TV Pop Diaries

Popular Music on British Television

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1st June 1959 - 27th December 1967
Re-vamp 16th June 1979 - 18th August 1979
One off show 19th March 1989
Second re-vamp 24th September 1989 - 3rd December 1989

Originally planned for a six month run the series was based on a popular American show hosted by Peter Potter.

The series was produced by Russell Turner and was first broadcast on Monday evenings. Radio Luxemburg and Light Programme DJ David Jacobs had approached the BBC c.1956 with the idea for a series called Hit Or Miss in which a panel would cast their opinion on the week’s new releases, only to have the idea rejected by Leslie Johnson at the BBC’s Light Entertainment department. In early summer 1959 Jacobs was approached to be a member on the panel of a new series Juke Box Jury, the format of which the BBC had just bought from America. When Jacobs explained that the idea was put to them a couple of years previous he was given the job of host to placate him.

After Drumbeat had run its course the BBC used Juke Box Jury to fill its place and there it stayed for the next eight years. The show involved a panel of four showbiz personalities passing opinion and ultimately judgement on the week’s new releases, with a guest appearance by one of the artists whose work was reviewed / criticised. The act had to sit behind the set in what became known as The Hot Seat. The panel was also complemented by an audience panel made up of three members of that week’s audience who also imparted their opinion 'hit' or 'miss'.

The show’s cheap to run format proved popular with the BBC, while the audience also got the chance to play amateur reviewer. Producer Barry Langford would take on average about sixty new releases every week to youth clubs and try them out on the members, the most popular would them be included on that week’s show. Langford had taken over the producers' role in Spring 1964 and vowed to eliminate any potentially anti-pop jurors.

Notable editions include The Beatles playing panel in December 1963, while The Rolling Stones did the same the following year and in the process abandoning the traditional hit or miss board.

The original theme tune was later replaced by Hit Or Miss by The John Barry Seven, at the suggestion of David Jacobs after it had been judged on the show. By 1964 the weekly audience averaged twelve million, however irritation from other programme makers at it’s space-taking residency in the schedule saw the show shifted to an earlier time slot on Saturday evening, together with a shorter running time.

In mid 1964 the producers were going to introduce film clips for some of the songs instead of the usual camera pointed at the reactions of the audience.

It was later moved from Saturday evenings to Wednesday in October 1967, which is usually the first sign of an upcoming P45.

The show was revived twice by the BBC, once in 1979, hosted by Noel Edmonds, which included a legendary encounter with John Lydon, ex-Sex Pistol, and in 1989 made by Noel Gay Productions and hosted by Jools Holland.