Pop Upstairs Downstairs (UK Play, 1999)
One of my favourite channels in the early days of digital TV was UK Play. I thought it was so great that one of my first blog pieces on here was a look back at some of the most memorable shows because I felt that there should be more about them online, I can’t have been the only person to have watched them. UK Play featured a mixture of music and comedy shows… there was also an attempt at a few game shows, including this one.
Pop Upstairs Downstairs was hosted by the double-act Mark And Lard who were on BBC Radio 1 at the time. I didn’t hear their earliest shows including their short stint in the breakfast slot, I first came across them when they moved to weekday afternoons in 1998, where I enjoyed the top-quality items along with the bangin’ tunes. Mark And Lard hosted a few shows on UK Play including Having A Pop (that I reviewed on here a while back) along with this one.
The format of Pop Upstairs Downstairs was a little like University Challenge… well, actually it was just about the same as University Challenge. Two teams of three took part (also, I couldn’t find any clips of the show online, and I didn’t keep the few bits that I recorded myself, so the pictures in this piece are taken from the http://www.ukgameshows.com website, and credit goes to them) and all of the questions were about pop music, so get ready to tell us what you know about Britney Spears.
The two teams really were sat on top of one another, with Mark representing the supposedly posh team sat on the top, and Lard the common team on the bottom. A starter question was asked on the buzzer for 20 points. Whatever team got it right were then asked three supplementary questions (or “suppository questions” as Lard called them) for ten points each, before the cycle started again. There would also be a question set for the viewers to ponder during the break.
The final round was on the buzzer, with Mark And Lard alternating in asking the questions, with ten points for a correct answer, and five taken away for an incorrect one. It had to be noted that the posh team often romped away into a big lead, and if his team were faltering, Lard with give his team a quick pep talk by shouting at them “get a grip!”. I also remember one edition where Lard got so frustrated at his team not getting any starters right, he just grumpily walked off while Mark’s team continued to get endless answers right and won by a huge margin. I don’t think there were any big prizes on offer though.
I also remember that there was a celebrity edition where one of the teams was the indie band Astrid who also provided the show’s theme music, and once again as they were on Lard’s team they were beaten by a rather big margin. I’m not sure how many editions of Pop Upstairs Downstairs were made (it did have something of a “ten editions made in one day” feel to it, and there was almost certainly no live studio audience present), and it seemed to be shown endlessly in the early days of UK Play, not that I’m complaining, it was great.