The Old Grey Whistle Test Story, BBC4

by | Jan 3, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

It wasn’t a classic wallow in TV’s past but we were interested to see how music TV used to be: no smiles, no flashing lights, lots of beards and denim essential.

What was good about it?

• There were plenty of interesting artists featured (but the clips were all too brief), most of whom got a deadpan introduction from presenter Bob Harris, who sat inches away as they did their stuff.

• Mark Radcliffe was the best of the talking heads, pointing out that OGWT was “for serious music fans and serious musicians” and its “darkest hour was its slow reaction to punk.”

• Charles Shaar-Murray also shed light on the dingy music show. “Some of it was pompous beyond belief but it appealed to inquiring young minds,” he pointed out. He also got to comment on Bob Harris’s dismissive reaction to the New York Dolls. “Poor old Uncle Bob could not cope; this is not why he opened his youth club.”

• Bob’s defence of his punk-wary stance: “Punks were absolutely determined to drive a wrecking ball through all that Whistle Test represented. I thought I’d become the Ken Barlow of rock.” He wisely walked away, allowing Annie Nightingale, Dave Hepworth, Mark Ellen and Andy Kershaw to become presenters.

• The homemade video of 1920s dancers synched to Trampled Underfoot by Led Zeppelin

• We love Annie Nightingale, even now she’s about 97 and still down with the kidz

What was bad about it?

• Jo Brand’s narration/script was poor but, thankfully, there wasn’t very much of it.

• A lot of the talking heads struggled to find anything interesting to say.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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