The Chart Show (Channel 4, 1986-1989, ITV, 1989-1998)
The Chart Show was a pioneering music show with a difference. Unlike Top Of The Pops, it only featured music videos when there weren’t many other places they could be seen when the show started in 1986 and there was no host at all, everything was linked by computer graphics that looked very impressive for the time. The show started on Friday evenings on Channel 4 in 1986, and at the start of 1989 it moved to ITV in a Saturday daytime slot.
There would be a lot of videos shown exclusively on the show, and a lot of bands revived early exposure which helped their careers to take off. Obviously there were also a lot of charts on the show, settling down into alternating between the rock, indie and dance genres. Memorably, the videos that would be played were selected as if it was a video recorder, with a lot of fast forwarding and rewinding to get to the right place. Some of the acts featured in these charts were really obscure, goodness knows how they were calculated, but I’m sure that they all enjoyed having their five seconds of fame on TV, if they had made a video at all that is.
There were also a few other features over the years including the Vintage Video where a classic video from the archive was shown. Another memorable part of the show was when some fact boxes appeared on the screen to reveal some information and news about the band and video being shown and these were generated on an Amiga computer. The Chart Show was also one of the earliest shows to have a sponsor and they would always be going on about how they were “twinned with Twix”.
At the end there would be an oh-so exciting look at the ten biggest-selling singles of the week in “the fastest chart on television”. However, unlike Top Of The Pops, the chart that was used was unofficial so the numbers were all over the place and a lot of singles that were credited as chart-toppers often were never really number ones at all.
In 1996 there were some major changes to the format. Brief interviews with acts who were in the chart were featured and there were also phone-in competitions. And there would always be a special edition at the end of the year revealing the best (and worst) videos. The Chart Show was made by a production company called Video Visuals and the only other show I can ever remember seeing by them was Channel 4’s Star Test.
I always enjoyed watching The Chart Show and It was a shame to see it go in 1998 but why did it end? It seems that there were a few reasons. First of all, ratings were starting to fall. Also, the format was beginning to become a little tired although it had been on TV almost every single week for 12 years. It seems that with the increase of accessibility to music channels there were now lots of other places that videos could be seen. Finally, there was a lack of live studio performances, something which was a major part of the show’s replacement CDUK.