Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

TV Icon That Became an Institution for Pop Fans; Long before MTV and YouTube, the Only Chance to See Non-Chart Bands Was on Terrestrial TV. SIMON RUSHWORTH Meets the Man Behind the Celebration of a 40-Year-Old Institution

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

TV Icon That Became an Institution for Pop Fans; Long before MTV and YouTube, the Only Chance to See Non-Chart Bands Was on Terrestrial TV. SIMON RUSHWORTH Meets the Man Behind the Celebration of a 40-Year-Old Institution

Article excerpt

Byline: SIMON RUSHWORTH

THERE was a time in the mid 70s when no self-respecting music fan could afford to miss one of the most influential and relevant music shows ever conceived.

The Old Grey Whistle Test - swiftly abbreviated to Whistle Test and OGWT - focused on acclaimed albums rather than chart singles and offered fans of rock in all its guises a golden opportunity to dig deeper.

"Like a lot of people I made an appointment to view where Whistle Test was concerned," explains music and media historian Chris Phipps. "I would sit in front of the television in anticipation of the latest show.

"You didn't just tune in to see what you already knew. You never knew what would come out of each show and if you missed it you missed out."

Phipps still looks back fondly on his three-month 'attachment' to the OGWT - prior to a career-defining move to Newcastle and a five-year stint as co-producer on The Tube.

And as both a fan and, albeit briefly, a former employee of the BBC show, he has worked tirelessly to ensure the 40th anniversary is celebrated in style at The Sage Gateshead this coming weekend.

"I have negotiated with BBC Worldwide to show some truly remarkable footage on an evening that will appeal to music fans of all generations," adds Phipps.

"Highlights include the complete 40-minute performance of Lynyrd Skynyrd's OGWT appearance and the favourite clips from our panel."

That panel features Phipps, Lindisfarne founder member Ray Laidlaw, Maximo Park frontman Paul Smith and Jill Sinclair, who worked as a producer on the show and compiled the definitive 40th anniversary box set.

"Each of the panellists has picked their favourite clips and they'll be talking about the reasons behind those choices and their memories of the artists and their OGWT appearances," says Phipps.

"The discussion will be opened up to the floor and I envisage an evening of reminiscing, storytelling and a celebration of some of the very best music from the 70s and 80s. …

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