The O Zone (BBC2, 1989-2000)
The O Zone was a show all about pop music. It didn’t feature live performances, but it did feature interviews, music videos, and news about everything that was currently happening on the scene. Hey, it’s just like Smash Hits on the TV! Originally it was shown as part of CBBC, with the presenters mostly coming from that lineup, including Andy Crane, Andi Peters, Zoe Ball, and so on, and it would eventually run for over a decade.
Every week there would be features on the show including a look behind the scenes of the latest music videos (I remember Andi Peters seemed to interview the Pet Shop Boys on the set of their latest innovative video every other week), and the hottest news, so you’ll never have to wonder when Ant And Dec’s next single is out again. As the years passed and genres changed just about every major group from this era was interviewed.
In the mid-90s the show was relaunched with two presenters who were fairly new to TV, Jayne Middlemiss and Jamie Theakston (who would both go on to host Top Of The Pops). By this point the scheduling of the show was rather erratic. It was usually shown on BBC2 in the evenings but the timeslot changed frequently, and editions ranged from 10 to 20 minutes, although there were occasionally extended specials focusing on one group.
In later years the show had a couple of spin-offs, The Pop Zone, that was usually shown on CBBC (although I’m not really sure what the difference was), and The Phone Zone, a live show on great long-gone digital channel UK Play where viewers could phone in to request music videos (just like MTV’s Select), and presenters included Vernon Kay. However, by 2000 the format had become a little tired, so after 11 poptastic years The O Zone came to an end.