First viewed : 5 November 1982
This was the main draw for me as far as the new channel was concerned, a 105 -minute live pop show at 5.15 pm on a Friday.
The show was made by Tyne Tees and broadcast from their studios in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The presenters were Jools Holland and a pregnant ( with Fifi Trixibelle ) Paula Yates. The idea was to have a mix of live interviews, pre-filmed features and comedy interludes and mini-sets from a few live acts . The biggest name among the bands would generally have the last half hour of the programme to themselves. With it being live , unpredictability was a key selling point.
The first episode scored a couple of coups with the first ever live performance by Heaven 17 and the last TV appearance by The Jam who'd announced their split a couple of weeks earlier. They did the last set with Paul Weller singing deeper and hoarser than usual.
I watched it regularly, at least until I went to university, but irritation soon set in. With it not being a chart-based show, the music selection was prone to nepotism. Squeeze's Gilson Lavis seemed to be the house drummer for the programme . Paul Young got more than his fair share of appearances on the programme due to working with Holland's former backing singers. The Christians got a leg up due to working with Squeeze's producer Laurie Latham . ZTT's eminence gris Jill Sinclair had a stake in the show so all their acts got a more than fair hearing. I'm presuming Glaswegian electro-funk outft Set The Tone had some connection with Muriel Gray , the skinny Scotswoman who took over when Yates became indisposed.
The other thing that gradually alienated me from the programme was the erosion of the musical content in favour of alternative comedy. At first you just had a poet called Mike Miwurdz whose material was 10% funny and the odd appearance by performance artist Wavis O Shave ( 0 % funny ) but then you had regular appearances by French and Saunders and so on. In later years it got very kitsch-y with appearances by sixties word-mangler Stanley Unwin. He was a "panellist" in a dreadful elongated spoof of Celebrity Squares compered by an unknown comedian who was so wooden and amateur-ish that I felt confident he'd never be seen on TV again. He turned out to be Vic Reeves. I'm sure this shift was the main reason for the show's declining ratings.
Still there were some memorable moments over the programme's life span -
- Two great singles I first heard on the show , It's Immaterial's Driving Away From Home and Thomas Lang's The Happy Man
- Muriel Gray fearlessly subjecting Mick Jagger to some hard questioning about the "controversial" video to Undercover of the Night
- Marc Almond's microphone conking out during Where The Heart Is
- Heavy metal hard man Thor blowing up and bursting a hot water bottle with suitable "don't try this at home" warnings
- Yates sparking off three decades of tabloid frenzy with her interview / seduction of Inxs's frontman Michael Hutchence
The show eventually came to grief in 1987. Holland referred to "groovy fuckers " in a live trailer for the show and it was taken off the air for three weeks as a result of the controversy. It returned with a penitent Holland still on board but the writing was on the wall for the show and it was axed in April 1987 after four and a half years.