Sunday, 6 March 2016

350 The Kenny Everett Video Show

First  viewed : July  1978

Ah  welcome  to  the  eighties , eighteen  months  early. The  first  TV  show  with  the  word  "video" in  the  title  this  music  and  comedy  show  had  more  than  one  foot  in  the  future.

Its  host  had  had  a  mercurial  career  in  radio  starting  out  in  pirate  radio  before  moving  to  the  BBC  just  before  the  Light  Programme  morphed  into  Radios  One  and  Two.  He  pioneered  the  use  of  jingles  on  the  station.  He  was  originally  sacked in  1970, ostensibly  for  an  ill-judged  remark  about  the  wife  of  Transport Secretary  John  Peyton  although  the  real  reason was  that  he  had publicly  berated  the  restrictive  practices  of  the  Musicians  Union  over  "needle  time" , something  that  helps  explain  his  infamous  turn  at  a  Conservative  party  conference  a  few  years  later. He  briefly  went  back  to  the  BBC  in  1973 just  as  I  started  tuning  in  but  quickly  jumped  ship  to  Capital  Radio. He  had done  a  fair  bit  of  TV  work  in  the  early  seventies but  little  in  the  years  immediately  preceding  this  show.

With  his  love  of   music, playing  silly  characters  and  studio  gadgetry  Kenny  was  the  natural  choice  to  present  the  show. He  would  be  the  visual  DJ   doing  funny  links  between  musical  acts  whether  on  video  - a medium  he  could  claim  some  credit  for  popularising  as  the  first  DJ  to  get  behind  Queen's  Bohemian  Rhapsody   - or  specially  recorded  performances. Some  of  the  pop  guests  ( like  Kate  Bush  above ) chanced  their arm  and  did  comic  interviews  with  him.

The  show  was  also  famous  for  launching  Arlene  Phillips's  Hot  Gossip, a  mixed  dance  troupe  who  upped  the  ante  with  their  sexy  costumes  and  risque  routines.  Besides  promoting  the  new  pop  videos,  the  show  itself  had  a  direct  influence  on  their  style- compare  Hot  Gossip's  first  routine  to  Ceronne's  Supernature   to  Bowie's  Ashes  To  Ashes  and  you'll  see  what  I  mean. On  the  back  of  the  programme  the  former  song  was  a  big  hit  and  is  one  of  the  earliest  singles  in  my  own  collection.

Apart  from  the  linking  segments,  Kenny was  restricted  at  first  to  a  couple  of  animated  shorts  featuring  his  Captain  Kremen  character  but  with  each  succeeding  series  the  balance  between   comedy  and  music  tilted  towards  the  former. This  was  where  we  first  met  the  likes  of  Sid  Snot, Marcel  Wave  and  Angry  of  Mayfair.

As  a  replacement  show  for  the  increasingly  stale  Opportunity  Knocks  on  a  Monday  evening  the  show  seemed  wonderfully  fresh  and  exciting  and  quickly  became  a  favourite.

After  the  fourth  series  ( re-titled  The  Kenny  Everett  Video  Cassette )  Kenny  became  embroiled  in  a  dispute  with  Thames  particularly  over  their  scheduling  of  the  show  directly  against  Top  of  the  Pops  on  a  Thursday.  Sensing  blood , the  BBC  seduced  him  back  with   the  offer  of  a  prime  time  show  with  them  and  he  took  the  bait   bringing  to  an  end  one of  ITV's  most  innovative  contributions  to  TV.

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