of a nation. As ex-champion-turned-commentator Dick Button suggests, he also knew this was his only chance to generate the publicity and momentum to launch his own ice dance company. Thus, he threw himself into routines that had BBC commentator Alan Weeks reaching for superlatives. Fellow skater Robin Cousins declared Curry's performance perfection and he was able to enjoy the medal ceremony all the more with the knowledge that his mother was in the crowd. 

But, no sooner had Curry become a celebrity than the press began to delve into his private life. Nancy Streeter and skater Cathy Foulkes remember the media frenzy and, over footage of his routine to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's `Scheherazade', we hear Curry describe how he was outed by a journalist who had conveniently forgotten the meaning of the term `off the record'. Yet, instead of a public backlash, Curry received supportive letters about his skating rather than his sexuality. Moreover, he won the coveted Sports Personality of the Year title and was hailed for his social courage in demanding to be accepted on his own terms. 

Recognising the need to cash-in on his fame, Curry signed a deal for his Theatre of Skating to appear at the Cambridge Theatre in the West End. Lorna Brown reflects on the thrill of being part of the company and the power and beauty of Curry's duet with Foulkes on Claude Debussy's `L'Après-midi d'un faune'. But there were tensions behind the scenes, as Curry had embarked upon an affair with Ron Alexander, a mediocre skater who proved highly unpopular with co-stars unaware of the S&M hold he had over Curry. Friends speculate on the possibility that this consensual abuse fed Curry's sense of shame at being gay, while also wondering about the effect that a 10-day absence from the show had on his commitment and confidence after he was badly beaten in a mugging. 

Having taken some time to consider his options, Curry resurfaced in New York in 1980. We see him rehearsing Jacob Gode's `Tango, Tango' with choreographer Peter Martins and partner Jo Jo Starbuck and ballet supremo William Whitener remembers the show at the Minskoff Theatre taking Broadway by storm. During the run, however, Curry fell during a spin and sat sobbing disconsolately on the stage. He retreated to the gay resort of Fire Island and producer Elva Corrie recalls how depressed he was when she went to find him. She helped him find backers in Colorado and producer David Spungen notes how Curry's spirits perked up after Nathan Birch joined the company and they began skating routines choreographed by the likes of Eliot Feld and Twyla Tharp. 

However, Curry could be a tough taskmaster and developed a reputation for being arrogant, moody and rude to his female skaters. He often found himself at odds with producers and backers, as he wanted to showcase his genius, while they were more interested in revenue-generating gimmicks. In Tokyo in 1984, for example, Curry fumed at the presence of advertising billboards around the arena and the fact that the audience's reaction to routines like `Trio' (which he had choreographed to Erik Satie) was being measured on a clapometer. Spungen admits that Curry was so miserable at being seen by many as a skating novelty act that he feared he would do something drastic. Wirz suggests that he might have been more able to deal with his demons if he had found a steady partner. But he preferred thrilling lovers to dependable companions, even though news had started to break about a new epidemic that was impacting upon the gay community.

Hoping that Symphony on Ice at the Royal Albert Hall would put him back on top, Curry arrived in London with renewed vigour in April 1984. Technician Kevin Kossi remembers the problems that the crew faced in building a rink within a week, but concedes that publicity about the adverse conditions helped make the show a hit, especially when items like `Burn' (which had been scored by Jean-Michel Jarre) proved so dynamic. The show transferred to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, where ice problems caused the opening night to be postponed. But Gioachino Rossini's `William Tell Overture' (which is shown in a rare piece of amateur footage) brought the house down and Curry was so exhilarated that he asked Corrie if he could retire and concentrate on choreography. However, with the company deep in debt and audiences flocking to see Curry rather than his acolytes, he was forced to carry on performing and his mood grew increasingly despondent. 

By the time he reached Copenhagen later in the year, Curry was close to rock bottom. Detesting the venue, he contracted an injury that Spungen feels was feigned and only returned for the show at the Berghen Opera House. We see amateur footage of the exquisite routine choreographed by Eliot Feld to Maurice Ravel's `Moonskate', which Foulkes, Birch, Corrie and Lauck claim was a dance of longing and pain that was so personal that it prompted tears on stage. But, perhaps the emotion was caused by the fact that Curry knew he would never skate again and that he had come so close to fulfilling his personal and professional ambitions without actually doing so. 

As Curry contemplated his future, the AIDS crisis sparked a homophobic  backlash across the United States and Whitener remembers how scared he felt as the disease crept closer to his own circle of friends. Wirz shared this sense of trepidation and remembers travelling to Liverpool to see Curry play Buttons in pantomime and being told in the Atlantic Hotel that his friend was HIV+. During this run of Cinderella, Curry also confided in his mother and noted that their telephone conversation was probably their most intimate.

Erskine opts against chronicling the media reaction to Curry's situation and, instead, leaps forward to 1990, when Birch invited him to work on The Next Ice Age. In addition to advising on the routines, Curry also designed costumes for `On the Beautiful Danube', which used the music of Johann Strauss II, and we see grainy footage of his farewell performance with Birch, Tim Murphy and Shaun McGill. Three decades later, Birch would restage the piece and Corrie and Lauck state that many owe their careers to Curry's courage and that the current crop of ice dance companies are his legacy. 

As Rita remembers the last days she spent with her son after he moved back to Birmingham, we hear Freddie Fox reading a letter that Curry had written to Foulkes to reassure her that he had no regrets and had found an inner peace after leading an extraordinary life. The film ends with an interview extract, in which Curry is asked whether whizzing around on ice has any validity when others are surgeons or inventors. Reining in any frustration at the futility of the question, he graciously states that making people feel emotion is a privilege and that he is happy to have brought them pleasure. 

Drawing on Bill Jones's book, Alone: The Triumph and Tragedy of John Curry, this is a typically astute sporting insight from James Erskine, who has pretty much cornered this part of the actuality market. Coming on the heels of Tony Timberlake's one-man Edinburgh show, Looking for John (2017), it plays on the notion of Curry being a troubled soul whose personality was forged during a frustrating, if never entirely demoralising childhood. But Erskine refuses to depict Curry as a victim and implies that he caused many of his own problems with both his temperament and his refusal to pander to the public demand for profitable spectacle. 

More importantly, however, Erskine and editor Steve Parkinson present Curry as a soulful artist in making magnificent use of archive footage, whose survival seems both miraculous and peculiar in an age when so much of life is lived on camera. Perhaps more might have been made of the extent to which Curry's submissive nature explains his self-destructive streak, while it might have been instructive to learn more about the connection between homosexuality and both figure skating and ice dancing during this period. Similarly, Erskine could have dwelt longer on the problems of competitors reinventing themselves as performers and needing to find something to replace the adrenaline rush of defeating rivals as well as wowing the onlookers. But this is an eminently sympathetic portrait of a skating pioneer who defied social, sporting and artistic convention.