TV Pop Diaries

Popular Music on British Television

Home Intro Articles Credits Timeline Links 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s


Tyne Tees
9th June 1987 - 5th April 1988

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, not only in Britain, but abroad, particularly in America. The success of the Network Chart, a weekly top forty show, run on the ILR radio network since 1985 and sponsored by Nescafe, was the reason the ITV Network gave for the commission. However, off-screen problems led the project to be nearly abandoned.

The show was hotly contested by many of the ITV’s franchises with Zenith Television (an off-shoot of Central Television) the joint leader with Tyne-Tees, who had made the successful, but recently de-commissioned The Tube. In addition the ITV Network were certain that they didn’t just want a Top Of The Pops clone. The host of the show was in no doubt, Dave Jensen, who was the host of the radio equivalent was immediately hired. He had also presented the final series of Tyne Tees’ Razamataz in 1986, so already had a contact with Tyne Tees. The co-host was to be the real problem. The original female co-host had backed out three weeks before the first show, and was replaced by the relatively unknown Irish TV presenter Kevin Sharkey.

The producer of the series was Alistair Pirrie, the man behind Razamataz, while the studio was the one that had been used for The Tube. 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.

The first show went on the air, but there were still problems since many of the ITV affiliates couldn’t agree when to show it. Tuesday evening had been agreed by the 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. However the first show reached a respectable 7.3 million, plus another 1.7 million for the Saturday morning repeat.

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 name 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.

By the beginning of 1988 the show underwent a re-boot. Now re-Christened The Roxy / The Network Chart Show Dave Jensen was now only to be heard in voice-over while Paul Nolan had joined as co-host with Kevin Sharkey. The show is now produced by Gordon Elsbury and Executively Produced by Dave Jensen, presumablyas a sweetener to keep him there. The set and scenery had also been given an overhaul, but it was too late. On Tuesday 23rd February 1988 ITV announced that the show was to be cancelled.

The final show was broadcast 5th April 1988. Co-host Kevin Sharkey refused to appear so was replaced by Pat Sharp, Dave Jensen and Paul Nolan. The set was blown up at the end.

Critical reaction was predictable enough, nicknamed “The Poxy” by more than one journalist. The plug was pulled in the Spring of 1988 and ITV fell back on Saturday morning’s The Chart Show video clip show to fill the pop gap.