Whether it was Top of the Pops, The Old Grey Whistle Test, Later with Jools Holland, BBC Sessions, Ready Steady Go, From the Basement or something called Guitar Heroes at the BBC, the channel was home to some unbelievable musical performances in the 70’s.
Commissioned by none other than Sir David Attenborough, who was actually the director of BBC Programming in the 60s and 70s, the Old Grey Whistle Test (or Whistle Test, or OGWT) ran from 1971 to 1988 and was, quite simply, about nothing else but the music.
Ready Steady Go! was a British rock/pop music television program broadcast every Friday evening from 9 August 1963 until 23 December 1966. With the slogan “The Weekend Starts Here” in the opening credits which referred to the fact that it was broadcast early on Friday evenings, early enough so that young Britishers could watch the show before heading out for Friday-night dates.
It’s not British comedy, but still in keeping with our British focus, here are just a few of the British born greats that have graced the stages at the BBC and ITV :
The Beatles on Ready Steady Go! in 1964
The Rolling Stones
Recorded in 1971 as part of a BBC presentation of Guitar Heroes at the BBC.
From a 1975 performance that was actually taped in New York City specifically for The Old Grey Whistle Test.
David Byrne and Talking Heads
This 1978 performance features Scottish born David Byrne and the Talking Heads.
Formed in 1977 by Mark Knopfler and brother, David, this 1978 performance was the bands first ever TV performance and came on the heels of being the opening act for the Talking Heads and launched their worldwide popularity.
David Bowie’s lost performance of ‘The Jean Genie’ on Top of the Pops from 1973
Do yourself a favor and buy, rent or just go down the YouTube rabbit hole and watch any of these that are available. They continue to be unmatched today even in this day and age of countless outlets available for musical performances on television.