l _

The dome service

The history of pop music shows on television has not exactly been a proud roll-call of triumphs. Tom Lappin talks to presenter Craig Ferguson about Channel 4’s latest foray into the field, Friday At The Dome, and recalls some earlier shameful attempts to rock the box.

Despite being the two most pervasive and potent art forms ofour time, popular music and television have never really got on well together. Like two uncles who can never be invited to family occasions in case they knock each other‘s teeth out, the two mediums are probably best living apart, maybe exchanging the occasional Christmas card, but never actually meeting. When pop has been pushed onto the small screen in some shape or form, it’s invariably been a cue to bowdlerise, compromise and patronise.

Channel 4 has been one of the worst offenders in ’3 this respect, but they boldly return to the fray with ,

Friday A! The Dome, a 75-minute live show with filmed inserts, that sets out to emphasise the music rather than the lifestyle. ‘I don’t know very much about music shows in general, but I guess the problem’s always been trying to cover too much.’ says co-presenter Craig Ferguson. ‘This is a live show with live bands, and there won’t be too much emphasis on the fashionable trousers. There‘ll be some fashionable trousers in there, hopefully. but

Craig Ferguson spend 8 Friday at the Dorrie i

they won’t be the main thing. It‘s a show about music. and won’t confuse itselfwith being a show ' about young people or fashion.‘

It’s something of a departure for Ferguson. who first came to prominence as a comedian with his Bing Hitler character. In his distant youth, however. he was the drummer with ‘obscure but legendary" Glasgow band the Dreamboys (which

i is a fan.‘ he says. ‘It‘s a show made by fans, and

who would go on. Like any TV show, you only want to do a programme you would watch

also included Peter Capaldi). and he has kept up with developments in rock. ‘Everyone in the office

they said I could have some input and some say in

yourself. and I thought it sounded a nice idea. I am working on persuading them to get a puppet, though. You can’t have a decent music show without a puppet.‘

The programme is researched and put together on a loose committee basis, with researchers, producers and presenters sitting round listening to tapes and watching videos. We tried to get as much of a cross-section of music as possible.’ says Ferguson, ‘I’m no jazz fan. but if Roy the director says something’s decent I say “fair enough, ifyou say so”. I’ve been trying to persuade them to get more heavy metal bands on. I don’t know why, but I’ve become the champion of metal just to wind up i

L all the beardie people in the office.’

The first programme in the series suggests : Ferguson has been unsuccessful in his quest for I metal mayhem, but it does offer David Byrne and Richard Thompson duetting, Alexander O’Neal being deeply soulful. indie-rock from Lush, and ‘heavy dance-type stuff’ from Massive. Filmed reports include an interview with rap superstar MC Hammer.

Ferguson himself will be doing some stand-up, which is more than we can expect from him in the imminent future. ‘I’m not planning any stand-up tour this year,’ he says. ‘To be quite honest, I haven’t written a fucking act.’ He’s currently appearing on stage six nights a week in The Rocky ' Horror Show, using his night offto do Friday A! 3 The Dome. He anticipates the accusations. ‘Oh I no, I’m not going to become the all-round entertainer doing tap-dancing and being this really annoying Roy Castle-type of figure, playing When The Saints Come Marching In on a fucking tin kettle. No, no. . .please God.’

Friday A! The Dome begins on Channel4 on Friday 3 May at 11pm.


{Ready, 5 steady, go

Translating popular music to the small

5 screen has never been the easiest oi

} tasks. indeed a briei ilick through the

; archives reveals a litany oi

i programmes that were patronising,

' puerile and mostly very poor. . . I The Tube: Channel 4's ilagshlp, anarchic (read amateurish) quirky (irritating) and iconoclastic (Muriel Gray was allowed to be snide to people). It eventually went to the great cutting-room in the sky when the audience iigures trickled In, Paula

Yates had one baby too many, and

Jools Holland referred to the nation’s youth as ‘groovy luckers’.

I Something Else: BBCZ’s very

late-70s voice oi discontented yooi, with appalling presenters trying to

spoil the searing live pertormances irom the likes oi Joy Division and The

Jam (aye, music were music then lad, none at this computer nonsense).

I Big World Cale: Channel 4’s attempt to go all trendy and ethnic. The atmosphere was reminiscent at a Hampstead delicatessen. ‘Melissa,

" darling, have you heard the Moroccan

, tabla player, he's so tabby, so

authentic. . .' Mercliuliy short-lived. I FSD: BBC Scotland's attempt to get

in on the act with a grainy look at the

grass-roots Glaswegl . . . er Scottish

2 music scene. Lots oi banal interviews

with all-sound-the-same bands, and vital iniormation presented in the iorm oi a handwritten scrawl paraded up and down the side at the screen at unreadable speed. One oi these days Janet Street-Porter and her ‘production triickery’ will be made to pay iorthelr

3 ns.

I The Roxy: The ITV Network's much-touted rival to Top Di The Pops, rapidly rechristened The Poxy, was presented by proiessionai Canadian David ‘Middle-Aged’ Jensen and an over-enthusiastic lormer window-cleaner, and earned viewing iigures somewhat akin to a Horizon special on the Jutland steel industry. Soon it was relegated to Wednesday afternoons and soon alter that, eternal oblivion.

I Rock Steady: Someone at Channel 4

had been reading 0 and decided there was a huge geriatric audience out there gasping tor endless Dire Straits specials and Van Morrison proiiles. Sting groaned the theme tune, Nicky Horne tried to sound excited about a Charlie Watts interview, and the commercial breaks were packed with ads ior pension plans.

I The Word: Believe it or not a second series is planned. Amanda De Cadenet has been sacked (or has been altered the Late Show and the seat in

Phi losophy at the Sorbonne), and Terry Christian and Michelle Collins have been sent away on a crash course in presenting and thinking at the same time. No doubt Christian will continue to mutilate the English language mercilessly, however, and the Word will be inane once more. (Tom Lappin)


L 85The List 3— 16 May 1991