Punk on TV #1 – Revolver

Revolver was like a punk Top of the Pops for the stay up late kids. In my mind it seemed like the closest thing possible to being at an actual gig (without ever having been to an actual gig), and was, for a short time at least, the pop punk highlight of the week’s viewing. It ran between 22nd July and 2nd September 1978.
Produced for ATV by pop impresario Micky Most, who was best known for his hit-making record label RAK, and his work with artists such as Suzi Quatro and Mud. The show was fronted by satirist Peter Cook who played the part of the snarky unimpressed owner of an old school fictional nightclub in which the show was set, and whose main shtick was to insult both the bands and the audience whilst trying to tie the whole confusing mess together. He didn’t present the show in the conventional sense, mic in hand from somewhere on the studio floor (a la TOTPs), but via a large screen, from which his face loomed out, from his set in “his office”, somewhere else in the building presumably. It was recorded in front of a live audience in Birmingham, but was cancelled after its initial run of only 8 episodes.
During its short life, Revolver hosted some of the first TV appearances from Punk bands like X-Ray Spex, The Jam, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Buzzcocks, who appeared alongside more mainstream fayre such as Kate Bush, Lindisfarne, Bonnie Tyler and Dire Straits amongst others. According to The Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley, Peter Cook had distributed pornographic magazines to the front row of the audience to in an attempt to put the bands off by holding them up.

On their website, the bfi describe it thus:
“Revolver’s most innovative element was designed to evoke the confrontational atmosphere associated with punk gigs. Peter Cook was invited to guest on the programme on the strength of the notorious Derek and Clive recordings, which shared with punk, a kind of adolescent, deliberately puerile nihilism. Not surprisingly, Cook’s contribution is better remembered than that of nominal host Les Ross.”

More at tvpopdiaries.com

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