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THE LAST RESORT

C4
9th January 1987 - 23rd December 1988

Or, The Last Resort with Jonathan Ross to give it its proper name. As you would have seen from various mid-eighties Channel 4 shows Ross was an important backroom boy, but by 1986 he had decided to take it further and establish his own production company with colleague Alan Marke.

Channel X TV were given the go ahead by Channel 4 to produce a late night chat show on a Friday. A host was approached and accepted, but shortly before the pilot show the intended host backed out, leaving Ross with the chore of hosting.

Guests had accepted, a house band, Nick Plytas & Ecstasy were hired and the show went ahead, but it was Ross' hosting style which drew the real attention. His scatter-shot delivery, knowledge and love for showbiz and, yes, his speech impediment were things that television wasn't ready for.

Since the early eighties BBC2 and Channel 4 for had provided over-ernest presenters more interested in the sociololical impact of pop more than the mere joy it gives, mirroring the perceptions of the New Musical Express, punk fanzines and Time Out that entertainment itself was not enough. Micro-examination of pop culture had ruined it and Ross was now reviving it.

Each show would have the usual parade of stars' plugging their new movie, book or TV show but it was the cheek and nerve of the host that left some stars occasionally bewildered. His work as a production assistant meant that he had done the homework that interviewers normally wouldn't do. More used to fawning interviewers, particularly in the US, stars always had the upper hand, they were in control and didn't expect an interviewer who probably knew more about their output than they did, particularly true of film actors and directors. Ross was almost unique, maybe only Paul Gamabcinni could match him in love and knowledge of their respective subjects.

The stature of the pop guests would get bigger as the series went along. Starting off with Martin Stephenson and The Daintees and ending up with Paul McCartney, Phil Collins and a rare live television appearance by George Harrison in October 1987. But it was the 10th April 1987 show in the first series that they pulled off something of a coup. Only the likes of Wogan or Pebble Mill would have invited Tom Jones, and then he would have only plugged his new single, this time Jones would perform Prince's Kiss at his own suggestion. Jones' career changed forever, there and then. This could and would have only happened on a show like this, such was the respect that Ross had earned in such a short space of time.

A new house band, Steve Nieve and The Playboys would be in place by the beginning of the second series in September 1987 and would stay until the end of the show's life.

Saturday nights were beckoning, but his next step saw him overshoot into Sunday evenings with One Hour With Jonathan Ross.