Saturday, 29 July 2017

747 The Chart Show

First  viewed :  11  April  1986

Easter  went  by, the  dissertation  was finished,  and  it  was  clear  that  I  had  to  go  back  to  living  in  Leeds  for  the  final  term. On  top  of  my  imminent  Finals, I  had  also  made  life  harder  for myself   by  becoming  Communications  Officer  for  the  Student  Union, a  non-sabbatical  post  on  the  Executive. The   Labour  Club  hadn't  got  a  full slate  of  candidates  together  on  the  day  nominations  closed  and  I  actually  had  a choice  of  two  posts  I  could  take  unopposed. It  was  quite  insane  for  a  Final  year  student  to  take  a  position  that  ran  from  March to  February  in  the  next  academic year  but  I  couldn't  resist  the chance  to  get  on  the  top  table  for  however  brief  a  term  although  I  was  now  forming  a  plan  to  do  an  MA  and  then  go  for  one  of  the  five  sabbatical  posts ,thus  postponing  my  encounter  with  the job  market  for  another  two  years. In  the  event  it  did  subsequently  give  me  something  to  put  in  the  "Previous  Employment"  section  on  application  forms  and  use  the  President  as  a  reference; whether  or  not  these  factors  proved  as  useful  as  a  First  would  have  been, is  a  moot  point.

The  most  immediate  practical  point  was  that  being  on  the  Executive  meant  that  every  tenth  night, I  had  to  be  present  and  nominally  in  charge  of  the  Union  building  until  it  shut  around  11.30pm. There  could  be  no  sneaking  off  for  that  last  train  back  to  Littleborough.

I had  not  been  able  to  get  the   legal assurance  I needed  to  cancel  the  last  cheque  for  Thomas  St   and  I  would  not  even  consider  going  back  there  and  so  I  went  to  the  University  Accommodation  office  and  got  a  place  in  Lupton  Flats  ( sadly  notable  as  the  scene  of  the  last  Yorkshire  Ripper  murder  in  1980  )  for  the  final  term. It  was of  course  ruinously  expensive  to  rent  two  properties  at once. It  was  a  self-catering  property  but  I  never  gave  the  kitchen  a  thought  and  used  nearby  takeaways  or  the  Union  to  eat  which  didn't  help  my  bank  blance  either. The  facilities  were  shared  with  five  other  students;I  had  a  nodding  acquaintance  with  the  guy  next  door  who  seemed  a  good  bloke  but  never  got  to  know  the  others  at  all. I  don't  suppose  they  minded  one  less person  in  the  kitchen.

There  was  a  TV  room  shared  between  the  whole  complex  of  flats  but  I  used  it  sparingly, only  going  in  for  programmes  that  I  knew  would  command  a  majority  preference. Most  egregiously  this  meant  that  I  missed the  first  Wainwright  series  on  BBC2 , the  only  one  made  while  he  was  still  a  reasonably  active  man.

The  Chart  Show  started  on  Channel  4  when  The  Tube  went  for  its  summer  break.  It  was  a  cross  between  MTV  and  the  early  seventies  programme  Zocco  with  no  presenter  introducing  the  videos.  Instead, information  on  the  record  was  conveyed  by  a  computer  graphical  overlay. For  its  main  chart, the  programme  used  the  alternative Pepsi  chart rather  than  the  official  Gallup  version. As  well  as  that , the  show  featured  a dance  chart, metal  chart  and  indie  chart  on  tri-weekly  rotation. I was  particularly  keen  on  the  latter  as  it  enabled  me  to  see  and  hear   the  "shambling" acts  Record  Mirror  was  covering  at the  time.

It  quickly  became  one  of  my  favourite  shows  and  it  was  very  frustrating  when  it  was  taken  off  air  for  a  few  weeks  in  the  summer  due  to  predictable  opposition  from  the  Musician's  Union. It  returned  in  August  for  a  few  weeks  before  giving  way  to  what  turned  out  to  be  the  final  season  of  The  Tube.  When  it   returned  in  April  1987  it  became  a   permanent  fixture.

At  the  beginning  of  1989,  it  was  promoted  to  ITV on  Saturday mornings  which  meant  I  missed  quite  a  few  episodes  through  going  to  away  fixtures. When  we  got  a  VCR  machine  at  the  end  of  that  year , it  became  probably  my  most  taped  programme  ( with  the  obvious  advantage  of  being  able  to  speed  through  the  crap  stuff ).

The  show  survived  into  my  married  life  and  I  remember  watching  a  few  episodes  in  my  new  house  but  the  increased  take-up  of  satellite  and  cable  TV was  making  it  obsolete  and  it  was  axed  in  August  1998  in  favour  of  Ant  and  Dec  vehicle  CD-UK. A  brief  revival  on  Channel  4  in   2003   passed  me  by.


  1. I think my main memory of this show was seeing "20th Century Boy" on it, when it was reissued in 1991, and thinking it was pretty great.

  2. It's funny you should mention that. My work colleague Graham got very excited when he heard Levi's were going to use it for their next ad and made the terrible error of telling the young girls on his team that the charts were about to see something really special. Of course , the endorsement of a beer-bellied thirtysomething guaranteed that they were going to be underwhelmed by the teen sensation of two decades earlier.