Saturday, 4 June 2016

408 Something Else

First  viewed  :  15  September  1979

This  was an  influential  show  but  has  largely  been  forgotten , so  much  so  that  yours  truly  created  the  wikipedia  page  for  it   back  in  2010 ( it's  still  there  but  messed  around  a  bit ).

Something  Else  was  the  start  of  "yoof  TV". In  typically  BBC  language  it  was  an  "access  programme"  produced  by  the  Community  Programme  Unit. The  brief  was  to  have  the  programme  devised  and  presented  by  unknown  under-20s  from  around  the  country  focusing  on  issues  important  to  them,  interspersed  with  musical  performances. After  a  pilot  show  in   March  1978  went  reasonably  well  five  more  were  commissioned  for  the  autumn  of  1979 broadcast  monthly  on  a  Saturday  evening.

I  remember  glancing  at  the  first  one  of  these   from  Manchester   which  had  The  Jam  performing  what  would  become  their  breakthrough  top  10  hit  The  Eton  Rifles  and  then  drifting  away. So   first  time  around ,  I  actually  missed  the  series'  crowning  glory, the  one  thing  that  ensures it  will  never  be  completely  obscure , the  only  nationally  broadcast  TV  appearance  by  Joy  Division   performing  "She's  Lost  Control "  and  "Transmission " . The  sound  is  a  bit  tinny  as  you'd  expect  but  they're  very  tight  and  at  the  centre  of   it  you've  got  Ian  Curtis  and  his, um, unique, contribution  to  the  terpsichorean  art. There  would  actually  be  more  of  his  manic  ducking  and  weaving  had  not  the  film  editor  decided  it  was  more  interesting  to  see  a  statuesque  Bernard  Sumner  concentrating  intensely  on  his  fretwork  during  many  of  the  instrumental  passages. There's  still  enough  there  to  show  what  a  uniquely  mesmerising  performer  he  was  and  of  course  it's  desperately  sad  to  watch  in  retrospect.

After  a   further  one  off  show  from  Skelmersdale  in  May  1980   heralding  another  monthly  season   which  never  materialised, the  series  returned  as  a  weekly  programme  on  Mondays  in  the  autumn  of  1980.

A  third  season  began  in  September  1981  but  it  had  switched  to  Fridays. There  was  a  gradual shift  towards  more  issue-based  programmes  rather  than  basing  the  show  in  a  particular locality. At  the  end  of  that  season  there  was  a  highlights  programme  featuring  just  the musical  performances.  In  the  fifth  and  final  season, in  the  autumn  of  1982  these  were  mostly dropped  as  Riverside, The  Tube  and  Oxford  Road  Show   ( all  shows  which  owed  a  debt  to  Something  Else  in  their  format  and  presentation ) were  adequately  catering  for  the  live  music  audience. There   was  a  fair  amount  of  music  though  on  the  show  broadcast  on  1st  October  which  was  given  over  to  a  bunch  of  Brighton  arts  students  led  by  semi-famous  performance  artist  Ian  Smith   who  made  sure  their  queasy  art  rock  as  Birds  With  Ears  got   a  generous  slice  of  the  programme. Unless  I'm  mistaken,  Smith  is  the  only  person  who  was  able  to  use  the  series  as  a  launching  pad   to  greater  things  although  Boy  George  and  Martin  Degville  featured  in  an  earnest  discussion  about  style  wars  early  in  the  first  season.

That  final  season  concluded  with  four , more  formal  debates  over  a  week  in  October  1982  on  family, equality, politics  and  war  then  a  highlights  programme  covering  the  four  years  of  the series. Then  it  was  over  and  started  slipping  away  into  the  mist.  

No comments:

Post a Comment