The Pepsi Chart (Channel 5, 1998-2002)
Following on from my review of The Roxy, here’s a look at another attempt by a commercial channel a decade later to try and create a weekly music show that was a rival to BBC1’s Top Of The Pops featuring live studio performances but based around a different chart (I might also review ITV’s CD:UK soon but I’m still rather bitter that it replaced The Chart Show, maybe it’s about time I got over it after two decades).
In the mid-90s a commercial radio rival to BBC Radio 1’s Official Top 40 was established which was sponsored by Pepsi and was broadcast on Capital and various other stations across the country. It was mostly based around airplay along with sales and it was successful enough for Channel 5 to decide in February 1998 that they wanted to launch a TV version. The Pepsi Chart was hosted by various presenters over the years including Rhona Mitra, Neil Fox (who also hosted the radio version) and Abbie Eastwood, and it usually came from a club in London.
As well as live performances from pop acts, there would also be features including interviews. As an extra, after the new chart was announced on the radio on Sunday evening, Channel 5 would show Dr Fox’s Chart Update on Mondays, where the new Top Ten would be announced, which would also give us a hint of who might be appearing on the next edition. Unfortunately, this show was only five minutes long and was usually shown in a late-night slot, so barely anyone saw it.
One of the things that attracted me to watching The Pepsi Chart was that because I was in my teens when it was shown I was rather interested in pop music at that time, and it was always good having a chance to see some of my favourite songs that were around being performed on TV, along with also watching TOTP, and music channels MTV and UK Play. There were also some compilation CDs of hits released under The Pepsi Chart name.
The Pepsi Chart proved to be a fairly durable format which attracted a decent amount of big names to appear and it ran for nearly five years, but unsurprisingly it never came close to rivalling TOTP as a significant music show, and when Pepsi ended their sponsorship of the radio show in 2002, the TV version came to an end. Channel 5 were determined to still have a pop music show though, so they decided to try something different.
Throughout 2003 various new formats were tried out, most of which were shown on Saturday afternoons. These included Pop, which was hosted by Lauren Laverne and featured live performances, seemingly to try and be a competitor with Channel 4’s Popworld. There was also The Smash Hits Chart, a tie-in with the long-running magazine which usually only featured music videos. This was then replaced by The Flaunt Chart, a tie-in with a digital music channel. Even this was then replaced by simply The Chart, and after that came to an end Channel 5 no longer had a regular pop music show in their schedule.