Naked truths

She says things like ‘you have to keep on the motorway of fate’, and loves coconut and marshmallow biscuits, but at least she knows her music. Tom Lappin talks to Caitlin Moran, presenter of Channel 4’s Naked City.

Talking to Caitlin Moran in the lead—up to the broadcast of Naked City, Channel 4's new music show, is a little like watching a lamb having a last gambol around the paddock before it heads off to the slaughter. Moran has had a glitterineg precocious career up to now, completing her first novel at the age of l3, winning the Observer Young Reporter Of The Year at 15, penning regular columns for The Times, and contributing to virtually every national broadsheet, as well as rock weekly Melody Maker.

Media envy being what it is, Moran‘s CV means that the critical knives will be sharpened as she attempts that most fraught of career moves. presenting a national pop show. You might have thought that the likes of Muriel Gray, Amanda Dc Cadenet and Katie Puckrik (not to mention Eddi Reader) had dragged the job into the murkiest depths of embarrassment and that the only way was up. Unfortunately advance tapes suggest that Moran is not about to lead the escape party. Twirling around in girly-grunge outfits, all pigtails and puppy fat, Moran's jolly hockey-captain tones and twee jokiness are inevitably destined to be the butt of many a cruel and satirical jibe.

Which is a shame actually as Moran has got something few of her presenter predecessors ever

Jamboree biscuit addict Caitlin Idoran

had, an obsessive knowledge of and love of popular music, which she sees as Naked City’s raison d'efre.

A ‘We just love music, think it‘s the most important

thing in the world which in some ways it is,’ she

K says. ‘You keep getting Tony Parsons and the like

i appearing on our screens every three months or so,

saying “pop music is dead," well bollocks it is. The

reason people have been led to believe this is that the

5 way peOple measure the popularity of pop music is

i by sales, which have dropped. The reason for that is that the usual pop music fan base can‘t even afford to

feed themselves, let alone buy new records. The

quality of bands around is better than it‘s ever been in g

: history. but it‘s just not reflected in sales.‘

Naked Cityjoins the schedule at a time when a

. plethora of music shows have sprung up from assorted sources. Moran emphasises that the new show will give the music the space it deserves. ‘The Word came along and that was great in a way,‘ she says, ‘but they had this kind of ethos that you had to kind of drown music in the gravy of sensationalism. if you’ve got Nirvana on their first British

performance and you’ve got Kurt Cobain saying Courtney Love is the best fuck in the world, you don't really need to follow that with twenty minutes

. and I won‘t be doing much TV past the age of 25. l ' started out as a novelist, and I'm writing my second

of men shoving condoms up their noses.‘

Naked City’s line-up has essentially been compiled by leafing through Moran ’s eminently tasteful record collection (the opening programme features Bjork, Green Jelly, Evan Dando and REM). ‘People are saying that they are quite startled at the amount of control I have over the programme,’ she says. ‘Ninety-eight per cent of the bands we have on the programme are there because i like them, and because i am so overwhelmingly interested in the bands. There are bands that I wouldn't die for, but l’d break a nail for, or have a Chinese burn or all the skin taken off my shins for.’

This enthusiasm tipping over into gushiness could be Moran’s undoing once she gets on screen. Ominously she's been given a regular slot on every show to do a stream of consciousness spiel to camera. ‘l'll talk about the week in pop and what's happened, and taking the piss out of it. Very occasionally l regress back to my childhood, doing a minute on the wonders of Jamboree biscuits. i did tend to eat rather a lot of those in my childhood. So we had to have a packet in the studios at all times. They’re only 18p a packet so it wasn‘t as if] was requesting the presence of young nubile Thai male prostitutes . . .'

You see the problem. Moran has a tendency to blurt out the first thing that comes into her head. Not that she cares much about becoming a TV celeb anyway. There are plenty of other opportunities beckoning for an eighteen-year-old media wanderkind.

‘l've pretty much got my life planned out anyway,

novel now and adapting it for television, and l’m writing three films or plays. So i don’t see a problem. l've got so many other projects on the go, as well as the daily battle to keep my hair very red.’ it’s a tough life, seems to be the message, but somebody has to do it. ‘You’ve got to have a plan haven’t you?’ she says. ‘You’ve got to keep on that motorway of fate and l've got my foot down on the pedal.’ Yeah, but the suspicion is that with Naked City the clutch is a bit dodgy, and there's an annoying rattle coming

from the back. Naked City begins on Channel 4 on Friday 23 July

at 11.05pm.

_ Square dancing

Wrinitly rockers and hyped-up teeny hoppers delight at Music TV, but if you wanna dance: Forget it! Despite the seemingly annual announcement of the first programme to put Dance on The Box, the form has never successfully evolved past the staple swaying adolescents, obnoxious presenter and dumb band in the studio format.

All of which makes Hypnosis seem like a good idea: not a band, studio or even presenter in sight. This is the progranrne about dance music, featuring the clubs, promoters and lle

Usa loud, at bangin', happenin’ DJ (apparently)

who make it happen and the sweaty punters who make their efforts worth while, all laid over a non-stop mix of the sounds that they all get excited about in the first place.

‘We wanted to make a credible dance music programme which was

intelligent,’ says the show’s producer lucy Robinson. When she and director Menhal ‘Huds’ Huda dreamed up the format two years ago, all that was around on screen was Dance Energy. ‘lt was very young, and very patronising and very silly,’ she says. ‘We wanted to do something which was more adult, channelled towards proper clubbers: 18 to 26 yeanolds, not 13 year-olds.’

Hypnosis will hit the screens just before the God Slot on Sunday evenings, “it’s when you want to chill- out,’ says Robinson, ‘you’ll be able to watch what you were doing the night before.’ if your eyeballs can tdte it, that is. The format is highly dependent on a generous use of the video tool- box. flot ‘cheesy ravey graphics’ which Robinson finds dull, although they are in evidence, but the kind oi televisuais capable of bouncing a

talking head into a corner of the screen while filling the rest with something a bit brighter and more visually Interesting.

The fast-paced magazine will visit a ' different part of the country for each programme, delivering local reports, footage and charts and diving into a cross-section of the happening clubs. Robinson promises a feature story each week, ‘on a topic related to dance music. We’ve got sex and clubbing and we’re doing a feature on drugs when we’ve established the show.’ Maybe, lust maybe, the evolution has at last succeeded. (Thom lllbdin)

Hypnosis goes out on Channel 4, from Sun 18 at 5.30pm (repeats: Thurs, 6pm). Show One is from Birmingham with ice T on his definition of bitches and a feature on computers and dance including Mr c of the Shanon.

The List 16-29 July 1993 59