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Heading back through The Tube

IT’S said that if you remember the 60s, you weren’t there.

The Tube: The 25th Birthday Cut, The Sage Gateshead

IT’S said that if you remember the 60s, you weren’t there.

If you don’t remember The Tube, you’re probably under the age of 30, from beyond these shores – or you were there, in the midst of the anarchic pop show which burst onto our TV screens in November 1982 and ran for five wild and wacky years.

Fronted by Jools Holland and Paula Yates, from Tyne Tees studios in Newcastle, it featured everyone from The Police to Tina Turner.

Fans would flock for their weekly dose of groundbreaking music, risqué interviews and irreverent humour, while emerging talents clamoured for air-time.

On Friday night, Hall Two of The Sage saw a return to those heady days.

In a one-off celebration of the show, key members of The Tube’s production team – led by its assistant producer Chris Phipps and joined by special guest Martyn Ware of 80s hit band Heaven 17 – shared memories and anecdotes and gave a live commentary of the first broadcast.

And it proved a wonderfully informal night of nostalgia that clearly struck a chord with the audience – which had a fair share of The Tube’s original dancers and crew.

Jarvis Cocker had initially auditioned to be a presenter, as did then-unknown Boy George, who turned up in a wedding dress.

In a special taped message, Holland himself revealed how he and Yates were picked following an audition so dreadful producers couldn’t take their eyes off it.

At the time no-one in the music world could understand why the show wasn’t being made in London with proper presenters.

But that was the point.

It was fresh, innovative and daring and, whatever its faults, it was immensely watchable.

A pioneering 10-minute Heaven 17 video made by The Tube was another great reminder of just what the show was capable of.

It was also hugely influential. BA, for instance, rescheduled its flights from Newcastle Airport so performers could get back to London afterwards.

The consensus of the night seemed to be that the show was of its time. And there can never be anything quite like it again.

They just don’t make them like that anymore.


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