The Roxy was ITV Network’s attempt to steal some of the thunder from BBC’s Top Of
The Pops which was enjoying a new lease of life with healthy viewing figures. The
success of the Network Chart, a weekly top forty show, run on the ILR radio network
since 1985 was the reason the ITV Network gave for the commission. However, off-
First rumblings of the first credible alternative to Top Of The Pops came from a
Music Week report in March 1986 claiming that Tyne Tees were producing the show,
but of course, no offical statement could be made. Dave Jensen was linked to the
project which was to be recorded in London. Producers likely to be invited to work
on the show included Royston Mayo, Alastair Pirrie and ex-
The contract to produce the show was hotly contested by many of the ITV’s franchises
with Zenith Television (an off-
Tyne Tees won the contract and Alastair Pirrie was hired as the producer. They would
be given the final go ahead from network controllers by April 14th 1987, just as
The Tube and Whistle Test were about to finish. However, the originally intended
debut in May was delayed by ITV network controllers, wishing to see the three companies
that originally applied for the contract to re-
Pirrie told Music Week "It's going to be more an entertainment based around the chart rather than a chart show. It will have an election night feel as we'll be announcing the chart live on the programme", which would be embarrassing for any act that appeared on the show only to see their song go down the chart on the same show. After finally being awarded to contract in May 1987 Pirrie insisted that the chart they use should be based on sales only, with radio airplay, which was included in the ILR chart, removed. However, the first edition was broadcast using not only record sales, but airplay from both radio and television, which meant that the show was contributing to its own chart. The chart would be compiled by MRIB and announced on Friday morning, giving the producers until Monday evening to put the show together. MRIB's predecessor the British Market Research Bureau had been compiling the chart for Top Of The Pops until 1983, but had lost the contract to Gallup. ITV awarded the show its own Oracle text number 196 so viewers could see the chart and who was going to be on the show as weekly listings magazine TV Times couldn’t predict who would be on that far in advance.
The host of the show was in no doubt, David Jensen, who was the host of the radio
equivalent was immediately hired. He had also presented the final series of Razzamatazz
in 1986, so already had a contact with Tyne Tees. The co-
The studio was the one that had been used for The Tube, and the set design was based on a Victorian ballroom, with just one stage, restricting the ‘live’ aspect. In fact the show was never broadcast live, being recorded the night before.
A new broadcast date of 9th July was given the go ahead and Pirrie was raring to
go, telling Music Week "If The Roxy is allowed to go ahead, it will knock spots off
Top Of The Pops." He also later commented "If I was producing Top Of The Pops, I'd
be worried." The Saturday morning repeat would include a chart update and a video
vote which would decide which two full clips would be used on the following Tuesday's
show. Each show would feature five acts in the studio, twelve video excerpts and
two full video clips. New bands would be encouraged to send in demo tapes which would
be available on the shows' own "Dial-
The first show went on the air, but there were still problems since many of ITV's
affiliates couldn’t agree when to show it. Tuesday evening had been agreed by the
ITV network (with a repeat on the Saturday morning), but it was left to the individual
stations to make a timeslot available. Fearing that it would mean moving the successful
farming soap Emmerdale Farm, The Roxy was put head to head with BBC1’s EastEnders,
Britain’s number one rated show at the time. The programme was jockeyed from slot
to slot in the regions from 6:30 to 7:30, causing friction between ITV and the show’s
sponsor Nescafe. Thames and Central would not show it at the recommended time. However
the first show reached a respectable 7.3 million, plus another 1.7 million for the
Saturday morning repeat. Top Of The Pops showed that scheduling meant everything.
The show had a ten million plus rating, Channel Four's The Chart Show would only
have a million. The show generated a small increase in record sales, with four of
the seven acts featured having their singles go down the chart. Despite the poor
reviews Pirrie told Music Week "It's a fine, bouncing baby and far, far better than
I expected it to be with less than six weeks' preparation. The response from the
music industry has been great since the first show went out, with some well-
Music Week returned to the show after its first ten weeks and spoke to associate producer Ken Scorfield who proudly boasted "We say the hits happen first on The Roxy. We had on Marillion and Siouxsie because we knew they were both going to be high entries. By the time the Gallup chart was published, they had both been on The Roxy. We are better than TOTP because we are faster to react to new singles." He also talked about the set design "There is nothing less natural than playing in a TV studio. We give them a real stage, we hire a PA and they feel like performers instead of just going through their paces." Michael Hurll from TOTP was asked by Music Week to comment on The Roxy and he quoted "I thought they were going to do something different but but they have really just copied TOTP."
Although the thirty minute show featured a top thirty chart it often went outside the chart remit when the artists made themselves available. But despite attracting several major names including Paul McCartney most acts were reluctant to make the trek to Newcastle just for a single performance. At least with The Tube you could perform a short live set and have a chat with a host.
Benny Brown was brought in to look at the international music scene, but this section
didn't last long, while the show would have a scrolling music news banner at the
bottom of the screen. There would also be a chart update as a voice-
It wasn't a happy Christmas for the show as Alastair Pirrie announced that he was leaving to go freelance. Gordon Elsbury, producer / director of Jonathan King's Entertainment USA would take over, while it was assumed that David Jensen would now have a bigger say in the show's music policy.
By the beginning of 1988 the show underwent a re-
The final show was broadcast live on Tuesday 5th April 1988. Co-
Malcolm Gerrie who had left the show at the end of 1987 was about to debut his own new show, Wired, for Channel 4.
Critical reaction was predictable enough, nicknamed “The Poxy” by more than one journalist. After the plug was pulled ITV fell back on Saturday morning’s The Chart Show video clip show to fill the pop gap.
Pop would become London-