ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

A hard days night

On June 29 A Midsummer Nights Tube was broadcast, a marathon six-hour live TV show. Frankie Goes To Hollywood were on, so were Howard Jones, Alison Moyet, neil from The Young Ones and Her Majesty The Queen (well, a Spitting Image of her, anyway). Ian Cranna was in the thick of it. Photos: Virginia Turbett.

“Are you with the record company?” the lady at the desk asks the bespectacled man in the blue track-suit.

“I am the record company,” replies Trevor Horn (for it is he), master-producer behind the Zang Tumb Tuum record label and Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Were in the reception area of The Tubes building at Tyne-Tees Television in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, collecting the passes which will enable us to be whisked through tight security precautions and into the final preparations for A Midsummer Nights Tube, six hours of live television including Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Alison Moyet, Howard Jones, Divine, neil from The Young Ones and the Spitting Image puppets of the The Queen, Ronald and Nancy Reagan and The Thatchers.

Some of the show will be presented by Jools Holland from the nearby Gosforth Park racecourse where The Tube are sponsoring a race. No wonder with only a few hours to go Tube officials are rushing around looking tense.

Its going to be a very long day — twelve hours and more. Some of the rehearsals and filming of links have already taken place the previous day. Prior to that, its taken weeks of preparation to collect all the vintage film clips and videos, and to plan the marathon five-hour script down to the last second.

Throughout the afternoon the presenters and artists rehearse their parts with the TV crews but because so much of The Tube is live, therere still things that can go wrong with the best laid of plans. The producers nightmare occurs when Paul Young pulls out with a throat complaint with only a few hours to go. Paul, who has turned up hoping for a last-minute miracle, departs looking extremely glum. Extra backing tapes are rushed up from London to save the day, so that Alison Moyet can do an extra song and Billy McKenzie can make an unscheduled appearance.

The running order is revised and Alf (whos a bundle of nerves) now goes on first, much to her evident delight and relief.

“Its about now that I wish I were a corgi,” groans producer Malcolm Gerrie (wearing a very formal suit — hes come straight from the wedding of Razzmatazz presenter, Alistair Pirrie) as the fans begin to file into the studio and transmission time approaches.

In the event everything goes smoothly enough, thanks to Jools Hollands ability to ad-lib during a minor hold-up at the racecourse and the cameramens amazing ability to barge through the crowds in the studio.

The climax of the evening is undoubtedly the all-star finale of “Relax” when Frankie Goes To Hollywood are joined on stage by Nona Hendryx and Divine, but even then at 01.15 the day isnt over. Every ticket-holder is also admitted to a party afterwards in another building nearby and, despite the late hour, the place is packed. The show has been a great success.

Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you: A Midsummer Nights Tube

  • 1.20 pm Producers Malcolm Gerrie and Gavin Taylor leave in a gold Rolls-Royce for the wedding of Razzmatazz presenter Alistair Pirrie.
  • 2.10 pm The producers return and rehearsals begin. Here Nigel Planer (cunningly disguised in plain clothes) rehearses neils arrival. Note lapel microphone.
  • 2.15 pm Jools Holland, after a slight problem starting his vintage bike and sidecar, runs through his departure for the racecourse. Note script in hand.
  • 2.20 pm Howard Jones and promotion man Neil Ferris discuss the set-up. Ferris — who is choosy about which shows his acts appear on — loves The Tube.
  • 2.30 pm Frankie Goes To Hollywood run through their numbers. Note Trevor Horn (playing tambourine) and lots of expensive synths and computers in the background.
  • 3.00 pm American disco/soul star Nona Hendryx and her band have barely been in the building an hour before theyre rehearing for the cameras.
  • 3.30 pm Having finished their slot, FGTH members Paul, Mark and Ped (nearest camera) are now free to wander about and watch the others go through their paces.
  • 3.45 pm Most popular and most sociable man of the day was Holly Johnson, posing here for official photos with the producers.
  • 3.50 pm Alison Moyet and Holly relax in the relaxing room. Alf, whos in great form, issues a strange invitation to Holly to show him what its really all about!
  • 3.55 pm Howard Jones does his run through with his mime artiste, Jed Hoile. Out of camera is Eartha Kitt who studies them with evident interest.
  • 4.30 pm Dubious joke time backstage — Alf has just been told her Irish accent sounds like a Pakistani! Thats her husband and manager Malcolm Lee on the right.
  • 4.35 pm Alfs backstage singers The Sapphires (left to right: Vicki, Sylvia and Ruby) learn their parts for “Love Resurrection” from a cassette on a Walkman. They werent on the record.
  • 4.50 pm Alf and The Sapphires run through “Love Resurrection” in front of their own logo. Several takes are needed as The Sapphires keep making Alf laugh.
  • 5.10 pm “Oh wow — what a really heavy trip.” Nigel Planer, now transformed into neil, hangs out backstage.
  • 6.30 pm The links are rehearsed. The Queen (operated by Kevin Bradshaw) makes it up with soon-to-be-famous comedian Robbie Coltrane who plays an over-officious doorman.
  • 7.00 pm Paul Rutherford in make-up. Even his moustache gets a once-over from a make-up man who is practically his double.
  • 8.00 pm Were finally on the air! The crowd are awaiting the arrival of the Queen but its definitely Frankie that most people have come to see.
  • 8.05 pm The Queen is expected but its neil who arrives: “All this was recorded before last Tuesday, right?”
  • 8.35 pm THe audiences view of live television — Howard Jones and Jed Hoile perform as cameramen swarm all around. Thats Howards brother Martin on bass.
  • 9.20 pm Camera 7 records Muriel Gray trying not to be embarrassed as The Three-Headed Man announces the viewers phone-in Video Choice.
  • 10.30 pm Jools Holland produces positive proof that Mrs Thatcher is bald. Just off camera is Spitting Image man Steve Nallan who does Mrs Thatchers voice.
  • 11.20 pm Gary James interviews Eartha Kitt (a very strange lady, let me tell you) and Steve Grant, once of Tight Fit and now into high energy.
  • 12.25 am Shy, retiring Divine indulges in a little nerve-strengthening potion before joining Frankie in the grand finale encore of “Relax”.
  • 1.05 am The moment everybodys been waiting for — Frankie Goes To Hollywood perform “Relax”, aided and abetted by Nona Hendryx, Divine and Eartha Kitt.
  • 1.15 am Off to the party.