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Your Friday Night In...

Your Friday Night In… April 1987

Friday, 24th April 1987


It’s perhaps not surprising, but discussions about The Tube in recent years have been a bit prone to self-mythologising, reaching insane heights with the documentary a few years back which claimed the programme was basically single-handedly responsible for sorting out sexism, racism (by getting Grandmaster Flash on and inviting three blokes from Washington, Tyne and Wear to breakdance), the north-south divide and even African famine, thanks to Band Aid happening because Midge Ure was standing next to Paula when Bob phoned her up. It was quite a good series, and it often did give across the impression that Newcastle was the centre of the world for 90 minutes on a Friday, but it was just pop on the telly. It ran out of steam quite quickly as well, and the series was already declining a bit when Jools Holland had a moment of madness during a live trailer and was sent home for six weeks, the resulting furore leading to behind the scenes ructions and the show calling it a day after five years, this big final edition going out in suitable style with James Brown topping the bill. The Tube was probably better than Terry Christian’s memory of it being “hours and hours of fucking Phil Collins”, but maybe not the world-changer its staff would have you believe.


Russell Grant and Larry Grayson were considered for the host’s role on this show before it became the second and most durable part of Paul Daniels’ great game show trilogy, after his success on Odd One Out. A solid quizzer it was too, but the biggest question for the audience always came in the final when it was guaranteed someone watching would ask, “What have they actually won, then?”, thanks to its complex prize structure where you’d win the first and last prize you got but none of them in between. The rest of it ran very smoothly, though, Paul racing though true or false questions with enough good humour to jolly things along, before that tense finale with the chance to win a telly with Every Second Counts written on it in teletext, and finally that twiddly bit of the theme tune where Paul did a little wave to camera, simultaneously the most embarrassing and most comforting part of every show.

Hard now to imagine Rory Bremner as a thrusting young talent, given these days most of his telly appearances seem to be occasional outings on The Andrew Marr Show dusting off some old impressions, but Bremner had a headlining TV series at the age of 24. Like many acts, he owed much of his success to Lord Terence of Woganshire, thanks to being spotted and invited to appear on the first edition of his thrice weekly show, the same year he also got in the charts as The Commentators, a performance we’re looking forward to seeing on BBC4 soon. He was quick to move with the times as well, and before one series gave the writers a list of 105 impressions he would be willing to do, despite the fact he’d never done half of them before. Now Something Else was his first starring series, although so as not to put him under too much pressure it was sold as a team affair – with Sara Crowe, John Dowie and Ann Bryson in support – and without his name in the title, although Bremner later suggested it was such a boring title nobody actually knew what it was.

“And now, for the benefit of our home and studio audience… but not for our panel… heeere’s hooooz houuuse… iiiit iiiiis!” You can always work out the age of an episode of Through the Keyhole by how long it take Frost to say that line, as well as the quality of the homeowners of course (“You’ll kick yourself, it’s Steve Walsh!”). Keyhole was probably the best thing about the appalling early days of TV-am, albeit in rather different form where Loyd would simply guess the victims himself, and in the pilot was so cutting about TV-am big cheese Michael Deakin’s décor, Angela Rippon promised never to introduce it ever again. Frost was suitably taken with the format to grab hold of it and pitch it to every channel going, hence after a long run on primetime ITV it then moved over to Sky One and later an even longer run on daytime BBC1. This was the real golden age, mind, if only thanks to regular appearances by Willie Rushton and homeowners you’d actually heard of.



  1. THX 1139

    April 28, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    I remember an episode where the panel had to pretend they knew the house of Andy from the first series of Big Brother. I doubt even Andy remembers who he is now, never mind then. I suspected the entire series of subterfuge from then on.

  2. Glenn A

    April 29, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    THX 1139, ask most people to name their most memorable Big Brother housemates and almost all will say Jade Goody or Nasty Nick Bateman. It’s just one totally forgettable show that’s gone on 7 years past its sell by date.
    However, back to 1987, The Tube quit while it was still ahead and still good to watch and made stars out of Paula Yates and Muriel Gray. Interestingly enough, Muriel Gray appeared on Border Television in the mid eighties when they launched their own cut price version of The Tube, with a purpose built studio called The Shed and featuring B list acts like Spear Of Destiny.

  3. Glenn A

    May 1, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    I do recall Rory Bremner’s comedy cricket record, lamenting the dismal state of the England cricket team after two dire test series. Actually the record might have persuaded England to play better in 1985 as they went on to win The Ashes without Ian Botham for some of the tests.

  4. Applemask

    May 8, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Steve Walsh was dead by the time Through the Keyhole would have needed to resort to him. Unless you mean Steve Walsh from Kansas. Or the Leicester City captain.

  5. Richardpd

    March 27, 2022 at 10:23 pm

    Unsurprisingly Rory Bremner was a regular performer on Spitting Image before becoming a household name. I remember his late 1980s show on a Saturday or Sunday night.

    Channel 4 didn’t have a good music show for a few years after axing The Tube apart from some music slots on shows like The Word. The White Room was good but didn’t last more few years.

    ITV2’s version of Through The Keyhole with Keith Lemon sometimes has people on you’ve heard of.

  6. Glenn Aylett

    April 28, 2023 at 9:55 am

    The last series of The Tube had a schoolboy presenter called Felix who also appeared in a Madonna video. I wonder what happened to him as I don’t think I saw him on anything again. Also while not the centre of the British music scene like London and Manchester, The Tube did have some big names like James Brown making a trip to the city, as well as on one episode some useless local punk act( five years after punk was over in most places) massacring Love To Love You Baby. Clearly an eclectic music show that was must watch television.

    • David Smith

      April 28, 2023 at 11:46 pm

      Felix Howard seems to be “still very much in the music business”, as Mark Lamarr used to say on the Never Mind The Buzzcocks identity parade:

      Although oddly his Wiki entry doesn’t mention his Tube-presenting stint.

  7. Glenn Aylett

    April 29, 2023 at 6:08 pm

    @ David Smith, the boy did well and I’m glad as Felix ended up with a very good career as an A and R man. Also Jools Holland managed to survive his effing and jeffing episode on City Road and is now considered the face of the BBC on New Year’s Eve.

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