10. Supersonic

SupersonicSupersonic was a British children’s television music show which featured pop music artists of the day. It was launched in 1975, and ran for two years. It featured music producer Mike Mansfield cueing in each act, and made no attempt to disguise the cameras, which often ran over people in the audience. It wasn’t chart-based but usually had the main bubble-gum/pop bands with singles in the charts at that time, such as Smokie, Flintlock, Kajagoogoo, and the Bay City Rollers.

9. The Tube

The TubeThe Tube is an innovative United Kingdom pop/rock music television programme, which ran for five seasons, from 5 November 1982 until 1987. It was produced in Newcastle upon Tyne for Channel 4 by Tyne Tees Television, which had previously produced the similar music show Alright Now and the music-oriented youth show Check it Out for ITV; production of the latter ended in favour of The Tube.

The Tube was presented live by hosts including Jools Holland, Paula Yates, Leslie Ash, Muriel Gray, Gary James, Michel Cremona, Nick Laird-Clowes and Mike Everitt. The brand name was relaunched by Channel 4 as an online radio station in November 2006. The show was directed by Gavin Taylor; Geoff Wonfor directed some of the insert videos along with other staff programme director of Tyne Tees Television Martin Cairns. Many other specials were made, including one for the eve of the millennium.

8. Top of the Pops

Top of the Pops 2The longest-running pop music show on British Television (1964-2006), it was as much mocked as admired, but was the only show on which you could regularly see bands and artists performing their songs. Initially acts performing on the show mimed to the commercially released record, but in July 1966 after discussions with the Musicians’ Union, miming was banned. After a few weeks during which some bands’ attempts to play as well as on their records were pretty disastrous, a compromise was reached whereby a specially recorded backing track was permitted – as long as all the musicians on the track were present in the studio. Often the lead vocals were sung live along to the backing track.

Top of the PopsThe first ever episode was presented by Alan “fluff” Freeman (deceased) and Jimmy Saville (deceased and disgraced). A regular fixture on the show was a dance by Pan’s People (later Ruby Flipper) to one of the songs in the charts. Some of the costumes and dances are genuinely hysterical. Here’s one featuring dogs….

7. 6-5 Special

6-5 SpecialBroadcast in 1957 and 1958 6-5 Special was the BBC’s first attempt at a rock and roll programme, an innovation and much imitated, even today. It was called Six-Five Special because of the time it was broadcast – it went out live at five past six on Saturday evening. It began immediately after the abolition of what was known as the “Toddlers’ Truce”- television closed between 6 and 7 pm so children could be put to bed!

Josephine Douglas and disc jockey Pete Murray were its presenters, with Murray using the catchphrase “Time to jive on the old six five”. Its resident band was Don Lang and his Frantic Five. The show opened with film of a steam train accompanied by the programme’s theme song, played and sung by the Frantic Five, which began with the words “The Six-Five Special’s comin’ down the line, The Six-Five Special’s right on time …”.

6. BBC Sight and Sound In Concert

BBC Signt and Sound In ConcertThe idea being that the concert being shown on TV was also simultaneously broadcast on Radio 1.. in stereo. This was way before the advent of stereo TVs, the internet etc. You placed your HiFi speakers either side of the TV, tuned in the Radio, turn down the sound on your telly and hey presto- a live stereo broadcast! Gentle Giant, Steel Pulse, Colosseum 2, Jethro Tull and the Pat Travers Band were some of the groups to appear in this weekly show. Here are AC/DC:

5. Later with Jools Holland

Later with Jools HollandInfinitely better than The tacky Tube, Jools had quality artists, sensible interviews and lots of variety- almost all musical genres were covered. Superb.


4.  Revolver

RevolverRevolver was a British music TV series on ITV that ran for one series only, of eight episodes, in 1978.

The series producer was veteran producer Mickie Most, who was inspired to make the programme after he saw an interview with Top of the Pops’ producer Robin Nash, in which he (Nash) boasted that TOTP was a music programme that the whole family could enjoy together. Most set out to make a show which was the antithesis of that, and which featured live music performances most closely related to the then emergent Punk rock and New Wave music scenes – though it also included other more mainstream artists such as Kate Bush, Dire Straits and Lindisfarne.

The official host of the programme was Chris Hill, but it is remembered more for the contributions of Peter Cook. Cook played the manager of the fictional ballroom where the show was supposedly taking place, and frequently made disparaging remarks about the acts appearing.

3.  Music Laden/Beat Club

Music Laden - Beat ClubBorn in Bremen, Germany, at the time when any band who wanted to make it (including the Beatles) was shipped off to play German clubs. A lot of the songs are performed live, in glorious black and white! Because the show was aimed at a Swinging 60’s London type audience, the opening credits are hilarious:

2.  Ready Steady Go

Ready Steady GoWith the catchphrase “The Week-end Starts here” this show went out at teatime on a Friday and is fondly remembered for DJ Kathy McGowan, There was no pretending that the artists weren’t miming- you actually saw the DK put the record on!

1.  The Old Grey Whistle Test

The Old Grey Whistle TestTOGWT was simply the most influential television and best music show of all time. It ran from 1971 to 1987 on BBC2. It was compered by a number of people, but most famously by “whispering” Bob Harris. It boasted real superstars and up and coming musicians and bands. Bob Marley & the Wailers, Elton John, Robin Trower, David Bowie, the Police… the list is endless. Superb performances and usually performed without an audience. Check out YouTube and find some real gems there from the show.

Here’s Bob himself introducing the Welsh rockers with the ridiculous name; Budgie