When the British Government gave ITV the go ahead for an alternative second channel
it was inevitable that a pop show would be a part of the schedule. In 1981 Channel
4 was about to announce its first package of programme commissions for its launch
in November 1982. Mike Bolland (ex-
Andrea Wonfor, creator of some of the Tyne Tees shows was dispatched to Channel 4's
makeshift offices in ITV to come up with ideas. The first proposal was for six thirty
minute rock shows, but was rejected as being too similar to the BBC's Old Grey Whistle
Test. Wonfor re-
After these setbacks the whole of Tyne Tees' children's department were called in
for ideas in April 1982. They were determined to keep current affairs and other non-
As this show would be longer than the norm it would need more presenters than usual.
The first series would be produced by Malcolm Gerrie with Gavin Taylor directing
in the studio and Geoff Wonfor directing some of the on-
Jools and Paula had been sent over to Hollywood to report on the music scene and the lives of Hollywood school kids while final preparations were made back in Newcastle with new producer Paul Corley.
The show would be broadcast live from Tyne Tees' Studio 5 on City Road, Newcastle.
The studio itself surrounded a pub, The Egypt Cottage, occasionally referred to as
Studio 6 as many comedy clips and interviews were broadcast there.The pilot show,
recorded in October 1982 was a disaster, but all went well on the night of the first
broadcast Friday 5th November from 5.15 -
The first few shows attracted many big names, only too happy to get out of London for a day or two, with Sting and Pete Townshend agreeing to appear on the first show with live sets in later shows from The Jam, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Yazoo and Culture Club among others. The show had gained respect within the musical community quite quickly with acts like David Bowie even name checking it in one of his videos.
Both of the main hosts became household names almost immediately with Jools' cool, almost unimpressed demeanour, while his colleague Paula Yates made a technique of interviewing people while sitting on the microphone. The danger of a live show was ever present and mock vomiting from a comic, brief nudity, unrehearsed political outbursts and profanity always just a moment away. However the show used too many presenters 'new to television' who couldn't present or remember what they were there for. That aspect was pure embarrassment.
The theme for the first few series was Star Cycle by Jeff Beck and Jan Hammer, later replaced by a new theme by Trevor Horn with Jeff Beck.
The first set design used multi-
The first controversy the show would have to deal with involved the showing of The Rolling Stones' Under Cover (Of The Night) promo video which showed an explicit clip of a man being shot in the back. The intention was to show it complete, but the decision was made to cut back to the studio to see a look of mock horror on the face of Muriel Grey, followed by a daft interview with Mick Jagger and the video's director Julien Temple. It was also about this time that they expanded into the Late Night Tube, an occasional special in which superstar videos were given their debut. Michael Jackson's Thriller and Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Two Tribes were both given their own specials.
In 1985 Tyne Tees added TX45 to its pop roster, a spin-
Superstars like Queen and The Police would be given concert specials in the first series, but despite the attraction of big names it would more importantly give many acts their first TV exposure with Frankie Goes To Hollywood and The Proclaimers just two of the bands the show debuted.
Taking time away from their north-
The show would occasionally extend into late-
The new wave of British comedy would also be well represented with appearances by
French and Saunders, Vic Reeves, Rick Mayall, Fuffo Spearjig, Fry and Laurie, plus
the show had its own resident poet, Mark Mywurdz (aka Mark Hurst), but wouldn't make
it to the third series. Practically all of the non-
The second series gave important exposure to Z Z Top, Madonna, Big Country, The
Alarm, The Smiths, plus the re-
The Tube would in its time pick up many awards, and its influence quickly spread around the world, leading to international sales of the show. So successful was the first series that the ITV network chose to play edited compilations of the first series in the summer of 1983, called The Tube Return Ticket.
In the very first show guest Pete Townshend after being made to watch The Who's footage at Woodstock (shown later that night on Channel 4) claimed the mistake the hippie generation had made was the sincere belief that they could genuinely change the world. Jools agreed that shows like The Tube couldn't change anything let alone the world. Two years' later in November 1984 Ultravox made a live appearance on the show and singer Midge Ure had been sidetracked by Boomtown Rats' singer Bob Geldof, the then boyfriend of Paula Yates. Yates had drawn to Geldof's attention a BBC TV News report by Michael Beurk on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Eastern Africa. Instead of merely dipping into his pocket Geldof had an idea which he put to Ure backstage at The Tube "let's make a record". Three million of them were sold in the UK alone within two months.
A new feature for the final series was Square Celebrities, a game show hosted by
Jools with the questions posed by Vic Reeves whilst being hoisted up and down the
set which was made to look like Celebrity Squares. A similar idea would later be
At the beginning of the final year Jools let slip an obscenity during a live trail
on ITV where he suggested “Be there or be un-
After The Tube moved out Studio 5 was re-
Series one producer Malcolm Gerrie would later head production company Initial which
produced The Brits award show for many years. Geoff Wonfor would direct The Beatles'
Anthology in the mid-
Such has been the affection and nostalgia for the series that there have been been two separate series of compilations, one broadcast by Channel 4 in 1995, and another in 2010 for Sky Arts.
Attempts at revivals led to a short-
Despite the show's continuing ridicule, mostly by pop culture critics and people who probably never saw it, it's inspiration for later shows like The Word and TFI Friday is obvious.