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TV Pop Diaries
Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

Anglo-American band Arrows had signed to RAK Records in 1974, but never had the success that label-mates Mud or Suzi Quatro had, so it was pure chance that led them to their own television series. Muriel Young, producer at Granada had been looking for a replacement for the Bay City Rollers' Shang-A-Lang series and had seen the band perform their flop Hard Hearted on Granada's Look Alive in November 1975 and gave them to chance to audition, leading to the series.

It's probable that the support that Granada gave the band surpassed that from their record company. Due to a legal wrangle between the record company and management the band had no new records released during the show's broadcast. Label owner Mickie Most had been known for acts of self-sabotage in the past (not allowing Lulu's To Sir With Love to be an A side in Britain for example), so this was no surprise. Despite having Mickie Most as their boss and producer, having their album handled by hit-makers Martin & Coulter and having an American record deal they still couldn’t muster much interest, so it was as much as a surprise to the industry as it was to the audience that Granada had awarded them so much faith with not just one, but two headlining series.

The first sixteen-part series debuted Tuesday 2nd March 1976 from 4.25 to 4.50 pm with singer Peter Noone as guest. Guests invited over the next few weeks included Slade, Paul Nicholas, Hello, The Drifters and Randy Edelman among others, most of whom would have much more success than the hosts. Dance troupe Him and Us appeared every week, becoming Him and Us Plus Three in the second series.

The opening credits placed emphasis on the band members, probably trying to invoke a John, Paul, George, Ringo allegiance for Alan, Jake and Paul, and while the audience duly shouted and waved their scarves aloft it really wasn't to be.

The second series of the year began on the 28th September with guests including The Bay City Rollers, the band that Arrows had effectively replaced, Pilot, The Drifters, Gilbert O'Sullivan, T Rex and others. By the end of the second series the band had exhausted the few songs they had already recorded and had nothing more to give. They had effectively been dropped by their label prior to the shows' debut.

Producer Muriel Young speaking to TV Times ahead of the second series predicted the demise of tea-time pop shows like this one "Ten years ago a pop programme often rode to success on the backs of talented groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Nowadays original talent is thinner on the ground and television can't rely on finding future Arrows or Rollers."

Despite being placed with hit-making songwriting and production teams the band only managed a few small hits and one album between 1974 and 1976, but luckily band members Alan Merrill and Jake Hooker had written a B side, I Love Rock N Roll. When they performed the song on the show it was seen by The Runaways' Joan Jett, in Britain at the time to play live shows. Paying tribute to Alan Merrill after his death in March 2020 Jett said "I can still remember watching The Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me." Her version sold millions. It was then covered by Britney Spears in 2001 and sold millions more, while a parody version was the British Christmas number one in 2019. Who could have guessed that one of the many small tea-time shows would end up giving pop music a certified classic.

The series seemed to be called The Arrows, despite the labels of their records merely crediting “Arrows”.



2nd March 1976 - 21st December 1976