A hard day’s night
On June 29 A Midsummer Night’s 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.
We’re in the reception area of The Tube’s 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 Night’s 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.
It’s going to be a very long day —
Throughout the afternoon the presenters and artists rehearse their parts with the TV crews but because so much of The Tube is live, there’re still things that can go wrong with the best laid of plans. The producer’s 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 (who’s a bundle of nerves) now goes on first, much to her evident delight and relief.
“It’s about now that I wish I were a corgi,” groans producer Malcolm Gerrie (wearing a very formal suit —
In the event everything goes smoothly enough, thanks to Jools Holland’s ability to ad-lib during a minor hold-up at the racecourse and the cameramen’s 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 isn’t 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 Night’s 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 neil’s 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 they’re 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, who’s in great form, issues a strange invitation to Holly to show him what it’s 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! That’s her husband and manager Malcolm Lee on the right.
- 4.35 pm Alf’s backstage singers The Sapphires (left to right: Vicki, Sylvia and Ruby) learn their parts for “Love Resurrection” from a cassette on a Walkman. They weren’t 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 We’re finally on the air! The crowd are awaiting the arrival of the Queen but it’s definitely Frankie that most people have come to see.
- 8.05 pm The Queen is expected but it’s neil who arrives: “All this was recorded before last Tuesday, right?”
- 8.35 pm THe audience’s view of live television —
Howard Jones and Jed Hoile perform as cameramen swarm all around. That’s Howard’s 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. Continue »