The Roxy (ITV, 1987-1988)
Over the years there have been lots of music TV shows that have been designed to try and be a rival to the long-running Top Of The Pops, and one of them was The Roxy. In the late-70s/early-80s David “Kid” Jensen was a presenter on BBC Radio 1 and TOTP, and when he moved to commercial radio station Capital in the mid-80s he began to host The Network Chart, which featured the latest hits but was based more around airplay than sales, and was designed to be a rival to Radio 1’s Official Top 40 Show.
After Channel 4’s The Tube ended, production company Tyne Tees decided that they wanted to use the five years’ experience of making that show to do something similar on ITV, so in 1987 Jensen was hired to host The Roxy that was based around his radio chart. Jensen hosted alongside Irishman Kevin Sharkey (he is in an episode of Father Ted you know) and every week there would be live performances coming from what resembled a dancehall, ending with the reveal of the Number One single.
The Roxy was a good showcase of the pop music acts that were around at the time, and a fairly diverse range of groups appeared to perform their latest single from Sisters Of Mercy to Swing Out Sister, and facts about them would also scroll across the screen. There was even a look behind the scenes of the show on CITV’s KellyVision in 1988. However, the show ran into a few problems including at least one edition being affected by industrial action, and it ended up being relaunched fairly quickly.
Jensen was relegated to only voicing the chart segment, with Sharkey’s co-host becoming Pat Sharp (who was also a Capital radio presenter at the time and hosted a small amount of TOTP editions around 1982/1983), the studio was redesigned, the theme music was changed to “Amnesia” by Bananarama (them again!), and even the show’s title was changed to The Roxy: The Network Chart Show. But this ended up making little difference, and just ten months after it launched, in 1988 The Roxy came to an end.
Why did The Roxy fail? Firstly, some viewers felt that it was too similar to TOTP and they were satisfied with that show for pop music coverage. Also, because an unofficial chart was used most of the positions were way off where acts really were on the Official Chart so it wasn’t a trusty gauge of how singles were really doing. Another problem was that because the studio was in Newcastle most acts didn’t think it was worth the effort to go up north despite the TV exposure they would receive, especially when the established TOTP‘s studios in London were more accessible.
Another problem was scheduling. Most regions showed The Roxy in different timeslots, with some moving the show against EastEnders on Tuesdays which caused the ratings to plummet, and some dropped the show altogether, so in 1989 ITV decided to poach The Chart Show from Channel 4 to fill the gap for their own regular pop music show (although this didn’t use the official chart either).
I don’t really remember watching The Roxy that much, but my sister was a fan of the show when she was really into pop music in the late-80s, and there are a large amount of performances on the show online. Despite the failure, there have been more attempts to create a commercial rival to TOTP in more recent years including CD:UK on ITV and The Pepsi Chart on Channel 5, and I plan to review those too soon.