TV Cream

TV: T is for...

Tube, The

SAINTED SEMI-ALTERNOPOP show of a Friday evening live from Tyne Tees studios in Newcastle helmed, variously, by JOOLS HOLLAND, PAULA YATES, LESLIE ASH, MURIEL GRAY and GARY JAMES. Canonised in retrospect but a lot of it, at the time, was tedious at best, unwatchable at worst. Even the Pet Shop Boys appeared pissed. Nadir came when young oik FELIX HOWARD interviewed, of all people, MACCA. Ten regulator-ruffling moments:

1) C4 handing over to Tyne Tees 30 seconds early, to hear Paula Yates discussing popular literature – “And do you know there’s an entire chapter in Little Richard’s book about a man with a fifteen inch dick up his arse” – and the weather – “It really is fucking freezing out here.”

2) The 1985 five hour summer special, where Jools was busy and had to be replaced with Malcolm McClaren, but whose filmed contributions and an interview with Bryan Ferry were stolen, found dumped in a Soho doorway two days later, then the whole show was pulled because of industrial action.

3) A special late night edition showing the uncut Thriller video, introduced by Jools with a competition to estimate the proportions of Jacko’s pet hamster William – or as Holland announced, “Guess the size of Michael Jackson’s Willy.”

4) Rik Mayall popping out of the local next to TTTV studios to introduce that evening’s programme, including unscripted chunder action. “It’s Friday night, the pubs are open – Beeeeeooork!”

5) A Christmas special with Jools showing viewers how to make their own version of Blue Peter’s advent crown, involving pouring a tin of highly flammable explosive liquid over your dining room furniture before setting it alight. “Make sure you talk to Mum about this one before you do it,” cautioned Holland.

6) Jools suggesting to viewers the number of uses a plastic tube housing a Tube promotional poster could have, including collecting “elephants’ farts” and “hamster turds.”

7) Muriel Gray not being called before the show started, opening her dressing room door to find Paula and Jools introducing the programme right outside, cursing, then running out round the back of the Tyne Tees building to reach the place she was supposed to be.

8) Paula interviewing Steve Cram sitting on her mike throughout, with Jools shouting “I hope you fart” from across the studio.

9) The first ever interview Paula did, with Mick Jagger: “Mick Jagger, tell us – what HAVE you got down the front of your pants?” “That’s for me to know and you to find out”. The exchange was never transmitted.

10) “Groovy fuckers…”



  1. Dino

    April 1, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Hello there fellow Creamers,
    just wondering would anyone know who performed the theme music to this show? I’ve heard Jeff Bek and Jan Hammer had something to do with it but the song Star Cycle and the actual theme are similar but definitely not the same. If anyone could help us out I’d be very grateful. Thanks,

  2. Glenn Aylett

    November 2, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Always wonder what happened to Felix after The Tube. I know he appeared in a pop video, but can’t think of anything else he did.

  3. richardpd

    November 2, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    In some ways this was to the 1980s what The Old Grey Whistle Test was to the 1970s, with a heavy dose of “yoof TV”.

    It’s a shame Channel 4 didn’t stick with an alternative music show, the White Room could have been a Tube for the 1990s but didn’t last too long.

    At least Jools Holland managed to fill the gap with Later With… on BBC2.

    • Glenn Aylett

      November 3, 2019 at 8:30 am

      Whistle Test was a bit too serious and the low budget sometimes meant it was made in the weather studio, while The Tube had a light hearted set of presenters, a purpose built set and some excellent live performances. However, it quit while it was ahead and Tyne Tees wanted a rival to TOTP( the shortlived The Roxy).

  4. Frank Zobel

    September 16, 2020 at 11:59 am

    The crit does justice to the haze of nostalgia surrounding The Tube by pointing out it wasn’t all cutting edge stuff which had every 18-25 year-old in the land riveted to the telly on Friday night. It all went on a bit too long (wasn’t it a two hour slot?) and, frankly, some of the turns sank without trace, such as a reggae duo desecrating the name “Laurel and Hardy” whose single reached a dizzying 65 in the charts.

  5. Glenn Aylett

    April 5, 2024 at 5:10 pm

    Could there ever be a less rock and roll place than City Road in Newcastle, as this was before The Quayside took off and the road headed into some of the places tourists in Newcastle would be advised not to visit after dark like Low Walker? Also Tyne Tees studios lacked the presence you’d find of somewhere like the BBC Television Centre, but for five years, these studios produced the best pop show on television.

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