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The Tube

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The Tube
The Tube Neon Sign
Background information
Format Live music television
Presented by Jools Holland and Paula Yates, Leslie Ash, Muriel Gray, Gary James, Michel Cremona, Nick Laird-Clowes and Mike Everitt
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 121 + 10 specials
Executive producer(s) Malcolm Gerrie, Andrea Wonfor, Crispin Evans
Location City Road, Newcastle upon Tyne
TV show

The Tube was an innovative United Kingdom pop/rock music television programme, which ran for five series, from 5 November 1982 until 1987. It was produced in Newcastle upon Tyne for Channel 4 by Tyne Tees Television, which had previously produced the similar music show Alright Now and the music-oriented youth show Check it Out for ITV; production of the latter ended in favour of The Tube.

The Tube was presented live by hosts including Jools Holland, Paula Yates, Leslie Ash, Muriel Gray, Gary James, Michel Cremona, Nick Laird-Clowes and Mike Everitt. It was relaunched by Channel 4 as an online radio station in November 2006. The show was directed by Gavin Taylor; Geoff Wonfor directed some of the insert videos along with other staff programme director of Tyne Tees Television Martin Cairns. Many other specials were made, including one for the eve of the millennium.

Showcase for contemporary bands Edit

The Tube was a showcase for many emerging '80s bands. Artists who played on The Tube included: Alison Moyet (Alf), The Art of Noise, The Assembly, The Associates, Aztec Camera, Big Country, Bon Jovi, The Boomtown Rats, Cardiacs, Cliff Richard, Cocteau Twins, The Cramps, Culture Club, The Damned, Dennis Brown with Sly & Robbie, Depeche Mode, Dexys Midnight Runners, Duran Duran, Echo & the Bunnymen, Vow Wow, Elvis Costello, The Fall, Fatal Charm, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Gregory Isaacs & The Roots Radics, Gun Club, Heaven 17, The Human League, Icicle Works, Iggy Pop, INXS, Judas Priest, Killing Joke, Level 42, Lloyd Cole & the Commotions, Madness, Madonna, Magnum, Meat Loaf, Motörhead, Paul Young, Pet Shop Boys, The Pretenders, The Proclaimers, Propaganda, The Psychedelic Furs, The Rainmakers, Robert Palmer, R.E.M., Scraping Foetus off the Wheel, Silent Running, Simple Minds, Simply Red, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Soft Cell, SPK, Squeeze, The Style Council, Tears for Fears, Terence Trent D'Arby, Terry & Gerry, The Smiths, The Cult, The Cure, The Dream Academy, The Jam, The Mission, The Pogues, The Pretenders, The Stranglers, Then Jericho, Thin Lizzy, Thomas Dolby, Tina Turner, Twisted Sister, U2, Ultravox, Voice of the Beehive, Wall of Voodoo, Wham!, XTC, Yazoo, ZZ Top.

The Tube was a very important outlet for the performers, and provided a turning point in the careers of many of them. For The Proclaimers, performing "Letter from America" on The Tube was instrumental in helping the Scottish duo to their first top ten UK hit; it was also responsible for introducing Frankie Goes to Hollywood to their record label.

In addition to being the launchpad for new and upcoming performers, The Tube became known for its high profile music performance 'scoops' from established world class bands such as U2 live at Red Rocks, Robert Plant, Bo Diddley and ZZ Top. The show was also fortunate to persuade Ringo Starr to give one of the first post-Beatles interviews in an extended article on his work with Marc Bolan and T.Rex, filmed at his then (and previously John Lennon's) house, Tittenhurst Park.

Duran Duran Edit

Duran Duran performed on the final episode of The Tube broadcast on 24 April 1987, with the band featuring on other occasions including a TV special in the summer of 1983 when they were recording in France and interviewed by Jool Holland.

Format Edit

The cornerstone of the shows was the live performances from three or four bands each week. In an era where most music TV shows featured non-stop miming, the fully live sets by the guest artists were innovative (but the sound mix was often very poor, with a curious quality that made it sound like everything had been 'phased'). The programme would start with a 45 minute magazine section consisting of interviews, fashion items and comedy appearances by a wide range of alternative artistes such as Mark Miwurdz, Frank Sidebottom,Vic Reeves (before his association with Bob Mortimer ), Foffo Spearjig and even French & Saunders. During this section Yates would become known for conducting rather flirtatious interviews: in 1985, for example, she prompted Sting to remove his trousers.

The main presenters were supported, for the first two series, by five newcomers who were picked following a nationally advertised competition: these were Muriel Gray, Gary James, Nick Laird-Clowes, Michel Cremona and Mike Everitt. The supporting presenters took turns to co-present. The show usually featured four or five band appearances per week, with one main extended session to close. The format of the show was extended following Series 1 with a number of special events - most notably the 'Midsummer Night's Tube', a 5 hour version broadcast live from the Tyne Tees studios, the pub across the road from the studios and The Hoppings annual fair in Newcastle. This ground breaking broadcast was, at the time, the longest continuous live music show in television history and received much critical and technical acclaim.

Studio 5 was also used to produce a spin off show called TX45. This show ran for two series hosted by Chris Cowey and produced by Jeff Brown and featured local bands like, The Kane Gang, Secret Sam, She and President. The programme's theme music, the instrumental "TX45", was by Sophie and Peter Johnston, based on the song of theirs, ""Some Sunny Day" - a video clip of them performing it on TX45.

Many stars drank in the neighbouring pub The Egypt Cottage, using it as a green room. Jools Holland said "A legendary amount of things happened in the Egypt Cottage, and the Rose and Crown when it was on the other side of the road. Everyone – the likes of Miles Davis, Paul McCartney – who came up for The Tube will have sat in that pub."

Demise Edit

In January 1987, during the fifth series, Jools Holland used the phrase "be there or be ungroovy fuckers" during a live trailer for the show. The incident caused a national scandal, as the trailer was transmitted at a peak children's viewing time and the show was taken off air for three weeks as a result. Holland was reprimanded by Channel 4, as this was not the first time he had accidentally sworn on the live show. The show's producer, Malcolm Gerrie, and Tyne Tees' Director of Programmes, Andrea Wonfor, announced their resignations in March. They cited as reasons for doing so a mixture of internal bickering, political pressure and "stifling bureaucracy and heavy handed moralism". A further series was never commissioned. In truth, the viewing figures for the series had dropped significantly, and the original format had been watered down. Some people close to the show had said that Holland's swearing was seen as a convenient way of ending the show. The show had always suffered from having such an early 'tea-time'/children's spot that was highly incompatible with the edgy and hip style that it encapsulated. The presenters' live interviews and filmed magazine items were nervously watched by the show's producers and editors as well as Channel 4 executives, especially when certain pop stars and celebrities not known for their shy and retiring nature were being featured. It was this that gave the show the curious feeling of 'anything might happen' that actually made it the success it was.

For Holland, Yates and Gray it was the launchpad for successsful careers in television.

In 2000, The Tube was brought back for a one-off live special on Sky1. Hosted by BBC Radio 1's Chris Moyles and Donna Air, the show came live again from Studio 5 at Tyne Tees and the bar of the Egypt Cottage next door.

In 2005 Tyne Tees Television moved from its City Road complex on Newcastle Quayside. The site is to be redeveloped as housing, but it is not yet clear whether the trademark 'Tube' structure will remain. In July 2006 Studio 5 of the TTTV City Road site was leased by Metro Cult International; now known as Bethshan Cult, led by Pastors Ken and Lois Gott. The famous Tube neon sign was bought at auction by Tyne And Wear Museums for a future display at the Discovery museum in Newcastle's Blandford Square. It made its debut at a recent display.

Radio revival Edit

In November 2006, the programme was revived as a radio show by UKONE Productions for Channel 4 Radio[1]. Presenters Konnie Huq, Alex James and Tony Wilson hosted the main show (The Tube) and filler show (Mind The Gap) and has been heavily promoted on the TV channel.

Available on the Internet Edit

In July 2008 ITN (rights holder for The Tube) signed a deal with MUZU TV to make The Tube available online.

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