Popworld (Channel 4/E4, 2001-2007)
This is a show that was all about pop music, and it took a look at this genre in a way that very few other shows have. Popworld had a fairly quiet beginning in 2001, but after a short while there were some production changes which really made the show come into its own. Popworld was originally hosted by Simon (bid again, Simon!) Amstell and Miquita Oliver.
Some editions were shown in the early days of digital channel E4, before being established in a Sunday Morning slot as part of Channel 4’s T4 strand. Now because I was in my late-teens when Popworld launched, this was around the time that I was really interested in pop music, so any chance to see such groups as the Sugababes on TV was always going to be welcome.
There was a mix of features on Popworld, including going behind the scenes of music videos and live performances of the latest hit singles. The earliest editions also featured some contributions from one of Leigh Francis’s characters, I’ve always found all of them rather irritating myself, and I am rather surprised that he is still on TV all these years later (especially on every other show on ITV2 it seems).
But it was the interviews that Popworld would become best-known for. As the years went by, the hosts (especially Simon) would ask rather bizarre questions, leaving manufactured boy band members rather baffled as they tried to put together a response that wasn’t a cliche. Simon certainly excelled at this “ha-ha he’s taking the mick out of them and they haven’t even noticed” style, and then perfected it to great effect when he became the host of BBC2’s Never Mind The Buzzcocks.
A lot of big acts in pop music took part, and there were also a few specials, but after about five years, Simon and Miquita both left, and the decision was made to carry on with new hosts Alex Zane and Alexa Chung (who also hosted Channel 4’s new music show Freshly Squeezed around this time). They tried to continue in the usual style, but the format had become a little tired by this point, and Popworld came to an end in 2007.
There was also an attempt at launching a magazine spin-off called Popworld Pulp, but this lasted for just two issues, before closing around the same time the TV show ended. It was certainly something different though. Simon would go on to have further success as a comedian and writer (and I remember that he was also good value when he appeared as a panellist on Liquid News too). And if anyone else likes this piece then that’s just a bonus.