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Star Test

The Dax 'digi grab'. Appleby!

This nosey parker super-computer inquisition managed to attract the big stars du jour such as Kenny Everett, Stephen Fry, Terence Trent D’Arby, Dave Stewart, Bernard Sumner, Wendy James and er, Sydney Youngblood.

The lame spin on the common-or-garden magazine style Q and A came by subjecting contestants to a warning to be truthful as the viewers vote whether or not they have been honest (‘star test’, see?) If the viewers at home think they’re being slippery they forfeit the right to show their videos.

The Cadbury’s Caramel smooth tone of the computer (or ‘Compy’ as Paul ‘I had a collection of Teddies called the Dinties’ Heaton called her) was provided by Kara Noble, notable for being the daughter of Marianne Stone (monstrously successful bit-part actress, specialising in charwomen and barmaids) and taker of  ‘that’ photo of Chris Tarrant and Sophie Rhys-Jones (ahem) a few years back. Extra high-tech sexiness was added via a pretend ‘touch screen’ panel for picking questions, then impossibly sleek and sexy, now a bit like taking a Facebook quiz on an especially clunky iPhone.

Some questions were pertinent and probing, but failed to vary (especially in the compulsory trivia section). Predictably YouTube footage extends to whatever fans can be arsed to upload, so there was plenty of ‘Polar Bear’ Sumner, ‘ I heart cats’ Dax, ‘James Dean is my hero’ Goss (both of them, actually), a shrug-inducingly earnest Gabriel, good value for money Heaton and scrappy segments of a few others and this also explains why when the show petered out in March ’91 with Mr ‘two ‘r’s’ Bushell, the Internet provides a big, cavernous yawn where the tape should be.



  1. D R Y B A B Y

    November 27, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Here is WENDY JAMES’ entire “Star Test” interview from 1989..

    From Secrets To Sex indeed..

    “Oh gosh I’d love to tell you some secrets but I haven’t got any..”

    Wanna bet..?

    See ya


  2. Brian Rowland

    November 27, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Well, well, I never knew that was Kara Noble as the tester.

    I saw the Bushell one at the time (well, I saw most of them at the time). At one point, he was asked “How would you feel if any of your children told you they were gay?” Infuriatingly, I cannot remember his answer but it should be quoted as definition 3 under ‘discomfort’ in all dictionaries.

    Anyone remember that after Star Test finished, they brought back the format in the run-up to the 1992 General Election and called it Star Chamber? As before, only this time politicians were “grilled” (oh, alright, just “asked some questions”). I do wish I could recall more than two of the answers given, but these will have to do. Firstly, asked for his favourite comedian, Tony Benn plumped for Benny Hill. Secondly, asked for his favourite pop group, Paddy Ashdown kept it in the family and chose a group called The Becketts, which just happened to have his son in the line-up.

  3. Suzy Norman

    November 29, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Well recalled on the Star Chamber front, Brian.
    And, the Wendy James one to watch. Great. The Appleby one really is brain dribbling out of the ears banal stuff. Still, I think her singing partner had only recently died when it was made, isn’t that right? I do think the select your own Qs thing was a good idea but the questions weren’t varied enough from week to week.

  4. Nick Gates

    December 12, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    A bunch of these (including the Garry Bushell one) was on 4oD not so long ago – or at least they were on Virgin Media anyway. They were highly entertaining, but unfortunately they don’t seem to be on any more.

  5. fl3m

    December 12, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    I’ve got Clint Boon on VHS somewhere

  6. THX 1139

    May 1, 2021 at 11:31 pm

    In the Richard E. Grant one, they asked him what it was like having false teeth. I still don’t know if they were joking or not (he went along with it in humorous style).

  7. Diet Lilt

    May 12, 2021 at 10:48 am

    I watched the Julian Cope one on YouTube last night and it’s still worth a look. He lurches from extreme flippancy to earnest answers about what it means to be alive. He’s also no stranger to the value of a strategic pause. Computer: “How good were the Teardrop Explodes?”. Cope (after long walk from the back of the studio to the point where his face is right in the camera): “Mainly crap, actually.”

  8. Tom Ronson

    March 31, 2022 at 3:49 pm

    Kenny Everett’s episode is, as you’d expect, rather good. When asked why he got the boot from Radio One – ‘Oh, blimey. I’ll have to trawl through a back catalogue of horror… oh, I know. It was something about the Transport Minister’s wife, who passed her test first time, and I said she probably crammed a fiver in his hand…’

  9. Richardpd

    November 26, 2023 at 10:13 pm

    I remember catching the Kenny Everett & Robert Palmer ones when Channel 4 repeated them during one of the school holidays.

    French & Saunders spoofed it with Sonia & Bros having a go.

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