Popworld, Channel 4

by | Feb 9, 2005 | All, Reviews

Style A humorous pop show which manages to get hold of a lot of acts before they actually make it big. It is self-aware, tongue-in-cheek and keen to point out the faults with the artists and videos – though they do it in a safe backstabbing way in the studio probably months after the interview with said artist took place.

The opening titles have bubble disco graphics and theme music which is actually more sophisticated than most music shows, sounding like it was orchestrated rather than synthesized – though it clearly was synthesized. When the show started, the presenters apologised for the opening titles because they still contain the defunct Misteeq.

During the live performances, there were too many fancy tricks such as close ups of The Futureheads singer’s crooked teeth, symmetrical mirroring and a filter which made The Kaiser Chiefs’ performance look like a 70s punk poster. It was this kind of overdressing which ruined BBC3’s Re:Covered.

Presenters It’s a pairing that really shouldn’t work – camp, geeky scrawny Simon Amstell and urban-loving common-as-mook ladette Miquita Oliver. Neither are typical TV presenters but they have a genuine chemistry and seem to chat spontaneously.

Amstell, who is also a stand-up comedian, makes sarcastic comments about the pop stars and Oliver laughs at his jokes – it works.

The best interviews feature extremely pompous American rap artists. They are often disgusted at Amstell’s camp mannerisms and how silly his questions are. This week, he bemused sullen American indie band The Bravery by using the word kerfuffle.

Added extras One of Popworld’s greatest strengths is that it spoofs a lot of the usual conventions of TV pop shows. Amstell told the viewers what was coming up in cod-French, Ronny Woomble from Idlewild was asked when he last used a ringbinder and his favourite Italian food.

The quiz question was easy but funny: “Robert Mugabe is the President of Zimbabwe. But who used to present the TV show Esther?”.

They also had a tongue-in-cheek report from the NME Awards, with Simon asking the acts “Are you going to get sloshed/ratted/sizzled?”

The acts Despite being called Popworld, most of the acts are a lot less mainstream than those on any other terrestrial pop show. The poppiest one was Verbalicious, and she can be categorised as urban at a push. (Amstell – “Verbalicious. Lovely name. That’s verbal and delicious. So well done to her!)

Basement Jaxx’s new video for Oh My Gosh is very funny, set in a nursing home where old people are knitting and playing dominos, but talking and exchanging glances like young people out on the pull.

This was followed by The Futureheads performing their fantastic cover of Kate Bush’s Hounds Of Love; and a dance act called The Sunset Strippers whose video has scantily clad young women dancing, like every dance video, except this is set in a launderette.

The Kaiser Chiefs performed Oh My God (very good) and the show closed with a rather bland video by New Order.

Overview By far the best pop music show on TV. It’s not as high profile as CD:UK but that’s probably just as well. It wouldn’t be able to get away with being this good if marketing people got their hands on it.

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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